We had just finished eating dinner: chicken and steak tacos. My brother and his family were at our house for Christmas in the winter of my freshman year of high school, and the adults were sitting around the table while the nieces and nephews were playing with each other. One of them was making her way over to the kitchen when we heard coughing and the splat of throw up onto the hardwood floor.
I went into a frenzy. All of the color in my face drained out of me like snow on an unseasonably warm day—fast. Tears welled up in my eyes and I stood among the fuss of rushing her into the bathroom and sopping up the mess.
I spent the rest of my night in the shower crying.
This is the most vivid memory that I have. It was when my emetophobia, fear of throwing up, went off the rails; but for my family, it was the last straw. Voices were raised and tears were shed by both myself and my mom. My father said it was a step in the right direction, acknowledging that it had crossed a line and promising to help. By the following week, I was going to therapy every Monday night, where I spent most of the session crying on the couch because I didn’t want to accept what my therapist was saying. We would go into the public bathrooms of her office, where I would promptly touch the surfaces of the toilet and hand sink. We would then go back to her office and I would tell her about my anxiety level on a scale of 1-10.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a brain and behavioral disorder that causes anxiety to its sufferers. There are two parts: obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are thoughts that pop up in the brain and the compulsions are the actions that someone takes to calm or right the intrusive thoughts.
I have never told any of friends about my OCD, and only my immediate family members know that I struggle with it. I wish that I could say that I am stronger than my disorder, but I am not. OCD has affected my relationships with my family by creating unnecessary conflicts and bruised feelings when my thoughts get too out of hand. OCD has also affected my health, as well. I have lost around 10 pounds in the past month because the flu had been going around my family and I was afraid to eat because I didn’t want to throw up.
After a breakdown earlier this week, I have come to terms with my issue and have decided I will fix myself. I am too tired, and too annoyed to let this continue on.
It has taken me a long time to accept the fact that I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Until now I was never willing to acknowledge it because I was terrified of people thinking that I was damaged—which seems to be one of the adjectives that defines me, as of late. I suppose I am writing this as a breakup letter to my issues, as hard as the recovery might be. I am exhausted trying to pretend that I am OK, especially when I know that I am being irrational. I feel shackled to my war-driven mind, bent on destruction. I am well aware just how ridiculous the fear of throwing up is—it happens to everyone and they all get through it— but it is hard to keep the positive thoughts instead of the negative ones rushing in. But all of that ends today: I will focus on getting back to myself, because as hard as that may be, it will be worth it.
The author of this piece has requested to remain anonymous.
(Image via Jess Marshall.)