OCD and me, I did it again—skipping out on my medicine, believing myself invincible enough to defy my mental disorder.
I take Zoloft, 100 milligrams a day. Zoloft remains a dose of humility I swallow every morning more so than a dose of serotonin. This football-shaped pill is a constant reminder that my brain does not—and will not ever—work like an average person’s.
Recently moving from Colorado, USA to Georgia, USA, stretching 1,400 miles, I lost my medicine. The orange and white bottle was hidden in the mix of bags, suitcases, and dogs. At first, I panicked when I realised I couldn’t find my medicine, but I felt so healthy that I thought I had outlived my disorder. Why continue searching for the medication when perhaps I had a grip on Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) once and for all?
For two weeks, I got by on this faulty system. I wasn’t just good; I was great. A few compulsions, minor anxiety, a brand new person…
On a sunny, untainted day, an OCD thought crossed my mind that I couldn’t shake. Suddenly, the room seemed small, and my throat grew tight. The unwanted idea felt real, tangible, as if thick grey clouds filled every inch of space, leaving me no choice but to succumb to the fog of the relentless, invasive thought.
I called my husband, begging him to pick up my new medicine order at the pharmacy. Meanwhile, I tore through all the travel bags until I found the pills. The bottle was stuck inside a plastic bag, hidden underneath a bottle of shampoo that had burst. Sticky and icky, I snagged the bottle and took my medicine.
Once more, I believed I could manage without medicine, but this crash-and-burn lesson taught me two crucial truths…
1. I am not invincible.
I am not omniscient, omnipotent—none of those things. I am not always brave, kind, or wise. I make mistakes, repeat the same mistakes, then discover new mistakes to bumble through. I am confined to a flawed body that will never operate to standards of perfection.
At first, this seems like the ultimate disappointment, but what a relief to know that perfection and grace can’t coexist! We must choose one or the other.
Perfection mandates that you navigate life so well that you have constant control of the helm. You’re the captain of the ship. You call all the shots and manage all the shipmates.
Perfection gives no one else a chance at the helm to see beyond the horizon with a fresh perspective. You limit opportunities, relationships, and adventures when you set perfection as your precedent. And in turn, you lose out on grace, which requires that perfection take a back seat.
Grace says you will mess up. But when you mess up, you will not only find forgiveness from others, but you will also be able to forgive yourself.
Perfection leaves a person stuck in the lifeless cycle of wasted performance. Grace offers the chance to find life, find love, and find what’s rich and meaningful, even amid the realities of a harsh, messy world.
2. The act of healing means more than the scar.
Everyone loves a good scar. After all, cool scars mean remarkable stories. But what is a scar without an open wound? What makes a good scar story without the plot points of healing and surviving?
Think about it: folks are fascinated with shark-bite scars, but more than that, they want to hear the story of how the person survived. How did they face fear? Panic? Pain? What did it feel like to stare death in the face yet live?
On day one of my OCD diagnosis, my therapist said a cure would be out of reach. I will never be healed of OCD, at least on this side of heaven. However, I had the option to show up and face the disorder; I could use the tools of truth to combat the thoughts’ lies.
When the lie that I can handle this alone creeps up, I am reminded that my daily act of healing and showing up humbly to work through a chronic diagnosis is the gateway to community, to let others know they aren’t alone.
The healing process is the hope, the final product worth persevering for.
I won’t see the scar of OCD. I’ll never be fully healed with a soft pink thread to remind me of what happened. OCD will remain in the present, always happening. But the act of healing is where purpose is found.
I encourage you to find meaning and hope amid healing, whether you humbly take medicine for the rest of your life or live to see the faded pink scar.
Will you allow open wounds to mean something valuable? Even when healing seems forever away? Share your thoughts with a comment and don’t forget to react to this post with an emoji!
Photo via Canva