My Long Walk To Freedom
I felt compelled to tell my story of dealing with mental health issues, in the hopes that it offers comfort, hope and inspiration to someone. Since I can remember I have had the anxiety disorder OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). And no that doesn't mean I clean the house a lot and that I'm mega tidy, despite what the TV shows say. TV really is bollocks a lot of the time #JustSaying.
OCD as stated an anxiety disorder. Meaning I feel compelled to do certain things or rituals over and over again, because I get held ransom by my mind. If I don't engage in these habits, my mind will drown me in anxiety. It could be a fear that my family might get hurt, I will get harmed or something will burn down, to name but a few worries - the mind is very creative. So growing up you can imagine the frustration and pain this caused me, especially when I was young, as I didn't understand. I thought I was 'a nutter', shit maybe I am. The other side of OCD for me is that my mind will bring back past memories, completely exaggerate them and make me out to be an awful person. This of course gives me immense amounts of anxiety about how I may have hurt someone. Dating has been a huge cause of pain for me in recent years. Let's say I broke up with a girl, my mind will tell me I've destroyed her life and that she will be in pain. For a caring guy, this hurts.
That is just a glimpse at my mental health. Please note that just like physical health everyone has mental health, and no one is perfectly 'normal'. Then again why would you want to be normal.
For years I ran from my disorder. I struggled and coped with it. I slowly got a handle on it, and dealt with the residual anxiety day to day. I tolerated the immense anxiety attacks, as they were fewer. About a few months ago I took stock of my emotions and of my past. It dawned on me that OCD had robbed me of many great experiences in life because I was too anxious and it tainted too many days by overlaying a grey cloud of anxiety on said days.
Enough was enough. No more was I going to tolerate this shit. I seeked professional help. I started doing therapy with a guy called Mark Freeman (markfreeman.ca). For me there was the initial stigma of being someone who does therapy. But in time as I started to make progress, I realised that I could not give two shits about what people thought of me, as I was recovering and that was priceless. If you are afraid of seeking help, fuck it. Just do it, if anyone has a problem with it, let me know, I'll have a word with those morons (lost humans). Your health, peace and happiness is all that matters. Don't discount that for anyone else.
I wrote this in the hopes that it may offer some solace but also it may help you take the first steps to recovery.
My walk to freedom has started, it is long but the sun is out. For I have left the darkness behind, and dared to brave the sunshine. (Ok a little more dramatic than I wanted, but I went with it).
To your success, peace and recovery,
I am doing ERP (Exposure Response Prevention therapy) with ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) . Check it out, it really works for OCD (maybe some other disorders as well).
Also if you wanted to hear more about my therapy or need some advice please feel free to contact me here: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Title inspiration of course came from Nelson Mandela.
Final footnote - I am also in a weird way grateful for growing up with the disorder, because it made me more caring, thoughtful and introspective. All traits that I love. Thanks OCD for those lessons, your job is done, you may now leave - go somewhere sunny.