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It is what it is and you can have a meaningful, happy, wonderful life even though you have a mental illness.

My name is Nelly. Well, not really, but that is the name I use to blog about being an OCD survivor for over thirty two years. When I first¬†started showing symptoms, there was no actual treatment for children.¬†I had no idea that anything was different about me except that I¬†seemed to really have issues leaving my home (anxiety attacks) and¬†washing my hands (to the point of them cracking and bleeding). I¬†didn’t even realize that touching things repeatedly until they felt¬†right, was not something that other children do. I was taken to a¬†doctor at the age of four but the doctor said that if my parents¬†ignored it, it would probably go away on it’s own.

He was wrong.

I am now thirty six years old and I have struggled with OCD for most of my life. Over my thirty two years of struggles, I have had many symptoms. I have read up extensively on my disorder and have had several therapies. I have tried and been prescribed several different medications over my lifetime. All of that has helped me immensely with dealing with my severe OCD and learning how to cope with intrusive thoughts, triggers, and panic attacks. I am not saying life is a breeze and I no longer have times when my OCD really bothers me. I am just saying I am now able to cope pretty well when things do take a turn for the obsessional, guilt inducing, stomach turning, fear invoking OCD triggers.

Growing up there was no cognitive behavioral therapy or ERP. I kind of¬†just learned how to force myself to do things I was very uncomfortable¬†with. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it did not. I have learned to¬†understand that OCD symptoms can change over time. Once something¬†stops giving you anxiety, something else will fill the anxiety void¬†and take it’s place. I used to check, count, touch things, repeat¬†mantras, pray a certain number of times or do things a certain number¬†of times. Through my three decades of symptoms, I have had medical¬†fears, contamination fears, homosexuality fears, harm fears,¬†blasphemous fears, relationship fears, sexual fears, ect. I stopped¬†outwardly compulsing in my early twenties and now obsess and mentally¬†compulse (Pureo). Although I still have germ and contamination fears¬†and medical fears, most of the other fears have fallen away with hard¬†work and therapy. I even had Postpartum OCD with my first child which¬†was utterly terrifying but thankfully helped by amazing doctors and¬†much needed medication for the hormone level drop. I am currently¬†medication resistant which has been a struggle because medications¬†have little to no effect on my OCD symptoms. I have been medication¬†resistant for over four years now. I remain hopeful because I know that having OCD is not my fault, that none of my intrusive thoughts¬†are true, and that having OCD does not mean that I am damaged or¬†broken. It is what it is and you can have a meaningful, happy,¬†wonderful life even though you have a mental illness. You are not what¬†your mind says you are. OCD does not reflect your worth as a human¬†being.

It is a struggle but it is worth it. I am thrilled to see that therapies are now available for children that suffer with OCD and huge strides have been made to make people like us able to get help more
easily. Knowing that I am not alone in my struggles with OCD has inspired me to keep talking about OCD and to try and raise more awareness for OCD survivors by doing so. I say survivors because that
is what we are. We are a group of strong, intelligent, magnificent individuals that survive each and every day. And we are kicking butt at it.

I guess I am writing this because I want everyone to know that there is always HOPE. Therapy and medications help. Having a great support system is crucial. That there are groups like this one and other online places that help to keep us feeling less alone and that help to promote positive awareness. Positive things are always a good thing when we live with so much doubt and negative thoughts about ourselves. And even if you are medication resistant like me, there is still hope. The fight is not lost just because medications may not work.

Each and every one of us is a unique, inspiring, resplendent, capable human being. Even on your worst days, you are stronger in that moment than most people ever have to be in their entire lifetimes. It can be done. We are worth believing in ourselves and knowing that we are the warriors of our own minds.

So, keep the faith. Keep the hope alive. Know that being happy even¬†with OCD as a factor in your life, is possible because, honestly, if I¬†can do this, anyone can do this. I am not an OCD unicorn. I am just¬†like everyone else that suffers from OCD. You can do this. You can get¬†better. You can take your life back from OCD’s icy fingers of doubt¬†one step at a time. I know that it is possible because I have done it
and I still fight to do it everyday…. but more importantly I know it¬†is possible because you are just as strong as I am…and I believe in¬†you. Each and every one of you.



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