Watching my OCD symptoms diminish was the most incredible and empowering thing, but it scared me because as my compulsions slipped, so did my emotional sensitivity and I was left feeling numb.
This is a frightening feeling. I wondered what parts of my personality my OCD would take with it and I felt my identity threatened. What if Van Gogh or other tortured artists never had their depression? Would they still be artists? Do you need misery to fuel passion?
I saw an episode of “House” where Dr. H discusses this in a great way:
“Miserable? You think that by taking meds you’ll lose your edge? Stop making the unique connections that make you a successful doctor?”
“If Van Gogh was your patient, he’d be satisfied painting houses instead of ‘The Starry Night’.”
“Van Gogh would still be making inspired paintings of the night sky. Just maybe not from the room of his asylum.”
“You don’t know that.”
“I know both his ears would be intact. And I know his life would be better.”
My therapist showed me to look at my numb feeling like a concert. When you walk outside a concert where the music was blaring, you feel like there’s clouds in your ears and everything is quieter than it should be. It’s not that the world suddenly spoke in a whisper, it’s that you get used to high volume and moving into a normal range feels quieter than it really is, BUT it eventually levels out and that “quiet world” starts to sound normal.
With OCD you feel everything extreme in your emotional range. Everything is severe, so when you start to turn down the volume on your emotions, it feels numb.
After my OCD became asymptomatic, I felt euphoric, but then I crashed into an identity crisis. Who was I without my OCD? It felt wrong and bad not knowing who I was because I questioned everything in my life from my breakfast choices to my husband, but what I would tell someone else going through the same thing is that don’t beat yourself up during this search for the self. You’ll find your identity, but it will take time.
Today I am no longer the “OCD Girl”, but I am a girl with OCD. My OCD is not the star of the show, but it’s a part of my story, and that’s ok.