It’s not always what it seems.

If you don’t know me (you probably  do) I’m Marissa. Nice to meet you, good to “see” you whatever applies here. I’ve had this thought, or I guess stream of thoughts running through my mind over and over for days, I think I have literally written this post 4 times, in my mind, so I figured I would write it for real, for you. It’s not always what it seems, that’s what I want to talk about, things aren’t always what you you would assume them to be, or what they would seem to be. Sometimes things are far more complex, multi-faceted, we just need to take the time to understand that.

A little background, I was diagnosed with OCD at the age of 18, I had been living un-diagnosed with OCD since I was a child, not to the fault of my parents I simply just didn’t mention it. (more on that later) As you read that you probably had some fleeting thought like “oh her house must be so clean” or “I wonder how many times a day she washes her hands?” and I too would have had that same thought before I was told I had OCD but as I began to understand I realized, it’s not always what it seems. I wanted to write this because so often when I say I have OCD people tell me they don’t think I do because I don’t exhibit the classic symptoms they associate with it, they mean well, they just don’t understand… OCD or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is defined as “a mental disorder in which people have unwanted and repeated thoughts, feelings, ideas, sensations (obsessions), and behaviors that drive them to do something over and over (compulsions). Often the person carries out the behaviors to get rid of the obsessive thoughts.” The term OCD is most commonly associated with cleanliness, washing hands, excessive cleaning, fear of germs, and that’s valid and real for some, but not all. For me the obsessions (not the good kind) are with health concerns, things happening to me while I’m alone, not having intrusive thoughts, the list could go on but those are the major three. When I was younger I did have some “classic” obsessions and compulsions excessive hand washing, and having to do things a certain number of times because that number was “safe” and others were not, but I just that was normal and never talked to anyone about it, it didn’t bother me. As I grew up though it all started changing. I would obsess over the thought of a friend or family member dying and me never being able to get them back so I would not be able to move things they had put somewhere or touch things they had touched and I would experience extreme anxiety if something was moved or I accidentally touched something. Even then I thought this must just be normal, and I didn’t talk about it. It wasn’t until high school when it started showing up in health related concerns that I started having to talk about it strictly because my obsessive thoughts were starting to make me physically feel unwell. I began being terrified of having a heart attack, I would obsess about not having one so much that my body would start exhibiting symptoms of one, chest pain, arm pain, back pain, and then the compulsions to stop the obsession would kick in. I was obsessed with not fainting, so much so that I stopped walking around, if I wasn’t standing up I couldn’t faint, problem solved on that one, except not really, because then I was bed bound. I would chew gum incessantly, massage my neck over and over, take constant baths (how this stops a heart attack I don’t know, but it made sense to me) I would have to be in a moving car, that somehow was going to save me, the compulsions were endless and ever changing, and never made sense to anyone but me. These obsessions only grew and the tools I used to stop them (the compulsions) only became more ridiculous. My life was literally consumed to the point where my thoughts felt like they weren’t my own anymore like someone had taken over my brain, someone I hated, and turned it into a terrifying place where every bad thing that could happen lived and gave me lists of things to do to stop them from occurring. So when I say things aren’t always what they seem I simply mean OCD doesn’t always mean I have a beautifully clean home, or that I take 4 showers a day… all though I still cannot sleep at night without taking a shower first like literally will not sleep… it means that my brain obsesses about things to the point of extreme anxiety and then invents odd ways to “fix it”. Obviously these little tricks I’ve created don’t actually fix anything, they merely mask the issue and provide a temporary comfort. Comfort is great, but not when it’s temporary. I’m slowly learning what permanent peace feels like.

It has been a journey, one that I haven’t wanted to walk, but one that I am proud to have traveled. My family, my friends, my husband have all been the most gracious and loving people in my ugliest of times, find your tribe, they make all the difference. As a Christian I have prayed countless times for healing and while God hasn’t taken my OCD away from me He has walked right beside me and shown me so much, given me so much compassion, insight, understanding, and wisdom as I’ve walked. I know He works all things together for good and if I can help just one person because of what I’ve experienced then this has been good, worth every second. I’m still on my journey, some days are good and some days are bad, but all days are worth it and everyday is a gift. I guess what I am trying to say is don’t always make assumptions based on limited knowledge of something, take time to understand, you might be surprised what you find. I don’t claim to be a psychiatrist, I don’t know it all, but I do know that OCD looked a lot different than I thought it would and had I not been blessed with a psychiatrist who helped me understand I probably would have thought that this was just the way my brain was supposed to work and remained anxious and depressed for years. If you are still reading, thanks, this was probably the most boring thing I have ever written, but I couldn’t get it out of my head unless I deposited somewhere else so here it is, in all its grammatically error filled glory. I’m not going to obsess about what you think of me now, its taken awhile but I’m learning to love even the not so pretty parts of me.

love you

xx M

This is just the beginning

It all started years ago, my first vivd memory of a panic attack is from the age of 9. They were’t constant in my early years, in fact they rarely happened at all and when they did, I was sometimes forcing them out in order to get out of doing something I wasn’t keen on doing. All though I’m not proud to say that, it’s the truth and how are we ever to grow and move past something if we can’t speak truth about it? It wasn’t until junior high that it really started hitting me. My circumstances changed, my life changed, my grandfather the greatest man alive and my best friend passed away suddenly, my cousin someone who I looked up to in a bigger way then I knew then let me down in the worst way possible, and my father the man who I thought so highly of left the family. Later on my best friend was taken out of the world by cancer.. It was a crucial time in my life I was just becoming a teenager and my body was changing and I was trying to figure out who I was and all these events rocked me to the core, and without realizing it then I let myself fall into a spiral. I choose to be partially home-schooled in high school, the though of having to be somewhere, trapped, for hours was not something I could handle, I still attended weekly classes but only for hours at a time and not daily. I was the comedian of my friend group, the loud one, the life of the party, the center of attention, and that is how I coped. Some of my dearest friends didn’t even know my dad and mom had separated because everyday I put on a face for them instead of being real with them. It was easier to act like nothing was wrong, if I hid things from them I didn’t have to deal with my emotions, and at the time pushing them away seemed like the way to get past them. The problem with ignoring emotions is that one day they will come back, by stuffing them down, I only let them grow and become strongholds in my life. Instead of just facing them when they were happening, I ran. Running is something I have often done in my life, if I don’t like something I flee, I get away from it so that I don’t have to face it, a habit that is not healthy to have. So while I was running, and putting on a face that wasn’t my own in public I was having daily breakdowns at home to my family. It wasn’t right of me to do and they were all struggling with things that had happened and were happening as well, me only adding to their burdens. I chose not to medicate, I wanted to be able to overcome this on my own, to come out victorious using my own strength, and what is the problem with that way of thinking? The problem is I wanted to rely on my OWN strength, that leaving God out of the equation. Don’t get me wrong through this all I was attending church, praying, and reading my Bible daily, but when I was anxious I relied on myself and the world to bring me into a place of peace. The world, family, and friends could distract my mind for a time but when I gave them the responsibility of being that for them, I didn’t give God the ability to bring me through the trial and use it for his purposes. I got better for awhile, after meeting my husband I had something to look forward too, to be happy about everyday, I found strength in myself to travel cross the country on multiple plane flights to visit him, and I found peace in God’s presence. Finding peace in the Lord was the best thing I could have ever done, but I was still ignoring the trial and having God bring me through it and out of it no matter how hard overcoming some fears and scars might be….and that brings us to today. I’m 20 now, and this year my fears and anxieties have taken me out of life completely. I stopped coping by living and being the comedian and I started coping by hiding in my house and never going anywhere. I started coping by stopping living. You see the trails we face are often hidden gems, God lets us walk through them because he is refining us for His purpose. All though most of the time I don’t understand why He allows us to walk through certain trials, it is not mine to understand. All I need to understand is that He is working, and that He is bringing all things together for His greater good. So now, as I am writing this I have come to the realization that God is bringing me through this trial not to harm me, to strengthen me and I need to stop running from it and face it head on. I need to let God be in control and stop trying to control my life for Him. If you’ve read this far you are probably wondering why I am writing this, why I am sharing it on the internet with you? I am writing this and sharing it because I need to, I have been so hidden and closed off for so long even from my greatest friends something that is not fair to me or them, I need the people around me to be able to understand me and where I am in my life. Maybe God is going to use me in mighty ways to help other people walk the journey of anxiety, and maybe he is already using me to reach you as you read this. I don’t know his plan and I don’t need to know his plan, I trust in the fact that he is my victorious warrior and is going to bring far greater good than I could have imagined out of this situation. This blog is simply a place for me to process what is going on in my life and to share it with anyone who wants to read it or who is in the same place as I am. Sometimes all you need to get better is to know you are not alone…