I would say the #1 question I get asked about OCD is how I healed from it, but a close second is how I knew I was better. When you’re “in the trenches” it can be hard to recognize progress. One day can be amazing and the next can feel like a major setback. You can feel on top of the world one week and the next feel back at square one. The truth is, healing isn’t linear. Recovery doesn’t magically happen overnight. It takes hard work, dedication, and perseverance to recover, and is completely possible.
Healing happened the most when I wasn’t looking for it. When recovering was all I could focus on, it was like watching paint dry. It was the times that I was able to focus on something else, even for a moment, when my brain began to heal. My brain had been through trauma. OCD tore me apart mentally and ripped away all trust in myself, it took time for me to feel comfortable trusting myself again. It took time for me to allow myself to think about something other than “the thoughts” for a while. It took time to let down my guard and allow myself to fully concentrate on something that wasn’t exclusively centered around my kids.
Healing felt like a belly laugh with my best friends. It felt like taking a deep breath in the crisp fall air. Like finding a safe place after a season of fear. Healing meant asking for less reassurance, and giving it more. It was having the confidence to admit what I was going through to others. It was taking control instead of being controlled. It was being conscious of what I’d been through without being sucked back into the obsessiveness of it.
Healing meant telling my story without triggering the pain. It meant recognizing the hidden strength it took to conquer my struggle. It meant understanding that there won’t always be a reason why. It meant not comparing myself and my journey to others. It meant protecting my kids without traumatizing myself. It meant not sweating the small stuff and being rational enough to handle the big stuff.
For my family, it meant being present. For my kids, it meant cuddles and kisses. For my husband it meant not finding me crying in the closet every time he turned his back. For my friends it meant walking next to me instead of carrying me through. For myself it meant feeling safe in my own skin. Healing gave me a new lease on life and a fresh perspective.
I don’t wish away my experience with OCD. It challenged me to my core and almost broke me entirely. It made me deal with old wounds and learn how to cope with new ones. It made me examine my character with a fine tooth comb and come to terms with my short-comings. It made me realize that being a perfect parent was no where near as important as being a present parent, and for those lessons, I am eternally grateful.