Separating the voice of my true self and the voice of OCD has been an ongoing process ever since my symptoms have intensified and worsened over the past year and a half. Holding a relationship with myself feels nearly impossible when I’m compelled to turn inwards and trace my true intentions, beliefs, and emotions with every unwanted passing thought. I engage in mental compulsions to prove or disprove my intrusive thoughts to come to a temporary and illusory state of certainty, which eventually dissipates with another “what if ”, and the cycle starts all over again. The more I try to establish a sense of certainty, the more certainty escapes from me, and I begin to feel confused and alien to myself. I began to feel estranged from myself because this OCD cycle depends on my descent into despair, in which I misrelate to myself by misusing my freedom. The voice of OCD is relentless, booming, and fast-paced; it demands my full attention to the point where I feel powerless. I misuse my freedom by denying my freedom to go against the need for conscious control and certainty.
I can choose to be myself by honouring my freedom to self-actualise through learning how to coexist with my anxiety and uncertainty. Or I can choose not to be myself by giving into obsessions and compulsions, believing I have no freedom. Exposure Response Prevention Therapy has allowed me to accept the inherent uncertainty of existence by requiring me to take a leap of faith. I’m encouraged to displace the possible soul-crushing meaning of these intrusive thoughts by seeing them for what they are: questions that do not have to be figured out and will probably never have a definitive answer. Whenever I can respond to these thoughts with indifference and redirect my attention away from compulsions to the present moment and the activities I value, the booming voice of OCD begins to fade into the background. The thoughts can still be relentless. However, the faith I’ve placed in myself to live with my OCD and accept uncertainty is an existential achievement. I move closer to fully realising myself and my voice by accepting my freedom to respond differently to OCD.
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