An Open Letter To My OCD
Start writing a post
Health and Wellness

I Thought OCD Ruined My Life, But Now I'm Changed For The Better

I have a new outlook on life.

1888
I Thought OCD Ruined My Life, But Now I'm Changed For The Better

Content warning: Intrusive thoughts, mention of death

Merriam-Webster defines Obsessive Compulsive Disorder as, "An anxiety disorder characterized by recurrent obsessions or compulsions or both that cause significant distress, are time-consuming or interfere with normal daily functioning, and are recognized by the individual affected as excessive or unreasonable."

I choose to define it as a fire-breathing dragon that I fight every day.

If one year ago someone had asked me what OCD was, I probably would have said something along the lines of "someone who likes to keep things clean, maybe someone who checks to make sure the oven is off more than once." That was about the extent to which I knew. I had no clue what was on the journey ahead of me. If only I knew then what I know now.

May 29, 2020 was the last "normal" day I remember having. I was house-sitting with a friend, it was the beginning of summer and we spent all day in the pool. Life was great. I ordered dinner from a place I loved, spent the day relaxing, and spent a good day with my best friend. Around 6 p.m. when I went to go take a shower, I noticed my anxiety was going up, but I just figured it would pass like usual. Random spikes in my anxiety aren't uncommon for me. Like I said — everything was great until it wasn't.

The next morning, the second I woke up, I vaguely remember having a panic attack. This was unusual for me because I usually don't wake up and immediately panic. I began to have weird thoughts. Thoughts that were the opposite of who I am and I began to panic more. I had no idea what was happening to me. Was I going crazy? (I've come to learn these are called intrusive thoughts). I began to become very anxious and upset and distanced myself from everyone. For the first time in my life, I was terrified of myself.

This continued and progressively got worse throughout the next three to four days. I decided enough was enough and I needed to call my therapist. Thankfully I got into a partial hospitalization program at a behavioral health center in my city the very next day.

Every day was a blur. I had to call my mom on the phone and have her talking and singing through the phone while I took a shower because I couldn't bear to be alone with my thoughts. I'm twenty-three years old and I could barely get myself together to shower. The therapists at my treatment center were fantastic and I thank them for everything they did for me, but I hated them at the time. I hated them for what they were making me do. They were making me confront my worst fears. I had to look them in the eyes and tell them these scary thoughts that were going on inside my head. Thoughts that I thought would get me sent away forever. Thoughts that had me convinced I needed to stay away from my family. I had to trust complete strangers with my life.

Each day was hell. I felt like I was never going to get better.

I felt like I couldn't do the things my treatment team wanted me to do. I had "exposures" I had to do every afternoon and I wasn't doing them. I was too scared. I told myself I couldn't do it. I vividly remember one weekend, telling my parents that I couldn't go on. I couldn't face this every day. I wanted to die. And I meant it.

I did the responsible thing and called my therapist. I'll never forget what she said. She said, "Sara-Anne, you have to want to get better. No one else can fix this for you. You can't just sit there and wish things were back to the way they were. You have to face the fire-breathing dragon. You have to fight back. Don't let the fire-breathing dragon win." That's when things started turning around for me. All of my life I've never had to do much for myself. I've never had to really work for anything. If I messed up financially or really wanted something, I had my family's money to bail me out, a family member got me my first internship (no interview required), and if I was depressed my doctor would just prescribe me a new medicine and I would be on my way. But this was something that someone else couldn't bail me out of. Yes, medication would help, but it wouldn't totally fix the problem.

I had to confront my fears. This was all me.

The very next week I decided, I couldn't live like this anymore. It had been a month and a half of misery. I decided I was going to face my fears. Every day I faced three of the many scary intrusive thoughts I was having. I don't want to get specific, but they were violent. I had to watch videos, look at pictures, and write stories about it. My anxiety was high for the first couple of weeks. Slowly but surely, I found myself getting better. Was this actually working?

By the beginning of August, I was discharged to the IOP (Intensive Outpatient Program) for three weeks. I couldn't believe how far I had come. I still can't. My time in IOP really taught me how to believe in my ability to "be my own therapist" and that I can tolerate uncertainty and anxiety. I can live with the fact that I have scary thoughts sometimes! But I know I'm not defined by them. It doesn't mean I'm going to be a bad person just because I have them. I made my own "panic plan" of sorts for when things start getting hard for me, I have the tools I need to bring myself down and into reality again! I also really began getting into things like guided meditation, 4-7-8 breathing, and going on 30 minute walks with my dog! Having those positive, healthy things to look forward to during the day really makes a difference.

Most of all, I want to say thank you to my OCD.

Not only have I matured, but I also have a new outlook on life. By no means is my OCD gone. It probably never will be, but I can accept that! I can accept the fact that nothing is certain. I may have scary thoughts and they may give me anxiety, but I don't have to stop my life and let it tear me apart from the people I love! I am a strong woman and anxiety doesn't run my life anymore. I have more power and self-confidence than I ever thought I could. I don't run from fear anymore, I face it. And you can, too.

Report this Content
Featured

The Boyfriends Of The 2000s

Thank you, J14, for the Posters

575
J14 magazine

Every girl remembers her first crush. Even if your first crush was the boy in your kindergarten class that ate crayons, your first true love will always be the one that holds the key to your heart. Growing up in the 2000s, everyone knew who your dream guy was. Your family probably still give you grief and your best friends probably still reminisce, so it is impossible to forget your first celebrity crush. You bought a Tiger Beat magazine every chance you could just to read up about what your favorite celebrity was doing. Your room was fully decorated with posters of them, and it wasn't unusual to have fights with your best friends over who was going to marry him. If you were a 90's baby, lucky you because the 2000s were full of boys that were easy to love. I hope you enjoy a walk down memory lane and quickly realize that Bieber was definitely not the first guy with that hair cut. Here are 15 90's baby's first boyfriends.

Keep Reading... Show less
Student Life

20 Things I Learned By The Start of My 20s

No one expects you to have your life together by the time you're 20, because honestly, they didn't either.

12645
Allyson Foutty

We are all often faced with many life challenges throughout the time leading up to our 20s. Before this time, and throughout it, we often look back at the things we've learned and how they've influenced who we are as people today. Some of my biggest influences were some of the challenges I've faced, but they've taught me 20 important things by the start of my 20s.

Keep Reading... Show less
Featured

The Boyfriend Recipe

The ingredients to build a relationship are a little more complicated than just a bouquet of flowers and a box of candy.

10518

Relationships. Long distance or not, significant others are much more than just that. I would be lying if I said I did not love the sweet gestures that only a boyfriend can give. The flowers, funny phone calls, hand holding, breakfast dates, and tight hugs are special but my relationship and many others out there exist on much more than just these little gestures. It is a tricky concoction that consists of one part boyfriend and two parts best friend and would not work without one part or the other. While having a relationship may not be quite as easy as baking a batch of cookies, it has its own recipe (with a few variations for flavor) to follow for a good match.

Keep Reading... Show less
google images

Fashion just keeps growing and changing and old trends are made new! Now, I'm no beauty guru, just a beauty guru wannabe, but personally I have compiled some stylish wardrobe must haves! These can be cute assets to go back to school or just to catch up on some of the latest trends...

Keep Reading... Show less
Student Life

There's More To A Relationship Than Netflix

Summertime is only 93 days of the year, Find something to do!

9932
Tallie Ammar

Summertime is ideal for more than just hanging out and binging your favorite TV series with your friends. Although summer does bring rain and thunderstorms which is perfect for those binging days, take advantage of those nice and sunny days. There is so many opportunities to get out of the house and enjoy the season before the snow starts to come back. Here are 25 interesting dates that are doable almost anywhere for any age.

Keep Reading... Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments