Life with OCD: Getting Support from the Right Places

An object in motion stays in motion, and an object at rest stays at rest. I understand the concept of inertia all too well—when I get anxious and depressed I feel as though my body will stay at rest forever.

A few months ago I took a short trip to California, essentially a long weekend that included a Monday off from work. After a long day of traveling with a missed connection, I didn’t feel up for work on Tuesday. Then I felt anxious and worried about how my second missed day looked to everyone at work. Were people talking about me? Were they annoyed, upset, overworked trying to fill in for me? Now in addition to a tired body I had an overactive mind. Instead of going to work on the third day, I stayed home again—this time because I was nearly paralyzed with the fear that I’d let everyone down and that they’d all ask me why I’d been gone a second day.

As Wednesday wore on, I started to believe I may never be able to return to work again. Now everyone would really be upset that I’d been out for so long, or they’d realize after a three-day absence that my contributions to the company weren’t valuable after all and I’d be let go the day I finally returned. And that was a problem: I just could not picture myself getting up on Thursday morning and making it into work. How could I ever get up the energy and willpower to do it?

So instead of keeping this all in and letting it fester, I reached out to an OCD support group I belong to online. I told everyone what had been going on, and I said I was afraid I may never leave the house again. They were amazing. They told me they knew I could do it and that they understood what I was going through and where I was coming from. Telling them gave me the boost I needed to get up on Thursday morning and get to work, because I was excited to tell them the good news! Even though they wouldn’t have held me accountable in a pushy or judgmental way, I actually wanted to be able to get back to them and say, “I did it!”

The next morning, they checked in on me, asking me how I was feeling.

“I’m on the bus!” I wrote from my phone.

They were so proud of me for doing something most people consider a very basic accomplishment. I got out of bed, showered, put on clothes, and left my house. It’s sometimes embarrassing to admit to “normal” people that I get in these funks. Don’t get me wrong; oftentimes they understand and are supportive, but I know how lots of people feel: No one wants to get out of a cozy bed in the morning, but we do it because we’re responsible adults. Getting support from people who have been in the same situations gives me more oomph than a disapproving gaze or talking-to ever has.

I’m trying my best. We all are. This time of year, when people are supposed to be jolly and bright, can be terrible for lots of us. Hang in there, and get support from people like you—and me!

Alison Dotson

 

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