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The First Time I Felt Hope After Silently Struggling With Intrusive Thoughts

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Eleven years ago I went to New York City to celebrate a long St. Patrick’s Day weekend with friends, and I was miserable the entire time. From the outside looking in, nothing was out of place: My boyfriend had booked a unique hotel for us, and my friend was the perfect guide to her city. We went to Irish pubs, shopped, hung out on a rooftop and had delicious dinners out. I should have been having the time of my life, wishing the weekend would never end.

But all I wanted to do was lie down and sleep. I’d been struggling with ugly, immoral intrusive thoughts for months, and by the time we left for our much-anticipated trip, I’d lost almost all hope that I’d ever feel like myself again.

By the end of our long weekend, I’d been brought to my knees, desperate for help. The day my boyfriend and I got back to Minneapolis, I called a psychology clinic to make an appointment with someone who could prescribe antidepressants. It took an unbelievable amount of courage to dial the number and tell a stranger a small piece of my story – and I was met with an emotionless, “We’re booked for the next three months.” Click.

I sat on the edge of my bed and cried. I knew it. I knew no one could help me. I pulled myself together. I couldn’t live like this any longer. I had to at least try. So I called my gynecologist’s office of all places, and told that small piece of my story again: I need help, I’m feeling really depressed. I think I need to go on an antidepressant. This time the voice on the other end of the line was understanding, and when we hung up I had an appointment for that very afternoon.

A few weeks later a psychiatrist diagnosed me with OCD. Although the antidepressants had already started to work, the day I was diagnosed was the first day I felt hope. Real hope. For so long — years and years — I’d thought I was the only person in the whole world who’d ever felt like I had, who’d struggled with the same intrusive thoughts I had. Convinced I was a monster, I’d walked through life feeling hopeless and alone. If only I’d had the courage to tell someone sooner.

The day I called the psychology clinic and eked out a sentence of my life story, I never would have imagined I’d be where I am today. I’ve told roomfuls of people about my most shameful and embarrassing obsessions. People I’ve never met know details of my life that actually make me blush. I’m spreading hope, and it’s all because I got hope first.

You don’t have to wait as long as I did for hope. You don’t even have to tell anyone your story if you’re not ready. Just go to Project Hope Exchange and listen to messages of hope left by other individuals with OCD as well as therapists and family members affected by OCD. And if you have some inspiration to share, call 1-855-975-HOPE and leave a 30-second message of hope for individuals with OCD. It could be the push they need to move forward in their recovery.

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Thinktock photo via Halfpoint

Originally published: April 4, 2017
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