We human beings are social beings. We come into the world as the result of others’ actions. We survive here in dependence on others. Whether we like it or not, there is hardly a moment of our lives when we do not benefit from others’ activities. For this reason, it is hardly surprising that most of our happiness arises in the context of our relationships with others.
― 14th Dalai Lama
A couple of months ago, I moved in with my boyfriend. That next milestone in a relationship is a scary one! The last time I did that, the situation ended up exacerbating my anxiety disorder (at the time I did not know what I had). This time however, is a very different story. I was diagnosed at the time that my current partner came into the picture, and from the very start, he has been supportive, comforting, and when the situation calls for it, tough on me for my own good (he often refuses to reassure me in my Pure O moments). I never imagined, however, how much living with someone in a healthy living situation could give me the extra boost I needed in my struggle with OCD.
When I went off to college, my school did not have roommates by default. So when I first started to experience the paralyzing fears around locked doors , plugged in appliances, and the inertia of the low-grade depression that can come with my anxiety, I was alone in a new place and far from family. I just let it take me. Then I moved in with a then-boyfriend halfway through college, and that was better only in that my symptoms could be distracted by someone or I would put the burden of locked doors on someone else (that was wrong of me). Of course, OCD just followed me to work instead (oh that is a whole other post). When that relationship ended and I had graduated from college, I was once again living alone. New city, new job, and family and friends not so far, but not close either. That was the absolute worst couple of years for my OCD. It went from being a menace to being a disorder. I spent so much time alone with my thoughts, and somehow my mind and OCD played tricks on me that felt so real at the time, I felt like I would die any day. Sleep once again became my only consolation, because that is when my brain left me alone. With my post-bac/grad school came the next living situation: I was moving in with two girls who attended the same university. I thought it would help. Unfortunately, they were never home when I was home, so I once again spent too much time inside my own head with OCD in charge.
Today: I am so encouraged! The time I spend alone has greatly decreased as my relationships in my love-life and friendships have progressed. OCD is not miraculously gone, of course. I am still struggling in much the same ways, everyday, every time I drive, lock a door, leave the apartment, or leave work. I have not yet committed myself to the treatment that will directly help me combat OCD. What is different for me is hope. I don’t spend nearly as much time alone as I used to, and I am spending time with people who know the truth about my OCD and have shown me they will love me and stand beside me no matter what comes next.