Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder that occurs when a person gets caught in a cycle of unwanted and intrusive thoughts. These thoughts trigger distressing feelings and causes the person to feel driven to engage in repetitive behavior, compulsions.
Read Grace’s story of her intrusive thoughts, how she’s coping, and using her OCD to help others.
I think there were signs that I had OCD ever since I was in late elementary school but it was never diagnosed because it didn’t greatly affect my life.
Back then, my obsessions primarily surrounded keeping my loved ones safe by saying ritualistic prayers and doing the sign of the cross. I remember if I forgot to do them, I would be so anxious thinking that they were going to die because I didn’t do the ritual, and their deaths would be on my hands.
Throughout high school and college, I had a lot of health anxiety that I can now identify as OCD but it wasn’t until senior year of college that my world came crashing down.
This was a time of my life in which I was highly anxious and alone more than I was used to. It took me a long time to get the courage to talk about this for fear of someone finding it and not understanding and reporting me to the police. This is an example of what it feels like to have OCD: You think of the worst-case scenario in every possible situation you find yourself in.
Dealing with Intrusive Thoughts
I started getting sexual and violent thoughts. This was truly the most terrifying time in my life. It felt like my brain and my sense of self was hijacked and taken over. I was no longer me. I was in the background, begging to rid my brain of the torment and anguish.
I even remember thinking it had to be a brain tumor and wishing it had been so there would be some explanation. The more I tried, the worse it got. I even started to get suicidal obsessions on top of the sexual and violent obsessions. I know it was different than being suicidal because I was genuinely happy and didn’t want to die, they were intrusive, just as the other obsessions.
Finding Help for My OCD
About two months after my first terrifying moments I reached out for help. It took only that long to come to the conclusion there was no way I could live like this without getting help. Therapy saved my life. I was lucky enough to have my first therapist be an OCD specialist without me even knowing it, so they were able to identify what I was going through. I had a name for it, and things slowly began to get better as a result.
Even though I am in a much better place than I was three years ago, I am not where I want to be. I would like to go back to ERP therapy, but I unfortunately cannot afford it. I also still have my obsessions and they ebb and flow as to what I am obsessing about day to day, but right now I am mostly obsessing over getting kidnapped and my fears surrounding that.
OCD attacked who I am as a person and took every part I valued about myself and turned it into the opposite of who I was and something cynical. For the longest time, I thought I must be those things because I thought it, and I admit sometimes I still get caught in that, as I doubt everything.
The hardest part for me right now, is the grief and the shame that comes with having OCD, particularly these pure obsessions. I grieve the person I was before I became symptomatic, but I love the person who has gotten through this, and is using their pain to help others.