Identity Crisis

by thethreepennyguignol

I haven’t been writing about my OCD as much as I used to lately, and do you know why? Because I’m fucking bored of it.

I mean, I’ve always hated it, to be fair, but lately – Jesus, can this mouthy bitch just shut the fuck up for a second? Being stuck in the house without much else to do but shout about Zack Snyder hasn’t been serving me as well as I might have liked, to be honest, and these last few months have been a particularly intense period for my compulsions and anxiety and all that arseing around. I’m on new medication, my therapist is amazing, and I am working on it. It’s going to be fine. Even if I did terrify my boyfriend a few days ago by stumbling out of the bedroom fully sobbing because I had a mark on my tit and thought it was breast cancer. Apart from that, I mean.

But it’s got me thinking about the whole OCD thing more than I would like to, and honestly, making me reflect on a lot of stuff that I’ve dealt with regarding my identity. When things are bad, as they have been lately, I can honestly feel like I am not much more than a giant, vibrating pile of anxiety and compulsions; I can’t think about anything else, focus on anything else, do much else but what I think it will take to make the worry go away (which it never does, but you know).

And it’s not the first time that this disorder has had an impact on the way that I perceive myself. OCD comes with a side of rumination; a symptom which basically involves getting stuck on a certain line of thinking and repeating it over and over in your head until you feel like your brain is going to explode. What those ruminations catch on to varies – for me, recently, it’s been my health and the health of those around me – but sometimes, and in my personal experience, they can hook on to issues of identity that make it difficult to work out if you’re genuinely questioning something about yourself or if this is just another symptom of the general Oawful Conciousness Dickery from which you suffer.

Obsessions about questions of gender identity and sexuality have been an on-and-off thing for me over the course of my life – continued rumination on whether or not I was straight, gay, a man, a woman, something else, something outside of all of that which I hadn’t discovered yet. And, while I love that there are so many resources out there for people who have these kinds of questions about themselves and wouldn’t want it any other way, so many of them offer much the same grounding: to question this stuff at great length and under great scrutiny is to have reason to question it. Which is to say – maybe you really don’t know who you are, after all.

Which is exactly what something as pernicious and horrible as OCD likes to hear. This disorder thrives on uncertainty, being able to shine a light in those dark spots of unsureness and make us question everything that we think we know – gender and sexuality are common ruminative loops, but you don’t have to look far to find more torment that the OCD puts people through. Terminally recurring questions about relationships, morality, religion, things that we hold as a central tenet to the people that we are, turn up over and over again for people with OCD (and God, or a lack of him, or maybe not, knows that they’ve been there for me, too) as questions that can’t be answered. And the mere act of asking them – not just once, but over and over and over again until you feel like you can think of nothing else – is alone enough to start to sew doubt in the things you thought you knew. Because people who know who they are and believe those things don’t have to spend their entire lives hand-wringing over it, do they?

How can you really be sure of who you are when you’re constantly bombarded with doubt from your own mind about that fact? For a long time, OCD was a really major part of my sense of identity – or lack of it – because I felt like there must have been something wrong with me to not be able to ground myself in these basic beliefs about who I was. To some extent, getting a diagnosis was a big help in shifting some of that; at least I understood why all these questions were there, even if I couldn’t stop them coming.

But, to be honest, even knowing why they’re so present in my head doesn’t stop them taking root sometimes. And I still deal with these random spurts of doubt about my personality, who I am, the stuff I believe in. It’s enough to make me feel downright deranged sometimes, this lack of certainty, this feeling of constantly-changing sense of self that is so destabilizing and so unsettling.

But I have to take it a day at a time. Focus on the small things that I know are true, the gut reactions that I can’t fake. My identity might be something that’s thrown into flux by my disorder sometimes, but that doesn’t mean that I need to spend my life doubting it. I can build on those, even if it’s slow, even if it’s wobbly sometimes. I know that it’s something other people with the ol’ Mad Brain Syndrome deal with at times, too, and if that’s you, and if you’re reading this – you’re not your OCD. You’re not what your OCD tells you that you are. And that goes even if you find yourself questioning everything you thought you knew. Whatever you are, your OCD doesn’t get to take that from you.

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