the Light and the Dark

 

Candle pic w/o the hair!  Thank you Tim :)
Candle pic w/o the hair! Thank you Tim 🙂

Black Box Warnings.  Here is the post that I wrote:

Sometimes I can’t believe that I actually made it through college.  It has nothing to do with myself as a student.  I actually made the dean’s list semester after semester, eventually graduating with honors.

The reason I can’t believe I graduated or even went to college at all is my damning, irrational fear of contamination.  It was unbelievably difficult for me to move about the campus with literally thousands of other people.

I tried living in the dorms.  It worked successfully at my second university, the one I transferred to sophomore year, for about a semester.  My roommate was great.  She was a kind, intelligent, and very clean girl and I didn’t mind her at all.  It was when I heard girls down the hall talking about everyone getting sick, the illness seemingly spreading from one dorm room to the next that I finally decided dorm life was and never would be for me.  I moved out Christmas break and have been living with my boyfriend, in a quaint, yet impeccably kept apartment ever since.

There were days that I struggled to get myself motivated to go to class.  It was the fear, rather than laziness or sleepiness that kept me away.  I couldn’t make myself face the unseen demon: contamination.

Going to class was in itself an ordeal.  There was never a time that I was late, when I went, which was honestly not as often as I would have liked.  I had to make sure that I got MY seat.  MY seat was usually the one on one of the extremes of the room and always at the end, never in the middle.  I had to be sure that I could make a quick getaway if anyone was to become “ill” in class or if I became too overwhelmed, which was difficult because I was overwhelmed as soon as I walked through the doors.

I used and still use several coping mechanisms to deal with those times when I cannot avoid being near potentially contagious people.  I find that hiding behind my hair, head slightly bent down works well to create a feeling of escape, for a few moments at least.  My mouth usually becomes tightly sealed, making it a chore breathing solely through my nose.  While walking anywhere, I feel the need to wear a coat or a jacket because the compulsion to tightly clench my fists, embedding my nails into my palms is just too strong.  I don’t want people to see me doing this; hence I hide them in coat or jacket pockets.  I indulged in these routines to extreme degrees when I went to class.  I was far too tense the entire time and usually came home sore, weak, and with a headache.

My daily walk to campus usually took me by the counseling services center.  I looked at it daily, somewhat longingly, somewhat fearful, and for some stupid reason, embarrassingly.  I didn’t want there to be anything “wrong” with me, but I knew the things I was feeling just weren’t right.  Everyone around me at least seemed happy and carefree and seemed to care less if they got sick.  I, however, had these ridiculous and irrational thoughts of contamination on my mind nonstop.  It got to the point where it was ruining my life.

After one particularly terrifying, life-altering episode involving my potential exposure to a “stomach virus,” I made a phone call to the counseling services center and scheduled an appointment with a therapist.

Holy cow was I nervous for that first appointment!  I had never met a psychologist before in my life and was honestly terrified of the whole experience, but as soon as I stepped into her office, my fears subsided.  She was a friendly woman, who genuinely cared for my needs.  She asked me several, personal questions that I answered with no problem.  When it came to describing my fear, however, I had to write it on a piece of paper.  I can’t even say the word.  I fear that if I say it or even see it written that it will become a part of my life.  For the sake of understanding this blog, I will write the word: vomit.

It is my biggest fear.  I fear this normal, bodily function more than anything in the world, even more than death.   In fact, I even told this to the psychologist.  It seems that the things I told her must have been especially troublesome because she immediately had me schedule an appointment with the psychiatrist because she didn’t feel qualified to help me.

Weeks later, I met for the first time with a psychiatrist.  He was also very kind and knowledgeable.   He asked me questions too.  He made many puzzling faces throughout, but finally, he smiled. “Megan, do you sometimes feel the need to perform a behavior that you can’t explain the reasoning behind?”  I didn’t know what he was referring to at first, but he continued.  “I have heard people saying that they breathe a certain way, or touch their hair in a certain way as a means for relieving some of these intense urges, compulsions.”  It hit me then.  He’s describing me!  I told him that yes, I did and I told him some of these routines that I performed daily, such as intense hand washing, taking a shower immediately when I return home, and never eating anything with my hands, fist clenching, and symmetrical touching.

The session came to an end and he told me that he strongly felt he knew where my symptoms came from: OCD.  He told me all about the disorder, the symptoms, what can be done to relieve them, and the biological components of the disorder.  I shook his hand, left, and made a second appointment at the front desk.  The second appointment would be my introduction into therapy and medication.

I remember leaving the center after that appointment quite well.  Almost as soon as I left through the heavy, metal doors, the sun warming the top of my golden hair, I began to cry.  I was not sad.  Quite the opposite in fact!  I was absolutely elated at the diagnosis.  Finally, there was a name for why I did the things I did.  A lifetime of intense stress and worry was relieved a bit because of those three words: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  For the first time in a long time, I unclenched my lips in a public place and just breathed.

Best,

Megan

PS I love this picture, but the hair beneath the copper top is really, really annoying me now…I believe it belongs to Chester.

PSS The pic no longer has a hair thanks to a cool guy named Tim 🙂

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244 thoughts on “the Light and the Dark

  1. Hi, Megan! (It’s Vinny.) When you sed ‘wamble’ dat weminded me of my hoomin’s sister, cuz she’s like you: young and tawented, knows psychowogy, phiwosophy, vewy sensitive and outgoing, kinda like a volcano or quiet storm, and she’s a witer, too! My hoomin, on da udder hand, is an aoohead sometimes. F’rincetance: she don’t know art like her sister an only now she weauwizes dat photogwaphers like to SEE da world radder dan LOOK at it. 😀

  2. Wow. What an honest piece. I have no idea what OCD feels like, it’s one of the many things I don’t know enough about to comment on properly. But your blog makes it make sense. And I’m glad you got a diagnosis and felt better.

  3. Hi Megan,

    My neighbor also has OCD. I feel really sorry for her. She always has to beat out the clothes of her family. She is doing this every morning, the whole year through. She feels captivated by this disorder.

    I do understand that heredity plays a role. It just read that OCD is turned on by external events, so I guess it is like being susceptible to alcohol. But you can only become an alcoholic if you drink. Might this also hold for OCD? Now that the switch has been turned on you must find a way to turn it off. Is there something like an AA for OCD patients? Just an idea.

    I really hope that you can free yourself from this disorder, Megan. We have more than enough disorders in our daily life ;-).

  4. First thank you Meghan for visiting my blog postings and reading this posting stirs an understanding of carrying the burden of an issue difficult to share with others that only serves to compound its weight and truly, the relief of that weight being released once you have shared it and faced it is much understood. All the best…

  5. Thanks for sharing a glimpse if your life with us. It helps to understand things through someone else’s eyes. Thank you also for being open about the fact that seeking professional help or medication offers a certain relief and freedom. Too many people suffer alone and embarrassed. I know your blog has helped others! Blessings to you.

  6. Thank you for your sincerity in writing the word that so greatly bothers you. I pray you are much better and will find healing. Thank you for visiting and liking “But, I’m just a baby!”

  7. Say, Megan- did you ever see that movie with Helen Hunt and Jack Nicholson “As Good As It Gets”? I never forgot the scene where Jack Nicholson (the guy with OCD) and Helen Hunt were getting ready to go out. The only scene I vividly remember was when Helen Hunt was sitting outside next to the bathroom, and it took him a looooooong time to get out.

  8. i really can appreciate your raw and honest words and i’m so happy you are on your way to finding and accepting your true self. best of luck with all of it –

  9. I have OCD, too, although it got much better as I got older. I had the endless thoughts, also around diseases, particularly cancer, and the rituals to decontaminate myself from “contagious” things in the environment. What I still have is depression. I hope you are doing better.

  10. Megan. I really enjoyed reading “The Light and the Dark.” Perhaps it seems strange that one could enjoy reading about such a painful experience. Well, of course the experience is not what I enjoyed. What I appreciated was your honesty and sincerity and your ability to translate a unique experience. Thank you for reading my blog. I hope I’ve linked with yours. I’m new to this so don’t know if I have done so successfully.

  11. I am very, very late on thanking you of visiting my blog…with great respect for what has been diagnosed and for how you feel (which I experienced in ‘softer’ forms with panic attacks, many years ago) I think that maybe together with psychological help if you feel it useful, it would be helpful as well to join (maybe virtually at the beginning, to unplug the fear of ‘contamination’) some spiritual community, which can open up new horizons on us being all together part of a whole, and that there is no ‘other’ opposed to ‘I’, but just a bright vibrational net of Love which connects all of us. This is what all the ancient indigenous cultures knew well, and maybe making a first step on a path of Love is better than any pills. Maybe starting some yoga, also individual classes at the beginning, starting to connect in a friendly way with body…or working with colors, dance, crystals, painting – anything which connects us with the Source and with our Creativity to discover. We are all victims of misconceptions, mislearnings, miseverything.. and conditionings of all kinds in a fear-based society, which lives and gets prosperous and rich on that (but not for long). We are not taught about our body and its wonders, we grow soaked into fears of all kinds, so as we can be more easily manipulated, used, economically exploited. It’s just a huge trap, but there have always been and now even more in this ‘New Era’ growing, many, many spiritual ways of wider Knowledge, Health and Love available for us to walk. Indigenous people and masters always said that you cannot have two masters, and you have to choose: or you stay with fear or you stay with love…:-)
    Wish you all the best

  12. Really loved this blog found it honest,informative and incredibly touching I work for a mental health charity Mental Health North East and with your permission would like to place a link to your blog on our website ps thanks for the like on fruit loop watch

      1. Cheers will do that tomorrow web address is http://www.mhne.org.uk so you can have alook if you wish I suffer from PTSD n Depression n have posted Blogs on WordPress about my experiences if u care to look though it’s mostly satirical stuff like fruitloop watch best wishes for the future

      2. Hi Megan have put link to your blog on our portal if u wish to look at it go to http://www.mhne.org.uk click on our work in drop down menu click young people and mental health then click on young people and mental health news if there is anything in the blurb your unhappy with please let me know and will change it cheers James

  13. Loved this blog found it honest, informative and incredibly moving I work for a mental health charity Mental Health North East and with your permission would love to post a link to your blog on our website ps so glad you liked fruitloop watch

  14. Hi Megan have put link to your blog on our portal if u want to see it go to http://www.mhne.org.uk then click on our work in drop down menu click young people and mental health then click young people and mental health news in side menu if there’s anything in the blurb u don’t like please let me know and will change it cheers james

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