Day by day I'm working on turning my OCD story into an OCD success story, but there was a time when I didn't think it could be done. When I was 13 I got my diagnosis (I call this my first OCD crisis, mentioned briefly here), but finding out wasn't really a eureka moment. It was just the answer I got when any answer would do; suddenly I wasn't myself and I wanted to know why.
"What Happened at Kerry's?"
My best friend invited me to her 14th birthday, and while I was there I didn't really feel like being part of the group. Friends were hanging out in her bedroom, watching TV, and in my mind I was somewhere else. I felt bummed.
When I went home my parents wondered what was wrong. "What happened at Kerry's?" they asked. Nothing did...I just couldn't stop worrying.
It Started with a Pen Pal
It was the 1990s and the internet was blossoming but I didn't have a computer at home. In junior high I used to spend my time at the library. I visited chat rooms, talking to people all over the world. I found a few pen pals; one in Chile and one in New York. They were both boys.
After a few months talking to them and exchanging packages through the mail, I think I got bored. So I moved on. But that afternoon at Kerry's I worried that my pen pals weren't who they said they were.
My parents were new to computers and the internet, so they weren't privvy to what went on in chat rooms. It wasn't their fault, though--the world wide web was flat earth to them! I am certain, though, that I spoke to internet predators during my time at the library, and I was afraid these were two of them. I couldn't stop thinking about what would happen if they tried to come and get me. They might hurt me. My parents would be so mad. I wouldn't have any friends. I was certain that I deserved whatever I got for being so risky. The worries took over so much that I thought sure some day I would see a dirty old pickup truck waiting at the end of my street until my parents left the house. It was scary.
Knowing I Needed Help
Mental illness is not a stranger to my family. Since my mom saw a therapist, I felt comfortable asking to see one, too. It was my idea. Still thinking I was depressed as a result of something that happened at Kerry's, my parents were convinced that this was serious. What insight for a 13 year-old!
While I was in therapy, the OCD continued to set in. My worries shifted, of course, and it was always a relief when that happened, because I could finally have a break! No sooner than the kidnapping fear subsided, the realization that another fear was near sent a sickened feeling to my stomach. One worry after the next. Even though I had been diagnosed, that's how it was, and that's how it would be until I got a hold of my first OCD crisis.
Sometimes I think back to that point in my life and realize how much better off I am now. I'm older, stronger, more independent, more mature, and wiser. I certainly haven't mastered OCD, but with each year I'm strengthened by the very fact that it hasn't conquered me yet!
4 weeks ago