This author has asked to remain anonymous
My OCD symptoms started in 2014 when I was eight years old. First I was having trouble parting my hair and getting it perfect. Then it was about my negative mindset. I saw many doctors at that time but I could not find one who I thought understood or who offered useful strategies. At the time, I was not in the right mindset to listen to anyone’s opinions about my OCD. Meanwhile, things were getting worse and worse at home. I was having tantrums almost every day. Mom and Dad were devastated because their little baby was sick and always felt depressed or angry.
In 2016, I had a whole new problem to deal with: the bathroom issue. The OCD bully made me feel as if I had to make sure I was completely clean after using the bathroom.
My parents had lost all hope until they found Rogers Memorial Hospital in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. They took me to the hospital where I would stay for three months with other kids who experienced OCD and anxiety. When I first arrived, I was nervous but calm. When it sunk in that my parents were hundreds of miles away in Philadelphia, I felt sad. But the other kids inspired me.
At the hospital, I learned three important words: exposure and response prevention (or ERP therapy). Exposure is where you gradually start facing your fears and overcoming them. Response prevention is when you stop doing compulsions, avoiding things, and isolating yourself. Those three words helped me during my stay at Rogers Memorial Hospital; they also continue to help me now. It’s not easy and it takes practice, but if you give it your all, I promise you’ll live a happier life.
Shortly after I returned home, the bathroom issue became a problem again, and my family thought it would be best for me to attend the Rogers Memorial Partial Program, a day program at the Rogers Memorial hospital in Philadelphia. The kids there were so welcoming and sweet. They inspired me even more to get better. After what felt like forever (a few weeks), I was doing better and was ready to be discharged. After all that hard work, I was ready to face school.
Right now, I’m doing pretty well. I am in sixth grade. I go to all my classes. I respect my teachers and I get good grades. At home, I’m controlling my behavior. I am living a happy life.
I don’t want to go back to the hospital; so, if things become hard, I breathe and think about being with my amazing family who supports me in every way possible. This helps me remember to not give in to the OCD bully.
I am grateful to all the kids and adults at Rogers Memorial Hospital, my family, Dr. Lori Kasmen at the Anxiety and Agoraphobia Treatment Center, and Dr. James Hetznecker. All of these people pushed me to do my best, and become the best person I can be.
As Zig Ziglar said, “F-E-A-R has two meanings: Forget Everything And Run or Face Everything And Rise.”
I hope you learned from and enjoyed my story!
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.