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Mar9
2015

Dear OCD

By Tess Hybert

Dear OCD,

Why aren’t you as pleasant as people expect you to be? When people tell me that having you around is a good thing, I find no strength to argue. You’ve protected me for years, and yet I have nothing to show for it. I believe they are mistaken.

Others laugh when you take over their thoughts. Why must you make me cry when I can’t push you away? Are you easier on those people? Do you aim to torture me?

OCD, you work in deceptive ways. The mask you wear convinces people that you’re nothing more than silly preferences and quirks. You had me convinced for quite some time. I had no idea you were the monster in my head. Was this your plan all along?

The effortless way you move through my mind is haunting, striking me down at any place or time you feel necessary. I get stuck anywhere from five minutes to three hours, not able to move from where I stand. This is where your sufferers differ from those quirky people, particular with their cleanliness, organization, or inability to dispose of things with sentimental value. The overwhelming anxiety that takes over stops us from doing anything but our compulsions. You make us believe that you’re protecting us. In reality, you want absolute control.

I will change the way people see you. It will be a tough battle, but more people will know the truth of your existence. These knowledgeable people will hold hands to form a wall against your plague. They’ll share what they’ve learned with family, friends, and strangers. My entire family already knows how damaging you can be. You’ve shaken up my relationships. Reputations and personalities are warped in your presence. I won’t let you stop me, though.

Some days I falter under your strength, believing the twisted images you project. The amount of days I cower will decrease, and I will stand taller in your company. Those dangerous words you whisper will do no harm to my usually sensitive mind.

I will use my strength to help others stand up against you. The people you have forced to hide in their homes, wasting their life away doing hours of compulsions, will learn how to live with your annoying voice in the background. They will go to school, work jobs, clean their homes, raise families, and achieve their greatest dreams. Because you tore them down, they will rebuild themselves ten times higher, just as I have.

OCD, I fooled you into believing you had won. After quitting my job in an anxious fit, dropping out of high school, losing financial aid in college, and fighting more with my spouse than I ever had, I hit rock bottom. The lowest of lows had been achieved because you taught me to be scared of everything: my spouse, my animals, my body, food, everyday materials, and nature. You claimed years of my life, but you have not won. You never will completely defeat me.

Instead of the mindless rituals you encourage me to perform, I will write about the ways to defeat you and my struggle doing so. Beyond sharing our story to the world, I will work on the fictional novel I’ve always dreamt of creating. I know you’ll always be on the sidelines, pouting when I don’t obey you. There will be moments when I will feel low enough to succumb to you, but I promise to fight the urges. I’ll wear a smile, spread positive vibes, and keep trekking through. Your enticing voice will only fuel me to check more items off of my to-do list.

OCD, from this day on, people will know the truth about you. I will no longer live in shame of your unfortunate existence. Others will understand my compulsions and know there’s a huge amount of anxiety overflowing from within. They will know that I am only trying to protect them and myself when I fail to smother your tempting voice. Instead of ridiculing me for my failures, they will patiently help me, and others, to tell you no.

It’s about time we end the continuous cycle of your existence. Although it’s highly unlikely, try to give your sufferers and me a break as we pick ourselves up from the debris of your unexpected attack. We’ll be putting all of our energy into defeating you; when you feel us getting tired, give us our space. You claimed to want us to be happy, so why not let us be?

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Comments (19)

  1. Tonya

    very well put… I struggle with these thoughts daily and they are not easy.

    Reply  |  
  2. Tahli

    bless you

    Reply  |  
  3. Anonymous

    Thank you so much for sharing this. Your words and bravery inspire me to keep fighting.

    Reply  |  
  4. Sarah

    Thank you for posting this.. It’s so relatable and I’m in the mindset right now that this article is in about beating OCD.. I still have a long way to go but I’m making conscious efforts to say no to rituals .. I’m glad you are too! OCD is so hard and stressful! Good luck with your recovery too!

    Reply  |  
  5. Kayy

    Let us remember that “cleanly obsession” CAN be an OCD.

    When it’s so bad that you spend 30 dollars a week on cleaning products. And you clean your toilet every time you perceive it’s dirty. And you spray your shower and shower curtains and counter and everything with bleach or vinegar or anything else even if it’s hard to breathe and wastes your money. When you wash your hands 20 times because you touched something you perceived as dirty and it’s driving you mad. When you have to ask your SO that you’re really truly clean. When you can’t believe it so you wipe yourself with lysol wipes and disinfectant spray even though it’s damaging to the skin and it makes it hard to breathe. Even though you clean your toilet and yourself a good 20 times a day. And you won’t even touch a public toilet. Or anyone else’s… unless you bring stuff to clean it with.

    It’s crippling and it’s hurtful.

    Reply  |  
    1. jenn

      I do those things too. People joke about it because that’s just how I am, but is it really ocd?

      Reply  |  
      1. Kayy

        It depends on the severity. Like I said, I cannot go about my life and stop a tick in the back of my head unless everything is done exactly the “right” way. There IS a ritual to it, at least for me.

        And, as I said, I do harmful things, too, like spray and wipe myself with harmful substances.

        Reply  |  
    2. canrelate

      This! I completely understand. You want to wake up at a certain time so you can clean yourself..and your home before the kids come around. You clean your parts because you have a constant voice in your head telling you you are unclean. If people mess with their noses around you, they are doing it because you are not clean. You feel like such a failure when you feel like your rituals have failed you, and your actions were for nothing. Baby wipes..feminine hygiene products..your doctor tells you you are making it worse on your skin. But they can’t reassure you..that what you’re doing is working or not working..because in the back of your mind..nothing will work..cause you’ll never be clean enough.

      I know this all too well.

      Reply  |  
  6. Sami Clara

    Dear Tess,

    I wanted to share with you my gratitude and uttermost respect for writing this piece. I know that so many people will be able to relate to every word.

    Writing this reply to you isn’t easy, as it breaks one of my obsessions – writing comments in public spaces for fear of saying something harmful or offensive, but I believe that you’ve inspired me to make a small change today.

    That said, the OCD voice is still echoing around in there, telling me that I ought to screenshot this message because I’ll need clarification and reassurance later on today, just in case I did write something truly awful here.

    Anyway, very much like you, Tess, I believe in using our strength to fight for, protect and inform others about the disabling and crippling disorder that is OCD. It is for this reason that I started OCD Thoughts (www.ocdthoughts.net), a website which tells people’s OCD stories from a true and personal point.

    I don’t know where you are in your life right now, if you’ve managed to build your relationships back up again, if you’re still forced to hide in your home, but I do know that you are incredibly strong.

    Unfortunately, OCD still has me hiding in my home, unable to go out or do anything alone. I understand what you mean when you said that OCD made you fear everything around you. I too have that same issue. In fact, just seconds before seeing this piece, I found myself having to ask my friend to remove a scratchcard from my site while he went into the kitchen because I was too afraid of consuming whatever that material is that you scratch away. Anyway, the point is… I am terrified of everything. I cannot be left alone with anything, or anyone for fear of harming myself or them. For fear of doing something ‘wrong’ or saying something ‘bad’.

    It is all-consuming.

    Thank you again for sharing this, Tess. <3

    Much love,
    Sami

    Reply  |  
  7. Kelley

    I am lucky enough to call this girl my best friend. I’ve seen her struggle through things I didn’t even know a person could live through. I’ve seen her at her highest and at her lowest. I’ve seen her when she’s on top of the world without a worry, and in her room worrying about every breath she takes.
    This woman is my inspiration. She’s is the strongest human I’ve every met in my life. Her heart is huge and she tries so hard every day without the world knowing. She is a hard worker and an absolutely amazing person. I never knew what OCD was until she handed me a packet one day and asked me go read it. It explained what exactly OCD was, the long extensive list of fears she had and what I could do to help her.
    Today, though she still had bad days, she has beaten many of her compulsions. She is a healthier, happier, and stronger person. I am so proud of everything she has become and excited about the changes she’s going to make with her writing because if you think this was inspiration, let me tell you. There is SO much more to come from her.
    Tess, I am so proud of you.

    Reply  |  
  8. Anonymous

    So proud of all of you. Keep fighting.

    Reply  |  
  9. Tammy / mommy

    You have come so far and I am so excited that you are now able to help others know that they can also get through this I love you so much

    Reply  |  
  10. Annette S.

    I am so proud of you Tess Marie! Your ability to write this and post it speaks volumes about your journey. OCD is an awful/painful condition that most people don’t understand (including those who love you). I am so happy that you are gaining such confidence in your ability to fight this. I am also extremely proud of your support system. Your family has stood by you, loved you, and is still in tact. It speaks volumes of the person you are married to. They have not given up on you and never will. I love you sweetheart! Hang in there and continue to grow and become stronger every day.
    Ant Net!

    Reply  |  
  11. Anonymous

    This is everything. I found it very healing to read this. The words ” You make us believe that you’re protecting us. In reality, you want absolute control” really hit home. Thanks for writing this.

    Reply  |  
  12. Gera

    I am so glad you posted this. I was first diagnosed at 12. And 16 years and tons of therapy later, it is still a daily sometimes hourly struggle. I wish all the best in your journey and encourage you to keep speaking and educating others. Today you made me feel less alone. Gave me the courage to push the urge a little further into the corner of my mind. Thank you.

    Reply  |  
  13. Colleen F.

    Very well said. I have severe anxiety, depression and I have very bad OCD as well. Guess it comes with the whole package. I’m constantly asking if all appliances are shut off at night before bed. I spend money left and right, half the stuff I buy are things I don’t need, and then I feel guilty after which then causes me to have a panic attack. I’m constantly worrying about my friends and family while they are out on the road. OCD doesn’t help when I’m in a moving vehicle either. I’m always worrying about something and it’s usually about pointless things. Needless to say it interferes with my life making me sick daily. I’ve never read a blog about OCD like this that explains OCD from a non-medical point of view. To people who don’t have OCD, it usually doesn’t seem like a big deal, but it really, really is. Thank you to the writer of this blog. Im very glad I came across this. It’s good to know that I’m not alone.

    Reply  |  
  14. Anonymous

    I struggle so much. Everyday is a new fight and I am exhausted.

    Reply  |  
  15. Dee

    Amazed, in awe, and oh so thankful for your bravery! This post is clever, well-written and describes the hidden pains that those without OCD can’t comprehend.

    Reply  |  
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