Obsessive-compulsive disorder can’t be “ended” by a logical conclusion, since its beginning is illogical per se. However, there are ways for it to end. As regards me, the obsessions are dead and gone. I can still envision them, like some sort of slimy, brownish, inactive layers, cemented somewhere deep in the abyss of my psyche. When they do become active though, everything becomes a nightmare: “Of all the things you are, a friend, a son, hilarious, creative and everything else that defines you, you’re also the creator of your own nightmares, so to speak”, Sorin once told me.
Sometimes, when I am trapped within my obsession, I tend to believe the thoughts are bound to increase in frequency and become “realer” and “realer” until I won’t be able to tell the difference between what’s real and what’s false.
“But you tell the difference really well already. The thoughts won’t get any more intense than this. Quite the opposite, once you’re out of this phase, you will be so much more used to it all”, says Ioana. The fact that you always know what’s real and what not is what makes the difference between OCD and schizophrenia, just how Cristi used to tell me.
Obsessive thinking works according to the International OCD Foundation like an object-specific schizophrenia, focused on a specific set of thoughts that make up the core of the obsession. Thus, although you can’t break out of the obsession despite knowing that it’s meaningless and you don’t actually want that which you fear, it still remains separate from reality, unlike the case of schizophrenia. To quote Sorin once again, “obsessions don’t come true”, and to put it simply, it feels like being mad and sane at the same time.
That’s precisely why obsessive compulsive disorder is not officially classified as a psychiatric illness: “Serious mental illness, that implies resorting to medication, hospital stays and specific treatment, besides therapy, tends to reach its peak between 24 and 27 years of age, whereas you, at 32, are already past this stage”, explained Cristi, in an effort to lower my anxiety.
Yet a disorder can occur at any random moment in one’s life, and most arise on a background of other previously neglected or unacknowledged disorders, such as depression. “Americans call it a “disorder”, because it comes and goes. The deepest depressions I’ve ever witnessed occurred in patients who’ve dealt with a specific medical problem they never quite recovered from. For instance, those who have suffered a stroke and were assured they’ll be back on their feet within six months; if that fails to happen, they risk falling into some seriously deep depressions”, Sorin told me.
“So you’ve had signals, signals you’ve been ignoring, and in time, the OCD got more creative”, Cristi once said to me. What where those signals of OCD and who or what exactly became more creative? The OCD, of course. It would be wrong to say “I did” instead of “the OCD”, for I acknowledge and reject it at the same time, I accept it as a part of me, but not as something that’s quintessential to my being; I am so much more than this, this is but a mere fragment of my psyche.
At some point, the monsters from my childhood quietly disappeared. I believe I was around 10 at that time.
All of a sudden, the obsession stopped and no further evil came out from behind my drawer, no other worry or care ever took this obsessive form again. Cristi named this moment “the discovery of sexuality”. Could be. I’ve no arguments to refute it and no reason to seek any either; fact is, the obsessions stopped and I am endlessly glad they did. It means I’m capable of functioning without them as well.
Original Romanian version: casajurnalistului.ro/boala-indoielii
Mihnea Mihalache-Fiastru is licensed in Psychology, essay and fiction writer, author and contributor since 2001 for Hustler, Vice and many other publications and websites