I tend to believe that everything happens for a reason, and at times my OCD makes me search for that reason. Several times each year, my OCD kicked into high gear and most times I used the techniques I learned from CBT and was able to reduce or eliminate the negative thoughts. On a slow day at work, a previous consumer came with two friends and walked into the mental health office on Friday, 5th June 2003. While the known person met with the associate director, I approached her friend and wanted to know if she needed to talk to me. Reluctantly, she agreed. Her name was Maureen and during that first encounter, she said plenty. At her second visit, she told my director that if it was not for me, she probably might have not returned and killed herself over that weekend. Talking about my OCD skyrocketing over this, but I thought to myself, OCD is not me, only a part of me.
From June 2003 – again and again – Maureen returned to the office. We dated, we stopped seeing each individually at work, continued to date and one thing led to another and we decided that on 11th December 2005 we had a Jewish marriage, but no legal documents were ever filed. OCD played a part in our relationship; however, we were basically content, sometimes even quite happy. This lasted for nine years and six months until her untimely death in June of 2015.
My birthday in May of 2008 was a major one that caused a spike in both my anxiety and my OCD symptoms. Maureen and I were married for almost two and a half years and still learning about each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Compromising with one another and trying not to go to bed angry was key to our relationship. For this birthday, my 50th, Maureen stated she said she will pull out all the stops and make this a time that I will never forget. My OCD sometimes got in the way, but she tried her hardest to minimise this. On the actual day, she made sure the family was together and we went to our favourite Italian restaurant, Vincent’s. For the majority of the time, I was OK and my symptoms were manageable. Thank you, Maureen.
Unfortunately that day in 2008, Maureen cash advanced a lot of money, so we were in debt for the rest of our time together, my OCD also remained. We managed the best we can, put our resources together and travelled every year and to go on holiday. Despite my OCD, we drove to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina plus various spots in Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New York. In March of 2014, I was fired from my job at the mental health agency and Maureen and I took everything one day at a time, or perhaps one hour at a time. This made it easier for us and to deal better with one another.
Later in 2014 and into early 2015, I began the process of looking for a new job. Again, my OCD kicked into high gear, but this was positive and negative. For at least three days I went to my local library to do research about getting employed. Spending hour after hour, I applied and called for my next opportunity. Sprinkled in there were a few interviews, but none amount to much. Naturally, it was difficult many days, especially when she was not doing well. On Sunday, 7th June, she was already in the hospital, where both our anxiety and OCD were racing because I had two interviews scheduled for Tuesday, while she had a medical procedure on Wednesday. We spent the entire time Sunday, weighing the pros and cons of what was best. When she died that Friday everything spiralled out of control, but when I could I thought of the familiar phrase: ‘OCD is not me, only a part of me.’
By the fall of 2015, I resumed my pursuit of landing a place to work. Finally, I was successful in obtaining a new position that began in February 2016. Ironically, I had applied and interviewed with this agency back that week in June. Realistically, if I was offered something then I would have declined. Six months later, I was willing, ready and able to obtain this assignment. OCD returned a week before I would begin my new job. Over time, I convinced myself this was best for me and repeated my favourite statement: ‘OCD is not me, only a part of me.’
When it turned into spring of 2018, my OCD was beginning to get fierce. Shortly my birthday was occurring on the 15th of May and it was going to be a round number of 60. Most of the hours of my days were spent challenging and changing my thoughts. By 1st May, my special birthday was but two weeks away and I’d been alone again. Mum was in an assisted living residence that was not too far from where I lived. She had dementia and it became harder and harder to visit. As for my brother and his wife, they each had their own medical issues and they had no time to spend with me. From his first marriage, my two nephews then 30 and 24 had their own lives and spent little energy thinking about mine or my birthday.
One day at a time or one hour at a time invaded my brain and started to make its effect. Although these bad thoughts were still there on the 15th, they were significantly minimal. Therefore, I was able to enjoy my birthday with some of my friends. Once again, OCD is not me, only a part of me.
On June 19, 2019, my mom died and naturally, my OCD returned. For the last year, my mother was dealing with dementia and nearly a few months before, I wondered if she knew who I was. This aided my OCD and I resigned myself that mom had already passed. Imagine everyone it is 2021, soon to be 2022, and all these years (1993) later, I still live in the same village, albeit in a different locale and place in my life. That is a good and positive OCD.
Now, I am completing my story. However, this was not a story and it is still is not finished. What is happening is simple, these are the continuing voyages of my life and will be ongoing, for many more years, (at least, I hope so ). Therefore, my true story is not done. Moreover, there will be future pieces on other topics. Yes, there will be times in my life ahead that my OCD will appear again. What I will tell myself is what has helped me and has been good to me in my past,
Ocd is not me, only a part of me.
Howard Diamond is a certified peer specialist in New York.