If you read Abs’ last blog, you may have laughed a lot (I did) and assumed that it was based on a true story but exaggerated for the sake of comedy (I did). However, after speaking with Abs for a few minutes on the phone the next day, I realized that her blog reflected the reality of the situation. In fact, when I asked her if she was going back to the pool (I’ve seen it and it is quite lovely), she told me that she had “burnt knees” and therefore could not sit by the pool again. Before, I could say anything, she blurted out “but really, I just can’t face that pool again.” She sounded so desperate to be away from the pool that even I (known to make a lot of fun of her OCD-lite behavior) could only respond with empathy to her struggles.
I’ve never had OCD (my husband and Abs keep telling me I could use a little). But during severe panic attacks, one of my scariest symptoms was obsessive thinking. One phrase would run though my mind over and over again (e.g., “I feel so sick”). It was one of the most uncomfortable aspects of my panic attacks because it literally felt like my brain was no longer my own. No matter what I did, I could not get the obsessive thought to stop playing in my head. While my obsessive phrase did not have an accompanying compulsion, it was still excruciating because I had no control over how long the obsessive “record” would play. I felt at the mercy of a thought that I not only did not want to have but I also could not stop.
While I can laugh with Abs over her pool ordeal, I can only imagine the courage it takes to live life with obsessive compulsive disorder. As Susan talked about in her wonderful blog, compulsions like washing hands in a particular manner and having to hide the fact that you are doing it can take over one’s life. There is something relentless about OCD that goes with you everywhere and invades so much of your life. Hats off to my anxiety sisters, like Susan, who work hard to manage symptoms of OCD. Each of us with anxiety disorders, struggles to keep our life intact despite symptoms that can feel insurmountable. We all work hard to put our toes in, even when a snot-nosed kid has gotten there first.