Most days are not good days. Most days are a struggle.
For my whole life I have struggled with anxiety and depression. It’s hard to be happy when you’re worrying all of the time. I over-analyze everything and then become so low it’s hard to get back up. I can remember days where I basically just existed. I barely was able to get out of bed and go to work. I felt dead, and looked dead, and had zero emotion. I’d return home to sleep from 6pm-7am the next morning- for months on end. I tried medications, therapy, and made life-changing habits, yet it never seemed to improve.
In the last few years especially I have felt as if there was something more. It was eating away at me, but I couldn’t pin point it. Doctor after doctor told me it was just generalized anxiety and depression. It didn’t feel right.
This year I finally got an answer. I was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. While few of you know this already, many of you don’t. This has been something that I have mostly kept to myself, except for close family, friends and certain co-workers. Upon first being diagnosed I felt relieved. Finally my whole life started to make sense! I’ve always had an addicting personality. I became fixated and obsessed with things very easily as a teenager, and still to this day. It has only worsened as time went on.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder does not mean what you think it means. It isn’t a quirk, or a way someone is (calling someone “OCD”). It’s a real, life destroying disorder. Every day is a serious struggle. Not only do I repeatedly check everything, delete and throw away everything and worry about every detail of my day, I also get unwanted and violent thoughts slammed into my mind multiple times daily. I get urges and ideas (obsessions) and must act upon them or I feel anxious and incomplete. But doing these tasks (compulsions) only creates more anxiety and makes me want to continue to do them to try to fill the void. OCD is not having to color coordinate items or being anal. It’s so much more than that. More than I can ever describe.
However, there is hope. After trying and failing many SSRI and other anxiety medications in the past two years (Celexa, Zoloft, Atarax, Xanax, Trazodone and Fluoxetine), I finally have found one that makes a difference. Anafranil! It is specifically used for those with OCD. No more than a month after being on this medication I have felt and noticed a huge difference in my obsessions and compulsions. I am seeing both small and HUGE changes in my behavior! In some situations, old obsessions are starting to die. While I know medication has a lot to do with it, so does counseling. I started seeing a counselor, who diagnosed me with this back in April. He and I have been working together on a weekly basis, and I have seen so many positive changes because of this. My family and friends have been there for me, being supportive and understanding as I work through all of this. Without them I couldn’t have done it. It makes me so happy and excited to see these changes, and gives me hope for the future.
As all of the symptoms of OCD and anxiety were decreasing, I was noticing symptoms of something else increasing. What I didn’t know at the time was they weren’t increasing; they were just now making their presence known because the craziness of the OCD was slowing down. Let me try to explain.
My whole life I have been extra sensitive. Sensitive to annoying and repetitive noises, tastes and textures of different foods, smells, textures of anything I touched, emotions, ect.
Recently these things have begun to get in the way of my daily activities. I find myself getting extremely angry at the drop of a pen because I hear a noise that I find annoying, a smell that disgusts me, a slight humming of the air conditioner, or if I feel something that my skin doesn’t like. Don’t even get me started on repetitive noises. I feel physical pain with all of these things.
It’s so hard to explain because to most people this doesn’t sound too weird. But I am so hypersensitive to everything around me that it’s hard to be happy. Ever. I am always irritated at something or someone. It makes relationships difficult, and it makes life difficult. So I went to the doctor. Apparently there is a name for it – Sensory Processing Disorder.
While most of the time children are diagnosed with this disorder, some people don’t actually find this diagnosis until they are adults. I have definitely struggled with these things since I was a child (you can even ask my mom), but I guess it didn’t click until just now. I never thought to ask a doctor about those things.
Just knowing that there is a name to the things I do is such a relief! I don’t feel crazy anymore because I know that these things are happening for a reason. It turns out that a lot of patients with sensory disorders also have OCD. Which would make sense, because quite a few of my obsessions are linked to sensory-related things.
With my recent diagnoses and current treatment I am feeling better than I have in a very long time! I almost never felt happiness on a daily basis, now I feel like I do. That’s a big step and a huge improvement!
I guess I am writing this because of several reasons:
1) I have felt alone and ashamed of these things for a very long time. I now realize that a lot of people struggle out there and I am NOT alone.
2) I want those who do struggle out there to see that there is hope! You can make it through anything, no matter what it is! Depression, anxiety, OCD, sensory or behavioral disorders, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, eating disorders, personality disorders and so much more! Be open and honest to your friends and family and seek help. It’s OK to ask for help, I promise. You’ll feel a thousand times better when you do. You’ll see that there IS a light at the end of the tunnel.
3) Lastly, I ask that you please be mindful of the things you say and joke about to ANY and EVERYONE. I have had many OCD jokes made in my presence, and while yes they may not meant to be hurtful, they have been. Please do not joke about ANY mental disorder. You never know who could be struggling- just because they seem happy on the outside does not mean there isn’t a battle happening on the inside.