Part 2: Moving forward
I wish very much that once I recognized that my “issue” had a name, I sought help. However, at that time in my life, I not only did not have health insurance but also did not have a great support system. The very few people who were familiar with my struggles encouraged me NOT to seek any sort of medical involvement, and instead, I briefly met with a very kind Biblical counselor.
I personally am a Christian, and my faith is extremely important to me. I was very hopeful that Biblical counseling would be the answer for me, but it was not. I am in no way saying that it isn’t helpful, but in my case, the reality of what I was dealing with far outweighed what the counselor was able to work with. For me, hearing that if my faith were just a bit stronger I would no longer struggle did more damage than good. I spent quite a while wrestling with myself, worried that I wasn’t strong enough in my faith, which also then led to even more of a downward spiral.
For several years my OCD was debilitating. I rarely ventured out of the house because I wanted to. Instead, I worked and went to school and came home to lay in bed and shut down. Sleep was the only source of relief I had at the time, and I gave into it as much as I could. I went through a series of changes in these years: graduating from college, dating, finding a full-time job. I would rarely have times when my worrying was less than the ingrained fear I had become so accustomed to. I took Zantac like it was going out of style, as I most always felt sick to my stomach. I learned to manage the best I could: sleep, pray, and try not to let it on to too many people. Unfortunately, a considerable component of OCD is “checking.” When you are in a state of worry, you are continually seeking refuge. Hearing “I think it’s fine” from someone is incredibly helpful…for a short period of time. I am positive I drove my family and choice friends absolutely crazy by continually seeking that relief, especially when they didn’t understand why I just couldn’t get over my irrational fears.
During this time, I believed many things about myself, but the biggest was that I was “defective.” Like a broken toy that cannot be fixed, I felt as though I was beyond repair. My entire life, I had hoped to be a wife and mama. It was honestly all I wanted. But the OCD continued to reinforce to me that there was no way my dream would come true. Surely no one would deal with me. Surely no one would want me. Unfortunately, that was also spoken to me as well. I dated a bit during this time, but the struggle of dealing with that anxiety was overwhelming. I met one guy who I dared to share slight information with about my OCD, and he promptly told me that the last thing he wanted was to potentially date and marry someone who was crazy. The relationship was pretty much over before it started.
And then, in the summer of 2011, I met Jacob. My friend had been telling me for weeks I had to meet her husband’s best friend. That she felt that he would be such a match for me. That he was kind and responsible…and I turned her down. She was unaware of my struggles, and I knew what would happen. I couldn’t allow myself to hope for anything different. Finally, I realized that my fear was being alone and that if I refused to live a little, I would end up alone anyway. I gathered up all my courage and went. I knew right away that Jacob was different. He was kind and respectful. Strong, soft-spoken, yet absolutely hilarious. I quickly fell for him. I chose, for several weeks, not to discuss my OCD with him. I was terrified he would break things off, and the thought broke my heart. As I got to know him better, I knew the longer I waited, the harder it would hurt to be again turned away. One evening, randomly, I had enough and I knocked on his door in tears. I can still remember the look of confusion on his face. On his doorstep, I told him we needed to talk, and then I just let go. I told him everything. My fears. How some days just getting out of bed was the best I could do all day. How I had tried desperately to hide it from him. How I understood if he never wanted to see me again. I will never forget what happened next. He hugged me tightly as I cried on his shoulder and told me that we would get through it together.
I immediately decided to seek help. I was beyond relieved that Jacob felt that even with this ailment I had some sort of worth and value, but I also knew I was a great self sabotager and absolutely did not feel worthy of him. It would only be a matter of time before I pushed him away, and that was the last thing I wanted. With his support, I started seeing the amazing counselor I still work with now. She immediately had me schedule an appointment with a doctor, who spent a long time explaining to me how common this was, and how effective medication should be.
In just a year, I saw quite a change in myself. With the help of a fantastic support team, I finally started to live a life I never dreamed was possible. The mundane everyday events of life that many people take for granted became my reality. The OCD wasn’t gone: I still struggled, at times more than others. But it was far more manageable than it had ever been. I finally saw a light above the bottomless, dark pit I had made my home in. I knew I couldn’t ever allow myself to go back to who I was before.