Brittany's Story

Cheney, WA USA

"You are not alone. For a long time, I felt alone in what I was dealing with. I felt so ashamed of who I was and what was going on inside me. I had the symptoms of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, or OCD, starting as far back as elementary school.

 

I started having a blasphemous thought about God. It was constantly repeating inside my head. Anxiety overcame me, knowing that I could not control the thought and I felt horrible. I began to pray and started to understand what praying was. This continued on for years.

 

As time went by, I felt so alone and these thoughts just became part my routine- some days worse than others. I never talked about it. I tried to act like I was normal and that everything was okay. I continued to pray on a daily basis. When I was a sophomore, I prayed for Jesus to come into my heart. As I grew in my faith, I began the journey of what following Jesus looked like. I learned that there was a difference between just believing and following.

 

My junior and senior year of high school was the peak of my OCD. I began to wash my hands repeatedly to get rid of germs and to feel clean. I had a fear of contamination, especially drugs. If someone smoked cigarettes, anything they touched became mentally stained. If I thought someone was unclean and touched something, I wouldn’t touch it or I needed to clean it. I needed to feel clean on the outside because I felt so dirty on the inside.

 

A mental roller coaster was going on inside my head. I would have thoughts of harming myself. I am most ashamed by the sexually explicit thoughts I had about other people. It was very disturbing to me and made me anxious. When I had these thoughts, I would pray the same words over and over again.

 

It came to the point where this prayer became a habit. It was a way to ‘neutralize’ the thoughts. These prayers were not coming from the heart. They were me trying use God for my benefit. I wanted the quick relief. I also would act like I was pushing my hair away from my forehead, but in reality, I was wiping my forehead to clear my mind of the thoughts.

 

That’s the thing with OCD- you do irrational things to help with the irrational fears. I used to leave my door open at night when I went to bed, but then I started shutting it, in fear that I hurt others in my sleep. I was scared that I would lose control of my actions. I would often double-check that the doors were locked. I would keep rechecking things because wanted to be sure I didn’t make a mistake.

 

If something that was ‘contaminated’ touched or even might have touched me, I needed to do something about it. I had to change my clothes or wash them with a sanitary wipe or hand-sanitizer. I would use these cleaning devices on my hair and anywhere that felt dirty. Sometimes I felt like I didn’t wash my hands well enough, so I would wash my hands again or use the sanitary wipes on my hands. I also needed reassurance from my mom and from my friend. I would constantly text them when something happened or about something I thought and wanted to know if I was normal. I kept having this fear that I had committed an unpardonable sin.

 

My friend would always tell me I’m fine, however if I texted her and she didn’t answer, I would keep texting her and justifying myself. ‘I think’ or ‘something like that’ became common phrases in my vocabulary just in case I was lying, and I didn’t know it. When it was about other things, I would often talk to my mom about them.

 

My family tried to help me, but, how could they? They knew I had OCD, but they didn’t know how to properly help me. My mom would try disciplining me to help me but that didn’t help. She was taking away the things that relieved my anxiety. I wouldn’t listen and I would do the thing that I wasn’t supposed to do. It made me stressed because I couldn’t obsess. I needed to be clean and I couldn’t be. It gave me anxiety because I couldn’t do the thing that helped my anxiety. This mental illness is mentally draining. I couldn’t enjoy life like I used to. Living was hard. I wanted to be done with life.

 

I felt so alone. I felt so guilty, so ashamed. I realized that my relationship wasn’t satisfying, people weren’t helping, and my obsession was making things worse. Something needed to change. I broke up with my boyfriend and during this whole process, I continued believing in God and growing in my faith. I just kept praying that it would get better. These were my meaningful prayers that came from the heart. People were praying for me. I began to change and I didn’t even realize it. I didn’t even realize how much happier I felt, it was like ‘oh yeah I used to be in that dark place…’ It was like God was giving me the strength to say no to these obsessions and to show me that it is okay, what is the worst that will happen? God keeps showing me who He is and His timeless truths. My desires changed and I learned not to dwell on these thoughts and not let them define me.

 

The person I was then wouldn’t recognize the person I am now. I didn’t realize how much control I was holding onto. I didn’t realize the things that I had been holding onto. I still deal with anxiety and with these unwanted, bad thoughts, but they no longer define me. They are not my worth. I’ve learned that life is short and that this problem is so small compared to the grand scheme of things. We were never promised that life will be easy. It’s hard, but it’s worthwhile, and remember you can’t do it alone.”

Story Submitted By: Meghan Moran, Eastern Washington University Campus Rep

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