Sometimes having OCD is incredibly lonely.
We often feel that we have to hide our OCD. This is a choice that we make, and I don’t think that it necessarily makes us weak or afraid. Sometimes it just comes down the fact that we don’t want to be annoying or bring undue attention to ourselves. We keep it to ourselves, rather than announce and broadcast our obsessions and compulsions to the world.
Sometimes it’s a matter of manners. Not everyone needs to know that I don’t want to touch that door handle or am worried that maybe my hands have germs on them. Not everyone needs to know everything about us all the time, especially not strangers or people we don’t know well or trust intimately.
We don’t need to publicize all of our anxieties and worries, regardless of if we have a mental illness or not. Most of the time, humans go about their lives in a private manner, doing what they need to do without making a public show of any and everything. This preserves social order and maintains our culture and way of life.
But it can be lonely, keeping in these anxieties and worries. Sometimes it is so nice to tell someone what we are thinking and dealing with, especially if they share similar struggles. But it is also important not to overburden others. It can be so hard to find someone who shares a mental illness that we often are tempted to bring it up all the time. But it is still important to find balance and make sure that we aren’t overdoing it.
Being all encompassed
When I finally accepted and started confronting my OCD, I think the vast majority of my conversations with my husband (who was basically the only adult I talked to regularly and extensively at the time) were about OCD. We talked about OCD so. much. It was weird when I finally moved past the stage where basically all of our conversations were about OCD, how hard it was, what I needed to do, etc. As I got help, my mind started processing and thinking about things other than my mental illness. I think my husband appreciated it, and now we talk about so many other things, like most couples probably do without even thinking about it.
When we’re focused on our mental illness, it becomes all encompassing. The mental illness becomes like that friend we may have all had at one time or another who forces you to only hang out with them and makes you feel guilty if you try to hang out with anyone else.
It’s lonely. And it’s not healthy.
So how do we avoid the loneliness of OCD or other mental illness?
I’m not sure, but I want to say that sometimes simply trying to ignore the mental illness and its demands can help. Try saying “enough is enough.” Don’t give into the guilt trips OCD will give you. Break free from the abusive relationship. You don’t have to be lonely. If you feel like you can’t do it on your own, find professional help. Go to a group. Find healthy ways to talk about it in appropriate situations and ideally with people who are trained to help others overcome mental illness.
It doesn’t mean that you will be cured from the loneliness or from having OCD. I’m not cured. I still feel lonely sometimes. I still have to be careful about oversharing (which ironically can cause more loneliness when I feel I am keeping things to myself). But I have to learn to let go and ignore (or embrace) the anxiety. I need to utilize the tools I’ve learned and read about to fight it.
Just say no
I need to stop choosing to hang out with my OCD. Since I can’t totally eliminate it, I need to give it boundaries and hold myself accountable to maintain them. I have OCD, but I don’t have to be defined by it and let it dictate who I am, what I talk about, and what I do, day in and day out. I don’t have to let it make me lonely.