“Just go with the flow… Relax… Chill out.” These are phrases that have been hammered into my brain for as long as I can remember.

As a little girl, I was obsessed with timeliness, cleanliness, and appearance. I was obsessed with these things because I felt like I could control all of them. I would religiously ask my mom what time it was every ten minutes before I knew how to read a clock. The thought of being late anywhere made my chest become tight, my breathing become rapid, and my mind begin to race. I collected several different things when I was young because I loved the satisfaction of being a collector.

I would spend hours categorizing my bouncy ball collection by size, color, and pattern. When my parents would make me put all of the bouncy balls back into the bin I would feel sick knowing they would all be mixed back together again. As far as appearance went I always had to match, have my hair perfectly slicked back into a ponytail, and have no trace of lint or hair on my clothing. My mother would become so frustrated with me because I would breakdown if all of these requirements were not met, starting at five years old. If I got a stain on my shirt at school, the rest of my day would be consumed by thoughts of the stain. As I grew older, my obsessive personality hindered me from completing daily tasks. I could not handle adversity without relapsing to my compulsive behaviors.

It wasn’t until I was a senior in high school until I truly asked myself “why am I doing this to myself?” I started to notice the way people in my life looked at me. Boyfriends would look with frustration, friends would look with concern, and family would just look away. It was the first time I realized that no matter how much I clean, organize, or punish myself that it won’t make a difference. Turning the light on three times, closing the door three times, or doing anything three times (as I did religiously) wasn’t going to prevent bad things from happening to me. It took me reaching rock bottom to realize that my obsessive compulsive behavior wasn’t going to save me, it was going to sink me.

Coming to terms with this was only the beginning of my journey to “going with the flow… relaxing… and chilling out…” A lot of talking about it out loud took place, tracing back the root of this behavior, and proper medication. There is so much more I could say about this life long struggle/journey of mine. Every little detail isn’t what makes this journey worth sharing, it's the overall message. I chose to ignore my problem for so long that it took me hitting rock bottom in order to see it. So many of us indulge in self destructing behaviors to temporarily feel better but fail to realize the damage we are doing long term. Whether it’s substance abuse, stealing, lying… etc. We all have something that hinders us from reaching our full potential. I hope that by sharing my personal struggle that it will enable people to step back and really analyze themselves. Just a slight change in perspective can offer so much. Ask yourself the same question I did “why am I doing this to myself?” and it just may be the beginning of a journey to healing yourself.