When I realized that I never wanted another person to experience the uncertainty I did before my diagnosis, I started writing this blog. Well ACTUALLY I thought about it for years and then finally said fuck it and was brave enough to share. Taaddaaaaa!
If even one person learns that they are not alone and gets the resources they need early, I will have succeeded. That's my purpose and this blog is the vehicle.
I would usually say that I will die on the hill of diagnosis. However, I've been having some wonderings (and wanderings) lately on the potential downsides to diagnosis and disclosure. Are there any? Is it sometimes more damaging to be given a label? Does a label give a thing more strength than it deserves? Do you always have to tell people what's going on in your head?
The answer is infallibly: it's your party, and you can cry if you want to baby cakes (aka shoot your shot, whatever that shot may be). I can only speak from my own quirky understanding, which I will always strive to share while respecting all choices and paths.
My diagnosis experience was odd but extremely liberating. I made an appointment months in advance for a psychological assessment because the waitlist was so long. When the day finally came, my partner dropped me off; I remember I was wearing a short-ish skirt that, in hindsight, physically represented the internal vulnerability I felt perfectly.
The building was a beige, uninviting institution. I found the right entrance after a few wrong ones and made it to reception. I was so nervous. I was in prime terror phase and thought the odds of not being let out after were 3 to 1.
After 20 minutes of sweating in the lobby, I was led into a small office by a very officious psychiatrist. She wasn't wasting any time and fixed me with one of those "I've seen it all before, bring on your crazy" stares. I took a breath and staggered through my story. Before I was even half way done she said "yes, that sounds like OCD, primarily obsessive. Are you interested in medication?" I replied that at that point I was not (we didn't even really take Advil in my house growing up) and I got out of there as quick as I could.
Once I was outside in the sun, I felt a grey weight lift off my chest and shoulders. I finally had confirmation from a pro that what I had been experiencing/googling was incredibly common. I was not an aberration. Of course knowing something and KNOWING something takes time. I have since sucked a lot of poisonous beliefs from my wounds. I believe a lot less lies about myself than before.
My diagnosis was clarifying, enlightening and unburdening. It was an essential next step in my healing. It was opening a door expecting a Demogorgon and finding a puppy that needed training instead.
Though the bedside manner of the psychiatrist was 1000% lacking, I in no uncertain terms would do it again in a heartbeat. But this is where the paths can diverge and in an effort of inclusivity, I acknowledge that the right time or the never time for seeking further information is up to the individual and never anyone else.
Not all OCD is created equal and my recent thoughts have led me to think that in certain cases where symptoms are not so strong, there might be the chance that an OCD diagnosis could cause unwanted grief or actually exasperate symptoms. I would never want to tell someone that there is a right or wrong way to seek medical help. I'm not an expert, I only know what I've experienced.
For me the difference between an official diagnosis and a self-diagnosis was experience vs fear based decision making. Medical professional of not, I know more information is better than less information. If you are having symptoms that are interrupting a healthy, balanced and fulfilled life, I would reach out: it's hard enough not understanding your brain, and it's worse when you're creating answers based in misinterpretation.
I'll leave you with this anecdote. Last month I had the joy of meeting someone who chose not to disclose their OCD initially and when they learned I had it, decided to reach out. At one point we were discussing coping and they expressed that most days now they can just pretend it's not a part of their lives. They inferred that in some way ignoring it was a failure of coping.
My response to that is absolutely: you do you honey boo. If ignorance is bliss and it gets you through the day, you ride that train as far as you want. No judgement. No question: it's your brain. You are in charge of it no matter what.
We all need a team. My purpose in life is to be the gatekeeper to an easier, less lonely OCD path. So if you need a push, here it is: why not get curious about your big, beautiful brain. But if you need to rest from a weary journey, no one need know and I'm here all the same with a blog and a shoulder to long-distance cry on.
If only my shoulder was that sexy...
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