When I was first diagnosed with OCD, I told some people about it—friends and family, mostly. And when it seemed appropriate, I’d tell a coworker. But it wasn’t until a couple years ago when I got a book deal that I started to tell everyone.
Maybe I’d bring up the book myself, or maybe my husband or a friend would, but whenever someone would ask, “What it’s about?” I found myself first answering with “Well, I have OCD…” before explaining that it’s part memoir, part self-help guide for teens and young adults with OCD. It’s my way of answering the follow-up question before it needs to be asked — “What makes you qualified to write it?”
I’ve said “I have OCD” over and over and over again, and then one day I thought, “Wait. Do I?”
Don’t get me wrong. My diagnosis was spot on. I don’t question that. But I’ve been doing so well that I started to wonder what it means to “have OCD” when you no longer obsess all the time. There’s no cure for OCD, but people can conquer it. I consider myself a success story, in fact. So is it wrong for me to keep saying I have OCD if I no longer struggle with it?
I think the answer is that I do have OCD, but I no longer obsess. I’ve overcome the disorder, and I’m not ashamed of the label. I can wear it like a badge of honor.
In some ways OCD is always lurking. Doubt still creeps in, and I have to be aware of how to handle bad thoughts. I’ll be honest — I am afraid of what lives in the deepest corners of my psyche. I do worry that it’s just dormant, just hiding temporarily, ready to pounce in my weak moments.
But I am ready.
I’m armed with the right tools now, but that doesn’t mean I think I can just stop my medication or stop working at it. I can’t forget where I came from. I can’t pretend I’m a person who has never been brought to my knees by obsessions.
Readers: We are curious to hear what you think: Do you still tell people you have OCD, even when you are no longer symptomatic?