This story is part of our blog series called “Stories from the OCD Community.” Stories from the community are collected and edited by Toni Palombi. If you are interested in sharing your story you can view submission details at www.iocdf.org/ocd-stories.
Maya, who requested that her real name be withheld, told her story to Toni Palombi.
There was a time I did not leave my house for close to a year. I couldn’t. Each time I saw my reflection, I fell to the floor crying. I covered all the mirrors in my house, hoping the tears would stop. They didn’t.
The days were long, soaked with heaviness and weariness. I felt as if I was floating without a life jacket in a deep, dark sea.
Winter gave way to spring. Summer came and went. Alone in my house, I was imprisoned by my thoughts. Hour by hour they called out, taunting me: You look so hideous. How can anyone fall in love with you?
Outside, the voices of children playing in the street echoed in my loneliness, as my child-bearing years fast disappeared.
Friends and family were worried but felt helpless. Reluctantly, I began to see a therapist who specialized in BDD. I completed my weekly therapy homework like a diligent student. I was desperate. I wanted life to be different. Slowly, I began to leave my house. At first it was overwhelming: the incessant crowds, people gazing in my direction. Each gaze felt like a bruise against my skin.
Eventually, I returned to work and even travelled abroad. While meandering along the canals in Amsterdam, I watched life unfold around me: cyclists rode by; boats made their way, unhurriedly, down the waterway; couples sipped wine on the decks of their houseboats. I inhaled the life pulsating around me, allowing it to fill my lungs.
I took a step forward, then another. I walked slowly knowing the road ahead was long.