A View From a Broken Person
So this is going to be a blog entry about a couple things. It's a blog about being BROKEN. It's a blog about being STRONG......and it's a blog about DEALING with a MENTAL ILLNESS, the illness being OCD. Some of these things I'm about to tell you might be hard to believe and they might be hard to hear, but if I'm anything, it's HONEST.
So my first point is that I'm proud as hell to be a Broken Person. I'm proud to be a member of this group but I'm also proud to be broken. Some would make it look nice and say I'm broken but I'm HEALING. That may be right for some of you but I say I'm done healing......I'm growing now. Here comes the hard part to swallow. I'm not ashamed of my mental illness nor do I want to fix it. OCD is as much me as baseball and comics. Here is why I'm proud and I don't want to be fixed. My OCD makes me DIFFERENT and it makes me STRONG. Stronger than I've ever been, far stronger than I would ever be without it. When I think of all OCD has taught me and all the things OCD has put me through, I wouldn't change a thing. And don't get me wrong, it knocked me around for a good 25 plus years. It still does sometimes even now.....but I persevere. I do not get FIXED, I get THROUGH everything it puts me through. Here is an example.
I will never view the outside world how most of you do. I see outside my home as being dirty. Period. That will not change and my therapist would agree that it won't change. I don't spend years trying to convince myself I'm wrong either. My therapist and I learned a long time ago that was futile and would get me nowhere. So how do I go out into this dirty world and live my life to the fullest? Here is a couple things I'm doing. Every time I leave my house, you might as well dump DIRTINESS PERSONIFIED on me every time. That's how I view myself. For a long time I thought showering and cleaning myself was the solution. Wrong again! I would only get clean to get dirty once again. So my life became a prison. And for years the OCD told me all the things it was never going to let me do. And let me tell you I believed it. But I yearned to have a real life, not one spent in one little house. I wanted to experience the world and I wanted to experience life!! The OCD would tell me "You can't have a job!" It told me I couldn't be in one of my favorite places, which is my comic store. Now in my eyes there are few dirtier places than a comic store. People passing books and cards around constantly. So what did I do? I didn't stay at home and order my comics on line. Nope! I went out and got a job AT my comic favorite comic shop, two things ocd told me I couldn't do. Did you see it get smaller? because I did. Now don't get me wrong. I still saw the shop as dirty. However I put myself in a place where I could handle it for short periods of time. Periods of time short enough for me to stand doing it. The longer I worked there the more convinced it was dirty I became. I needed a new plan. So here is what I did. Some of you will disagree that this was the right move. Some will dare say its unhealthy and those people are entitled to their opinion. Here is two people that do not think It is unhealthy what I'm about to tell you. They are my therapist and myself. Those are the opinions I care about.
I decided that coming home every night to clean up and or shower was becoming a brutal chore like it once had become before. I needed to do something drastic. And when I say drastic, trust me its drastic. The four days a week that I worked at the shop, I saw myself as dirty and embraced it for every second of those 4 days. My showers were not hour long marathons that pushed me to the point of collapse quite often. They were quick, easy and took care of the essentials. Now I did not view myself as clean after these showers. The only way I would see myself as clean would be with the marathon showers. I didn't have the time or the energy for those except for maybe once a week. So there I was living a life submerged in dirty but still functioning. Going to work, doing the garbage, using the public restroom and a million other things I didn't want to do. I was doing them. And I was having fun doing them. I felt a true sense of relief that for those 4 or 5 days a week, there were no ocd rules. I could do anything! There was one problem. I needed a place at home that I could be dirty in, constantly. So here is where it gets real tricky. Here is where I will lose some of you. I had to create three dirty rooms in my house. Three rooms that I could be as dirty as I could imagine in. I needed a dirty bathroom, a dirty bedroom to sleep in and a dirty hang out room to read my comics and watch TV. So that is exactly what I created. I now had two bedrooms, one dirty and one clean. I had two bathrooms, one dirty and one clean and finally I had to living rooms, one dirty and one clean. I'm sure it sounds crazy but all I can tell you is worked for me. It was actually the best thing I ever did. You might say I was still letting my ocd control me but I look at like this. I outsmarted the ocd. I still played by it's rules but I shrunk immensely the area I had to follow them in. The area went from the entire world having to be clean to keep me clean to a few rooms in two houses having to be clean, my house and my parents. It opened up a humongous world for me that up until now, I couldn't experience. I could shake hands with people. I could play sports. I could exercise and I did, losing 40 lbs and counting. This next one is the best one. I could hug people. It no longer mattered if I viewed everyone as dirty because I was dirty too now. I could hug my friends, something I went over TWENTY YEARS without doing.
Like I say you are allowed to have your opinion as to whether this is normal, as to whether this is healthy and as to whether this was the right move. But despite that, I know it was. But I'm going to take it one step even further. My career has always been something I struggled with. I have had some bad luck and my OCD has been a huge hurdle for me to work. It cost me not having many options. One thing I always wanted to learn was medical coding. Here is a job where I can make great money and here is a job that I can do from home. I can choose whether to be clean or dirty at home, I now had the room options. I needed to go back to school though to learn medical coding. School was something the OCD always told me I couldn't do. I could not have used texts books because they were dirty. I could not go to a dirty classroom and bring my computer to all my dirty destinations. It was impossible.....until now. Because guess what??? I was already leading a dirty life and thriving. I could do school too. I needed a few things for the house but I could do it. Just always do homework in my dirty areas, that's all I needed to do. So guess what? My mom stumbled across a free training program over a nine month period to help prepare people for the certification test for medical coding. I applied, I passed the entry test, and by golly I got accepted to the program. Now I understand I had a lot of help from God. But honestly if I hadn't created a world for myself where I could do these things, they wouldn't have happened. So here I sit 4 months in to my 9 month program getting a 92% in my class and handling everything. School is hard enough without ocd. I'm succeeding in school WITH OCD.
So I leave you with this. I am a broken person. My life is not normal. Everything life has dealt me, I have grown and persevered through it. My road is unique and would not be possible without God, but like I said- I'm doing it. And like Sinatra sang I'm doing it my way. Nothing can stop me and nothing can stop you! So let's go out there and make magic happen.
For those of you awaiting the release of my new book DangerLife, trust me.....it will be made available real soon. Happy New Year!