Wednesday, February 09, 2005

My Greatest Fear

This is it. This is the one that keeps me up nights, and ruins days. I've tried sharing it with people, but I don't think they ever understand how deep it goes. Or how helpless I feel to change the circumstances surrounding it.

My name is Michael, and I have Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. For a very long time, we didn't know that's what it was; we only knew that I had serious behavioral problems. Irrational reactions to peers and authority figures. Impulse control. Occasional outbursts of violence. By the time I was ten, my folks and I were all at our wits' end. I don't like to think about what might have happened if we hadn't found a solution.

But we did. The miracle of modern medicine. There's a pill I can take, from the anti-depressant family, that brings me in line. Restores some measure of control. Without it, I would be lost. I know this, as sure as I know my own name.

I gladly took the pill when offered. It was a savior. It was magic. I was so naive. The words "side effects" never even crossed my mind.

Looking back now, thirteen years later, I see more than just the good differences. I see the things I did and imagined before, and after, and can't help but find a deficiency. I don't think I'm as creative as I was anymore, as proactive in terms of ideas, and daydreaming, and even something as simple as multitasking. (I can rarely do two things at once now, unless one of those things is an automatic function, like breathing.)

I see the lack, and I wonder: Is it the pill? Has the way it changes my brain chemistry altered more than just the problems it was designed to fix? Has it flicked some crucial switch that affects my creativity? Has it taken away my ability to properly do what I feel called, compelled to do: tell stories?

That is my greatest fear: having to choose between being able to function in society and being able to do what gives my life meaning. It's no choice at all; I can't live without one, and I can't feel alive without the other. Either choice would be its own hell. The true answer not one nor the other, but both. But if my fear is true, then that's not an option. And a thought can have such power over us when we don't want it to be true.

I pray this is just self-doubt. I wish I could know for sure that it is. If there's a God in heaven, then let it be so, and let me find that truth for myself.

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