If you’re in a relationship with me — and my obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and anxiety — here are some things you can expect:
1. I will ask you the same questions multiple times.
As someone with OCD, one of my favorite things is repetitiveness. It’s not that I didn’t hear you the first time or that I don’t believe you, but I need to make sure you meant what you said and that I understood it.
2. I have phobias and irrational fears.
Car crashes, choking, anaphylaxis, home invasions, illness, my child dying, mass shootings — anything that can provoke fear in people, my anxiety exaggerates and thrives on.
3. I have panic attacks.
Most of the time, they come out of nowhere. The room starts to spin, my face turns white, my heart races, my body shakes, and they are often accompanied by vomiting. I happen to be pretty good at working through these now, but nonetheless, it’s still exhausting.
4. I eat specific foods in a specific way.
I have anxiety-induced trust issues in general. Therefore, even something like eating, I’ll perceive as a risk. What if the food makes me sick? What if I hate it? Or what if I’m allergic to it?
5. I constantly wash my hands.
If I don’t wash my hands at certain times — for a certain amount of time — it creates an unnecessary amount of anxiety and can lead to a panic attack.
6. There’s a lot of changing my mind and second guessing.
I probably trust myself the least of anyone. I tend to think of all the horrible mistakes I’ve made and all the consequences I’ve suffered as a result of poor decisions, reducing my confidence in myself to make a future choice.
7. I need you to tell me, “It’s going to be okay.”
When the fear and anxiety is bubbling up, I need more than anything to be told it’s going to be okay. I need to know my fears are taken seriously and that I have a calm and steady force on my side.
8. I constantly say “I’m sorry.”
I’m sorry for being me a lot. I truly am. I want to be carefree and easy-going. I want to please everyone and I want to be perfect, but I’m not and I never will be.
I struggle with things many people find hard to understand. Even I have a hard time understanding myself sometimes. That being said, I need people in my life who don’t care so much about understanding me, but instead just care for me, as I am. It’s challenging enough just to be me without having to explain or defend why I think and act as I do — because most of the time I can’t.
I know I have issues I need to work on, and I continue to make improvements all the time, but this is who I am at the end of the day. I’d like to think my good qualities outweigh the bad — I am kind, generous, funny, compassionate and loyal. My battles with OCD and anxiety are tough, ongoing, and hard to fight, but I need people to love and appreciate me — quirks and all. Too many people try to minimize this disorder or try to argue me out of it, as opposed to coming along side of me in support and love.
I’d rather fight alone than with someone unwilling to accept me as I am.