Empathy Is Not Wrong, Society Is

Empathy Is Not Wrong, Society Is

I’ve always lived my life in shades of gray, leaning neither toward black nor white. Life is too complicated to subject yourself to a one-track way of thinking.

But this isn’t always easy. From a very young age, I’ve felt a tremendous amount of pain for simply being human. And I always thought that I was wrong. I always thought that, somehow, I was actually a bad person for feeling things so deeply.

People told me I wanted attention. That I craved sympathy. That I needed to be everyone’s best friend. That I was nosy and dramatic. Soon, these became things I told myself, too.

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My OCD and Me: Treading Water in a Drought

My OCD and Me: Treading Water in a Drought

Many people assume they know what obsessive-compulsive disorder is: Making your bed a certain way every morning. Always being early to class or work. Organizing your toiletries so they’re color-coded in the bathroom closet.

But society doesn’t understand the things they cannot see – the things that people with OCD feel, the obsessive thoughts we cycle over, the guilt and shame we sleep with.

It started when I was in preschool, after a particularly traumatic experience with a boy who was three years older than me. He locked my bedroom door, tugged me into my own closet, and pulled my pants down.

He threatened me not to tell my parents what he made me do, and what he did to me. From that point forward, I felt I needed to tell them everything – every thought I had, even the crazy fleeting ones, the judgmental ones, the panicked ones.

“I just had a thought of putting a knife in your back,” I cried to my mom one evening. I was six.

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My OCD and Me: Why am I so Weak?

My OCD and Me: Why am I so Weak?

These past few weeks have been tough. Scratch that. My entire life has been tough. But whose isn’t?

In July, I went to a concert to see Panic! At The Disco and Weezer, and after eating and drinking all night, I didn’t feel too well. My stomach was in so much pain that as soon as I got home, I collapsed onto the floor in the hallway upstairs, sprawled out on my laundry I was supposed to put away earlier. I couldn’t move without a dizzy spell and felt like I was somehow months pregnant from the bloating in my stomach. Suddenly, my heart dropped.

I hate throwing up more than most things in this world. It’s remained one of my phobias since the first grade, right before I was diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Now, 15 years later, I still cringe at the thought.

So when I felt that intense nausea and pain while lying on my floor, I panicked. I really, truly panicked. I ran up and down the stairs, pacing and crying and pulling at my hair, yelling at my parents that I felt sick, gagging over the toilet, dry-heaving for fifteen minutes before finally throwing up my entire night in the bathroom sink downstairs.

That was all it took to send me into a downward spiral.

Continue reading “My OCD and Me: Why am I so Weak?”