I received a really insightful comment on my “Sketch” about the Zoo Lights. The comment called me out, and rightly so, for protecting my OCD and choosing it over my relationship with my husband.
This very thing happened to me so much before I started my cognitive behavioral therapy in earnest. I chose my OCD over everything else over and over again, protecting it at the cost of my relationships with my husband and my children.
When I went to my very first OCD support group, I remember realizing that this very act of protecting my OCD and defending it through my actions and words was what caused me the greatest amount of regret and shame. I couldn’t believe that I had jeopardized my family and our stability and love in order to support a mental health disorder.
To see and recognize that very thing happening again might have been what subconsciously scared me the most in the bathroom at the Zoo Lights that night. But still the anxiety and uncertainty won. I still washed the coat. I still lost that battle and the OCD won.
This is depressing. But at the same time, a relapse is a critical time because it provides a choice. You can have a relapse and see yourself going back down a road that caused you and your family pain and then you can either choose to let it drag you back to where you were before, or you can recognize it, accept that it happened, and move forward.
You don’t have to continue to protect the OCD. I don’t have to choose the OCD over my relationships anymore. I can change.
It’s kind of like repentance. When you do something wrong, you can either continue to sin and justify those actions by saying, “well, I guess I’m just a sinner now so I might as well keep doing bad things.” Or, you can repent, change, make up for your mistake, and try to not do wrong again in the future.
My psychologist sometimes told me that if I chose the OCD or protected it and then realized what I did, I should just recontaminate and start the experience “over.” For instance, if I washed my hands after doing or touching something that didn’t require a hand wash, I could just touch or do that thing again right away and NOT wash that time. In this way, I’d acknowledge that I slipped up but then immediately prove to myself that I didn’t have to let the OCD win. I could still choose my life over a life controlled by obsessive compulsive disorder.
Because really, every time I protect the OCD, I’m choosing that kind of life. I’m choosing to surrender my agency and mind to it. And I don’t want to go that route again. I really don’t.