It doesn’t have to control you, you can be free.
I’m Chelsea and I’ve been living with OCD since as early as I can remember. My earliest memory of OCD was being in my room, I was probably three, and I’m having an image of a dog attacking me repeated over and over in my mind making it impossible for me to sleep. My OCD grew and changed with me as I got older, but because it was only intrusive images and no obvious physical compulsions it was hard to identify until was 30 years old! 30 years of living with OCD with no help… until this year. This has been a transformational year for me, to say the least, and I’m excited to share my story with you.
So as I was saying, my OCD changed with me as I got older. Since I was about seven I had an ongoing obsessive image of someone stabbing me at night when I was trying to sleep. I would check under the bed and in my closets multiple times a night to see if anyone was there. Every night I had to sleep with the light on and most nights I ended up in my parents bedroom because I couldn’t sleep.
When I was in my senior year of high school I had images of a tsunami hitting Long Island, where I’m from, every night. I would try to fall asleep but my OCD would start and I’d have to turn on the TV to see if there was news of a tsunami hitting Long Island. I remember knowing it was not a real fear but it felt so real to me that I had to check! I’d run outside at night to listen to see if I could hear a tsunami coming toward my house only to come inside and still feel unsettled.
I went to college, specifically in an area that wouldn’t be impacted by a tsunami, and pushed myself hard, graduated, became a producer but kept finding myself in relationships that were unhealthy for me. I was attracted to people and situations that were dramatic and hard, and let’s be honest, I was a drama queen! But drama was a good distraction for me. I drank a lot, smoked way too much weed and was living as far from the moment as I could because the moment was way too scary.
About a year ago I broke up with a boyfriend and started realizing I had not found a relationship that was good for me because I had not really figured out what was going on inside me. I was running and hiding from something I didn’t want to listen to. My OCD about a year ago was terrible. I was probably drinking 5-7 nights a week and smoking about everyday just to escape reality, or the reality that I thought was real. The images were terrible, they could be triggered by a horror film or a scary idea and they could ruin full days of my life.
It wasn’t until I was listening to a friends mental health podcast, Call Us Crazy, that I realized I had OCD. It was my ah-ha moment and I was so excited. I compulsively researched OCD (typical) and immediately felt less alone. All of these scary thoughts that had been haunting me were experienced by tons of other people to! And the best news was there was help. Mt. Sinai’s OCD program seemed like the best so I called them the next day. Talia, the Clinical Research Coordinator, heard my story and was so kind and helped get me into the program as soon as possible.