Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Hi I'm Melanie and I have OCD #OCDWeek #disclosure Part 4

Mini disclosure series for #OCDWeek.

Part 4:

There's only so many books about OCD you can read until you start craving human contact. I tried another counselor--he had never heard of hit-and-run OCD. So I tried another --she had me creating a hierarchy of my fears in the first session and scared me off. My next stop was a psychologist--he evaded the topic as much as I did.

It was time for Plan B--friends.

I started dropping hints to one of my friends. I let her know I wanted to tell her something. 

Guess, I’d say.

I don’t know what I would have done had she asked, “do you have hit-and-run OCD?”

It was months of cryptic discussions, trying to find a way to confide in her without admitting to anything. She was a safe friend to disclose to. She taught me the power of validation, the power of creating a safe and nonjudgmental environment.

Yet we kept walking. For months.

The grand reveal happened in public at a busy restaurant. The hollering kids helped add an element of privacy. I let the process drag out. I wasn’t ready to place my order and spill. I was still hoping for her improbable correct guess. 

Somehow all the "well's" and "um's" turned into a coherent disclosure. I explained what hit-and-run OCD is and let the tears flow towards my plate. 

That poor server who had been assigned to our table. 

I had a need to know that my friend believed I hadn’t killed anyone. She assured me she never questioned this for a second.

I started to feel a hint of liberation from unloading the skeletons from my closet. I couldn't believe I had finally done it. But how could someone comprehend the nastiness of the illness? 

I felt braver afterwards. I found a private support group on Facebook. With real people. No pseudonyms.

I toyed with the idea of making a separate account for the anonymity. What if someone I knew was in the group? What if people shared what I posted with people from my friends list? What if they were out to get me? But the inconvenience of alternating between two accounts won out. I was accepted into the group as me, my name, my profile picture. A virtual disclosure, if you will.

Just to be sure, I scanned the entire member list on the lookout for anyone from my city. I didn’t recognize any names. I was off the hook. But people continually joined. I had to be vigilant. Any new member could live in my city. I had to investigate, be sure. Any time the admin announced a new member, I’d study their name, check out their profile picture to rule them out as someone who could out me. I’m not sure what my contingency plan would have been had I recognized someone. I just knew I was on the lookout. 

Posting was next. My priority was to share my experience with hit-and-run OCD. Even within an environment of people with OCD, I felt the need to assure the members that I wasn’t a serial killer showing off her trophies. One of the professional contributors commented on the validity of what I was experiencing. A professional who got it. A professional who I didn’t have to seek out. I didn’t realize it at the time, but my experience was becoming normalized.

My post was naked in cyberspace for a few days. How could I let it float around on the World Wide Web? Why hadn’t I made a pseudo account? I went through pages and pages of posts—the group was popular—searching for my post so I could delete it. I didn’t want evidence of what I shared. I didn’t want future members to find it and show my friends and family. I ended up giving up. It was out there. I was disrobed. But I was disrobed among many.

My friend who I first disclosed to, years later, with a collage she made me of highlights from my journey.

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