Turtles All the Way Down and me

January 4, 2018

A few days ago I posted the following tweet:

@MarceloMarfil: Spent the day reading “Turtles All the Way Down” by John Green… It is so powerful and comforting.

If you have OCD or want to know how it feels like or even just want to read a good book, this is it.

Those words got stuck in my head for a few days—and even with a lot hesitation—I decided to add some sense to it.

The hesitation came from thinking this would lessen me, personal and professionally. “It’s a mental illness, people will think you’re crazy”, the little devil in me said. For once I decided to tell it to fuck off.

So yeah, long story short: Yes, I do have OCD. And no, I don’t wash my hands excessively, or am too organised or even a perfectionist.

Wait, what?

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is commonly—and mistakenly—associated to people’s actions, but in reality what’s behind the actions is where the problem lies: The thoughts.

I for one don’t fit into the most common stereotypes and still, I have OCD.

I’m mostly affected by body focussed obsessions and intrusive thoughts. If you’re interested, you can read more about “The Different Types of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder”.

How does it feel like?

It’s pretty tricky to explain. Metaphorically speaking, imagine being an ordinary passenger in a bus driven by a prick, the prick being your broken brain. You realise he’s not driving well, you try to argue with him but he’s stubborn and stupid. It’s… tiresome.

The OCD is with me from the moment I wake up until I go to bed. It’s an intruder seeking to control my thoughts and actions. The simple act of booking an airline ticket 3 months prior to the flight is enough to trigger intrusive thoughts:

  • The airplane is going to crash.
  • I need to find out what’s the best seat to sit in case it does.
  • Will my wife and daughter be fine if I die?
  • What can I do to avoid this flight?

Now put that into a loop for 3 months.

I know I’m making it sound like a terribly sad story, but it doesn’t have to be. It is not anymore.

For the past year I decided to seek medical help and aside from that, I’ve also been reading books, articles and watching documentaries lately, and with that, the more I know about it, the better I feel. Knowing that others struggle with the same can be both sad and comforting—as much as it sucks to say it out loud.

I’m not cured or expecting some sort of magic pill to fix me overnight, but I’m excited for what’s next. I’ve been getting better and better and knowledge has been giving me the tools to fight and take back what’s mine, my own thoughts.

Anyway, I want to thank my wife, my therapists and my co-workers for their patience and support. And if you or anyone you know have been experiencing something similar, please seek help. It’s worth it.