By Summer Coleman
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.
For a long time, I felt that I was a prisoner inside my own mind. Waking up and simply surviving was agonizing. My days were filled with horrifying thoughts, anxiety, and depression. I engaged in mental compulsions to relieve my anxiety, but the relief was only temporary: the anxiety returned within hours.
Earlier this year, the anxiety, depression, and obsessive thoughts became so bad that I thought there was only one escape: to end everything. I knew this was a terrible decision, but I was living in such torment and pain that I couldn’t it take anymore. The next day I decided to check myself into an inpatient psychiatric treatment program. I stayed for about a week, and met some of the most wonderful, supportive people you could ever imagine. They will always hold a special place in my heart. They truly listened and helped me through the darkest time of my life.
After I returned home, I found a psychologist who specialized in obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) treatment. After some testing, he diagnosed me with OCD. I immersed myself in recovery which included multiple therapy sessions each week. I clung to my recovery: it was the light at the end of the tunnel. After scratching and clawing my way through the OCD, together with my psychologist, I began to finally experience less anxiety and depression and engage in less mental compulsions. I began to experience more “good days.”
Right now, I am doing well. After months of intense weekly therapy, the sessions have now been reduced to monthly visits. While I still have bad days and sometimes struggle, I no longer feel that the OCD has control over my life. My OCD is always there, but now I can easily silence it. I have a wonderful recovery team, and very supportive friends and family. I have also met some wonderful people in online support groups who are always there for me.
The point of sharing my story is to convey that OCD is not a “comical,” “cute,” or “quirky” condition. It is debilitating; it causes people to end their lives; it can have a destructive effect on families and relationships. OCD attacks the things you hold most precious, and makes you doubt everything.
It is important to raise awareness about OCD. Wonderful people are struggling in silence, dying on the inside because they are ashamed of what is going through their heads. We need to end the stigma surrounding mental illness and allow people to be vulnerable.
Summer Coleman is a mother of 2 children and lives in the United States.