A voice with a tone that did not match my own loomed over my mind. It spoke about horrifying accidents that would happen to my family and destructive statements about myself. To mute this repetitive record, I had specific compulsions that would momentarily pacify my racing mind. And if I did not act accordingly with detail and intention, then this terrorizing voice would shout louder and louder about the very real disease I will catch or the very painful car accident my mother will be in.
So I would perform my compulsions over and over until they were granted approval. And it was time consuming and exhausting — but it was very real — and it was there. Ongoing and circling at all times.
But I was too young to realize this was not okay. I was too young to know that my peers’ brains did not operate like this. I was too young to voice that I needed help. I was too young to recognize that these obsessive thoughts should not belong to the nine-year-old girl who yearned so badly to blend in on the playground.
I listened to this malicious voice because I knew everything would be okay if I acted on its commands. I endlessly counted, tapped, prayed, scrubbed, re-checked, and rearranged as a means to silent the provoking demands that dominated my thoughts.
And as I grew, this voice grew with me. Tracing my every step, criticizing my work, and flooding my mind with constant panic and anxiety — ultimately hindering my growth.
Life was obstructed by a tangle of thoughts. I was trapped in a knotted, dark web that I couldn’t seem to navigate through. I needed an outside force to aid in detangling the web that blocked me from breaking through. But I also believed that getting help would change the person that I was. This person was strangely thankful for the constant voice in her head. Like a comforting lull, I was soothed by my compulsions; I was numb.
In the back of my mind I knew something was wrong. But if I did get help, I thought it would be a form of betrayal; an exposure to the secret that made me, me. OCD was all I knew and all I was ever used to. I smothered myself in this web. Suffocating in my own mental state. I let it define me; I let it shape me. And in conjunction with my OCD came panic attacks, depersonalization, and strict dieting — but, I refused to seek help.
Yet, in the tangle of it all, light was yearning to peek through my knotted webbing. My mother was my rock — the rock. The rock that shattered my web and allowed me to crawl into the world that was waiting on the other side.
With bi-weekly therapy sessions, things started to make a bit more sense. Pieces of silk that built the foundation of my web were ingrained in my core far before I even knew there was a label for my mental disease.
Session after session, I slowly began to grasp a further understanding into this voice that consumed my life for far too long. I started to unpack my mind and slowly, but surely, acknowledged the way it functions.
Therapy gave me the comfort I needed to understand that I am not alone. 1 in 40 adults are affected by similar consuming thoughts. OCD is one of the top 20 causes of illness-related disability. Vocalizing my deepest and darkest obsessions and compulsions without fear of being labeled or mocked, shed light on how consuming this disease actually was. OCD took away a hearty chunk of my childhood and early adulthood. It devoured precious time, hindered relationships, dominated social cues, and drained the overall quality of my life.
But today, I identify the obsessive-compulsive thoughts in my head as a foreign voice. A voice that does not belong to me. I no longer stamp myself with a mental disorder. I am not defined by OCD. Yes, I still struggle with it everyday, but I am learning to dull the voice that once spoke so loud.
I like to think of rewiring my mind analogous to re-spinning my web. There are still some tangled corners that need re-weaving, but I am learning to maneuver through them with patience, self-love, and external guidance.
Be gentle on yourself, your web only deserves the finest silk.
If your obsessions and compulsions are affecting your quality of life, see your doctor or mental health professional.
Emily Moore is an LMU summa cum laude graduate of Communications and English studies. She is an avid trinket collector, self-proclaimed poet, trail runner, and lover of all things found in Erewhon Market. She is the project manager at the fullest. Find her on Instagram at @emmmmillyy or on her website.