I’ve decided recently to feature some guests here on my blog to showcase some other people’s troubles with mental health. Here we have Morgan R who talks about her journey with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder after keeping it a secret for a decade. Please check out her blog by clicking here for more.
I find it odd that I can be having an anxiety attack and no one around me would ever know. Then again, it’s not all that odd because that’s how it was for over a decade. I’ve had OCD since at least elementary school but I was only diagnosed a year ago. And the unfortunate thing is this delay in a diagnosis is not uncommon at all. It’s quite standard for OCD.
I’m not sure why for all these years I put so much effort into hiding all of my fears and compulsions. Maybe it seemed like I was acting odd at times but somehow I did a pretty decent job of hiding my rituals. I remember as a little kid one of my compulsions was to spin in circles evenly to the right and left. Somehow I blended this in all through ballet class. What’s almost funny is I even saw a therapist at times in high school. Yet even she didn’t notice so how could anyone else?
Even if I hadn’t hid my symptoms all these years I’m not sure it would have made much of a difference. Aside from my brief phase of hand-washing in middle school I don’t have very stereotypical OCD fears. If most people heard about my fears and compulsions they might actually be surprised to learn that these are a part of OCD. For example, currently I have a lot of fears about preventing fire, fears about losing information, and even fears about losing information in fires.
It wasn’t until I began college though that my OCD really worsened. It went from fairly annoying to incredibly destructive. An hour a day of rituals very quickly grew to several hours. After enough googling and thinking back to AP psychology it became pretty obvious to me that this was OCD. I don’t recommend diagnosing yourself but the pieces fit too well. I spoke with my mom and we scheduled an appointment for me to meet with a different mental health professional. That day I got an official diagnosis and the road to treatment began!
Now I continue to work on my OCD through ERP (exposure and response prevention) therapy and CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy.) For the most part it is helpful. In particular I find exposures extremely helpful. I have already gotten over several fears and am working on more. It is tricky to balance working on OCD with the stress of school and I am being honest when I say ERP is very hard. Old fears like to try to come back when I am focusing on stopping new fears or if I am extra stressed, such as during exams. Nonetheless, I like to remember past successes in therapy to remain motivated and to remain hopeful that I can continue to make progress.
If I can give advice to anyone struggling with their mental health my advice would be to stop hiding everything and take the chance of telling someone. Find someone you trust and tell them about your concerns. Most importantly, make an appointment with a mental health professional. It’s definitely frightening and not always easy but getting better is very possible. It is so worth it too.
Thank you so much to Lauren for letting me write a guest post!