I do not know how to tell my story without Jesus in it.
And I think this is what I’ve been running from. I’ve been running from telling my story to people who don’t understand or don’t want to hear it. I’ve been running from the fear that I might offend, be misunderstood, not be taken seriously.
And in the process, I’ve been running from me.
If I stop to think too long, I have to evaluate where I fit into this world—this world I don’t fit into. I have to admit that not everyone will approve of me or “get” me. That being myself means being misunderstood.
The only way to change that is to tell my story with all honesty: all the messes, all the despair, all the hope that guided me through. If I do not want to be known as a pretty Christian, I cannot hide my story’s ugliness. If I do not want to represent a neat Christianity, I cannot pretend I have no messes.
25 days. Count them. Watch them slip through your fingers like water.
25 days will not last forever. Your life here will not last forever. Family dinners, family jokes, family movie nights will not last forever.
You are leaving. You are leaving the room where you grew up, the room with clothes and books strewn in piles on the floor, the room where you don’t have to share anything. You are leaving your cozy bed and your bookshelves and your art on the walls.
In 25 days you will pack your things and move into a new room with a new friend. You will start a new life at a new school. Colby College is waiting for you, hopefully with a good on-campus job and the classes you requested. But you don’t know. You have no way of knowing now, and the information comes slowly, and the pieces are fitting together even more slowly, and you just aren’t ready yet.
I’m pretty sure that if I wasn’t a Christian, I’d be fully immersed in the mental health awareness movement by now.
I’d be fighting for the rights of people with depression and anxiety, focused on the benefits of medication and psychology, stamping out the stigma.
But as it is… part of me hesitates.
– – –
On my twelfth birthday, my dad took me out to breakfast and told me that I have Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. I didn’t tell him this at the time, but I’d already guessed. I’d seen the books on the shelf: Your Anxious Child and What to Do When Your Child Has Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. I’d just been too afraid to ask who they were for.
My dad told me he had the disorder, too. It felt like a big secret had been imparted on me—something I’d never known before, something he never talked about. As far as I could tell, he just went about his life as though it didn’t affect him. I certainly wouldn’t have guessed that he had it. It must have been something he wanted to keep hidden—a shameful weakness.
So I did the same. I kept those three letters tucked deep inside me, my own precious, terrible secret: OCD. I am, I thought, I am OCD.