And with that has gone my anxiety. But the truth about that is, I very definitely felt the anxiety slip away when I got on the plane to go off to NYC last year. catsparx may say differently, but for me, I really felt a lightening of my load just by getting on the plane (and getting out from that situation?). In my heart of hearts I always knew that that was the end of the relationship, for months I had had a gut feeling that it wouldn't last past that trip, so when it didn't, it wasn't really all that much of a shock. So I guess getting on the plane was sort of an acceptance of that fate. But I guess what interested me most about that was the accompaniment of the reduction in anxiety and with that, the reduction in the OCD. It wasn't gone. But it was reduced. And it meant I could share a bed with kaaronwarren at the con and not blink, that the four of us (Cat and Rob) could share a bathroom and it was fine. That I could eat in a foreign country and that I could handle getting on and off public transport. It meant, in essence, that I could live again. And do what I love - spend time with friends and see new places.
Having OCD was kind of a frightening thing. I guess like any obsession, it owns your mind and then it owns you. It is so absorbing and encompassing that not any moment of your day is spent thinking about anything else. And if you do think of something else, or you do something that is not in accordance with things, you start to panic, and maybe that panic ramps up into a panic attack. And then you're really in trouble. The worst of it was when I got caught in loops. I don't really want to talk about it but watching yourself from a step away doing what is really quite illogical in the hopes that it will make it be better, is quite frightening - in that you can't stop yourself. There were times when I would get in and out of the shower for like 2 hours - maybe shower 6 times in that time frame - and I just wanted to hug that scared little girl and reason with her. But the reasoning would probably have been lost.
There were bad days. That's for sure.
But I guess what's hard for me now, is to separate out the "me" from the "situation". I don't ever want to be back in the dark abyss again. And I am mindful that that was my second bout and that that means I need to be ever vigilant. But in order to be vigilant, I need to understand what happened and what it meant.
The journey that I've been on this year has in some senses been a rediscovery of self. I have become reacquainted with who I am and to be accepting and embracing of that. I've kind of settled back into myself again - all of myself. It's kind of a weird feeling really - when you do that and you realise how lost you got. Because I think that's what happened. What I have come to realise is the "me" in that "situation" was one small aspect of me. Maybe even a very extreme element. Maybe more the "me" that comes out when I am backed into a corner. It's a part of me but it's not all of me. And when it's assimilated back into the rest of me, it's not really so scary (not most of the time anyway).
See because really what I am saying here is that I never ever want to go back there and what I am frightened of is the possibility that I could - it's not like I was in some freak Buffy episode where my body was possessed but now that Giles and Willow have rid me of the demon we can all reset and go into next week's episode like it never happened.
So then what? The first bit was to realise that I had lived my life for a very long time shutting down aspects of myself to conform. Ultimately, that's not going to make for a very happy person. It also makes for a very empty and unfulfilled person (I wish I didn't feel that I always needed to learn lessons the hard way! It would be so much less painful!). So I want to move forward in life being true to myself, to all of myself. I've started to embrace a personal philosophy of not doing things that I don't want to do. I mean obviously, there are things in life you have to do that you don't want to. But I mean doing things that make me feel uncomfortable or bad. This one has actually been harder to do than you would think. I tend to prefer to make someone else happy before me (see previous life experience) but that's not always the way you should be, especially when by doing so, you feel yucky.
The good news about living with this new philopsophy is that it makes you happy. And it feeds on itself in a positive spiral - something I have very rarely been on. I actually am still adjusting to not being in a self destructive state of mind. And am genuinely surprised and pleased with the way the world looks from this place.
The other thing though, of course, is to understand the OCD. Where did it come from? How did it happen? Why did it happen? And ultimately... what are the chances of regression?
I don't really like the answers to these questions which are starting to appear.
It's interesting that the OCD started to slip away as I got on the plane last year. I left that horrible space and I met benpeek and then he took me to the airport and I met up with catsparx and Rob. And then I stayed in their company for a good few weeks, and it was peppered with all sorts of other lovely people including kaaronwarren and all the other fantastic Aussies who went to World Fantasy Con. As well as the beautiful Americans I met up with (man I was gonna start listing but there are a whole bunch of you!) These are people I love and who care about me. And value what I think. And who I am. You can't really be in a more nurturing environment than that. And the creativity of both the place and the company can't really do anything other than heal you. Not really. And when the break up happened, I was staying with a very close old friend in London. Who knows me and loves me. And started picking up the pieces for me. And then of course flight home through family stops in Melbourne.
And I haven't really looked back since. And the OCD has slowly melted away. It just ceased to become a problem. It's not like I wasn't in stressful situations either - new job, split up, moving house ... all that stuff. So then I guess what becomes clear is it isn't the "stress" per se that is the trigger here. I hate to admit what it is though - it feels like some kind of horrible admission. I *should* be self sustaining, and independent. I shouldn't *need* others. But I spose the truth is, that I do. What my counsellor was saying to me this week is that in a way, a lot of the OCD was about trying to get the ex to show me that he cares about me. Fucked up, isn't it? That at the *very least* if he would deal with the OCD (in the various ways that I demanded that he do) then I would see that at some level, he must care for me. How pitifully sad really. And standing here, looking at that, the person who would need that is so far away from me, in the now. How sad for her. I guess though, getting wrapped up in that loop of a thought process, it's easier to see why I couldn't muster up the courage and power to take back the control and leave. Maybe when you are totally stripped so bare and raw, you just don't have it in you?
And so, I just don't need the OCD now. My life is filled to overflowing with people who love me and care for me. I've spent the last fortnight seeing people who want to say goodbye to me before I go on my trip - I even have squeezed in two more people today to do that before I go home tonight - and I'm only off for a 3 week holiday. I'm in such a nurturing space filled with love that I know is real and I don't need for it to prove itself. And so there is no place for OCD in that, it has no role to fill.
I guess that's where my head is at. It's taken three days to write this. But you know, it blows me away to watch myself do things that 10 months ago would have made me flip out. And I look at it and I'll like say: hey you didn't wash your hands before you ate, or you didn't have a shower before you got into bed or ... and I think *shrug* meh.
It's been a long road. And it's nice to be able to sit down in the shade, grab an icy cold drink and have a rest.