Dear Obsessive Compulsive Disorder,
You’re exhausting me.
The moment I put my feet to the floor in the morning, you’ve already written every movement I’ll make. You tell me to go down the stairs to make my coffee only to remind me of the dirty floor as I stand waiting for it. I do as you say and sweep. Then I clean the counters because you tell me I have to.
The day’s barely begun and already you’ve imprisoned me. If this were the extent of it, a little cleaning here and there, I might not mind. But you see, OCD, you’ve somehow managed to take all the simple things in life and complicate them beyond their limits.
Throughout the course of every day, I spend far too much time giving in to your demands. I avoid people and situations that won’t let me stop and do what you require of me. I know if I don’t you’ll revel in my misery as the worst parts of me—my secrets—are exposed to all those who hadn’t known the truth about me and the truth about you.
Sometimes I wonder what my life would feel like without you. Could I survive? I think so. But every time I try to slip away, you grab a hold of me tighter than before. Then suddenly, I’m not only sweeping the floors, cleaning the counters, and adjusting products on the windowsill; I’m adding more and more and more to my list of tasks until there’s no room left in the day for anything else.
Will you not stop tricking me into believing I can’t live without pulling at my throat when it feels closed up? Or scrunching my toes in between objects until things feel “settled”? Will you possibly allow me the chance to spend time with loved ones without wasting the seconds away?
When I go to lay my head on a pillow that’s been previously situated to your liking, I’m drained, exhausted beyond all human capabilities. You did this to me. You.
There’s something I want—need—you to know, OCD.
I can’t do it anymore.
Not one more wipe of the counter, not one more lining of the products along my windowsill, not one more counting of the seconds that have passed. You’ve stolen the most valuable thing from me that I’ll never get back—time.
So with this, I’ve decided to steal something from you. Control.
Through a combination of focused therapies, medication, and techniques that ground me back into reality, I’m starting to see all the power you’ve had. But now, I’m letting go.
I’m releasing you from my insides so that I may unzip my skin and step out to finally know what freedom feels like. I’m setting you free and in turn, hoping you may let me do the same.
Living with you, OCD, is complicated. Parts of my brain continually struggle for power while others retreat completely. But no matter what’s been taken—time, control, hope for the future—it’s never too late to start anew; to wake up each morning with one thought: “be a better version of myself today, than I was yesterday.” I can only do this, live freely, if I’m in control again, not you.
And so with that, no matter what I must do to be rid of you, I will be.
I will be.
First, way to go! I’m so proud of you for getting help and wanting your life back. Second, this is one of the best breakup letters I’ve ever read. As someone with OCD that left me mostly a hermit for a few years but have been fighting back to get control I can certainly understand where you are coming from. I’ve never seen anyone write a letter like this to their OCD but it has definitely inspired me to try writing my own if I get to that point again.
For those still in the beginning stages of therapy or afraid to reach out to get help I hope you read this breakup letter and are inspired. Your OCD will tell you it has to always be the way it is for you now – suffering and exhausted – but rule #1 OCD is a liar. You can get better. You can regain your life back from its clutches. You deserve to be happy. You deserve not to worry all the time. It’s not easy and you might feel like giving up somedays as you start fighting back but it is 100% worth it when you catch yourself actually present in the moment and truly enjoying yourself without impending doom hovering over you.
I hope others share their journey with OCD, too. I never want someone to feel as scared and alone as I did for many, many years thinking I was completely psychotic and if I ever told someone the things I thought or worried about that I’d be institutionalized. I want others to know they aren’t alone and this is an actual disorder and there is help.
Thank you again for sharing your story and breakup letter. #endthestigma #ocd #ocdfoundation
Thank you for being so brave and sharing this. I suffer from OCD and have written letters to OCD and am finally moving forward. I wish you all the best on your journey. Know you have helped me today on mine.
Thank you for sharing! I do not go through what you’ve been going through, but I recognize and appreciate your fight. I hope that your letter has helped others in tremendous ways!!
Thank you so much for sharing.
have you found any peace yet? i fully sympathise with your letter and thank you for sharing, i am at a similar point myself. x
OCD is crippling on the floor picking up each piece of fluff so your knees are red raw. Cleaning my glasses in sets of 3. Tying my hair up down up down to the point I am on tears. I tried to be honest to people I loved and I still ended up alone
Thank you for your vulnerability and honesty, Zoe. We hope sharing and reading these words remind you that you are not alone. We also hope you’ll consider reaching out for help: twloha.com/find-help. You can also reach out to us for assistance and support at [email protected]. We’re here.