I miss you guys! I know I’ve said it before in posts, but grad school is a major time suck. But I really miss this blog and had a moment the other day that I wanted to share. Hopefully I’ll graduate soon and have time for this again because there’s so much I want to share with you guys about what I’ve been up to. I’ve been going after my fears—both OCD fears and general ones—and knocking them down. But that’s for another day.
Wednesday, February 26
One year ago, I traveled to a writing conference and, for the first time in years, didn’t have anxiety about staying in a hotel. I hadn’t done that since I was a kid. It was exhilarating.
Today, I’m sitting on a plane, going to the same conference, and I’m in a large amount of pain (I have chronic pain all the way down my spine). My neck is stiff and aches up into my head. I’ve got the tray table down, my elbows resting on it, my face in my hands, willing the pain away. Desperate and feeling very broken—in many ways, not just physically, though that’s the most immediate, at the moment.
But I’m sitting here with my face in my hands and just realized how amazing it is that I no longer notice when I touch my face, something I was also unable to do for many years. I could only touch it immediately after washing my hands.
I washed my hands earlier when I used the bathroom at the airport, but that was 4 hours ago. Since then, I’ve touched things on the plane, things my brain absolutely qualifies as dirty. But I don’t have hand sanitizer with me—haven’t used hand sanitizer since June, another feat I still can’t believe sometimes. So my hands are, by my standards, filthy.
But I’m okay. I’m not even a little bit afraid of them, these filthy hands. And I’m so floored by that. I feel like crying but don’t want to confuse or worry my fellow passengers.
I’m flying in the air, way about Utah, and I’m touching my face, and I’m not afraid, and, in some ways, it feels like a miracle. I don’t mean this happened magically or with divine intervention. I worked my ass off to get to this point. It was so difficult. It just feels miraculous because for so long I didn’t believe I could ever get to this point, that I could experience something as simple and beautiful as touching my face with my own hands and without fear.
This is all to say—I’m not trying to brag or ask for a pat on the back or anything like that. Yes, I’m incredibly proud of the work I’ve done, and I should be. But that’s not my point. My point is that IT’S POSSIBLE. For years, I was paralyzed by OCD. I’m sure there will come a time when it paralyzes me again; that’s the nature of mental illness. But today, I’m free. It took so much work, but I made it.
I want to share that because I want those of you who also struggle to know that it can get better. It can get so so so much better. You have to work your ass off for it. You have to go through some really difficult times and face a lot of tough fears, but you can come out free on the other side. I hope this gives you courage in dark moments. I know there are so many dark moments, but there are also bright, beautiful ones, and those are worth all the struggle it takes to find them.