I once got“the look.”
You know… the look you get when you may have over shared. I’m at a place in life where I can be open about my OCD, my faith and the history that created their journey together. It’s my hope by doing so I can help someone else overcome the stigma of saying they are afraid to be vulnerable and authentic and overcome the fear of having a silent illness, whatever theirs may be.
I’m versed in emotional intelligence. I take a lot of training on it for the work I do; however, not enough to make me any sort of expert but enough that I can use it daily. After being in a training for awhile, I shared a thought with my workshop partner, a total stranger until this class. We were speaking on how personalities can get in the way of critical conversations and brainstorming strategies to overcome that roadblock. I shared that I’ve been told that when people first meet me I seemed cold. Once they came to know me though, they shared they were happy to find I was the complete opposite.
I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.~Psalm 34:4-5
What they didn’t know upon their first introduction to me is that I have a mental illness. My silence is nothing more than finding a safe place for my mind to be. I have to study people and new situations to make sure I’m comfortable with all of it. Last thing I want is to be triggered into a state that has me in tears and a cycle of obsession. My workshop partner looked at me as if to say, “you’re mentally ill?” I could tell by his expression and body language that he was trying to figure out how he didn’t know that from day one.
It doesn’t work that way with the silent diseases. I lay odds that society has no idea how many people suffer with mental illness because it is not always obvious, especially with Pure O. Frankly, it’s not always comfortable to be candid and admit my OCD diagnosis. But I think it’s vital.
Later my partner asked if I thought the seating assignments would be rearranged for the next class. I said I hoped not because I’m not a huge fan of change once I get things organized in my mind. I’d have to get used to the differences and spend time getting comfortable all over again.
He laughed and said, “I hate it too. Things like that are what really stirs up my–”
…. and it’s that pause that is so essential. The odds are he was going to say “his OCD” for it looked like he had it perched on his lips and the tell tale emphasis he placed on “my” is usually a dead giveaway. If I had a dime for every time someone used OCD as a designer term for a quirk or a preference, I’d be a millionaire. Only on a rare few occasions have I met someone who legitimately shared my struggle. Instead, he stopped, regrouped, and said it “bugs” him.
I’m left to wonder…. was he one of the millions out there suffering and unable to trust vulnerability enough to share it? Or was he one of the few to learn that this is a serious illness and deserves respect? If it’s the former, I hope my vulnerability helps him find courage to speak his story. If the latter, kudos and thanks for rephrasing.
I show my vulnerability to helps others. I’ve seen the power speaking out can have in finding a path to healing. I show my soul to prove what abilities hide in the weaknesses we THINK we have. Shame can be turned to a strength if all trust and faith is placed in God. I’m vulnerable here on my blog, using a platform that is for my career as a writer to speak about OCD and my faith. There are some out there that would say I am wrong to do that here and I’d alienate readers by not being “PC” and mum on such topics.
I’ve my corner of the web and I intend to use it.
Let’s speak honestly and say that all struggles come with a healthy dose of shame. Stepping outside of that prison and sharing a story can open doors. Just… share it truthfully. Don’t hide behind false social media profiles, phony pictures of yourself or bogus stories about your life. Leave your story to be yours sans embellishments to hide your shame or fear. I believe we need to be in authentic relationships with our neighbors in the hope that ignorance ends and awareness begins.