In recent weeks and months, it has been brought to my attention with rapid speed and force that my Nan and my Dad aren’t going to live forever. I don’t know why this comes as such a shock to me because it’s basic human knowledge that we grow old and die. But we never think our loved ones will.
Now if you’ve read any of my previous posts, you’ll know just how much I think of my Dad. However I can’t recall just how much I’ve talked about my Nan.
My parents split up when I was 7 and a half (for some reason the half is very important to me) and it was decided by them that I would continue to live with my Dad. As he couldn’t just leave work to care full time for me, my Nan and Grandad rallied round and put in a major Grandparenting shift. Picking me up from school and cooking me dinner and nurturing me all came as perks to them, and I relished in their love and affection. Being spoilt an awful lot also came part and parcel with spending so much time with them.
Unfortunately, my Grandad passed away a few years ago now and I miss him dearly and my Nan has just turned 90. The sad part is, I remember vividly when I used to be at their house (fondly known to us as my second home) and my Nan would throw my head over the bath to wash it and be scratching my scalp whilst I thrashed and complained and she used to say “Stop moaning! It’ll do your hair good!”. But now when I visit, she struggles to move around the house without help and various other ailments that show her age. And it breaks my heart every time because I know she is such a strong woman and a fighter but her age is catching up to her in a race she will never win.
All this got me thinking about myself and how much I fight and struggle everyday with my OCD and Depression. It made me think of one thing in particular.
When people think of OCD, they go straight to the physical symptoms or rituals, whichever you prefer to use. Hand washing, counting, touching, showering and so on. (For anyone unaware, contamination OCD is repetitive hand washing, showering or bathing to remove germs or the fear of germs and becoming ill/contaminated, hence the name etc etc). However, I’ve been struggling a lot recently with something that I didn’t think would happen to me with my OCD because I was convinced I just had ‘contamination’ OCD. I’ve developed intrusive thoughts and they’ve hit me in a big way. Intrusive thoughts are thoughts that are usually very vivid and visceral and can contain images of violence, explicit sexual content or self harm/harm to others and often involve loved ones. They can occur at any time and regularly at the wrong time. I commonly get intrusive thoughts about me committing acts of horrific violence or terrible things happening to my family etc.
In the cold light of day, this type of OCD is almost harder to deal with than my contamination OCD because it’s purely mental and there are no physical rituals that I can perform to alleviate the worry or the fear or the thoughts.
This leads me onto the main point of this post…
I’ve come to the realisation that although I am strong in some ways mentally, I would not be able to write this post without my Dad and Nan in my life. Cliché as it is, I am only strong because of their strength, their guidance but most of all, their love. And seeing them both grow older, I think now, more than ever, I’ve realised that one day, they won’t be here for me to ring when I need to hear their voice. They won’t be here to hug me and tell me everything will be okay. They won’t be here.
And to be honest, this scares the fucking hell out of me. Because I need help everyday to be able to function. And by help, I mean just knowing I’m not alone and that someone has my back when I need it. My OCD and depression have ripped me of any individual strength and confidence I once had as a person and I feel so alone if I even go a day without speaking to my Dad and Nan. So god knows what I’m going to do when they’re gone.
The point is this… OCD is so much more than rituals, thoughts, symptoms, medicine and therapy.
It changes you from who you were. It makes you a different person all together and 9 times out of 10, this has a life changing and devastating impact on not only yourself, but your family as well.
If I were a machine, I would be pulled off the product line for being defective.
But I’m just a person, broken on the inside where no one can see. Suffering from an invisible sickness, a mental cancer that causes me and my family and loved ones so much pain and misery and has ruined our lives. OCD is a silent, invisible death, it just takes a long time to settle in.