Obsessively Compulsively: Navigating OCD

ocd

So how do I begin my story? My life has taken me many crazy places, but none as wild as when I worked on an acute psychiatric ward for children. I moved out of state and was pressed to find a job with my only experience and education being in the field of psychology.

I’ll be honest, I saw a lot of disturbing things on that unit, but the day that changed me was when a 12 year old girl was admitted. She had herpes all over her mouth. As soon as I found out what it was, I couldn’t feel clean enough. I’ve never been a type-A, hand-washing, anal-retentive person, but that is quickly what I became. Seemingly overnight. Upon coming home from work I was in horror to discover I still continued to feel unclean, even after I had showered, washed my hands about a billion times and sanitized everything that I had had with me at work.

From there it got much, much worse… washing my hands once at a time wasn’t enough. Twice wasn’t even enough. Then I started having obsessive thoughts. What if I had accidentally touched the phone at work to my face? What if I hadn’t washed my hands enough and had touched something I ate? It got to the point where I wouldn’t even kiss my boyfriend, avoided situations that previously seemed normal and so on. The obsessive questions were never ending. They even haunted me in my sleep.

Later I had a tragic death in my family and I started obsessing over other things in my life. Had I done something wrong? Was I going to hell? Was I going to jail? Was I going to hurt my family beyond repair? These thoughts were so constant and pervasive that I sometimes hoped that I wouldn’t wake up. I wished that somehow the pain and constant anxiety could end without hurting my family and loved ones. I did this for three years and it was the most painful three years of my life.

I’m only pouring out my heart anonymously because I wouldn’t wish what I went through on my worst enemy. OCD on its own is hard enough, but it also brings extra disorders to the front such as anxiety and depression. One happy day I decided that I could not live like this anymore. I sucked up my pride and went to my childhood doctor and told him that I had OCD. He didn’t judge me. He told me that stress can trigger reactions in the brain that lead to these kinds of thought patterns. He didn’t even treat me like I was sick. He put me on Prozac and probably saved my life. Since I have taken the medication, I have transformed back into my old self that I and loved ones know and love. I didn’t realize how much I missed being me until I started to get better. I started to think about normal things instead of morbid obsessions. I started to smile again… a real smile that meant something, not that sad inside, outwardly fake one that I had become so good at. I started realizing that my life was promising and happy, not scary and terrible.

I know that medication is not the answer for everyone, but if you read this and have ever wondered what is wrong with you or why you have so much anxiety then maybe it is an avenue to explore paired with talking openly to a professional. I would never push medication on anyone, but when I see myself now as opposed to two years ago, I know that I made the best decision of my life. I had something inbalanced in my brain, and medicine was able to fix it. Best wishes and love if you find yourself on this haunting journey, I hope my honesty can help you. I decided to publish this anonymous article in hopes that it could save someone some pain in feeling like they’re crazy and to be open with a professional and get help so they can live a hopeful life.

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