I watched my psychiatrist’s pen as she scrolled in search mode down the green sheet of paper containing hundreds of diagnoses. I’m not sure how collected I appeared, but on the inside I was about to jump out of my skin. I had poured my heart out to this woman, this stranger, telling her my deepest, darkest secrets, and now I was waiting for an explanation as to why I am the way I am. Her pen stopped, and she made a quick circle around “obsessive compulsive disorder”. At last, this monster that had haunted me for years had a name. I was elated. I could finally learn how to manage it. Even better was the weight that was lifted from me, the weight of fear of eternal consequence. Whatever was going on in my brain was no indicator of the condition of my soul, rather it was proof of something else at work.
My psychiatrist was amazed that I had waited so long to get help. I was 21 when I was diagnosed with OCD, but I have shown the classic signs for as long as I can remember. As a child I had many rituals, such as blinking my eyes until I felt like I had closed and opened them “good enough” or saying “bless you” nineteen times every time someone sneezed.
During my adolescent years my faith was severely shaken as my obsessions took a dark turn, sojourning beyond the sphere of numbers and hand washing. My mind was beset by uncontrollable repugnant thoughts, images so violent, sexual, and blasphemous in nature that I dare not go into detail. The more I tried to stop them, the harder they hit. I felt as if I were in a constant state of spiritual filth and no measure of repentance could wash off the evil. That’s not to say I didn’t try, but my mind was riddled with such crippling doubt that the time I would have spent performing everyday functions such as studying, eating, sleeping, or socializing was consumed by hours exhausted in restrooms begging tenaciously for forgiveness. It wasn’t until I began compulsively bruising my face that anyone else realized there was a problem. My mother caught me whaling on myself and forced me to seek help.
Embarrassing as it was, I am beyond grateful that she found me out. Before being diagnosed with OCD I lived a very solitary existence, but now I am married, I have great friends, and I am active in my church. I’m thankful for the support system that I have because while I still struggle with this disorder, and may always will, I no longer struggle alone. The people that surround me cannot understand this affliction as I do, but I would never wish that upon anyone. That is what makes them so special: though they cannot understand, they love me without question. I believe in my friends and family because they believe in me.
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