It’s storytime… Hillary shares her OCD story with us. Hillary talks about her harm obsessions, and offers in a candid and hopeful way how she started her recovery. Hope it helps.
This Wednesday version will only be on itunes and other podcast apps. It will not be on YouTube like the interview episodes. You can also listen here through the audio player below.
Here is the written version of Hillary’s story: My Road To Recovery.
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Just know that you are not alone and you will be able to live a very happy life!
It all started when I was 15 and suddenly I realized I was living with rituals and having very horrible thoughts about my family. I have had a feeling of anxiety all my life since I was 7 years old. I remember having a nightmare and the monster from that nightmare pursued me my whole life until I turned 17. I remember having terrible thoughts of death because I was sure that one day this monster was going to hurt me. So when I was 15 I realized I was living in a cage. I was doing rituals for 20 minutes before bedtime and in the morning before school. I had contamination OCD as well. I remember myself hating everybody and having no desire to be anywhere but at home. Home was the only safe place for me to stay and when I was 16 I didn’t even have the strength to go to school and I was sure that I would not be able to enter university with my anxiety.
My OCD was associated with the protection of my family and I from danger. I was checking the doors, going up the stairs, turning off the light in a certain way, I was washing my hands many many times a day. After that I started doing rituals even at school because of my fear to communicate with others. I was like an actress and I was always playing a role of the ‘happy girl’ who has no problems. Weekends were the only days when I never left the house and did rituals so I was the happiest person in the world.
I was depressed for about 2 months and could not find purpose in life. I was so scared. I was faking illness to stay at home and could spend 7 minutes to put a blouse ‘right’.
I hope people can relate to it and realise they’re not alone.
20 months ago I was diagnosed with OCD. It was something I could always relate to. Growing up, every time I saw a documentary on TV about OCD it all seemed uncomfortably familiar. I remember seeing a man who couldn’t go to bed until he had arranged the pots on his fireplace in a way he felt comfortable with. He was in agony. I could relate to him but because my OCD wasn’t the stereotypical type of OCD the public are familiar with, I too, never saw my condition as being OCD. I’ve always been tense and sensitive. Never a confrontational kid and always, generally, well behaved at home and at school. I never have liked to rock the boat so whenever things came up in my life which did just that my fight or flight response, I now know, never worked properly for me. I bottled it up and carried it round with me. I was quiet and shut down. People often have referred to me a the ‘quiet one’ or ‘sensible one’ amongst my group of friends which to the outsider it must look like that. However, I did recently hear a quote which said that sometimes the quietest people have the loudest minds. I can relate to that as well. There have been times I can feel myself slipping into my head and becoming anti-social. I dont want it to happen. I want to project myself and show my true self, but sometimes I get lost in thought.
My first real involvement with OCD was when I was 10. Around that time me and friends were making prank calls, sending pizzas to people’s houses, silly stuff, harmless really but no doubt annoying to the people we were doing it to. Then one day I made a prank phone call to the 999 operator. This came back to haunt me, as later that day the operator called back and spoke to my Mother who was furious. “What if someone who was in a burning house couldn’t get through to the operator because of you” or something along those lines were said. Also, I was told my Grandpa, who was my best mate growing up and who died when I was 6 (and also a phone operator for the fire brigade!!!) would’ve been ashamed of me.
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.