So from my own experience I can confidently say that there is freedom from the mental prison that OCD can lock you in
It all started on the last day of 4th grade when a classmate accidentally sprayed 409 cleaning solution in my mouth. Or at least I imagined it was sprayed in my mouth. Either way, it was the starting point of my lifelong journey with OCD. That afternoon I was terrified that I would get sick, and thus began my obsessive fear of getting sick which would shape the following years of my life in extreme ways.
Soon I started obsessing over anything that could potentially make me sick. In 6th grade, I really hit my low point. My obsessive fear began to literally control my life. I had such high anxiety about getting sick that I would give in to compulsions that would temporarily relieve my worries. I felt compelled check and re-re-re-re-check things, to count to a certain (and ever increasing) number, to repeat words and phrases, to touch certain things- the light switch, the couch, the desk, the door knob, the table, the list goes on. But not only did I have to touch them, I had to in a certain order and a certain number of times, and the worst part was if I messed up, I had to start all over until everything was done “just right”. Everything was a struggle because I had developed such an intensive routine that I dreaded even having to begin my endless rituals. Eventually, things were so bad that I was pulled from school. My days were a blur, stuck in the prison of my own mind. At one point, I even said that I wanted to die.
My turning point came in the midst of this storm when my Mom found a pamphlet about OCD at our church and told my mom, “This is her.” I thank God that she picked up that pamphlet because it was the first step on a long and very difficult battle of overcoming OCD. Thankfully, this awareness led me to become connected with a great counselor who helped me to step-by-step stop giving in to my obsessive fears.
But when I say it was a very difficult battle, I do not mean that lightly. There were countless crying nights and screaming fights. I still remember one morning when I was trying to get dressed, screaming and bawling because I was stuck in my rituals, while my mom held the phone at the bottom of the stairs with my psychiatrist on the line so he could hear how bad things were.
But I also remember the time I won my first tiny victory against my obsessive thoughts and routines. I was in my bathroom and was convincing myself to skip just one small portion of my endless nighttime routine. At the time, it was scary with the huge temptation to give in to my anxiety and complete the compulsion, but for the first time, I didn’t. And this moment, alone in my bathroom, was monumental for me. This first personal victory in my battle with OCD started the ball rolling, and I slowly began to reclaim a hold on my life. It is all thanks to the grace of God, my parents’ and family support, and my counselor (plus a little help from my friend Prozac) that I was able to overcome my battle with OCD, and I am forever thankful for that.
This doesn’t mean that OCD is gone from my life forever. It’s not, but I manage it. It has taken me a long time to be open with my story, but if it can help just one or two people who are struggling then it’ll be worth it. So from my own experience I can confidently say that there is freedom from the mental prison that OCD can lock you in. It’s definitely not easy, but OCD does not define me. OCD does not define anyone. There absolutely is freedom; and there is help; there is hope; and there is healing.