When you first told me you thought you had OCD too, I didn’t believe you. Every other person thinks they have OCD when they first hear of it, because they like things neat and tidy and clean. Over and over I find myself explaining that OCD is not just about those things, not even mainly about those things.
But then you began to tell me about all the religious anxiety you’ve spent your life dealing with, the panicky need to pray or speak for the Lord, or else.
Or else something bad is going to happen. Or else that person will never be saved. Or else that person will die.
And even though it makes no logical sense, that A could lead to B, the fear of the possibility is too great for you to ignore. So you pray and speak and do, driven by terror of what could be, and how you would be the one at fault.
In this way, faith becomes a torment to you. It is this huge weight riding on your shoulders, that you must be the one to save the world. And if you turn your back on this burden, turn your back on faith altogether, you too will lose the only hope of eternity you have.
The medication has run its course through my body and is fully washed out, now. Now I am empty; now I am doing this on my own.
People keep asking me why I chose to go off antidepressants. I was doing well, I was stable, and there were no side effects. Talk about a miracle drug. I could be happy and as close to carefree as I’d ever been, and it cost me nothing.
But maybe you can understand? These blogs, they’re not unlike my journals. They’re full of anguish, frustration, hope. And yet as I looked back at what I wrote even a year ago, I saw intense emotional upheaval over events and situations that didn’t merit it, things that felt almost childish.
I thought, maybe, I’d grown up since then.
So this is what I told people who asked about my decision with genuine concern: I feel more stable now than I ever have before. I had begun to look at the pill in my palm each night and wonder why I was taking it. I had never intended to be on the medication forever.
Did I feel shame about taking it? Not really, not anymore. I had felt shame at the beginning when my grandmother passed away, and I felt as though I was trying to be happy when I should have been grieving for her. But now I know that there is no shame in getting help, in realizing when I can’t do it on my own.
But now I believe I can. I believe I can do it on my own, and not because of trying harder or having more faith. Instead, this time of medical support has taught me through experience to see redemption and goodness instead of despair. It has shown me that life is not as bleak as I once thought, that my mind is not a prison, that there are good things within reach and this is not the end. It has distinguished between the real me and the sick me: the one who believes her friends talk about her behind her back as a burden and wish she weren’t around, the one who can do nothing but sit and cry, the one whose every word is a plea for attention and affirmation.
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.