Normally I like watching the OCD project, not because I like to watch people suffer, but because it is comforting to see people doing such hard exposures and succeeding. It is also nice to see others that I can relate to, people who struggle with things I have struggled with or still do.
Today I realized that watching this show is starting to cause me some amount of anxiety. I look at the participants' reactions and think, maybe I don't know what that is like anymore. What if I can no longer sympathize? What if I never really had OCD?
I am doing so much better, even in just the last couple days. The ease with which I have transitioned and started to change my ways frightens me. I feel like there should be a giant wave of anxiety that I have to overcome. This seems too easy. What if I forget how it felt to have that much fear of irrational things? What if I never really had it as bad as they did and was just acting like I had really bad OCD, when actually, I could have gotten out of my rut at anytime if I had just decided that I didn't want to act like I had the disorder anymore.
Guess this is good exposure, watching the show, because one of my fears is discovering that I don't really have OCD, or that I am suddenly over it and don't remember what it's like to have the disorder. I want so desperately to be able to relate to others with OCD because discovering I have this disorder means so much to me. It explains so much, both past and present. The last thing I want is someone telling me, nah, you don't have OCD...see look at those people...now that's OCD!! Then I'd be back at square one with no excuse not to do the things I feel I must do and no excuse for not trying to do things perfectly, even if I know that that perfection cannot be achieved.
Having this fear definitely makes me feel more alone and more like I don't have OCD, too. What sane person with OCD clings to their disorder if they know they are capable of more improvement? It seems like most people that I hear and read about just wish they could banish their anxiety, the symptoms of their OCD. They wish that they could go back to a time before the disorder emerged, a happier time when they were free.
For me, though, I feel like there is no such time. I feel like I have always had the disorder in one form or another ever since I can remember. There were certainly times when it was a lot worse than others, periodic flare ups that caused a lot of distress and noticeable problems, but it was always there in the background even when it wasn't bad, directing my actions and decisions and forcing me to do things I didn't really want to do. Knowing now the more subtle intricacies of this disorder gives me the hope of having a happier life even when my OCD is not particularly destructive or obvious. I am afraid of having that hope stolen from my grasp with proof that I don't have the disorder or that the disorder hasn't affected my life to the degree I thought it had. As long as I continue with my washing compulsions I have the comfort that I, as well as everyone else, can see that something is off. But as the visible compulsions slip away, I know longer have proof that I have the disorder, and my own doubt, as well as others', begins to eat away at me.
As usual I just have to keep going anyway, pushing forward despite my inability to know beyond all doubt that I have OCD.