Two years ago this morning I woke up in my parents’ basement to an uncertain future. The day before, with my brain seemingly trying to sabotage my very existence, I walked away from my job and flew home to Toronto. What I’d hoped would be a week-long stay turned into two weeks, then four; by the time I made it back to Calgary I’d been gone for almost two months, and while I’d stabilized in the interim it took another two weeks before I was well enough to go back to work. Leaving was one of the toughest decisions I’ve ever made…toughest, but also best, because in the end I truly believe it saved my life. That sounds dramatic, and maybe it is, but by the time I left I literally felt as though I couldn’t be home alone anymore. Every hour felt like a lifetime; simply making it to the end of the day, to where I could crawl into bed and become unconscious, felt like a major victory. I couldn’t go on. I needed help.
I’m glad I asked for it.
It’s taken almost two years for me to get to a point where I’m beginning to feel totally “healed.” “Healed” is in quotation marks because one is never fully “healed” of a mental illness: one learns how to manage it, perhaps even to a point where it’s no longer a factor in their lives, but it’s never fully gone. As evidence, last week I had obsessions for the first time in over two months. They didn’t affect me, at least not really, but they were the same grotesque thoughts that forced me back to Toronto two Augusts ago. That they didn’t really affect me is evidence that things have gotten better. Their presence, on the other hand, suggests that OCD’s never fully going away and that it’s something I’ll have to manage the rest of my life. Strangely, I’m okay with that: the occasional obsession isn’t going to derail me again, but it might be enough to ensure continual care for my mental well-being. One day soon I’ll sit down and start writing about my life with OCD. This time last year I said I was going to write a book about “how family, friends, cute blonde doctors, overweight cocker spaniels, Rob Bell books, and rock n’ roll records can pull you out of the abyss and back into the light.” It’s time to get cracking.