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Time to Stop Hiding

The stigma surrounding mental health is such an enormous barrier in terms of healing. So many people are afraid to speak about their struggles. We don’t want to be seen as weak. We don’t want to be considered ill or broken, unstable or dangerous. We worry it will effect friendships and professional lives. We worry and we hide.

But there are so many of us you guys! Honestly, I don’t know of a human being that does not combat demons, whether or not they are diagnosed with a mental illness. I mean, think about all of the people running around who are tormented and stay silent, never receive a diagnosis, never get treatment or support of any kind. That is heartbreaking to me.

Why those who are challenged in a mental/emotional way get treated differently than those challenged by a physical illness? Because we can’t “see it”, and we only believe what we can see? We have all seen someone with a mental illness that is noticeable in an outward manner. Maybe a homeless, wandering, talking to imaginary people, possibly acting out aggressively. Those people we know and believe are ill because we can see it. It more than likely makes us uncomfortable, and we probably avoid them.

Now, I’ve never really been one to care too much about what other people think of me. It’s a double edged sword of course, but it does allow me to be honest and not beat around the bush. And yet, as I look back at my child self, I can recognize now, how at a very early age I learned to hide part of myself from the public at large, and build walls to protect myself from being found out and consequently hurt.

I started noticeably struggling with OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) when I was maybe 5 or 6 years old. Without getting into all the medical and scientific “stuff” there are several types of OCD, one being that which runs in families, is passed down genetically. This type usually starts rearing its head in childhood versus adolescence. I come from a long line of superstitious triple checkers. Cousins that couldn’t pass buy certain bushes without touching them and uncles who made funny twitches with their mouth before they took a drink, because they just had to. My mom had obsessions and compulsions as a child, and knew immediately what was happening when she noticed my first compulsion, which was feeling for my heartbeat to make sure it was still beating. Poor Mom, she knew the terror I felt inside. She tried to help, but there wasn’t a lot of information on OCD 35 years ago. We all just thought we had a quirky family. Continue Reading


Recovering from Postnatal OCD

I’m Renee, I’m 33 years old, married to a wonderful man, am the mother of a beautiful two year old daughter, own a sweet little mini fox terroir and a hold a successful career. Underneath this wonderful life though, I live with a significant fear of abandonment, generalised anxiety disorder and OCD. I want to share with you my story which focuses on my recovery and how I live my best life despite having anxiety and OCD.

I grew up in a fairly dysfunctional home, my dad an alcoholic, with undiagnosed mental disorders and my mum who was stuck in a cycle of trying to help and save my father. Most of my childhood memories consist of my dad going on benders for months at a time. Mum would contact different establishments trying to locate him and hide money so he wouldn’t gamble and drink it all away. After he had finished his benders, usually because the money had run out, he would return home and he and my mum would carry on as normal. My father was very physical towards my mum and verbally abusive towards me, my other siblings (all of whom lived out of home) and my mother. Some of my earliest memories are filled with anxiety and panic.

As a result of this childhood, I inherited a fairly sizeable fear of abandonment that would present throughout my life in varying degrees. I sought help throughout my 20s, where I was able to really delve into my anxiety and fear of abandonment. I had therapy for many years but still turned to relationships and other unhelpful methods to help fix what ‘was wrong inside’.

When I reached the age of 27, I met my husband and by this stage, I’d developed techniques where I would lie about things that happened to me in order to seek reassurance from him. By doing so, it would reinforce in my mind that he wouldn’t leave me, which brought my fear of abandonment down to a manageable level.

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My still “undiagnosed” OCD story

I know things will only get better, even though right now as I’m typing these words in my computer my brain is telling me, “are you sure about that?”

I consider my childhood a very happy one, always smiling, happy to have a family that was very stable.  I always admired my parent’s relationship growing up, and would pray that one-day I’ll marry someone like my dad and have a happy life. When I turned 13 I started liking boys my age, there were many guys who were impossible to get and I would pray (no joking when I said praying) every night so they can notice me, but the minute they would start showing interest in me I would immediately feel not attracted to them. My mind would immediately start thinking, “his nose is big, his head is big, and his shoes are old and things like that. I never saw this as an issue, I just thought I was being an adolescent and being immature was part of it.  I began dating this guy who was a really good guy, but I always felt like I was never “in love” with him, because I didn’t feel those butterflies and things I used to feel with the guys that were not interested in me, we became really good friends and I decided to give him a chance. We were young and I knew I was leaving the country in a couple years, so anxiety and obsessional thinking was never an issue because I had an “exit door”. We dated for 3 years and to be completely honest it has been the best relationship I have ever had.  We eventually broke up because I moved to the U.S.

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The one you should keep

I’m thankful for my therapist, for the SSRI that has given my inner voice enough power to be louder than the doubt

I remember the day exactly. March 12th. It was a wonderful day. I spent the day doing what I love, which at the time was fashion photography. I went home that night, and laid myself down to sleep for what I would now know as my last night of peace. I spent the night tossing and turning, only to realize that my heart seemed to be beating faster than normal. Strange? It was 10pm and I’ve never not been able to sleep before. I sent my older sister a text, and asked her if she ever couldn’t fall asleep because her heart was beating so fast.

Her response shook me. “All the time. You’re having a panic attack.”

A what?

The next three months were excruciating. How could I go my whole life not experiencing this, living such a normal life, now not being able to even take a full breath. I enrolled myself into therapy, and met my current therapist. We talked about my ability to be impressionable when it came to hearing others anxiety stories. Of course I was feeling that way, I was lost in this whole new world of fear and panic. How do I know what to expect? What to believe? She then spoke the sentence that spiralled me into the onset of my OCD.

“Maybe you just need to find yourself?

Words from a therapist you never want to hear. Words from a therapist, or from anyone in general, almost certain to cause a identity crisis in someone in their early twenties. I went home and carried on with my usual daily tasks. Cleaning up after myself, and picking up the stuffing from my dogs favourite toys. I went to grab the laundry out of the dryer and I thought to myself, “What if I have to leave my boyfriend in order to find myself?”
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The illness that haunted my life

You can be whole again. You can live an amazing life. I promise.

My name is Lillie, and I, just like most who are likely reading this, am on my journey of recovery from OCD. And it’s been quite the journey, to say the least. OCD has been the fight for fucking my life, but I’ll get into that later. I realize that this illness has followed me and haunted me for my entire life, but it wasn’t until much later that I realized what it was.

When I was a young child, I had a loving family, all of my needs met, went to the best schools in my city, and my life was seemingly the “ideal childhood.” Except, I always had a nagging feeling like something was wrong with me. Even as young as 4 or 5 years old, and probably even before that. I felt like I was an outsider looking in with my peers. Things bothered me that didn’t bother anyone else. I just, for lack of a better term, didn’t feel right. I felt like I didn’t belong and despite being an outgoing and extroverted child, I couldn’t shake that something about me was different.  I worried more than the average child and was very meticulous…about everything. I was obsessive and impulsive (and compulsive, obviously). I was told that “I cared way too much” and “bothered by things that aren’t worth being bothered by” by teachers and peers. Kind, I know. Everything had to be “right” or else I would have a full blown meltdown. For example, I would arrange Barbie Dolls, Polly Pockets, and American Girl Dolls in a very particular way and my older brother would move them around just to be annoying and I would have a MELTDOWN. I mean, a screaming and crying meltdown. At my fourth birthday party, everyone was walking in and out of my room and touching my things. I was in full-blown panic, meltdown mode. I would write and rewrite things over and over and over and over again until they were “perfect.” I would count and recount things over and over until it was “right.” I never got a damn thing done in school. Ever. Homework was such a source of anxiety. In early high school, I sat in the lobby of the athletic building after school with a piece of my friend’s schoolwork who had beautiful handwriting, and wrote and rewrote words, until I had brand new handwriting because I thought mine wasn’t perfect enough. Test taking was just…hellish. I was, without fail, always the last person to finish a test, and not for lack of knowledge. “Am I doing this wrong?” “I need to have perfect handwriting.” “I have to erase all of this and rewrite it.” “I’m going to fail out of high school and end up on the street and just die.” “How do I get out of taking this test because I’m going to fail it.” And because of my OCD, my grades did suffer. They didn’t suffer drastically by any stretch of the imagination, and I would somehow make it onto my school’s Honor Roll each semester; but, since my grades were not all A+’s, I developed more anxiety around school. I was a serial procrastinator because I didn’t want to feel the anxiety of doing schoolwork, but had to get the work done eventually, so I also didn’t sleep. I was what some like to call, a vicious cycle. I’m not quite sure how I made it out of high school alive, and I’m not being dramatic.

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OCD: Collapse and Rebuilding

Change can, of course, lead to anxiety. But perhaps it’s challenging yourself to face this, to be open to the world and all it has to offer, that also opens you to the beauty and variety of a deeply fulfilling life.

I was diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder at eleven years old, but while it was then I was first offered a label for some aspects of my thought processes and behaviour, it would be some years later, as a young adult, that I finally feel I developed an understanding and insight into the depth and variety of my obsessive compulsive tendencies, and how they had come to affect my life.

In life, we often find ourselves pushing beyond our comfort zones, and as a result, we may experience anxiety in the face of uncertainty and the unknown. To feel anxious is innately human; to feel anxious over decisions we’ve made, to feel anxious about the past and future. While closely intertwined and co-morbid with anxiety in a general sense, OCD is a separate diagnosis. As a condition, it is dichotomous; on one hand, a recognisable pattern of thoughts and actions feeding into one another in an identifiable obsessive-compulsive spiral, on the other, a nebulous concept, with obsessions and compulsions varying enormously for each individual sufferer.

Obsessions may be generalised as ideas relating to harm or misfortune befalling the sufferer or people around them. It is key to remember that obsessions are not indicative of a person’s desires, nor are they indicative of a way a person wishes to act. Everybody, at some point in their lives, will experience ‘ego-dystonic’ intrusive thoughts, or thoughts which are alien to their sense of self and personality. A conscientious driver may have a fleeting thought about swerving his car into an oncoming vehicle or upcoming pedestrian; a person who prizes themselves on being calm and collected may experience a sudden thought about acting in an aggressive or violent way towards somebody; a person manoeuvring to avoid entering somebody’s personal space on the street may suddenly have an intrusive thought about groping or touching the other person in a sexually inappropriate way; a person waiting behind another on a station platform may have a sudden mental image of pushing the bystander into an oncoming train.

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Summer 2015

I had relapses and I still do but the thoughts are so much weaker, they disappear over time faster.

My story could be a bit unique in it’s own way. I’m not a native speaker and I’m from Russia myself but I’ve been following the topic of OCD for year and a half to help myself. My sources for any kind of OCD knowledge had been purely in English because I find it has much a diverse information on Pure OCD and Russian sources happen to be quite limited on it. I’m 27 year old male, I’m a freelance worker and my story begins.

Growing up I did not really notice I might have a mental issue such as OCD, but looking back now, I could say it has been with me since I can remember myself. I had problems with high level of anxiety, but as I thought back then, it comes from the point of me being a very emotional person. But the Pure OCD revealed itself in its full power much later in my life, when I was the happiest I’d been.

It happened 2 years ago and to this day I still can’t believe I had to deal with it, even tho my Pure OCD did not go away fully (and never will), I learned how to manage it.

My story begins on summer 2015 when I met a woman that I fell in love with, as deeply as one can imagine and my strong feelings were mutual as she felt the same. But it’s not as easy as it sounds because we happened to live in different countries and we met online. She is from Germany and I am from Russia.

I don’t want you to think that I’m writing a love story here and not about OCD, but trust me, it’s more like an OCD story with love being a main part as an activating point of my Pure OCD that had been with me all my life but was not bothering me as much until I’ve got somebody I care about and not just myself.

Since we met, we’ve been inseparable as much as distance allows. That summer was my happiest time of my life, and when Pure OCD hit me deep, it felt like for these unbelievably happy moments I had to pay by dealing with it. By going into details of meeting this woman, which I will refer in this story as J., I want define how I was getting into the worst state of OCD I had ever experienced in my entire life, which was not limited only to emotional distress, due to overdose of positive and happy feelings.

But let’s keep the story in order.
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Facing my fears with CBT

So for anyone out there, in darkness with no hope. There can be and is a small light at the end of the tunnel if you look hard enough.

Im 40 now and have had Emetophobia for as long as I can remember. Throughout my life the severity has fluctuated and other illnesses such as OCD have become entwined.
From as young as primary age I can recall being afraid of vomit. Looking back there were tell tale signs from a very early age. In primary I convinced myself I was ill when the assembly had to sing “The lords prayer”. I have no idea why that particular song, but every time without fail my grandmother (whom adopted me) would be called up and off home I went. I would get home and instantly feel fine.

Other times I would stay up all night pacing around as my grandmother slept upstairs, worrying I was about to vomit. I never ever told her, but I think she was aware that I just hated it.

By secondary school my main aim was to get through the day without vomiting. It was constantly on my mind and I was analysing every situation. This is where OCD struck and I would have a series of rituals I would need to complete in order to stop myself and family from being sick. My number at the time was 3 but with 1 for luck. So effectively 4. I became slightly religious in which I had to say the same prayer over and over to satisfaction 4×4×4 times and so on. If my grandmother dared call me or interrupt, I would despair as the whole thing needed to be done again. I was missing out on time with friends due to the amount of time it took me to complete my rituals.
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I’m standing. I’m living.

I write this to tell My story. To let others know they are not alone.

When I was young I’m not sure of the age but little. I used to kiss everyone of my beanie baby animals at night. It sounds sweet right? Well it wasn’t for me– I would kiss each one the get into bed. After I’d get into bed I would wonder did I really kiss each one? What if I didn’t- I would start to feel heavy in my chest and my body uneven. I would get up and kiss them all again (I had a lot), crawl back into bed. Sometimes I could be ok with just that but often times I would kiss them until my lips hurt and I was crying, or until someone in my family said to go to bed. I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I would wake up thinking it all was silly until I would do it again the next night. I remember certain rituals. Feeling like one of my fingers was “bad” I would have to touch something with my other finger Two times for every one time I did with my bad finger. I would get stuck in one place for so long touching back and forth. I’m unsure anyone noticed. Maybe they did. Maybe they worried or joked about how I was just a weird kid, maybe OCD wasn’t a topic back then. But I remember feeling stuck in my head a lot.

I was fine a lot of the time, no one would of noticed, as I am now pretty functional outwardly. My teenage years were hard. College harder. I had an eating disorder in high school that I can see now was based entirely on OCD. I would pick out certain foods and amounts that were ok to eat. If I didn’t eat them at a certain time of day or I ate more than allowed I would get panicked. Would I get very fat? Would everything fall apart? Everything about being a teenage girl seemed to revolve around my OCD. Much like when I was little I had a ritual every night of doing sit-ups. 100. But if I miscounted I thought I would start over. I see so clearly the color of the carpet in my bedroom, feeling dizzy, upset- thinking if I could only get through this it would be ok, I would feel even. College is when I finally realized what was wrong with me. I started having weird thoughts. Worried I would stab someone I loved with a knife at night. I would get physically ill over it. I’d tell my then boyfriend at the time. He was a good guy, he would laugh it off say it’s ok. I would tell him so much it felt like sweet relief to say something until I thought it again. I looked up these thoughts online— intrusive thoughts. A glitch in the brain. It helped me to know it didn’t mean I wanted to hurt someone, in fact it meant quite the opposite I was so sickened by my thoughts I couldn’t let them go. I went on Zoloft. It failed, I felt sick and zombie and fat. I always said I could get through anything by walking. And honestly I think I did. When I met my husband he use to say I was in my “hole” when I got down. I couldn’t get out he would say unless I went outside or got out of the house. God he pulled me out of that hole so many times. The man is a saint really, he doesn’t hear it enough. And he prob didn’t know when he married me that he would deal with my mental illness so heavily.

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Living with trichotillomania

Through these experiences, I want to be able to help others, including Native Americans

My battle with trichotillomania has been on and off since a young age. My earliest memory of the start was in elementary school in music class one day when my head began itching and I began pulling. In 7th grade, it definitely continued to get worse up through high school. I began being bullied in high school from it; called names, lost friends, and had little support. I even tried committing suicide. My family did not understand my situation, and instead they pushed me to stop through shame. I wanted to wear a wig in school but I felt discouraged, thinking I might be made fun of worse.

I am Native American and my family also had superstitious beliefs. My problem in their eyes was from having someone who was “witching” me. Their assumption was that someone from their cultural view was jealous and/or hated me, and somehow got a hold of my nails or hair and buried it in a graveyard making me crazy. My anxiety built from the bullying in school, pressure to stop. My nail biting had also gotten worse as well, people saying my fingers were gonna curl in where I couldn’t use them anymore.

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