An Unusual Symbiosis: How My OCD and I Have Learned to Work Together

Disclaimer: This is my personal story and should not be substituted for medical advice from a physician or trained professional.

I have copious amounts of self-confidence, teetering on a get-a-room-with-yourself-already conceit. Not the slightest blush of humility or humiliation can be found on my cheeks as I talk about my mental illness.

Now, my self-worth is not what makes me mentally ill; it’s my unstable brain chemicals. I have fibromyalgia—you know, the imaginary disease millions of us make up in a carefully calculated conspiracy to drain our countries of funds? (Yeah, no. I’ve not received one penny in disability money, but I have lost years of potential salary because I cannot work full-time.) Chronic pain from fibromyalgia can trigger severe insomnia, which wreaks havoc with my serotonin levels, and other chemically things. I also have Celiac disease, which makes it tricky for me to absorb what I need from food, and metabolise it into good brain stuff. Forgive my advanced use of medical terminology.

As a result of my cognitive dysfunction, I wrestle with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). My condition is quite well managed and does not hamper my daily activities much. It gets a little worse at night, when I’m too tired and my brain doesn’t want to brain properly. Still, I’ve no real complaints because I am under a doctor’s care and we are carefully monitoring my symptoms.

ocd-and-meIf you’ve been following my blog, you know I’m an author and have recently hung an Am Editing sign on my online door. My OCD has actually come in handy during the writing and publishing processes. You know that cliché where people with OCD have to straighten paintings? Well, with me, I need to straighten words, and in a good way. When I write, I happily tickle the keys on my laptop, without a care in the world. However, when it’s time for editing, something switches on in my head and I become Cait Gordon, Word Hunter. (This needs to become a Netflix series.)

As with many editors, I have rules circulating in my head and try my best to apply them as I’m reading through text. When I really begin to focus, though, and I’m searching for those useless words like very, really, and so on, something goes DING, DING, DING! Just like with the painting, I hone in on the things that are out of place. I truly enjoy combing through my writing or someone else’s and hunting down incorrect punctuation, repeated words, typos, and awkward sentences. It makes me feel like the Terminator. I say, “Manuscript, I’ll be back.” Then I put on those cool Ray-Bans.

I figure I can either feel sorry for myself that my OCD isn’t 100% cured, or I can love myself as I am, and negotiate a symbiosis with the condition. I’m not a freak or anything. Okay, that was a lie—and being a bit of a freak has nothing to do with mental illness. It’s a lifestyle choice I’m more than happy to embrace.

I’m Cait. I’m a person with OCD. Big flippin’ deal. You can’t shame me about it, because I’m not ashamed. (And did I mention I’m so colossally confident that I own myself for who I am? Yeah, that, dudes. Your argument is invalid.)

If you have a mental illness that you’re managing, you’re in very good company. There are a lot of us out here, and many of us are doing life! My hope is that you’re at a place where you’re thriving. I want you to thrive. You can, you know. You got this.

If you’re stuck, though, please reach out to a doctor or someone you trust, to help you find the help you need. We want this world with you in it.

Hugs to you all, and may your week be filled with cupcakes.

/cg

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