Thursday, June 3, 2010

My Journey with OCD

I have been very excited to see so many new shows coming out on t.v. that give people an idea of what others with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder struggle with.

I thought I would take a moment to share a little of my story. I am still learning how to cope with the disorder and have come such a long way. I have an amazing support group of family and friends.

I started showing signs of OCD as early as the age of 4. My family and I have looked back at the weird things I used to say and do as a child growing up that now make sense after learning about the disease. I was officially diagnosed by my doctor in 2008.

My struggles with OCD were always kept quiet. People would joke about me having OCD but didn't actually take it serious. Although my best friend, Bekah had a pretty good idea of my struggles. Let's just say she had questions when I would wash my hands 8 times in a row after using the restroom. I have numerous memories of people in school giving me strange looks when they would see the stressed out look on my face all the time. If they only knew the thoughts that haunted me.

OCD can come in stages. Some people are checkers, counters, some do rituals and some fear they will harm others. I have struggled with all of these.

Here are the stages of my personal struggle with OCD:

Ages 4-12:
My family thought I threw tantrums for no reason, later it became evident that there was something more than me just trying to make things perfect. Why did the milk have to line up with the cereal for me to eat it? Why did I have to repeat my thoughts and prayers? I remember being about 6 years old and asking my mom, "how is GOD going to hear my prayers?" When she asked why I felt that way I explained that I had been praying the same thing over and over and I felt like it wasn't being heard. I remember feeling like it just wasn't working. In 7th grade I would Pray over an hour everyday. I had to make sure EVERYONE was mentioned in my prayer, if they weren't, there was a chance that they could die. Their death would be on my hands because I didn't protect them with prayer. The weight of peoples lives was on the shoulders of a 12 year old. for example, I even had to include the mailman in my prayers (this is what I mean by EVERYONE needing to be included).

Ages 13-16:
The OCD took a whole new effect on me when I was in Junior High. My fear of germs became over the top. I constantly washed my hands. I washed to the point that my hands started to crack from being so dry due to excessive amounts of soap and water. I had fears that I would get diseases from sitting in chairs and on benches. Don't even get me started on toilet seats. I would tell myself all of the ways I was filled with diseases and I was nothing but a contagious contaminated human being that could cause harm to others. If something I felt was contaminated touched my hand or any part of my body, it would tingle until I was able to "wash the germs away."

Ages 17-18
The last two years of my High School days the fear of harming others was a primary feeling. I remember lying in bed at night in full blown fear that I would wake up in the middle of the night and somehow hurt my mother. This is something I would NEVER EVER want to do and the thought of it made me sick! When I started educating myself on Obsessive compulsive Disorder I learned that this is a completely normal phase to pass through. However, when I was in High School I thought I was a terrible person. I would break down and cry all the time because of the fears in my head. I hated the thoughts. I wasn't ready to open up about everything and I could see in my mom's face she felt like she was never going to get to know what was always making me so stressed out and emotional. How do you come out and say, "well, I have a fear that I will hurt you in my sleep." You feel owned by something that is bigger than you. I also dealt with excessive "checking" I would be half way out of our apartment complex when I would have to run back up the apartment and shake the door handle. Sometimes this went on for 5 minuets of me running up and down the stairs to shake the handle. I just had to wait till it "felt right".

Ages 19-23
My OCD has taken a turn for the best in my life. The only things I currently struggle with is "checking" I have to shake door handles more than I would like to. I also let the fear of germs get to me at times and have the need to excessively wash my hands. However, those outbreaks are far and few in between thank goodness.

This diary of my OCD is not for attention, it is not a "oh poor you, Lacey". It is to take a moment to let people know that there are others out there that struggle with this disease. It could be the person you sit next to everyday at work or the person that makes your coffee each day at Starbucks. It is a very real struggle for people. The things I have mentioned only brush the surface. I look forward to continual growth in my journey of healing and I hope to help others who struggle with this disorder. Maybe my story can give others who are struggling some peace of mind.


1 comment:

  1. Aww honey I love you. I am 100% here for you. I wish you would have been able to open up to me about it sooner. I would have been able to help you more and reassure you that you are normal. I always dragged you away from the bathroom when you had to wash your hands 5 times, and I always forced you into public restrooms and told you "you are NOT going to get a disease!" But I feel like if I would have known the depths of it in jr. high and high school I would have been more understanding and helpful. Well I'm so happy that you are where you're at now with this. I know it took a lot for you to post this and I'm proud of you. Love you.