Living with OCD
“I have struggled with my mental health for as long as I can remember. Understanding why I was struggling was one of the hardest parts, and conceptualizing the idea that it was not my fault was even harder. In the third grade, I was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and anxiety. This wrecked havoc on my life for many years. Thankfully, now I have it under control.
I can now laugh about all of the trivial and irrational things I have worried about over the years-- nothing was substantial. As an adult looking back on my irrational fears and worries it all seems crazy, but at the time these intrusive thoughts and worries overtook my life. Some of these irrational worries included dying in volcanic eruptions (I live in the Midwest), being killed by kangaroos (I can't explain that one), dying in a house fire, everything having to be perfectly organized, and more. These are things that some people wouldn't think twice about, but for periods of time, they overtook my entire life.
I don't like to think back on these years because they were hard, really hard. I lost sleep, hardly ate, and found comfort in very little. When my parents first got me help, I took solace in knowing that I wasn't alone. My therapist gave me a book that included stories of other people like me and people that had it worse than me. This gave me hope. That is why initiatives like Talk On are so important-- they show others that they are not alone and that it can and will get better. It is okay to not be okay and it is okay to get help.
The thing is, my mental health disorder has shaped me into the person that I am today. I'm a perfectionist, overachiever, introvert, and a survivor. While I know that there are people much worse off than I am in the spectrum of mental health, I am grateful to have overcome my own personal battle. I still worry and still have anxiety for no apparent reason, but I can cope. I get paranoid that people hate me are are annoyed by me for very minuscule things, but I can reason with myself. I can see past the darkness that brings me down and see that I have a purpose in this world. I am not defined by my mental illness, and while it will always be a part of me, it does not control me. When I have an episode, I tend to retreat and seclude myself. I then have to remind myself that I am not alone and again that it will get better. I have a support system that is there for me and I will continue to make my mental health a priority.
I know that I was lucky. My parents were the rock that I needed to get through my rough period. Without them, I don't think I would be the person I am today. They recognized that I needed help and got it for me and I know how hard this was on them, too. In a changing age that is beginning to really acknowledge mental health and mental illnesses, I want to share my story so that people know that they are not alone. It is okay to get help. It is okay to reach out to people and ask for help. I am not a lesser person nor does it make anyone else one. By establishing a system of mental health care, putting an end to the stigma, and creating a system of compassion and understanding we can make a difference. It starts with acceptance and talking about it.”