Let me first start by saying I am a dedicated Grey’s Anatomy fan, which means Thursday nights are a form of religion for me. Whether it’s realistic or not, I’m committed.
Before I tell my story, I want to acknowledge that I am not 100% Miranda Bailey. I will never know what it feels like to be an African American woman. It is another complex layer to Bailey’s story that I cannot understand because I don’t have that experience. However, I can say with full confidence that I know the debilitating effects of OCD.
Let me fill you in. In last week’s episode, Dr. Miranda Bailey went to the hospital (not her hospital) because she knew she was having a heart attack. Multiple doctors rejected her claims. At one point when reviewing her medications with the doctor, she mentions an antidepressant to help manage her OCD. She describes precisely how she fights the compulsions daily and knows the doctors are looking at her differently because of it.
I nearly stood on my couch and applauded Bailey (and Shonda Rhimes) for going there and saying all the things those of us with OCD and anxiety feel daily. On average, I fight at least a dozen daily thoughts that could hault my entire life. Some are trivial like what to wear, what time to food shop and what episode to catch up on first. Others are far more draining. And every day, I talk myself down, reminding myself that whatever choice will make me happy is the right one. That anxiety is useless and there’s no reason for it. Some days it’s a few deep breaths. Other times, it can take a full hour to rewrite the story and shake the frustrated mood I’ve put myself in.
It has taken me years to get to this place, where the anxiety and OCD are manageable. A combination of experience and meditation have helped immensely. For some, the only way to find some relief from this constant spin is medication, as in Bailey’s case. And THAT. IS. OK. If that’s what it takes to live without the constant second guessing, overthinking and over exaggerating, so be it. Certainly, a person shouldn’t be judged for it. That’s the trick with mental illness: You can’t see so it mustn’t be real. That’s also the problem. I am SO glad Grey’s Anatomy went there because it needs to be addressed. Just think: This is an accomplished, educated Chief of Surgery who knows what a heart attack is. Yet, she wasn’t’ taken seriously because of her OCD, her gender and her race. What chances does the everyday women without a medical degree have when she walks into the ER?!
You can have OCD and anxiety, but still make rational decisions. Honestly, the older I get, the more I can sense when my obsessiveness is shining through versus knowing something is right in my gut. There’s definitely a difference and it’s through much self-reflection that I’ve been able to listen to myself more and trust myself again.
To the millions out there working through these suffocating conditions, hang in there. Get and ask for help if you need it. Every adult should have a good therapist and a favorite ice cream flavor stocked in their fridge at all times. You can and will overcome. You’ll learn that life is too damn short to obsessed over nail polish color or missing a family occasion. No matter what you do, it’s never enough time anyways.