Let me start by saying that mental illness is not a super power. It is not something that makes people stronger. However, as the title says, I have struggled with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and believe that I’m stronger as a person for having gone through it.

Generally speaking, I am grateful for my many experiences as they have led me to be who I am today. However, I would love to have been able to lead a life without dealing with obsessive-compulsive disorder. I’ve written pretty extensively about my experience with OCD (How I knew I needed helpMy experience when I found help, and how I deal with backslides), but I haven’t written much about how it and its treatment fundamentally changed my perspective. To repeat, mental disorders are not super powers. I’m immensely grateful that I was open to and had the means to seek treatment.

The first lesson I’ve learned after struggling with OCD is how easy it is to take the little things for granted. That’s not to say that I don’t take a million things for granted. I do. However, when I look at note taking specifically, I marvel at people who are able to get through life, busy careers, family lives and all and take healthy, manageable notes that help them do it all better. Note taking for me is a very conscious activity. I have to be very careful about how I try to do it, otherwise I can get out of control. (If you’re wondering why I’m talking about note taking so much, it’s because that was the compulsion I struggled with).

The second lesson I learned is that we don’t live in a world of certainties, we live in a world of probabilities. Life isn’t about being certain. It’s about being acquainted with the likelihood of certain occurrences and making decisions without all the answers. (I’ve written about this in more detail here.)

Having been through therapy, I’m more open to therapy and to new ideas. This is tremendous for me, but also helps me when I want to provide a testimonial to the benefits of therapy to my family or to my friends. It’s helped me recognize OCD in others. I’m not a clinician, but I can offer perspective to others that they might not have.

Continuing with that thread… I can give back. I write about my experience with OCD on here so that other people might feel less alone. The first time I searched for “Obsessive-Compulsive Note Taking” online I found nothing. I don’t want the next person coming behind me to feel alone or weird for struggling with this particular challenge. Being able to lift people up in this way makes me feel stronger.

The last thing I’ll say is that working through OCD really forced me to specifically identify and lean into what my personal values are. Before my struggle, I didn’t think too much about this specifically. Now, having been through the worst of it I am crystal clear about what’s important to me. That is a blessing that I didn’t realize I didn’t have before. By having clear priorities, I have clearer thinking. I spend less time in my own head spiraling, subject to constant intrusive thoughts.

If you’ve made it this far and you’re not through it, and you’re struggling with OCD, you are not alone.

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