“Will I be Okay Enough?”
…that was one of the many questions I frequently asked myself when I was in the throes of my illness. When this or that event happens, will I be okay enough to go? Was I going to feel like a ghost standing with distant eyes in front of someone wishing to have a conversation or make small talk while my obsessions filled every ounce of my brain and clobbered me with an unrelenting attack?
When I am at this event or that event will they know that I wished to feel like a whole and healthy person and not so sick? Will they know that when they ask me how I am, that I desperately want to be available for all the moments just like they are, but instead I am adrift being held prisoner by my illness? Ruminating and obsessing about this or about that, whatever subject matter my illness assigns me with. Would they know that I am not fully available to anything other than continually servicing my OCD, in an attempt, to get all the alarms to stop?
Intuitively I knew that, “Will I be okay enough?” was no way to live.
Before my OCD was diagnosed, while I was in the “Will I be okay enough” stage, I learned to function through my life, but I didn’t feel that I was available to it. Eye contact made me feel uncomfortable and I felt loneliness instead of the good feelings that come from connectedness. I was living the length of the years but not the width of it. I was missing the good part and knew it, but I didn’t know what to do about it. For not servicing my OCD seemed to just make the matter worse. At least if I did my obsessions and compulsions, I could temporarily turn down the volume in my head. I desperately hoped to feel inner peace and to be available to life, to all the moments, both big and small. OCD promised such feelings of peace, if I delivered on my tasks, but OCD never delivered on his promise.
By sheer grit and determination, and many years later, I now have a different life than the one that was solely driven by my illness and wisps of momentary hope. I have been in OCD recovery for more than twenty years. The first step on my path to recovery began when I became determined to live and would accept no substitute. To put it another way, I demanded real 100% Vermont maple syrup, and would not settle for what OCD pumped out, something artificial with corn syrup and ultimately bad for me. Give me the real thing or bust! Once my trajectory was set, and I saw where I wanted to go, I embedded it in my heart and soul. I became an OCD Warrior, determined to find wellness instead of illness.
I folded up “functioning” and stuck it in a drawer, and in its place, I drew the life I insisted on. I drew a big colorful rainbow out of crayons and walked right to it with my arms wide open, willing to risk it all. My vision quest for healthiness is as constant as my north star. My days are far from perfect and that’s okay. To this day there is still falling and getting back up, but very infrequently. Overall, I am in a healthy place and enjoying my much less turbulent mind and the more available version of myself . My soul is no longer tortured. I enjoy mental stillness. When my OCD voice, my oppressor, pipes up for me to do a task, I say “no” and mean it and that feels GREAT!
I work on guiding myself with love and mostly try to listen to that voice.
Wherever you are with your OCD, here are some mantras I developed that you may wish to try.
- “Life is now, life is this moment, and the life that is intended for me is one of peace and mental stillness. I am as deserving of this as anyone else.”
- “I will learn to be an OCD Warrior with an open mind and an open heart. I lean into life, I lean away from illness. My faith of a new horizon will show me the way.”
- “My power lies within my response to the stimulus, whatever that might be. I am the driver of my life and OCD is in the sidecar and not the other way around. I am the only one who will decide where I go from here. Deciding where to go from here, this is my power.”
Compassionate thoughts and kindness to you. I encourage us to live while we are alive. Live the width of it, live the joy.