Inside the lives of multiple OCD victims.

This week, I decided to do something a little bit different on my blog. Through numerous online support groups, I discovered some incredible people with truly inspiring stories. We, are all just ordinary people who have some unfortunate chemical imbalance in our brains. We know what it is like to suffer in silence. So I thought it would be appropriate to share our stories in case anybody else is suffering out there. There is no rule book on OCD. Each person experiences different themes differently. I figured if I could share multiple perspectives on what it is like to suffer from OCD, I will be able to shine some light on someone else’s darkness.

We have OCD. And these are our stories.

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M is a 25-year-old victim of Harm OCD

  1. When do you first remember experiencing symptoms of OCD and what was that like for you?
    My first experience with OCD was in 2016. It began with Harm OCD and I was very afraid and scared that I had lost myself.
  2. When were you first diagnosed and what motivated you to start therapy?
    I was diagnosed a week after my intrusive thoughts began. I went to the hospital because I was so scared of myself.
  3. Which therapy have you tried, and which has been the most effective for you?
    I only took medication to begin with, I was prescribed Zoloft but didn’t find it helpful at all. It only helped to ease my anxiety, but the thoughts remained the same. I started Prozac only about a week ago and I am waiting for that one to settle in. I find that letting the thoughts come and go without giving them any meaning helped me more than the medication. At first the thoughts came back stronger as I wasn’t getting the appropriate therapy, but now I am undergoing CBT group therapy and I am looking to seek a more one-on-one type of therapy in order to begin ERP.
  4. If OCD has taught you one thing what would that thing be?
    It taught me to never give up and to appreciate the good days that you have, as well as to be prepared for bad days but to be able to get through them no matter how bad they seem.
  5. What would you tell yourself pre-diagnosis if you could go back in time?
    I was so scared but deep down I knew it wasn’t me. I would tell myself to get help immediately and to remind myself that I am not alone.

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S is an 18-year-old victim of Health Associated OCD, Sexual and Violent Intrusive Thoughts

  1. When do you first remember experiencing symptoms of OCD and what was that like for you?
    I’ve suffered from OCD revolving around developing Alzheimer’s, dementia, becoming psychotic, having hallucinations or developing multiple personalities, sexual topics such as bestiality, sexually assaulting someone without realising it and hurting someone, becoming a psychopath or a sociopath and enjoying the pain of others for as long as I can remember. It began with obsessive thoughts about sex, violence and death, and was followed by a severe balance compulsion where I had to balance every action on one side with the same action on the other. It then developed and changed in different ways as I grew older.
  2. When were you first diagnosed and what motivated you to start therapy?
    I was first diagnosed in April 2018 after years of having it but not understanding that it was more than just depression and anxiety. I was motivated to seek treatment because I was diagnosed after a suicide attempt and I didn’t want to reach the point again where I felt like it was necessary to take my own life.
  3. Which therapy have you tried, and which has been the most effective for you?
    I have mainly done cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to help manage my symptoms, and some exposure and response therapy (ERP) which has helped me learn to better confront my obsessive thoughts.
  4. If OCD has taught you one thing what would that thing be?
    That I don’t have to believe everything I think.
  5. What would you tell yourself pre-diagnosis if you could go back in time?
    I would tell myself “you are not your thoughts and don’t believe the guilt”

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M is a 22-year-old victim of Contamination OCD

  1. When do you first remember experiencing symptoms of OCD and what was that like for you?
    I was 8 years old when I started doing compulsions but I showed obsessions from as young as the age of 2.
  2. When were you first diagnosed and what motivated you to start therapy?
    I wasn’t diagnosed till 14 years old. No one believed me until I had my first panic attack. In the early 2000’s when my symptoms first showed, mental health care treatments for children were extremely lacking. I reside in Canada, so treatment was free. But my child psychiatrists treated me like I was stupid. Not sick.
  3. Which therapy have you tried, and which has been the most effective for you?
    I have been on various medications but I have also tried CBT, DBT and support groups. I found DBT to be more helpful than CBT.
  4. If OCD has taught you one thing what would that thing be?
    To be kind, and to be patient.
  5. What would you tell yourself pre-diagnosis if you could go back in time?
    It gets better. So much better. Soon, you won’t be doing compulsions anymore. You’ll find a treatment and medication plan that works.

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N is a 22-year-old victim of Pure O

  1. When do you first remember experiencing symptoms of OCD and what was that like for you?
    The clearest memory I have of experiencing an obsession was around 11 years old when I began to experience some really distressing and intrusive thoughts that I tried to neutralise in my mind by either praying, avoiding, or seeking reassurance. It was scary because I had no idea what was going on and couldn’t open up to anyone. The themes varied from harm, paedophilia, homosexuality, relationships and religion.
  2. When were you first diagnosed and what motivated you to start therapy?
    Through research and a lot of searching on the internet, I self-diagnosed when things started to get intense in 2017, and then in May 2018 when I hit the absolute rock bottom I knew I needed to get help as soon as possible, and that is when I was professionally diagnosed.
  3. Which therapy have you tried, and which has been the most effective for you?
    I just recently began CBT and that is quite helpful. We are starting ERP soon which I am petrified for but I’ve heard great feedback about it so I know it needs to be done. I was told to go on medication, but I refused and I’m still pulling through. The most effective therapy for me also, is to pray.
  4. If OCD has taught you one thing what would that thing be?
    My whole life I believed the phrase “actions speak louder than words”, now, I can go as far as to say “actions speak louder than thoughts”. I used to be a typical teenager who would believe “oh you thought it, it must be true”. OCD has taught me that we have absolutely no control over our thoughts and we should never judge others because you have no idea what they might be thinking deep down.
  5. What would you tell yourself pre-diagnosis if you could go back in time?
    I would tell myself to not be so scared and to remind myself that I am not alone and everybody deals with these intrusive thoughts.

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N is a 22-year-old victim of Contamination OCD with obsessions revolving around checking, perfectionism and repetition

  1. When do you first remember experiencing symptoms of OCD and what was that like for you?
    I was around 7-8. I would count how long my legs were crossed on one side and then switch and start counting. Everything with my body had to be even. I remember freaking out at a grocery store because my friend’s mom put a bag of cold veggies on my leg and I cried until she did it to my other leg in the same spot. My friend from elementary will tell you that i was disgusted by germs and sickness and if she coughed I wouldn’t sit by her.
  2. When were you first diagnosed and what motivated you to start therapy?
    I was diagnosed as a child. I have never seen a therapist as an adult for OCD. I was forced into therapy from a young age and it made me resent therapy.
  3. Which therapy have you tried, and which has been the most effective for you?
    I use marijuana when the thoughts get really intense. It quiets the fixations and lets my mind wander. I also try to force myself out of my comfort zone.
  4. If OCD has taught you one thing what would that thing be?
    In fighting with my OCD, I realize that certain things just don’t matter. And I try to remember to focus on the big stuff.
  5. What would you tell yourself pre-diagnosis if you could go back in time?
    Doesn’t really apply because I was so young. But I wish my parents had let me know that other kids had issues too. I felt so isolated.

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J is a 16-year-old victim of Pedophilia OCD

  1. When do you first remember experiencing symptoms of OCD and what was that like for you?
    I remember experiencing symptoms of OCD before I had even started school. The earliest memory I have of my OCD was when I was 4 years old and if things were not perfect I would get overwhelming anxiety, part of my OCD revolves around extreme perfectionism. These were the earliest memories. My intrusive thoughts started when I was maybe 6 or 7, I had intrusive thoughts of going deaf and blind. The sexual intrusive thoughts started in high school, and they were the worst of all. They started with relatives, then the intrusive thoughts became about bestiality and paedophilia, all of which I was incredibly disgusted by. I was tortured by horrifying thoughts and mental images, I genuinely feared I was going to do something and performed various mental rituals, like saying “I’d rather die than abuse a child I’d rather die than abuse a child I’d rather die than abuse a child” over and over and over again in my head. I contemplated suicide because I thought that was the only way I wouldn’t hurt others.
  2. When were you first diagnosed and what motivated you to start therapy?
    I was diagnosed just a week ago but I realized the problem might be OCD when I read an article about someone suffering from Pure O. That is what truly motivated me to start therapy, and it was absolutely necessary for my recovery journey.
  3. Which therapy have you tried, and which has been the most effective for you?
    I have only tried CBT talk therapy, which I’m currently in right now. I only recently started but I do believe it is helping. I would like to try ERP as well.
  4. If OCD has taught you one thing what would that thing be?
    OCD has taught me to be more open-minded and compassionate. Though it’s been a rough journey I definitely think my empathy stems from my understanding of other people’s pain.
  5. What would you tell yourself pre-diagnosis if you could go back in time?
    If I could tell myself anything pre-diagnosis it’s that IT’S OCD. YOU’RE NOT A PEDO OR A MURDERER IN THE MAKING OR A DANGER TO OTHERS! Gahhh if only I knew what I know now I’d tell myself the thoughts are not me and that I’m not a monster.

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S is a 27-year-old victim of Harm OCD, and OCD associated with checking, ruminating, intrusive thoughts, organisation and perfectionism and routine and structure

  1. When do you first remember experiencing symptoms of OCD and what was that like for you?
    I first experienced symptoms at 23 shortly after my mother took her own life. My first experience was that I read if you write down a worry, the worry goes away as it’s now in a physical place. It helped greatly. It took me a while to realise that I was checking these lists numerous times a day and making new lists about what I had to do that day and it had to go in order. I then realised it was in most areas of my life not just list making and now applies to nearly every aspect of my life.
  2. When were you first diagnosed and what motivated you to start therapy?
    I was first diagnosed at 25 years old. I sought help when I realised that I couldn’t feel okay unless I checked these lists hundreds of times per day.
  3. Which therapy have you tried, and which has been the most effective for you?
    I have been having CBT and ERP once a week for a year but I don’t find it helpful, as I now require medication to be calm enough to continue with the CBT.
  4. If OCD has taught you one thing what would that thing be?
    My OCD has taught me that it’s okay not to be okay.
  5. What would you tell yourself pre-diagnosis if you could go back in time?
    I would tell myself that I don’t have to control my every movement to make everything okay. I would say it’s okay to feel anxious and that you don’t need to carry out a ritual to expel the anxiety.

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T is a 23-year-old victim of OCD associated with intrusive thoughts and death

  1. When do you first remember experiencing symptoms of OCD and what was that like for you?
    When I was about ten years old I would ‘damn myself’ in my head and I would choose a mundane item in the room after intrusively thinking “I have to touch that or I will go to hell.” After I was told about the supposed apocalypse that was to happen in 2012 years before while in elementary school, fear and obsession destroyed me and my ability to do well in school.
  2. When were you first diagnosed and what motivated you to start therapy?
    I was 22 years old when I was diagnosed. I came from a background that heavily stigmatised mental illness. After just having dropped out of college for the second time, it was still hard for me to believe that I actually had something. I didn’t do almost any therapy until I had relationship problems stemming off my need for reassurance.
  3. Which therapy have you tried, and which has been the most effective for you?
    I began with talk therapy which I find quite nice, and I am going to try CBT soon.
  4. If OCD has taught you one thing what would that thing be?
    Brains are the worst.
  5. What would you tell yourself pre-diagnosis if you could go back in time?
    “You’re not stupid, this is not something you’re trying to do. Please find a way to get diagnosed, dude. Also, the apocalypse didn’t happen so you can quit pre-grieving all the time.”

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L is a 23-year-old victim of Contamination OCD

  1. When do you first remember experiencing symptoms of OCD and what was that like for you?
    A year ago and it was really hard as I didn’t know what was happening or why I was acting and feeling the way I was.
  2. When were you first diagnosed and what motivated you to start therapy?
    I was finally diagnosed about 4 months ago and because it was controlling my life, making me physically ill and ruining my relationships with my partner, friends and family.
  3. Which therapy have you tried, and which has been the most effective for you?
    I am currently seeing a psychologist and undergoing CBT, but I will be moving into exposure therapy shortly.
  4. If OCD has taught you one thing what would that thing be?
    OCD has taught me that the brain is a very, very powerful ting and that we aren’t different and it’s okay to be who you are also to accept who you are and grow as a person.
  5. What would you tell yourself pre-diagnosis if you could go back in time?
    “You aren’t stupid or weird and just because someone else doesn’t validate your feelings and they aren’t real to them doesn’t mean they aren’t real and frightening as they are to you. They are your feelings so they should be taken seriously. Don’t hide your feelings just because someone else doesn’t see them as an issue.”

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A is a 22-year-old victim of Harm OCD and Homosexual OCD

  1. When do you first remember experiencing symptoms of OCD and what was that like for you?
    I remember first feeling symptoms of OCD the summer before I started my senior year of high school. That is when I had my first anxiety attack. However, not until that coming winter did I notice that this wasn’t anxiety but more OCD when I had my first obsessive intrusive thought, which was Homosexual OCD.
  2. When were you first diagnosed and what motivated you to start therapy?
    I finally got professionally diagnosed in May 2018. I was seeking therapy no and off for four years but no therapist suspected OCD, only generalised anxiety disorder.
  3. Which therapy have you tried, and which has been the most effective for you?
    A month ago I finally started CBT and I would recommend it to anyone who has or has symptoms of OCD. My OCD is a mild case, but with medication and therapy sometimes I am able to forget that I have OCD.
  4. If OCD has taught you one thing what would that thing be?
    If OCD has taught me one thing it would be that my mental illness does not define who I am.
  5. What would you tell yourself pre-diagnosis if you could go back in time?
    Before pre-diagnosis I would have told myself to not worry about feeling so alone with this mental illness. I wish I knew a long time ago that others were struggling with the same obsessive thoughts that I was struggling with. I am thankful to say that I have found friends that know what I’m going through and are here to help me.

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C is a 23-year-old victim of Scrupulosity and Contamination OCD

  1. When do you first remember experiencing symptoms of OCD and what was that like for you?
    I first remember my major symptoms occurring the summer of 2009, right before I started high school. I had no idea what was going on and I thought I was crazy. I couldn’t eat like normal because I was full of anxiety and didn’t know why.
  2. When were you first diagnosed and what motivated you to start therapy?
    I wasn’t officially diagnosed until circa 2014 (if I remember correctly – some of the exact details are a blur now). Although, I had done some research and found out what it was before that. I started therapy in 2014 but stopped shortly after for no specific reason. I went back in March 2016 because I was getting worse and reached my breaking point.
  3. Which therapy have you tried, and which has been the most effective for you?
    I’ve only tried ERP and it has been incredibly effective for me. I find that it genuinely is one of the reasons why I can currently manage my OCD symptoms.
  4. If OCD has taught you one thing what would that thing be?
    OCD taught me that I’m a lot stronger than I ever thought I could be, because I had no other option than to be strong.
  5. What would you tell yourself pre-diagnosis if you could go back in time?
    I would tell myself that this was going to be the most difficult journey I likely would ever embark on, but that there’s a reason and purpose for everything and I would make it out stronger than ever before.

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V is a 22-year-old victim of Pure O

  1. When do you first remember experiencing symptoms of OCD and what was that like for you?
    I have had symptoms since third grade. It started with really silly but annoying repetitive thoughts (like mentally respelling the word “triceratops” for three straight hours) and as I got older they got to be highly intrusive, explicit or violent thoughts. I just thought these were normal and that I must be doing something wrong since I wasn’t coping well.
  2. When were you first diagnosed and what motivated you to start therapy?
    I was first diagnosed last semester, towards the end of my sophomore year of college. The only therapy I’ve had is the free campus counselling.
  3. Which therapy have you tried, and which has been the most effective for you?
    Besides campus counselling, I use the nOCD app to guide myself through ERP exercises. It’s hard to stay with it, but it definitely makes it easier to acknowledge the thoughts and then let them go.
  4. If OCD has taught you one thing what would that thing be?
    OCD has taught me that things are going to seem to fall apart. I’m going to feel like I have to fix problems that may or may not even exist. But it’s also taught me that I have to keep fighting those feelings, because feelings can be lies.
  5. What would you tell yourself pre-diagnosis if you could go back in time?
    I would tell myself that yes, you do think differently than others, but YOU ARE NOT CRAZY. Your concerns about your mental health are legitimate – SPEAK UP. Don’t let fear and anxiety or even parents prevent you from asking questions if you really feel that something is wrong.________________________________________________________________

To all the victims who have willingly opened up about their struggles to me, I applaud you. I sincerely value you and wish you nothing but a fast recovery during your uphill battle. I have so much respect for all of you who have shared your stories to the world. You are making such a huge difference and I wanted to commend you all on your bravery and courage. You are not alone. Sending love to you all.

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