My Struggle With Ocd (i Just Need To Get Some Stuff Off My Chest)

I don't usually post personal stuff like this, but I've been feeling really bad for a long time. I just really need to talk to someone, and I don't really feel like I have anyone I can really open up to.

I just feel so lonely. I have these fears that its always going to be like this. I'm at college now, sitting alone in my dorm room. My best friend/roommate is leaving to go live in China next week, and I don't know what I'm going to do without her. She's the only person on campus I talk to. Sometimes I feel like she doesn't really think about how I feel sometimes. She had a lot of friends in high school, she doesn't know what it's like to not have any. She promised to watch a movie with me today and just marched in here to grab her stuff and tell me that she's spending the night at a friends house, so I just started feeling really bad. What if I'm alone for the rest of my life? This is no way to live.

Okay, sorry, I feel like I'm being really melodramatic and just rambling now.... I know she's not doing anything really hurtful or anything, it just hurts sometimes when you're all alone, and it's hard to see a way out of it. And she's the only friend I have. It just feels like I don't really matter that much to her.

Let me get to what I've really wanted to talk to you all about.....

I've never told anyone this before, but oftentimes I just feel filled up with this horrible sadness so deep and so big I feel like it's going to swallow me up, and sometimes I feel like I don't want to live anymore. It's just stupid little things like my friend leaving that just make me feel like this. There's just this part of me that's always been hidden, and when I feel bad I just feel like there's no one I can turn to for help, so that's why I guess I'm writing on here.

I've been suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) since I was 9 years old. For those of you who don't know much about OCD, consider yourselves lucky. It's kind of hard to explain what it is to people, but I'll try. OCD causes people to experience unwanted impulses or thoughts, typically of things that they fear most doing. They worry obsessively, all the time about actually following through on one of these horrible impulses or thoughts, and will do rituals or compulsive behavior to help with the anxiety. It affects different people in many different ways. For some people, they are focused on germs, others fear harming someone, some fear disorder and mess, for me, my OCD was focused on religion.

I had always been raised Catholic, and had always been a 'goody-little-two-shoes' type girl growing up, always concerned with following the rules and doing whats right, but about the time I turned nine, I started developing OCD. I became obsessed with religion. I was overcome with this debilitating fear that I might do or think something that was wrong or going against God or something. I was really terrified. I would get these unwanted impulsive thoughts that I might hurt someone or say something hurtful to someone I love or about God, and to help with the positively debilitating anxiety caused by this I would do these really elaborate and truly draining rituals. Every single night I would pray for at least 6 hours before going to sleep, I would pray an entire rosary each night (those of you who are Catholics KNOW that this is long), read giant sections of the Bible over and over and over again, because my OCD brain felt like I had to get it 'just right' or 'it wouldn't really count as reading it'. At its worst, OCD stopped me from reading, writing, sleeping, eating, having friends, having fun, and on some days it even prevented me from physically moving.

People who suffer from OCD generally realize that what they do and think makes no sense, and that it really isn't normal. This causes many of them, including myself, to become terrified that someone might find out about their OCD, because it seems embarrassing or they're afraid people might judge them. I worked so hard as a kid to make sure that my parents or the people closet to me NEVER found out about what I was going through. My parents still don't know I went through that. Nobody really does.

So here I was, this nine year old kid who's scared out of her mind that if she doesn't do these crazy rituals each and every night for 6-7 hours, she's going to go to hell or die or something else terrible is going to happen, and she's just holding it all inside of herself. This went on for about 3 years before I hit a breaking point.

It was in seventh grade ( twelve years old) when my life took a drastic turn for the worst. By this point the OCD had taken over every aspect of my life. I barely ever slept, I was always crying because I was so stressed out. I didn't have any friends at school. The OCD made me act like a complete jerk to my classmates, because I felt the obsessive need to correct all of their homework. I didn't take care of myself at all, I never brushed my hair and I rarely wore anything besides ratty jeans and T-shirts 4 sizes too big for me. During some parts of the year when Catholics usually fast, I would starve myself. I wouldn't allow myself to eat more than like a granola bar for the entire day at times. There were some days when I wouldn't eat anything at all. I was really depressed. I didn't have anyone to talk to.

Before I tell you what happened next there is something I really need you to understand. People who suffer from OCD DO NOT WANT the intrusive worries and thoughts that bombard them every waking moment. What they want more than anything is for them to go away, and that's why they do these crazy rituals. They think that it'll make the intrusive thoughts go away. When I was young, my intrusive thoughts were of me harming others or doing something blasphemous. These were the things I feared doing most in the world at the time, and so I would do anything to get rid of them. Even these debilitating rituals. I recognize now that the things I did and the way I was at this time was irrational, that it was caused by a mental disorder, and that I needed serious help.

When I was 12 years old I hit rock bottom. It was the absolute worst day of my life.It will haunt me for the rest of my life. I remember it so clearly. It was about 4 o'clock in the morning, and I had just finished my exhausting rituals. I just wanted to go to sleep. But my mind was going crazy, and my stupid OCD brain just couldn't let me go to sleep and be happy. I had just been reading in my Bible the story of how God tells Abraham to sacrifice his son to prove how much he loved God. In the story, God stops Abraham at the last second, because he had proven his faith, and so his son was saved. I had the impulsive thought that God needed me to do this too, and that if I didn't, God wouldn't love me anymore. He would send me to hell and hurt the people I love. I had already done so much, I had just prayed for 7 hours straight and sacrificed any joy or happiness in my life to be a good Catholic, but to my OCD brain, this wasn't enough.

I knew in the story Abraham never hurt anyone, and I knew in my mind that I wasn't capable of hurting anyone, even if I had wanted to. I never had the intention of going through with hurting anyone. But to a person suffering from OCD, it is literally impossible at times to ignore these intrusive thoughts. I could not ignore it. I just couldn't. Please understand that. I had to react. I thought I would go to someone in my house who was sleeping and just stand by them and see if God would tell me what to do. I didn't want to hurt them. I stood by my sister, and I lifted up my empty hand in the air like I imagined Abraham would have, and I just stood there, silently sobbing. I don't know what it was, maybe it really was God telling me, maybe it was my truly crazed mind, most likely I was scared out of my mind, but it became okay for me to leave. To run back to my room as fast as I could and go to sleep.

When I woke up three hours later for school, all I could think was, what have I done? My OCD took a drastic turn for the worse that day. I pretended I was sick, so I wouldn't have to face anyone. I just sat at home alone, consumed by my guilty thoughts. I was sure that I had committed attempted murder. A twelve year old. Looking back, I realize how ridiculous I was. Watching reruns of "The Closer" was my only knowledge of the justice system, and I hadn't actually done anything, but I was all the same convinced that I would be caught or have to confess, if I didn't confess surely I would be sent to hell. I would be sent to jail. I would be given the death penalty for sure. I would die. I would never grow up or be happy, or do any of the things I dreamed about as a kid. Before the OCD came. To a twelve year old, this prospect is frankly terrifying. Since then I've heard stories about people who are so tortured by guilty thoughts that they make themselves physically ill. I can tell you from experience that this sort of thing does happen. In the weeks following that horrible night, I became more physically and mentally ill than I had ever been in my life, and have ever been since. My throat swelled up to such a point that I couldn't eat, not that I would've, I felt like I didn't deserve it. I burned up with both shame and a high fever. I lied down for weeks on the couch, staring out the window, not moving, unable to sleep from the crushing guilt, completely paralyzed by fear that I might do something else to maybe hurt someone.

Sorry this post is so overly dramatic and long....this stuff has been on my chest for years now, I just really need to get it out. If you're still actually reading this, thanks.

I couldn't stay on the couch forever. I had to get up and keep living, somehow. I was now more scared than ever to ask anyone for help. I thought that the thing I hadn't even done might destroy my life. So I learned to live with it. The guilt ate me alive, tortured me every waking moment of my life for nearly 5 years. I wouldn't allow myself to do anything positive or joyful, I didn't deserve it. I wasn't allowed to think or plan for the future, I didn't deserve a future. I felt so horrible. My rituals got worse and worse, now it was not only so God would still love me, it was also my penance. There were days when my OCD and my guilt literally paralyzed me, I was too scared to move, so I'd sit perfectly still for hours on end.

Someone told me once that suicide was a sin, and I think that that fact and the fear that I might cause my family grief were literally the only things keeping me alive at the time. I was terrified of sinning, so I knew I wouldn't attempt suicide, but that didn't stop me from spending hours imagining myself dying. No one in my family, not even my parents, ever noticed that anything was wrong. I guess that's mostly my fault, I worked very hard to hide it from them. But couldn't they see how I was suffering? How much pain I felt to the point I wanted to die? I guess they just assumed it was the normal 'teenage angst'.

People who suffer from OCD often feel a great need to confess things to others, to ask repeatedly if they are doing the right thing, never quite sure of themselves. I felt the overwhelming need to confess what I had done, to turn myself in. I was too scared to tell my parents, so I thought that I would tell a priest. Catholics have something they do called Reconciliation, where you go into a private room with a priest, there's a screen between the two of you, so he can't see your face or recognize you, and you confess every bad thing you've done, and the priest will tell you what to do and forgive you.

So I felt like I needed to do this, and it took me until I was 14 to get the courage to do it. I told the deepest, darkest secrets of my heart to the ultra-conservative priest I had known for the past 10 years of my life, scared out of my mind that he would call the cops on me and send me to jail. What he did instead I wasn't prepared for. He had absolutely no response. He didn't know what on earth to do with a crazy, sobbing little girl in his confessional. He just asked me if I felt angry. I said no, because I didn't, I was scared. And then he told me I could go in peace. I was so confused. I still go to this man's church, years later, and I have such a hard time forgiving him for what he did. I cannot see how a person, especially a priest, can listen to a scared teenage girl trust them with so much of their fear and pain, hear their cry for help, and not lift a finger to reassure or to help them.

For a while I felt some relief from having told someone what had been happening to me, for about a year I was able to relax a little bit. Allow myself to be happy for once. But it didn't last. The intrusive thoughts, which had gone away a little, came back full force, and so did the rituals. And the guilt. And the fear. And it was if nothing had ever happened. And I couldn't see a way out. I was being eaten alive again.

I hit rock bottom again when I was 16. On the day my mother was diagnosed with cancer. In that sickening, horrifying place of fear for my mother and an irrational but overwhelming sense that somehow my sins had brought this upon my mother, I went to confession again with my family. This time it was a different priest. I could see his face in this room, which I hadn't been prepared for. My whole body shook with fear, my voice quivered, I burst into tears and told him everything that had been weighing on my heart for so long. I was more scared than I had ever been in my life.

The priest surprised me again, but in a different way. He was kind to me. He showed me compassion. He told me that God didn't want me to be so sad and to treat myself so badly. He told me that he didn't think I had even sinned, but that God would forgive me anyway. He told me that God wanted me to have hope, happiness, and a future. He told me I needed to seek help. I had never expected that. That man saved and forever changed my life. I will be forever grateful to him.

From that moment on, I decided that OCD would no longer control my life. It was not easy. It was the hardest thing I have ever done, fighting OCD. For a long time I had suspected that something in my mind was wrong (sort of a duhhhh moment), I did research, and discovered that I was not just really really weird or a bad person, but that the symptoms I had been having were textbook OCD. I was still too scared to ask for help from my family, but I knew I could start helping myself. I did research on ways to treat OCD, and I forced myself to stop the rituals. Easier said than done, but such a relief once I stopped. I learned ways to stop the intrusive thoughts from having any power over me.

As my mother battled cancer, I fought my own quiet battle. My mother won her battle against breast cancer. She has been cancer free for two years now. She is my rock. I don't know what I would do without her, and she inspires me every day.

Little by little, I learned to find joy in life. I felt like I had missed a lot of things growing up because of OCD. I didn't have friends in high school. I never had a boyfriend. I've never been kissed. No one has ever told me that they love me who wasn't in my family. I've never been to a dance.

But in my own way as I fought OCD, I found joy in my life. I started traveling. I never knew how wonderfully magical and free it could make me feel. I have since traveled to over 10 countries in three different continents, including Germany, Austria, France, Italy, Spain, Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Mexico, and Canada. Little by little, I learned to smile again.

It wasn't until I got to college when I felt truly free from OCD. In my freshman year I got up the courage to tell a therapist what was going on. I know that they really truly help a lot of people, and if you are reading this because you too are suffering, I encourage you to at least talk to them. Talk to anyone, just a listening ear can do wonders. They didn't really help me that much, I had my OCD under a lot better control by then, so I didn't see them for very long. I just felt like I ought to give it a shot. I can honestly say that OCD does not affect my life anymore. I do not have intrusive thoughts or engage in rituals, it happens occasionally, but I know now how to deal with them, to not take them seriously. It's been a long hard fight, but I've won.

And so here I am now, sort of back where we started when I began this rambling and painful journey down memory lane. I made some friends in college, only one of them has really stuck, and now she is leaving for China to study abroad. I won't see her for a year, and I feel like she doesn't really think I'm that important to her. I wish she could know the things I've gone through, how much it has helped to have a friend, someone to laugh with, to help me so I don't feel so alone.

I wish I wasn't so afraid that I'll be alone for the rest of this year, and by extension, for the rest of my life. I wish I didn't get so sad at times, just overwhelmingly sad and for no real concrete reason.

Sometimes I feel like OCD did kill me. Like it killed my spirit, my joy, my creativity, my spark of life, and now I'm just dead inside. I have had to consciously learn how to talk to people, something that I struggle with every single day of my life. I have had to teach myself to laugh, to smile, to think of ideas and be joyful. It's hard to do after telling yourself you deserve to die for seven years straight. But I know that things will get better. It's just going to take time. I've only been in control of myself for a few years now, I've only been officially diagnosed for less than a year. It'll take time to get back to normal. I just have to keep hope. I just have to remember that I am worth it.

I've tried beginning again with religion, re-establishing a healthy relationship with God. It's been hard to trust my spirit to religion, but I know now that God was not the vengeful God who made me do rituals, but the kind voice of the priest telling me that I am loved. And I hope one day I can be a normal, good kind of religious, like that priest.

A few days ago I had a professor tell me to stay after class. My professor told me she worried that I was so serious all the time, that it would probably make people think I was really strict, and that it's hard to make friends like that. And when I was listening to her, I just wished that she could know the things I have gone through. How hard it is for me to talk to people, to smile, to be happy, to wake up each morning. How hard I have fought just to be here, and how hard I truly fight not to be so serious.

So this is why I wanted to pour my heart out to you guys, I just needed to get my feelings and my memories out on the page. I know I've gone on a while now, and I'm really grateful to you if you actually read the whole rambling thing.

I don't know if any of you out there have had experience with OCD or depression, what do you do to deal with it?

To those of you who are struggling with OCD, I know how hard it is.

Sometimes you feel like there's no way out of the pain and the guilt and the fear. You just feel stuck.

Please know though that it does get better. I promise you. Please don't give up. Just talk to someone, anyone, even a complete stranger. Once you've done it, believe me, you'll wish you'd have done it sooner. Know that you are not a bad person You are special. You are important. You are worth it. You are loved. Please let me know if I can be of any help to you in any way.












homestarrunner37 homestarrunner37
18-21, F
4 Responses Dec 8, 2012

You have come along way,good for you!Stay strong!I have repetitive thoughts but I don't think I have rituals . I have not been diagnosed but it sounds lot like what you have. You said that you have learned to control your thought,how do you do that? I get stuck in "my head" and its so hard to focus ( I have ADHD too so you can imagine how focused I am lol!) Anyways,what did you do to calm your thoughts?

Your post was so powerful. Your story of overwhelming courage is inspiration. It reminds me of my boyfriend who also suffers with OCD. He found the Int'l OCD Foundation and boy, what a big help that was for him. He has the religiosity part of it, too. I go with him to the OCD conferences and then I found out that I have OCPD. I don't know if you want to share your story in person, but if you check out iocdf.org, it has been a wonderful help to my boyfriend and to me. Best of luck to you! Thanks for sharing!

Thank you so much for sharing that experience with us. I so hope you dont have further bad experiences with OCD. Im sure you will find another friend to replace her thats going to China. All i can advise is to get out there and mingle with people you would like to have as friends. It may not be easy for you but i so hope you can do it.

Megan,

I am not really OCD, but I have experienced depression and anxiety a few times in my life. A lot of it is to do with forgetting my thyroid meds...but depression is depression...anxiety is anxiety. I am also emotionally sensitive to the point of being mildly empathic. I could feel the anguish in your words.

I am so happy for you that you felt the loving compassion of that second priest. He spoke the truth of things. And if I may, I would like to recommend a book series to you...a series that helped me through some tough spots in my life...and it answered some questions, and reaffirmed some things I'd intuited and known before picking up the first book.

You may have heard of it--or not, depending on your experience so far. It's called "Conversations With God," by Neale Donald Walsch. There's even a movie version based on Walsch's journey from out-of-work, homeless, car-accident victim to wildly successful spiritual author and lecturer--all because of his questions to God--that actually get answered ALL on dozens and dozens of yellow legal pads. And there's more to the series than just the three books. I'm aiming to get the series and re-read it as many times as I can--because for a spiritual book addict like me, multiple trips to the library and several book "renewals" just isn't enough when it comes to CWG. I even met one of my best friends because of this series.

Above all else, beyond the book recommendation, I humbly honor you and your bravery and courage to walk through the emotional fires you've walked through. I also honor you for writing so honestly and candidly about what you've experienced. May Great Spirit bring you ever more clarity in the years ahead.

Namaste, Megan...Namaste....*Bows*