By Tara

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My OCD Story…

Hello everyone! I wanted to write this little article to further discuss the topic of… I’m sure you can guess… OCD! I try to make it seem exciting when in all honesty, it is probably one of the worst things one can have. I wrote a long note a few years back in detail about how each day went for me from the moment I woke up to the moment I went to bed. Although, it has been better, it’s not gone. I can honestly say, I haven’t functioned like a normal person in 12 years. Now, I don’t need sympathy, I just want people to be more educated on the true meaning of OCD and how tough it is on us OCDers. So again, no sympathy or hugs, I just need people to be by my side and fight with me. Everyone with OCD has a different story, but here is mine…

My compulsions and rituals started when I was 16 years old, I know exactly how they started too, but it is not something I feel comfortable posting about on the internet. I started with counting. I have always had a thing with odd numbers, but at first, it started with just a few things. Once I had done something once, I would do the same thing twice every time to keep it at that odd number. One of those things was switching the lights on and off. If I flicked a light on once, I would flick the light on and off twice every time afterwards. I still, to this day, still have to position my fingers a certain way when touching light switches. As time went on, it progressed into everything I touch, look at, think about, and even my breathing. Yes, I have a ritual for everything. I feel as if I look ridiculous when I publicly do certain things, such as turning my head. If I turn my head one way, I have to do it again, sometimes up to three or more times. I often have to repeat words when I am speaking, but I repeat them silently to myself so people don’t question me. I even have rituals with my thoughts. There are times that I have to repeat the same word or phrase in my head. All of these rituals are to prevent bad things from happening. Sometimes the bad thoughts are specific, and sometimes they are just random, such as any bad thing could happen if I don’t perform my rituals correctly. If I force myself to NOT perform a ritual, the mental turmoil is indescribable. My breathing gets heavier as my anxiety starts up, then I find myself constantly watching every detail of my surroundings, because I am aware that anything bad can happen at any given moment. The long note I was referring to discusses, in detail, when my compulsions were at the very worst. As I said, I have been better, but since I still have it, I believe that all lives depend on my rituals… all lives are in my hands.

It’s not easy to feel that you control all lives. Someone can die simply because I didn’t touch the bathroom door with the side of my pointer finger on my right hand. Someone will get into a car accident if I don’t position my cup in just the right spot exactly two inches from the edge of the counter, and I have to make sure to turn the cup around until it feels just right. Or someone will be diagnosed with cancer if I don’t turn the radio up to volume 21, back down to 20, then up to 21 again. Sadly, these are just a few examples. I have a ritual for literally every single thing I do. Everything.

It wasn’t until just a few years ago, I developed obsessions. These obsessions cause intrusive thoughts. I don’t feel comfortable going into detail about my thoughts, but they are based around me thinking I am a really bad person. Only a select few people know the details of my thoughts: Steven, my cousin Jenna, my mom, and John. I would obsess over it so much that I started to convince myself that I actually wanted to act on my thoughts. At that point, I felt that I wasn’t worthy of love, and worse, I felt that I wasn’t worthy of God. When I feel that I am not worthy of anyone, friends get concerned that I am mad at them, since I get pretty quiet. When actually, it’s quite the opposite, I’m mad at myself, and feel that I don’t deserve anyone. I feel that they don’t need to be in the presence of such a terrible person.

As these thoughts continued, they started to consume my life. I would spend hours in tears while looking up information on my thoughts. I learned that these thoughts are a symptom of OCD. Learning this calmed me down immediately, but the problem with OCD is that it is relentless and does not give up. It doesn’t matter how many times one can tell me that I am a good person, my brain tells me that I am not. The worst part about all of this is that if I feel better about one thing, my OCD starts to dwell on another. It started out with me thinking I am a bad person, then I started having negative thoughts about my relationship, then I started feeling guilty for things I never did wrong, then I started feeling ashamed of myself because of simple habits that I do… and these are things that everyone does! As I said though, OCD is relentless, so it doesn’t matter that I know the facts, I still have anxiety over my thoughts.

It wasn’t until recently that I finally learned how to stop the intrusive thoughts and calm my anxiety… I have to accept them. I accept all of the thoughts that I have and I accept my anxiety. When I have a bad thought, I don’t fight it off, I just think about it. When I am having anxiety, I don’t try so hard to get rid of it, I accept that I am having anxiety, I just feel it and ride it out. I have discovered that accepting the thoughts and accepting my anxiety helps to alleviate them. In the meantime,  I continue to do yoga and meditate when I can. It seems to be working for me so far!

Now, when you see me, just know that I am a good person, I’m smart,  I choose to live a happy and healthy life, and I do everything in my power to not let OCD and anxiety control my life. It’s a constant battle, day in and day out, but I also know in my heart that God is there for me, and I will always win. 🙂