OCD and The Real Me

Written by: Wendy Sparrow
http://wendysparrow.com/

I’m medicated for OCD. I have to be. And it’s not 100% symptom control…more like anywhere from 30-60%. But my OCD is severe enough that I don’t expect total symptom control.

There’s this thing about going the medication route. You’re not working through your problems and coping despite them like you do with therapy. You’re not feeling them every moment like when you’re suffering with them or practicing avoidance. They’re a background noise…one that you’re ignoring, and the medication makes it easier to ignore them.

The strange thing is…I start to question if this is really me when I have more symptom control. Who am I once you take away all my quirky issues? Sure, it’s lame being tormented by every little thing…and I get a little crazy, but then there’s this…when things feel flat.

Someone I know once confided in me that their medication was messing with their ability to feel remorse, and I get that. I don’t know what it’s like to live in this world where everything doesn’t haunt me at night. Where I can get to sleep instead of thinking about things I did wrong in junior high. I don’t know how to be without guilt being the strongest motivating factor in my life. Guilt is like a safety net. My guilt is so strong that I can count on it to keep me to making minimal mistakes.

Without guilt, who am I?

Don’t get me wrong, I do feel guilt and remorse, but it’s a small fraction of what I used to feel. Is this normal? What is the normal amount of guilt? Should I feel guilty about things that happened a year ago? What about a month ago? Yesterday? What’s the time limit on guilt?

The meds haven’t even dented my agoraphobia however. It’s alive and well. Every day I have carpool, and it’s starting to peel my shell off. I feel raw and exposed every day. Things feel so flat. I’m not diving deep into the darkness of guilt and fear of contamination, but I’m not really hitting the highs that I get on the good days off the meds. It all just feels so…mediocre.

The cost of guilt seems to be the pride of accomplishment. But maybe this is normal.

Meds and treatment can become a double-edged sword for the severely affected. Our symptoms are such a part of our psyche that when you take them away–it’s taking away something we view as “us.” Somewhere in between functional and psychosis is this person…this “Real Me” who is the person I’d be if you stripped out the OCD, but left behind my personality. Unfortunately, at my age–my late thirties, my personality is tentacled by symptoms. You strip out a symptom…and a part of me goes with it.

Sometimes, when the medication works, it feels like a loss. It feels like you took away one of my character traits because it wasn’t good enough for society. Two pills in the morning and WHAM there goes my need to stack things. One pill in the afternoon and SMACK there goes my hoarding issue. Two pills at night and SLAM there goes my guilt over that cruel thing I said two years ago.

On the other hand, there’s my husband and kids. Should they have to deal with a psychopath because I’m attached to my OCD symptoms? Because, like it or not, I know that I’m a better person on medication. My daughter is getting older and she deserves a mom who has her OCD under control–who can help her see proper coping mechanisms. I was around twelve when I first started cutting to cope. B is just a little older than that.

In the end, maybe we all sacrifice a little of us on the altar of self-improvement on behalf of those we love. Maybe this is the right amount of guilt to be mentally healthy–and, at the very least, I’m feeling guilty about my lack of guilt. I know that my family is more important to me than anything, and they’ll support me either way, but I just wish I knew if this was the real me…or if this is the washed-out version of Wendy. If you take away my OCD, I’m not sure who I am underneath.

What about you? Do you ever wonder if you’ve lost yourself in the pursuit of finding the real you? I know I cringed and shuddered when someone jokingly tried to hug me last week, so at least I’m not THAT far gone.

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