There’s a scene in C.S. Lewis’s Voyage of the Dawn Treader where Lucy, Edmund, Eustace, and Caspian land on an island inhabited by invisible people who seem to be enemies. The group talked over their best options for escape and realized they would likely need to fight:
“Surely,” said Lucy, “if Rhince and the others on the Dawn Treader see us fighting on the shore they’ll be able to do something.”
“But they won’t see us fighting if they can’t see any enemy,” said Eustace miserably. “They’ll think we’re just swinging our swords in the air for fun.”
It makes me think of OCD. Not only of OCD but other mental illnesses too.
People often cannot see the evidence of a mental illness, and so they think we’re just “swinging our swords in the air for fun.” It’s difficult– because the enemy is so very, very real, and the stakes are high (sometimes it’s literally life-or-death), but since mental illness is invisible, the fight doesn’t always warrant the respect it’s due.
For some of us, we look perfectly “normal.” We go to work, we smile often, laugh at our friends or co-workers. And for some of us, the battle against intrusive thoughts is almost entirely internal (especially for those of us with Pure-O, whose compulsions are usually also invisible).
I am not at all trying to pit visible illnesses against invisible ones; every individual struggle matters. My point is just to say this: you don’t know what the person next to you is fighting. Be kind to all people.
For (lots!) more about OCD and ERP, go to jackieleasommers.com/OCD.