Where Ladybugs Roar

Confessions and Passions of a Compulsive Writer

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

In the Darkness, There is More Darkness

Every so often I talk about OCD on here. It's not something I'm ashamed of. Not anymore anyway. I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. It's severe. It's really severe. It eats away at my thoughts all day and into the night. I avoid triggers. I wash my hands a lot. I get worse. I hide it better. It can be bad and not at all useful. I don't clean due to OCD. That would be nice. I'm not like that.

There are a few other things I have that most medical professionals would term co-morbid.

I get a little crazy at certain points during my hormone cycle. By crazy, I mean mental and psychotic, but I try to hide that so mostly you don't see that.

I have sensory processing issues that sometimes rival my kids'. It's mostly noise. I can't stand noise. I don't like white noise or loud noise or noise pollution of any kind. There are a few other things that set me off, but noise is the worst.

I have insomnia--not sissy, it-takes-me-a-bit insomnia, but lie-awake-for-four-hours-staring-at-the-ceiling and a-week-with-only-three-hours-a-night insomnia.

I also have agoraphobia--which, for me, translates into not wanting to go outside or to any place I'm not familiar with. One example is that I'll never go anywhere that I don't have a plan for where I'll park beforehand. I can't do it. I'd rather stay home. I need to know where my car--which is an extension of my house in my brain--will stop. I also don't like people in my home outside of my husband and kids. That's it. Sometimes, we'll go six months without having anyone else in our house and that's fine with me. I like it that way. I wish it could always be that way.

All of my issues ebb and rise with my hormones and stress levels. They also tend to aggravate one another. If my insomnia is bad, it trips my agoraphobia. If my sensory-processing is bad, it keeps me up at night. They bang off each other and make everything worse.

I don't know why I'm bringing this up... maybe sometimes I just like to talk about it to prove that it doesn't scare me like it once did. I know I'm stronger, and I've always been stronger than this disorder that devours my thoughts. Sometimes I do stuff just to prove who is in control. I go outside just to laugh in the face of my agoraphobia. I jump in a mud puddle just to mock my OCD. Then, I pay for it. In some small way or sometimes in a big way, I pay for it.

Okay, maybe I do know why I'm bringing this up.

Writing SECRETS was hard for me to write, and it'll be hard to rework too. It's going into my dark corners and yanking what roosts there out into the light. OCD isn't pretty. My mind is a dark, dark place that sometimes feels so dark that I can't imagine there ever being light in there. You can't imagine the darkness. I guarantee it. Unless you have OCD or one of its cousins, you can't imagine how convoluted and dark our minds are. You can't imagine how the thoughts build and twist and torque until you're convinced that if you don't do something or if you do it... people will die.

When I wrote SECRETS last year around this time, I remember thinking, "Why can't I just leave these monsters in the corners? Why am I doing this? Why am I trying to show people that inside me is a leashed darkness that I barely keep from eating me alive?"

Then, I wrote SECRETS and I eased up and left some of it in the corners. There were pieces that disappeared in revisions because I wanted to cut the ties to me. Maybe it was gutless, but I wasn't sure how people would react. I played up some aspects and maybe downplayed others, and what emerged was a good story but perhaps not the one I meant it to be in the beginning.

So, now, I'm reworking SECRETS and I'm staring into a cave, searching for a monster I've created, and it'd be easier to walk away. Once I leash that thing and drag it out into the light...

I can't imagine.

OCD is a horror story. It doesn't go away. The thoughts will smother everything if you let them. Your brain is crowded like a loud train station on a hot day where everything is coated with the heat of too many things in a shared space, and the hum is so loud it could make you deaf. My mind is like that every moment of every day for the rest of my life. The meds keep it from bothering me as much and make the noise more dull. I'm not on meds right now, though. They have a lot of side effects so I've been trying to go without them... which feels like the wrong choice this week, but the right choice other weeks.

Out of this madness I'm to craft a story about something that isn't horrific. Something hopeful. Something that will help and not hurt.

That's madness, isn't it?

Anyway, Sarah thinks I can do it. I sent her the revised beginning of SECRETS and she liked it. I just wonder, "If we poke in the dark corners, will we really like what pokes back?" We'll see I guess. I have the rest of July and August to figure it out.

We'll see. I've never backed down from a challenge or failed when I believed in something, and I think I can do this. We shall see.

At the very least, it won't be boring.


  1. I think anytime someone takes a personal issue, whether it be OCD, fears, loss or a host of other topics and puts it into a piece of writing they are truly putting their heart and soul into the work. And that takes a lot of courage and I applaud you for that. I think that in the end, your story will stand out like a light in the darkness because you were willing to poke at it.

    My hubby is mildly OCD, particularly when it comes to noises. His favorite line, which might resonate with you is "Noise is messy."

    Best of luck with the re-writes!

  2. You can do it. I'm so so so glad you're writing this book, so more people can see what it's like to live with OCD.

    My OCD manifests in agoraphobia too, but more because I get anxious about getting in a car wreck and start visualizing it, or I have a "bad feeling" about leaving the house b/c it might burn down or something while I'm gone. I'm making progress with it, though.

  3. Wendy, you're wonderful and I can't imagine you not being able to do anything you put your brilliant mind to. Your openness with OCD has helped me pull myself out of some of the dark depressed spots my mind likes to try and linger.

    If you ever bring the family to AZ, We'll be sure to send you photos of TechLair in advance. We'll even assign you a parking spot.

    Shannon, I love that line.
    White noise also drives me crazy. Unfortunately TechWife can't sleep without it. I'm always trying to make my computers more quiet - *giving new one a dirty look*

    As to SoSaS, you can do it. You will do it! And when you're done, both you and Sarah will declare love for it with at least 5 exclamation points!!!

    Remember, if you need someone to bounce something off, I'm there. *Hey, rocks don't bounce. Ow! Stop!* If necessary, I'll even use the dreaded telephone - with both spouse's permission of course. Come to think of it, a conference call would be both productive and hysterical.

    Be well!

  4. Shannon, EXACTLY! Noise is messy! It's messy and it gets in the cracks and you can't seem to be rid of it. *sighs* Exactly. Thank you.

    Katie, mine does similar. It's always a chance... stepping outside. There is the unknown just wanting to eat you alive.

    Jay, thanks... and I know this will be worth it and I know it can be really good. It's just... I wrote this book while I was on meds so I never worried that I'd go so far into the dark I wouldn't be able to find my way out. Sarah and I also talked about increasing the OCD aspects and I've agreed. It's just hard to throw my darkness out for people to inspect and judge, you know? As it is, every time I tweet or blog, I'm just waiting for someone to stagger back, screaming, "IN THE NAME OF ALL THAT IS GOOD IN THE WORLD... WHO LET YOU OUT OF YOUR CAGE?" *shuffles feet* Or... you know... something less dramatic like, "Hey... that's crazy talk!" This is just much harder than other stories... maybe that'll mean it's important... or maybe that'll just mean I've pranced my secrets out too... I don't know.