This post has been in the making for a long time. Ever since 5 Days on the Pill: My Nightmare, I have felt empowered and encouraged to share more personal aspects of my life and more serious topics on my blog. I’m so thankful to all of the people that supported me and read my article from May. Your support helped me so much.
As a child, I was diagnosed with clinical anxiety; I began taking medication and attending weekly therapy sessions. This lasted for years as I was too young to cope with this psychological disorder on my own, but as I gained years and coping abilities, I was slowly weaned off of my medication, and I stopped therapy. I was fine for a very long time. I functioned normally, and I went about my childhood.
The summer before my freshman year of high school, my mom started noticing peculiar habits… well just one to be exact: I spent an overwhelming amount of time washing my hands. I thought it was weird for her to question such a thing… “Well I guess I have been, but I only wash them when my hands are dirty”, was the only thing I could say to try and justify my behavior.
When my hands became bloody and dried, my mom reached her breaking point, and she took me to a psychiatrist. I still don’t really know if she knew what was going on with me. If she suspected Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.
The day of my appointment, I was sat down on a couch, facing an average looking man presumably in his late 30s/ early 40s. He had his broad leg crossed atop his other and a clipboard resting in his lap. My mom sat beside me. He asked me questions about everything and anything… things that didn’t even seem relevant at times. At one point he asked me if I saw things that weren’t really there, and I began to wonder if he suspected I was crazy. I was offended. Then there were questions about the hand washing. Rails. Cleanliness. My past with anxiety.
My disorder enveloped me. I was counting everything. 4s. Everything had to be done four times- pumps of the soap, number of times I washed my hands. There were cracks in our wood flooring that could not be stepped on otherwise bad things would happen. I had to erase previously written words just because they didn’t feel right. I retraced my steps. Even my thoughts were beginning to repeat themselves.
At times this was too overbearing to handle. I would lie in bed and close my eyes to avoid anything that would trigger obsessive thoughts. I had lost my ability to keep up a facade completely. Secretly, my parents watched me. My dad still remembers the days I would get up from the couch, have to touch the leg with my foot, and come back around full circle to stealthily repeat this action, but in reality, there was no stealth behind it. Full of concern, he called another doctor, but we knew everything there was to know. I was lucky that I could still function semi-normally. Tasks just took a little longer. Some people didn’t have that ability.
Over time, somehow OCD has been downplayed. Maybe as a result of self-diagnosed, anal people or the result of inaccurate portrayals on TV shows and movies, but most people don’t seem to understand the true severity of this disorder. Some fail to even comprehend its status as a disorder at all. It’s a shame, really, for all of the true suffers to have to standby and listen to people joke about their struggles with such ease.
I’m lucky that I’ve had the ability to subdue my disorder with the help of Brain Lock: Free Yourself from Obsessive- Compulsive Behavior and my own found willpower, but no one can truly understand the difficulty of fighting your own mind and changing your own brain chemistry until you have to do it yourself. Your brain is supposed to be one of the main parts of your identity; your thoughts are what define you, so what happens when your thoughts aren’t your own?
I just want to support everyone that is going through this right now, reading this article or anyone that ever has gone through it. It took me countless months of bloody hands and breakdowns to get through this, but what matters is that I got there… and I did it free of therapy or medication. And for those of you that are reading this that don’t have OCD, pause for a moment before you make the next joke or stick up for the person next to you that is too afraid to say anything…