One Year Later

by Bill Brenner on December 6, 2010

A year ago today, I was feeling down. It was nothing unusual, because the onset of the Christmas season has a way of messing with me. But this time, I felt a special compulsion to do something about it. The result was this blog.

Mood music:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yp8sDwwRokY&fs=1&hl=en_US]

About a year into my recovery from serious mental illness and addiction — the most uncool, unglamorous addiction at that — I started thinking about sharing where I’ve been. My reasoning was simple: I’d listened to a lot of people toss around the OCD acronym to describe everything from being a type A personality to just being stressed. I also saw a lot of people who were traveling the road I’d been down and were hiding their true nature from the world for fear of a backlash at work and in social circles.

At some point, that bullshit became unacceptable to me.

I started getting sick of hiding. I decided the only way to beat my demons at their sick little game was to push them out into the light, so everyone could see how ugly they were and how bad they smelled. That would make them weaker, and me stronger. And so that’s how this started out, as a stigma-busting exercise.

What I didn’t expect was that it would become so much more than that.

Life with THE OCD DIARIES hasn’t been what I’d call pure bliss. There are many mornings where I’d rather be doing other things, but the blog calls to me. A new thought pops into my head and has to come out. It can also be tough on my wife, because sometimes she only learns about what’s going on in my head from what’s in the blog. I don’t mean to do that. It’s just that I often can’t form my thoughts clearly in discussion. I come here to do it, and when I’m done the whole world sees it.

More than once I’ve asked Erin if I should kill this blog. Despite the discomfort it can cause her at times, she always argues against shutting it down. It’s too important to my own recovery process, and others stand to learn from it or at least relate to it.

And so I push forward.

This is my 404th entry. In a year, the blog has gotten nearly 38,000 views. It started out at 25 visits a day, then grew to 50. Now the normal traffic is between 120 and 300 visits a day. As of yesterday, 2,164 of you have left comments to various posts.

That tells me the need is still there.

But let me get back to why this has become so much more than a stigma-busting thing:

People I hadn’t seen or heard from in many years found the blog and started to read through the earliest posts, seeing a side of me they didn’t necessarily know about back when they were in my life.

I purged a lot of demons on this site, including my unresolved feelings about my childhood, the death of my best friend and the estrangement from his family. Along the way, I learned that people I thought had hated my guts all these years had not in fact hated me. The best example is my friend’s widow, Joy. Reconciling with her was a critical part of my ability to move on. I don’t think she’ll ever truly grasp how important it has been to me. I also don’t think we’ll be hanging out like the old days. Too much life has happened since 1996.

That’s OK, though. ¬†Knowing she doesn’t hate me and that she’s happy these days is good enough.

This blog has allowed me to express my love for Erin and our children in ways I never could in the spoken word. I’m grateful for that.¬†

I’ve been able to shine a spotlight on friends and family who mean everything to me. Hopefully, that added a few extra rays of sunshine to their lives.

I’ve been able to share everything I’ve learned about OCD and a binge-eating addiction. I’ve been told by readers that it helped them a lot. I’m glad.

So what have I learned in the last year about myself? That’s easy:

I’m still a work in progress, better in many ways than I used to be, but still deeply flawed and saddled with a lot of issues I still need to work on.

But then we ALL have issues we need to work on, don’t we?

I’m not going to write in here tomorrow. I have a busy week of work projects and Christmas stuff to do.

And, for my newest readers, I’m going to rerun the first 5-10 posts I ever wrote. I’ll do that via Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn as always.

For now, thanks for sharing this journey with me. I hope it’s been as worth it for you as it’s been for me.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Alan Shimel December 6, 2010 at 7:52 am

Congrats on a year of OCD Diaries Bill. Keep at it and great work!

Katherine December 6, 2010 at 11:05 am

Outstanding, brave and truly helpful. No better anniversary present than that, at least in my book. Keep going.

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