OCD Update: One Year Later

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

This time last year I was diagnosed with clinical OCD. This is not news to many of you, as I have been very open and vocal about my experience and healing. You can read all about it here.

As the one year mark of my diagnosis has come and gone, I feel a deep need to not only give an update on how I'm doing but also give a huge thank you.

Friends, there was a point last year that I truly believed I would not make it to the next week, the next month, the next year of my life. At some point in February 2017 I was acutely aware that there was something very wrong with my brain. I could not stop thinking about my children and I dying. The fear and shame that accompanied those thoughts clouded every part of my life, making it difficult to feel anything but increasing anxiety. At this point I called the only person I could trust with this secret - my counselor, who I had seen a few years earlier. There was a two week wait until her next available appointment. It was the most scary two weeks of my life.

I would lay down at night and tell myself that my only job was to stay alive until Thursday, March 15. My brain would offer up hundreds of different solutions to my stress and anxiety. Hey Channing, it would say, there's a whole bottle of pills in the cupboard. There's knives on the kitchen counter.
And my brain's morbid favorite: Your apartment is right next to a busy road. You could totally walk out there, get run over by a car, and die. Its not that hard.

This track played on repeat Every. single. day.

Every. single. night.

These thoughts freaked me out. I was scared of my own mind. But after fighting and fearing these thoughts for well over nine months, I was getting very tired. It took everything I had to not listen. I was afraid I would not be stronger than these thoughts much longer.

I made it to the appointment and received a preliminary diagnosis of OCD. Afterwards, I felt like I could breathe for the first time in months. There are no words to describe what power having a name and vocabulary for what was happening gave me. It was like someone handed me a sword so I could fight OCD with something other than a stick.

I needed to schedule an appointment with a psychiatrist to receive an official diagnosis and a prescription. Unfortunately, the only psychiatrist in the area that my insurance covered had a six week wait until I could get in for an evaluation. That six week wait was only slightly less miserable than the wait for my counselor.

When I finally received my official diagnosis, I rushed to the pharmacy to pick up my first bottle of Luvox. I have never been happier to take a pill in my entire life. It took about a month, but I began to notice those cruel suicidal thoughts fade. I remember the first day I didn't think about dying at all and instead read a book in the first time since my son was born. I had a quiet mind.

Fast forward to a year later, and I've learned so much. I've learned how to successfully manage OCD.  I've learned that OCD is a life-long illness that will never be cured but can be managed with mindfulness and medication. I will be taking Luvox for the rest of my life. I was very sad to learn this because Luvox is strongly contraindicated for pregnancy and breastfeeding. This means I would not be able to take medication if I became pregnant. For me and my situation, that is not an option. Learning I would be on Luvox my entire life also means that I am done having children. I am still mourning that. I am 27. I am not ready to be done. But for me having babies = strong possibility of dying and I'd just really rather not. The two kids I do have still need their mama.

I still feel the effects of OCD regularly, especially when I am stressed or overwhelmed. I've noticed a significant uptick of symptoms, including suicidal ideations, in the few days before my period every month. But the good news is that I can manage the obsessions/compulsions with a variety of tricks I learned in counseling. My favorite method is simply saying, "Go away, OCD." Because I am aware of how OCD presents itself, I can spot it and tell it to eff off before it starts causing any real problems.

My house is a little less glittering clean than it was last year and I'm okay with that. I secretly enjoy looking around my house after the kids go to bed. Dirty clothes on the floor mean we played hard today. Dishes in the sink mean we ate today. Books scattered everywhere means we read today. Every time my house is a bit messy, I feel a renewed victory over OCD. You did not take this day from me! I think and celebrate by reading my own book among the residue of a life well-lived.

As I look at my life today I can't help but feel a deep sense of gratitude toward the people in my life. You have saved me. Your comments on Facebook and Instagram have made me feel connected and loved. You brought me treats, mailed me pictures and paintings and cards, you invited me to play dates and water parks. You asked me about my OCD and really listened. You brought me meals when my son had surgery, when my daughter broke her arm, when we had the flu. Once you even brought me a meal just because you felt like you needed to. You babysat, you reached out, you visited, and most importantly, you loved me. In more cases than one, that love quite literally saved my life.

This is my big thank you. Thanks for showing up for me. Thanks for being a friend. Thank you for saving my life. OCD may be around forever, but I know that you guys will be too. There will always be people who love me, and that makes every day one worth sticking around for.
© Channing B. Parker. Design by FCD.