Right now, life is so different. New home, new rally to fight against OCD, new job. It's that last one that has me tired and anxious today. Today was my first day at a new job. Granted, I'm still just doing training, but even so, it's not so much the job as the small unrelated challenges that come with it - things that I know others take for granted - that place strain on me.
I feel like there should be some sort of support network out there for people who have overcome or are overcoming severe OCD. A support group for those who are re-entering "normal" life and bravely facing the exposures that come with it. A place where those who are "in recovery" can guide and mentor those who are getting back on their feet. In general, I wish there was more available in terms of rehabilitation, guidance and support for the challenges that OCD sufferers are likely to face as they re-integrate themselves into society. I certainly feel like I could use such a program. Someone to tell me: "Here's what to expect when you begin to get back into normal life. These are some common feelings that sufferers experience. These are feelings/situations that you can expect to face and a rough timeline of the stages in your recovery." I recognize the importance of working on the behavioral components during therapy sessions, but what about the emotional side of things? What about the rehabilitation aspect? What about guidance in how to deal with all the emotional baggage and feelings of isolation that arise as a sufferer re-enters that "normal" world where people work full time and actions are not dictated by compulsion and avoidance?
So what were my unseen victories of the day? I used a public restroom. I touched sink handles. I washed my hands like a relatively normal person in public and didn't avoid things after touching the bathroom key. I also washed a mug I used at my new office in a relatively non-compulsive fashion considering that I just began washing dishes again on Friday.
These are all things that the average person does without thinking, without any sort of concerted effort. But today, they were my victories. Today my win was not completing the first day of job training in a professional sense. No, today my victory was functioning and taking care of things that needed to be taken care of unrelated (or at least not specific) to my line of work - getting myself to work on time, washing dishes at work, and using the bathroom at work, etc.
But carrying this secret is hard. I know I can handle the discomfort, but that's not the point. The point is, I feel like something's missing, like there should be some program for helping sufferers adapt to their new lives after OCD has taken its toll and left the recovering OCD-er with the feeling of being somewhat out-of-place and unsure how to exist and operate within the confines of "normal" life. After bending to OCD's will so thoroughly for so long, "normal" life is what feels foreign while the OCD world is all too familiar and comforting.
For me, it doesn't help that I have a new home/new roommate, as well. I love it here and I adore my new apartment-mate, but all the same, I constantly feel like I'm carrying around this big black secret that I can't tell anyone about, that I can't reveal lest others find it disturbing or treat me differently because of it. I envy those who can come home and can speak honestly of their day's stressors, who can turn to the comfort of family, roommates, or friends to get the understanding and support they desire after a hard day. But with my OCD struggles and successes, it just feels like most people couldn't understand or would even be made uncomfortable if I shared such burdens with them. So I keep them inside, hidden, even as I exert substantial effort to do those things that most take for granted.
My first day was taxing, but not so much because of the nature of my work. No, the taxing part was exerting the effort to maintain the level of functionality expected when working and living a so-called "normal" life. Honestly, I think using a public restroom and washing a mug were the most challenging parts of my day, and I feel disconnected from others because this fact is my big fat hidden secret.
Can anyone relate? How have you dealt with the struggles of gradually re-entering the "normal" world after struggling with OCD?