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Read This If You're Struggling With OCD, Diagnosed or Not

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Editor's Note

If you struggle with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741. To find help, visit the International OCD Foundation’s website.

To those struggling with OCD,

It can get better. And with help, it usually does. I say “usually” because I cannot, unfortunately, promise anyone anything. I am not a mind reader or a fortune teller; that being said, I can share how it worked out for me.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a hellish disorder, illness, disability — whatever you’d like to call it. As you probably know, it causes us to get stuck in these viscous cycles of thinking. Thought loops that never end it seems, intrusive images and compulsions that fuel each other into this oblivion of anxiety.

If you think you have OCD but you are undiagnosed, I urge you to find some kind of help. A therapist and a psychiatrist are the best combination in my experience, but if this is inaccessible to you, I also suggest getting a cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or exposure and response prevention (ERP) therapy workbook. The Crisis Text Line is also available if the OCD is making you feel unsafe and you need that extra, brief support. Safety though is more important than anything else, even if OCD is at the root, so if you’re feeling hopeless and unsafe, calling 911 or having someone you trust take you to the emergency room is another option (I have been there myself).

Or, maybe you’re reading this letter because you were diagnosed years ago and have tried the usual antidepressants and various therapies.

If that is the case, I urge you to look into transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), another medical option for reducing OCD. I myself have done this treatment and it was quite helpful, in combination with the medications and therapies, including treating my other mental health disorders in addition to the OCD.

Whether you fear you have OCD or you are well aware, and yet still struggling immensely, just know this: OCD is not who you are. OCD is a part of you perhaps, yes, but it will never take away the essence, the core, of you.

It can get better, episodes can go into remission and together we can slowly end the stigma, as I try to through my own social media platforms (such as @obsessive.but.awesome on Instagram, where I talk about OCD and my other comorbid conditions, such as bipolar disorder, ADHD, trauma, eating disorders and more).

OCD sucks! A lot! I’m here to validate that more than anyone else, and I wish I could take away your pain. I wish I had the magic solution now that I’ve been in remission, but I am well aware OCD can come back for me any time, as it always does during periods of high stress, when past traumas are triggered or during mood episodes.

I once felt I was drowning in my OCD, particularly before I sought help in 2014, at the age of 19. Constant obsessions and compulsions, insomnia and frequent nightmares when I did sleep, anorexia and depression.

Things have been up and down for me. This is because recovery is not linear. Please never forget that: Recovery is not linear.

I wish there was more I could do to take away the pain of others, but sadly I cannot, so the least I can do is to remind you that you are not alone.


P.S. Never apologize for who you are; I wish I had learned that lesson a lot sooner.

Unsplash image by Wes Hicks

Originally published: August 28, 2021
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