This story is part of our blog series called “Stories from the OCD Community.” Stories from the community are submitted and edited by Toni Palombi. If you are interested in sharing your story you can view submission details at www.iocdf.org/ocd-stories.
After completing residential treatment (May–August) followed by day treatment (August–September) for obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), I wrote a letter to my OCD:
You started out as a good friend of mine. One of my best, I would have said. You granted me feelings that I longed to have and had failed to find anywhere else in this world. I made sure to follow your every command, and I trusted that you always had my best interest at heart. I felt as though I could always count on you. You made me feel productive. You helped me to view all sides of a situation. You held me accountable for my actions. You made me a considerate person. You continuously pushed me to do my best. You always encouraged me to keep on going, even on the days I just wanted to give up. You made me feel as though I was worthy. And among many other things; you made me feel safe.
With you, I felt an indefinable sense of purpose.
But then your demands grew stronger, and the good days with you became fewer. Our relationship became tense and I began to struggle. Many of my days were occupied by attempting to meet your impossible expectations. Countless nights were spent awake, just trying to make you proud. But there was no longer anything I could do or say. Nothing was going to make you happy. But despite all of this, I continued to try — because the idea of walking away from you scared me half to death.
And then I saw your true colors. It felt as though suddenly my life was entirely in your hands. You had me dangling from your fingertips. You held me in that filthy hand of yours and shook me to my core. You went and took from me what wasn’t yours to take. You stripped me of the things that I valued most. You saw what was most important to me, and then you tore it out from beneath me. You used the power you possess to target my vulnerability. You took the time I had saved for my family and friends and you kept it all for yourself. I was consequently exhausted. I couldn’t take it anymore — I was suffocating in your hands.
Nonetheless, I came to realize that it has always been in my power to escape that firm grip of yours. And so, I did. But unfortunately, when I managed to wiggle my way out, I hit the floor and I shattered. I shattered into a million pieces. And you’d be happy to know, that as I rested scattered across the floor, I felt broken and useless. It is as though you had built me up, just to watch me fall and break. And for some reason, after all of this … I still craved your presence, perhaps because of the temporary relief you offered me in times of distress.
But thankfully, despite your efforts to tear me apart, I managed to find the glue to help piece me together. And within that glue lays some of the most courageous people I have ever had the honor to meet. So, I thank you, truly. Because aside from all the hell you have dragged me through, you put me in a position to meet some of the most kind, sincere, brave, and special people I have ever met. I’ve had the privilege of meeting people who have changed my life for the better. People I may not have crossed paths with otherwise. People I now call my friends.
And lastly, there are a few things that I want to tell you — some of which may be hard for you to hear. But they are things that you need to know. I want you to know that I am done with you. I am finished with the false sense of pride you have given me. Sure, there are still days that I so desperately want to reach out to you, and there are still many days that I do. But I want you to know, these days will soon be fewer. I don’t need you in my life anymore. There is no reason for you to stay. This is not your story to write, nor is it yours to tell. It never was, and never will be. Because I am me — without you.
Kayla is 24 years old and resides in Ontario.