I am not one to easily admit that they are struggling. I am not someone who lets her walls down without much thought or anticipation of what could possibly occur. I think of myself as a very reserved and even shy person until I feel comfortable enough to let another in. I never understood why, but I believe that it has to do with fear. I am afraid of allowing someone to see every part of me, including my real heart and scars, and then deciding that they want nothing to do with me.
I may be an open book online, but that is definitely not the reality in my everyday life. I still enjoy my privacy and anonymity. I hate telling people that my father passed and despise that sinking feeling I get in my gut. Staring into their pitiful eyes makes me want to crawl up into a ball and hide away.
These next few sentences are ones I never thought that I would write because I never had the courage to share my mental health journey. I have always believed in being honest with yourself and with others about any pain you may be experiencing. I realize now that I have not followed that value for a while now.
I guess it is finally time to rip that bandaid off, so here I go.
I have OCD and anxiety, which can be crippling and make it hard for me to function in different settings. I am constantly asking others for reassurance because I cannot do it myself. I like to think I do a great job of hiding it behind fake smiles and putting on a strong front, but this week there was no more disguising it.
I came home from school on Wednesday and immediately broke down into tears. I was in so much pain and felt so broken. At one point, my mom had to steady my hands because they were shaking uncontrollably. The dosage of medicine I was on was no longer having an effect on my body, and I could feel myself starting to lose control. The other day, I was reading my book on my bedroom floor and could not even focus because my mind was all over the place. I was so consumed by my thoughts, it was as if I was under their spell. There were so many days I could barely think straight, and I kept asking myself, “Why is this happening to me? Why am I going through this? When will this be over? When will I be okay again?”
I know that I can come across as though I am doing fine on my blog, but that is not always the case. Guys, I am not always okay, and I am not always happy or optimistic. I have so much on my plate and sometimes it starts to lose balance and then will eventually topple over. The plates will come crashing down and they will break, and then I am scrambling to pick up the pieces. The brave face that I seem to wear on my instagram, I confess, is sometimes just a mask.
I decided to share a small portion of my story, and when the right time comes, I will share more about my anxiety because I want people to know that they are not alone. I have anxiety attacks and panic attacks that leave me unable to breathe. I fiddle with my fingers and pick my nails, and have been doing so for years. When I am in the middle of an attack, I start to speak in short, broken fragments and can barely contain my panic. In an instant, my mind starts spewing all of these irrational thoughts from its mouth. I can see painful images of what OCD is convincing me will occur in the future, and then my heart officially begins its weekly marathon.
My mom said something to me after I expressed my deep desire to increase my dosage. She looked at me and said, “Dylan, the medicine is not the only reason that you were in a good place for a long time. You put in the hard work.”
Exposure therapy saved me, as it has opened up a whole new land of beginnings that would allow my OCD to simmer down a bit. However, it is not easy to cause your triggers and then have to push through the uneasy feeling that comes with it. But we cannot grow stronger if we were never forced to be weaker.
If any of you follow me on instagram, then you would have heard me talk about this secret “special project.” While I am not ready to share what it is just yet, I wanted to let you know that there has been some progress. I am so, so hopeful that all goes well and that I can report some big news to you guys soon. But for now, I ask that you cross your fingers and send a little faith my way.