Eight years ago, I was so depressed I considered committing suicide. My obsessions had completely taken over my life—not only were they daily distractions from work and friends, they were terrible. These obsessions, the fear that I might harm a child, didn’t just consume my free time. They consumed me. Nothing about life was enjoyable anymore. Not my wonderful boyfriend, Peter, who’s now my husband. Not visits with my parents. Not my favorite TV shows, or books, or dinners out.
Not even shoe shopping! On St. Patrick’s Day weekend in 2006, Peter and I went to visit a friend in New York City, and we all went shopping. Peter wanted new shoes, so we headed into a crowded Puma store to browse. I felt a small jolt of panic when I saw a little girl with her father. It was the middle of the week, a school day, so all of the other shoppers were adults, but this one child threw me into a cold sweat. She was sitting on one of the large, square benches where shoppers could try on shoes, minding her own business. To my dismay Peter stopped right in front of her.
I kept my back to her as Peter checked out shoes and asked me what I thought of each pair, but it was as though there was a force behind me. This girl’s mere presence made me feel anxious and I felt compelled to turn around every few seconds to see if she was still there. I felt like I was fighting a magnetic force as I tried desperately to keep my mind on the task at hand, which should have been at the very least simple and at best enjoyable. I finally turned around after a few minutes and saw that the girl was gone. “Thank God,” I thought, exhaling a mental sigh of relief.
This wasn’t normal. It wasn’t right. I knew I couldn’t live life as I was living it, but I didn’t want to ruin the lives around me by taking my own life. Peter would never get over losing the love of his life and never knowing why I committed suicide, and my mom would be devastated. I broke down every time I thought of her—losing me would destroy her, and knowing that kept me going.
Although having a reason to carry on was a good thing, crying every time I thought of my mom was not. Crying at work, at home, in the car, at night, in the morning, in the shower, in front of the bathroom mirror to make sure it was really me and not a stranger—this was not a life worth living.
I got help as soon as I got home from New York City. Being so miserable on a vacation drove home how badly I needed it. You can get help, too. No matter how low you may feel right now, there is hope for a better life. There were several times of my life when I thought I would never feel happy again. I would have settled for neutral. Depression is cruel, but it doesn’t have to win.
Don’t go through this alone. Tell someone how you feel. See a psychiatrist. Talk about the possibility of an antidepressant, and therapy. Exercise. Eat well, to nourish your brain. Hug your friends and family. Journal. Call 1.800.442.HOPE (1.800.442.4673) or 1.800.273.TALK (1.800.273.8255). Do whatever it takes to push past this.
My life is worth living now, and it has been for a long time. That didn’t feel possible eight years ago, it really didn’t. I thought that even if I stopped obsessing I could never forgive myself for what I’d already thought. But I did both. I was able to gain control over my obsessions, and I’ve realized that my bad thoughts were never my fault—OCD tortured me. I was the victim. Now I’m the victor.
Keep your chin up. Write to me if you need someone to talk to, someone who understands.
You are worth it!