What I’ve learned from therapy is that I shouldn’t feel guilty for having these thoughts or feelings, because they do not define me.
My name is Lorena and I have been fighting OCD for 2 years and a half. I was 18 years old when my “first” intrusive thought made its appearance. I put “first” because it turned into an obsession, but since I began therapy I know everyone has intrusive thoughts here and there, but, us OCD sufferers, take them seriously.
My first obsession came after I had a nightmare, as soon as I woke up my body was filled with anxiety and my mind with a fear of being possessed by the devil. You see, “The Exorcist” wasn’t exactly one of my favorite movies.. and the OCD sure had a great time replaying countless of all the exorcism scenes I’ve seen. I went to talk to a priest who reassured me that it was nothing of that nature, but the thought still didn’t leave. I lived with this obsession for almost a year. I felt horrible because I would always pray, and if my prayer didn’t feel right or if I didn’t feel God’s presence I was doomed. I had to pray again.. It had to feel right.
I now embrace uncertainty
I’ve been battling with OCD for as long as I can remember, though now it’s not nearly as bad as it once was.. I’m 21 years of age.. Have been on and off medication as an early teen…. Some of the compulsions I struggled with include, stove top, door locks, lights, driving a certain way, being obsessively aware of my breathing 24/7, intrusive thoughts (pure o), that’s just to name a few.. These compulsions seemed to be ruling my life at the time I was about 18 and finishing school, I always had rational reasons for acting out the compulsions the way I did… All the things I did value in my life became to much and I lost interest in all my hobbies, sport, socialising, reading..
This went on until half way through being 20, when I found some interesting videos Mark Freeman put out on his YouTube channel, basically the opposite to what your taught at therapy.. ERP and ACT, this literally saved my life and my relationship with my partner as well as killing off those horrible OCD monsters in certain areas of my life.. Since applying ACT and ERP I cut out all my physical compulsions. I no longer check the stove or door locks and I no longer question my relationship or seek reassurance from my partner… Applying ERP and ACT are not easy and may be some of the hardest things you do in life but as you practise it and get better at it you show your brain it’s okay to feel whatever your feeling..
I always knew I was different. I was a sensitive child. Some of my first memories consist of coming home from school and thinking about my day and all of the things I had done badly, incorrectly, or the ways in which I had failed to be the daughter my parents would love. As a result, every day without fail I would get a huge knot in my stomach that wouldn’t go away. The only way I figured out to make it stop was to accost my father as he came in the door from work and to blurt out to him all the things I had done during the day that were wrong, and then to ask for his forgiveness. I was 5. The pattern lasted for years.
I remember being a pre-teen. My mind was full of thoughts, most of which I was sure would damn me to hell. I prayed. I repeated my prayer each night, in the same order, the same number of times. My prayer saved me. My prayer protected my family from imminent harm.
My mother got sick. She went to the hospital and I was a mess. All I could think of was to write down all the things that happened each day and to recite them back to my mother when I was allowed to talk to her in the evenings. I remember with clarity writing “my brother threw a dirty sock at me.” I knew my lists were trivial and that my mother didn’t know what to do with my confessions but the pattern continued.
I didn’t like my parents. My father was a strict disciplinarian. Each second of my life was controlled. I was a puppet in my parent’s puppet show. I longed for control and eventually found it by cutting. By my teen years the battle in my head was raging on. I could not voice the things in my head for fear of rejection or condemnation, so to make my mental pain subside I would find razor blades or anything sharp and would cut to make the pain physical. Physical pain was much more feasible to me.
OCD has been such a big player in my life. It has taken much. As I recover, I realise it has also given me much. This is my story!
Ah man, where do I start. I’ve had OCD since I was 7 years old (or at least, in hindsight that is my earliest memory). I remember being on holiday in Florida. There were two key instances on this trip that stuck out to me. The first was the night we landed my Dad wasn’t well. So he stayed in the hotel, while my brother, Mother and I went out to get some food. I remember being at the restaurant and feeling anxious about my Dad being bitten by a tarantula. My visions would go in all weird directions, like him dying from the bite or us coming back to the room to find him in that state. I just remember going over and over these scenarios in my head – involuntarily. These visions stayed in my mind, and I remained anxious until I saw my Dad. Of course, my dad did not get bitten by a tarantula. The second instance I can remember is being by the swimming pool. I was petrified to go in. Why? Because I was certain there were ‘sharks’ in the pool. And as soon as I went in I would be attacked. Deep down, I knew this was rubbish. But something in the back of my mind told me ‘what if’. I would jump in and swim across a corner going diagonally. I was swimming about 2 metres, I would then propel myself out of the water and away from the edge, making sure no sharks could reach me. My family and everyone around me found this hilarious. For me however, being in that water shot my anxiety levels up. In hindsight, I see the funny side.