Sunday, July 18, 2010

Choosing Anonymity

I blog elsewhere under my name. I write about art, life, and healing. Sometimes I mention my OCD and alcoholism in my blog or when talking with people. Being able to be honest about who I am, and about my life is part of my healing process. Sometimes, it is relevant and I don't want to edit it out, as a shameful secret. It isn't shameful. My recovery from these incurable illnesses is something to share not hide. Gloria Steinem, the feminist, once responded to the comment, "You don't look 50 years old" with "This is what 50 looks like." It was an era when women did not tell their ages. People have wrong ideas about mental illness and addiction. Most of us are out there living successfully in the world - raising children, thriving in the work place, and maintaining loving relationships, despite our challenges. The stigma of these illnesses is a vestige of the shame and ignorance that has surrounded them. Although I don't advertise, when it is the right time to share, I do, because, like Gloria Steinem, I look pretty good. I want people to know that, "This is what OCD and alcoholism look like."

So why the anonymity here? One reason is that in order to stop drinking and heal the wounds that led to my alcoholism, I became a member of Alcoholics Anonymous. The anonymity of AA is based on humility, not shame. I find that when I start making exceptions for myself, such as "that's good for the others, but I don't need anonymity," I am taking a step backward in my recovery.

The other reason for anonymity comes from the wonderful OCD blogging community I've been following. I want to be part of the conversation and share about the nitty gritty of life with OCD. That is not for sissies. I kid, but seriously, it isn't really appropriate for the audiences of my other blogs. Plus I may be looking for a job someday. Some of our OCD thinking is pretty distorted. Not the kind of thing the bosses need to know.


  1. Hi there, you left a comment on my blog wanting my email address. You can reach me at shanabananag(at)
    I look forward to reading your blog.

  2. I hear ya about looking for a job and needing anonymity. Once people know, they know for good. For a person with OCD like me, if I knew bosses knew, I'd feel the compulsion to constantly "check" to see if their reasons for saying things, doing things, etc. is because they know I've got OCD. I'd never be able to escape the question of what they thought about me. You're right--it's not shame, but protection of self.

    I'm glad you found other bloggers like Shana and I! You are always welcome in our community :)

    ~ ~ ~

    Bloggerwithocd blogs about the tribulations and jubilations of living with OCD at

  3. Glad to have just found your blog! I'm also new to blogging about my OCD anonymously... and I'm also a fan of Gloria Steinem. Good luck in your continued recovery :)

  4. I love it! That is, I love the idea of challenging the negative stereotypes of certain illnesses, especially those that are mental in nature, by saying "This is what (insert disorder here) looks like!"

    Comments like "Oh, but you don't seem that bad!" or "Oh, no one would ever have thought that you of all people would be the one who'd need help!" were one of the hardest things for me to face when I began to fall apart at the start of my most recent and most severe OCD relapse. I was having a hard enough time feeling justified in reaching out for help, and their comments only left me feeling even more unjustified.

    Looking back, being able to say something like "that's because this is what suffering from OCD looks like," would have been very empowering. People assume they will be able to recognize others' struggles through outward signs and aberrant behavior. But sometimes it isn't that obvious, and downplaying someone's need for help without knowing much about a disorder can be quite detrimental to the sufferer. On the other hand, assuming without consideration that someone is a certain kind of person, or that they will display certain characteristics if they have a particular disorder, can also be detrimental to the individual who has to deflect such assumptions.

  5. I'm so glad you started a blog! I am so honored to part of this community, and I like your context of anonymity as humility not shame, because it feels like that to me as well.