Saturday, June 18, 2011

Can I Just Stop?

Sometimes, when I start thinking about how normal my life was just three short years ago, I wish so desperately to go back to that time. I wonder if it will ever feel like that again, if it's even possible. My mind wanders to the many people living that way right this very moment, and I wonder, why can't that be me? And then I think...yes, why can't that be me? And I wonder, between my handwashing ritual and the ritual where I need to bleach a spot on the floor over which I opened a piece of mail which seemed especially contaminated, if I could just do it. Is it that simple?

About 8 years ago, I was a smoker. A smoker who had long before decided that she would never smoke as a parent (because mine smoked around me and I was always sick and hated the smell). A smoker who suddenly found herself pregnant after being told it was unlikely to happen. So, after much deliberation on how I would quit, I realized that I was making it much more complicated than it needed to be. And I quit. I literally stopped mid-cigarette and just quit. Done. Was it easy? Oh, for the love of all that is holy, no. By the third day, I seriously thought there was no way in hell I could ever quit for life. But I never touched another cigarette again, not even once.

I wonder sometimes if it is like that, giving up the ocd. Painful, scary, empty in all of the places which used to be filled by old habits...but eventually it becomes normal again. Would it be possible to just do that? Has anyone ever done that?

Of course, logic tells me it has to be possible. Prior to my development of this mind-warping fear of contamination, I did live without all of these restraints on my life. I lived free, outside of this mental cage. I was happy. I did not wash my hands to the point of pain or even bleeding. I did not use so much chemical cleaning solutions that my nails were literally eaten right off. I did not have to wash shoes before entering the house, only to remove them anyhow. I did not check everyone I came into contact with for signs of contamination. I did not have a fear of opening packages mailed for fear of what kind of contamination might be on or inside of them. There were no "safe" places and "risky" places. And the worst part of going out of the house was poor weather, not the 3+ hour ritual to get back in the house.

I've never tried this. I've attempted it in bits and pieces, but never with full level commitment to doing it. Typically, it just takes one small sign of potential contamination to send me spiraling instantly into a cleaning frenzy which lasts hours and leaves my hands painfully raw and often bleeding. I just keep trying to imagine my mother, and all of the pointless stupid shit she did - all in vain - to appease her own ocd. None of us did those things, and strangely, we were cleaner and healthier than she was. It's amazing, that. The ocd rituals tend to bring more risk than just living.

I fucking hate this disorder. It takes everything. And while it is possible to get one's life back, I deeply resent the fact that I have to struggle painfully with shit that is completely normal for everyone else.

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