I am writing this from a nook by my patio, listening to fireworks and the emergency sirens as those in my neighborhood celebrate the 4th of July. Today was a beautiful day filled with family, Jenga, good beer, and lots of macaroni and cheese. As my husband and I were driving home (yep, that happened – I got married), I passed landmarks in my home city that stirred up core memories from the past four and a half years. There’s the apartment where OCD first began to really bulldoze through my life. There is the Target parking lot where I was stranded for hours, petrified by my OCD that is focused on driving. There is the loop I used to drive for hours, checking that I had not unknowingly caused some kind of harm along the route. There is the neighborhood where I once hid in my car and talked with a good friend for hours about my latest obsessions and compulsions, reluctant to talk in the house I lived in for fear that my housemates would hear me. There is the office of the psychologist who helped me find myself again. Oh look – a salad that reminds me of the time I was petrified that I might accidentally make my friends sick at a dinner party because the crumbled blue cheese I used smelled a little strong. I actually obsessed over the possibility that I could accidentally harm someone with perfectly good blue cheese crumbles. Sounds hilarious now – it was painful at the time.
The way that I spent this 4th of July is more than I could have imagined for myself years ago, when I first began this blog. I am very grateful to have won back my identity from anxiety and OCD. I even acknowledge that I owe OCD and anxiety parts of my identity, that I am a better person because of those experiences. What is strange is that I have been staying away from this blog and this topic. I guess I might be trying to bury and forget this part of me as I strive to develop myself and move forward with “adulting”. I feel good these days, so I feel that I should forget. The truth is that OCD and anxiety will never be gone. It is in my brain and apart of me and shapes who I am. I still need to acknowledge and wrestle with it. The truth is that I still give in to the occasional compulsion in order to silence the ever-present, albeit softer, obsessions. I am in a place now to be able to show my OCD who is boss, but I cannot pretend I never “had it”. And my anxiety is not going away, though I am getting better at distracting myself. Although my mental health challenges are no longer debilitating, I still have some unfinished business. So I am back, after a very long absence.