Hannah s Story
Charleston, South Carolina USA
“To describe Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, or OCD, and how it has worked in my life, it is really through compulsions or obsessive thoughts. OCD is chronic, and in the past, I rejected this idea. I thought and hoped that it would go away with time. However, I now fully embrace that this is something that I will be working on for most, if not all, of my life.
The first time I can remember the symptoms of my OCD were when I was in the 4th grade. I grew up with a verbally abusive parent and, after 18 years, he is now out of my life. But, a side effect of living in that extreme environment left me with high anxiety. That is basically what OCD is: anxiety.
Instead of anxiety as a whole, it takes a form through repetition. If I am extremely bothered by something or things are going badly, I have obsessive thoughts or compulsions/ticks.
Imagine that your mind gets caught on an uncomfortable thought or something that happened, and you can’t stop thinking about it over and over again- maybe it’s an image that you don’t like the thought of, but you just can’t stop obsessing over it. The compulsions come into play to ease this anxiety, so some people with OCD may count or do something a certain amount of times to ease this anxiety.
I used to do things, or write things, typically four times. Why four? I really don’t know. It takes a lot of practice to not engage in the compulsion. Typically people who have OCD think that if they don’t do things a certain way or number of ways, and if they do not do it perfectly, then whatever they are engaging in will be “destroyed” or imperfect.
It is honestly really hard to explain why I do it- maybe it is a coping mechanism. For me, the journey with it has been a rollercoaster ride.
I think that my lowest point was in 8th grade when I went into psychological care for extreme depression and suicidal thoughts. That was perhaps my rock bottom. I’ve gotten a lot better since then, but OCD for me still comes and goes. It’s ever present in some shape or form, but it can definitely be heightened in stressful situations or if I am in a place that I don’t particularly like.
OCD takes a lot of forms, so mine is unique to my life. However, some other people may become stressed over germs or religious issues. With time, I have been able to rid myself of the repetition and most of my compulsions. Still, OCD is a part of my life and can be onset with stressful situations.
I think that a stigma that surrounds invisible illnesses is that they should be kept secret or not revealed out of fear of what people will think. I think quite the opposite. By spreading awareness about these issues, more people can become comfortable sharing their story.
My recommendation for anyone out there suffering from a mental illness is to get help and find out what type of therapy works for you. I think that there are a lot of ways to clear your head by talking to a friend, taking meditation, or using free on-campus counseling services if that is available at your school.
Thank you for reading my story, I hope it helped in some way.”