My life with obsessive-compulsive disorder

Posted on 26 September 2017 by admin

Why OCD awareness is relevant to everyone


By: Mary Wilson
Staff Writer


When I was in third grade, I was diagnosed with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. OCD has impacted every area of my life, from academics to friendships. OCD is pervasive, and if I don’t stay on top of my symptoms, it will consume my life, making me unable to go to school, keep friends or work.  I’ve been that sick before, and I’m in no rush to do that again. For an illness that is diagnosed in one in 100 adults and one in 200 children, too many mental health professionals, as well as the public, misunderstand OCD. OCD can start at any age, but typically tends to begin between the ages of 10-12 and the late teen/young adult years. The average sufferer waits 14 years from the onset of symptoms to a diagnosis, a number that should be down to zero. This is why OCD Awareness Week, held the second week of October every year, is crucial. When I was a kid struggling with OCD, I felt alone. Surely no one in the entire history of the world had felt this anxiety, had these thoughts, felt driven to perform these acts to get just a bit of relief from the anxiety. I saw a number of therapists and was on medication, but the therapy was not a specialized type of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy called Exposure/Response Prevention (think: provoking worst fears and then letting the fear come down naturally. This is more terrifying than it sounds.) and I knew of no one my age who had OCD. Looking back, I know that there were more kids in my grade schools and high school who had malfunctioning brains like mine, but no one talked about it, so we were stuck in the never-ending loop, convinced we were the only ones.OCD

In high school, I started to become more open about my experiences with OCD. I flooded my social media with facts during OCD Awareness Week, wrote essays and performed slam poetry, all with the goal of helping other people through my story. After I was an inpatient my sophomore year of high school,  my desire to tell more people about this devastating illness only strengthened. I was the only kid on the psych floor with OCD, and the nurses and doctors had no idea how to help me.

Eventually I found specialized treatment. My medication regimen was adjusted. I regained control of my life. I’m studying to help kids with OCD.  Perhaps most importantly, I met people my age with OCD. I spoke on a panel at the 24th annual OCD Conference, and I know I am not alone, even when it feels like I am. Maybe if more people talked about OCD, about the irrational fears, paralyzing anxiety and debilitating compulsions, people struggling in silence wouldn’t
feel so alone.


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