This story is part of our blog series called “Stories from the OCD Community.” Stories from the community are submitted and edited by Toni Palombi. If you are interested in sharing your story you can view submission details at www.iocdf.org/ocd-stories.
My story begins in the late summer of 2014, when I was 17 years old. I was about to begin my final year of high school. I was excited, as I hated school and could not wait until it was over. A week before school began, my mind was tormented with strange thoughts: images of me sleepwalking and killing my parents. I was frightened.
I used Google to research my symptoms. The following terms kept popping up everywhere: obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and ego-dystonic thoughts. I learned that the latter meant thoughts that are inconsistent with one’s beliefs, values, and sense of self.
Why was I having these thoughts? I did not want to hurt anybody, let alone my parents. I could not imagine ever hurting anyone. Feeling confused, scared, and utterly alone, I began to withdraw into depression. As the school year began, I was so depressed and tormented by my thoughts that I stayed at home for about a week.
When I returned to school, I noticed other frightening thoughts appeared, but none bothered me more than the thoughts about harming my parents. I spoke to my doctor about the thoughts that I was having and he diagnosed me with OCD.
A year later, after I obtained my driver’s license, more problems began to occur. One night, a friend and I drove to the beach. On the way home, I began to think that I had hit someone. My friend tried to convince me that I had not hit anyone, but I could not be convinced.
In 2015, I began college. For the first three months, everything went very well. However, in the fall, new thoughts began to appear in my mind. I would constantly wonder: Did I say something insulting or inappropriate to someone? Or worse, did I harm someone? The thoughts were incessant; I could no longer concentrate on my schoolwork. I stopped attending classes. I stayed in my room, not eating or drinking. Alone, I slept and cried, wondering when this nightmare would come to an end. Eventually, I dropped out of college and returned home.
Back at home, everything became worse. The thoughts intensified each day. I slept in my mom’s bedroom as I could not bear the thought of being alone. I was terrified that if I were left alone, I would hurt someone. I could not do anything without my mom. It was nothing short of a disaster.
I became so depressed that I stopped taking care of myself. I just didn’t care anymore. My hair became so badly matted that I had to cut most if it; it was either that or shave my head.
Months later, in 2016, my father took me to Rogers Memorial Hospital, where I underwent treatment for approximately two months. By the time I returned home, I felt much better. However, after 6 months, I felt worse than ever. I had stopped taking my medication and re-established a relationship that was unhealthy. A year after my first hospitalization, I returned to Rogers Memorial Hospital for a second time and stayed for two and a half months. It was my saving grace. This time, I was committed to taking my medication, engaging in therapy, and focusing on healing myself instead of directing my attention elsewhere. I did everything that I was supposed to do, and I got better.
When I was very sick, it was impossible to imagine that I would ever feel healthy again. However, I am now at a place in my life where I feel happy and healthy.
Samantha N. Maksimow is 20 years old and lives in Oceanport, New Jersey, U.S.A.