OCD & Me: A love-hate story

As you may infer from the title of this section, I have obsessive-compulsive disorder and I am on medication for it.

I’ve been on it for about three years but the OCD itself goes back, I think, all the way to first or second grade: At some point I developed the habit of chewing the skin off of my fingers, an act called ‘dermatophagia,’ a common symptom of OCD. I still do this today.

As I’ve gotten older and gone off and on the medication, I’ve developed other coping habits in addition to the dermatophagia: smoking, compulsive coffee drinking, leg jiggling, among others I’m sure I haven’t noticed.

Life before medication was SO exciting–in the way that riding in a rollercoaster with a loose safety bar is exciting.

I worried over everything–trivial, important, in between.

Later, in college, as I got into relationships, the OCD became so bad, I became what I termed “an emotional kamikaze,” utterly destroying the relationship.

The medication has greatly helped to alleviate the mental troubles: I no longer have difficulty sleeping, I find that I’m able to let things go, and my overall quality of life is incredibly better.

One facet of life that OCD helped with was with my writing. It still helps me today but in a more constructive way.

Previously it was the Voice of Self-hatred. Any writer knows what I mean. The voice that won’t allow you to think anything you write is good or even decent.

No doubt this Voice is what kept me from sharing my works with anyone for so long.

Paradoxically, this Voice was also what I thought MADE me a writer and I I were to stifle it with medication, I used to fear I would cease to be a writer and therefore cease to have any meaning in life.

But eventually I reached the point where I couldn’t function with the untreated OCD. And I was wonderfully surprised.

With the medication, the voice became the Voice of Constructive Criticism and Healthy Reassurance.

It tells me, hey, this isn’t terrible, it could be better if you did this though and by the way: Think about how writing makes you feel–you feel amazing–and that feeling naturally translates into your writing.

This voice won’t allow me to write anything that’s shitty by my standards but is different from the previous voice in that it doesn’t tear down my self-confidence.

In the end, I value my OCD but it isn’t what makes me a writer: that’s something genetic, the OCD is mental, changeable. Yes, it makes me a better writer because it compels me to work harder, think more, be more original, but it also needs to be managed so that I can be productive.

With this combination of mild OCD and medication, I feel better as a person and as a writer–more than I ever have before.


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