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On Victory, OCD, and Birdsong: An Anniversary

Free indeed. That was my Facebook status five years ago today.
I am pretty open about many of my struggles, my acronyms; my writing here bears witness to that. I have written about the mortification that accompanies having ADHD, especially as an adult. I've written about the crippling rounds against chronic depression where rising from bed seemed a Herculean task I couldn't face. I've written about much, hoping perhaps to be better understood and to make others feel less alone in these alienating wars.
I've spilled much ink on OCD as well. I call that the oldest voice in my head. It began as far back as I can remember. It remains with me still. Of all the enemies, it is perhaps the most complicated, the most misunderstood by others. Having battled it all my life, I find it is perhaps the most insidious, affecting me in far greater ways than I sometimes realize. On my best day, it is there. On my worst day, it nearly incapacitates me. I am out of the game.
I am one of the blessed ones whose family members were wise in recognizing it and swift in procuring help and unfailingly supportive. It is on my mind more this month because it has felt more out of my control than it has in years. I got help at such a young age (5); I have many tools and become mulish in my efforts to eradicate compulsions when I want to. As an adult especially, I tend to fall more in what is called the "purely obsessional" type. Basically, my struggles are more with my mind than with the physical manifestations. However, when I really take the time to look at myself, I realize there are still many compulsions--I've just gotten more adept at hiding them. I may not check a lock twenty times, but I could tell you nearly every sentence I spoke at my friend's house Monday night, because they've all been checked for mistakes a thousand times, like all my conversations usually are. I may not say words out loud to feel better, but I am gritting my teeth until my jaw feels just right and trying to form words in my mouth until the syllables feel perfect on my tongue, and thinking, it's fine, it's okay, it's alright, without realizing it when I'm trying to calm down enough to sleep. I don't have to wash my hands a certain number of times every day, but if I feel they've gotten dirty, you might notice I stay at the sink just a little longer than other people. And if it's something worse, hand sanitizer will be added for good measure. And then lotion so my hands don't crack from the punishment. I can do enough to look normal most of the time. But a peek inside my brain must look like an amusement park from the seventh circle of hell. Thoughts racing, racing, racing in circles. Dwelling on the worst possible things I could do or that could happen or that I've ever done. Feeling like I am supposed to punish myself, that punishing myself is what is right, and I must do what is right, even though it flies in the face of my faith. Just wanting to feel okay. Having to ask for reassurance even though I know I should be past that after 26 years of treatment, shouldn't I? Compulsively confessing every perceived or real misstep. Writing apology messages to patient friends to cover any possible mistakes at a cookout. Calling my mom or my husband or my dad to detail exactly what I did wrong and hoping against hope that what they say will calm my mind and make me feel alright again. Debriefing every situation and conversation. Weighing each thought. Remembering mistakes I made when I was eighteen, five, twenty-five. Wondering if I need to change my clothes before I sit on my couch. Obsessively replaying everything in my mind. The times I was too hard on my son. Too loud. Too rough. Times I lost my temper as a teacher. Am I the worst thing? Am I going to do the worst things? Am I dirty? Am I bad? Am I enough? God, I hope not. No. Maybe. Probably. No. Rinse and repeat. And see how you're sleeping. The volume is not always at a ten. But it is this month. And this morning, that quiet reminder: Free indeed.
You see, five years ago, God worked a miracle in me. He gave me a quiet mind for the first time in my entire life. If you don't suffer with the same kind of problems, you won't be able to fully understand it. But if you do, you know. You know it was just as big as the blind man seeing. The lame man walking. For me to walk outside and listen to the birds singing and not hear the racing thoughts? That was a supernatural healing. There was so much healing that weekend. And the whisper of the promise of my son. But that stilling of my mind...I am still in awe over it. When I told my people, they sat and cried tears of joy. You don't have to understand someone to know how much she suffers. I wish I could say I lived happily ever after, the end. But you know from this writing alone, that wasn't the end of my story. It was a glorious, gold star on my timeline. Like a wedding or a birth. I go back to that place and remember what the Lord has done. I remember I have that strength within me to make my mind go quiet, even for a moment, so that I can pray. I don't think this struggle will end this side of Heaven, but He has won the war. He has given me the truth--Jesus has redeemed me; my identity comes from Him. It is not my place to punish my mistakes. That price has been paid in full already. I probably won't stop struggling with this until I see Jesus face to face, but I will remember the sweet taste of Heaven I was given that beautiful autumn afternoon, when the birds were singing. I will remember my name means Victory, and that is what He gives me. Every time I stop to listen and can, I will remember. For each day I spend present with my son, I will thank Him.
Whom the Lord sets free is free indeed, Hallelujah.

Comments

Unknown said…
Your writing skills are phenominal..
Your words are inspirational.
The way in which you described the inner workings of the mind that is in constant state of chaos left me momentarily stunned. Like you were present in my life, my whole life. Thank you for putting it to words. Your soul is pure beauty. Never ever forget that. And you are right about our children. They are our unclenchable hold on this earth. And Salvation is our eternal Grace. Look forward to reading more of your blogs.

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