Obsessive compulsive disorder - OCD treatment and therapy from NOCD
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Suicidal Theme, Emetophobia, Pedophilia Theme

Misunderstood

By Sommer G.

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I have always been painfully shy. I had a normal childhood, a loving family, great friends, and no major trauma. Looking back I can see glimpses of OCD when I was young. I used to be hyper-aware of how my clothes felt on my body. I would cry when anything felt out of place. I remember when I was learning to ski, I couldn’t focus or speak until my gloves were tucked into my jacket just right. In those moments, the feeling I felt seemed unbearable. Though I just sort of chalked these things up to a kid being a kid. 

I was in 7th grade when I felt like my symptoms came on overnight. It was as if I woke up one morning and I was never the same. This was the moment in which I knew something was wrong, this would be my first big spike. Though the more I have learned about the nature of OCD, I know it is likely I had tendencies towards it all along.

Suicide theme

I found out that a student in my middle school died by suicide. I didn’t sleep at all that night after I found out. I tried to put myself in his shoes, walking through the events in my mind, as if I was him. The memory is so vivid, even still, in my mind. I remember the scent of the room when I was ruminating. That night was the beginning of a 6-month spike of harm-themed OCD. This would be my most prominent and consistent theme. I became unreasonably fearful that I would take my own life. I was so scared that I would lose control of my mind and my body. The possibility that I could accidentally take my own life haunted me.

I didn’t want to take my own life. But I became obsessed with the idea that I could. 

I refused to watch the news because I was afraid the violence on the television would spark violent thoughts. I deemed knives and forks unsafe and ate only with spoons. I would not allow my parents to leave me home alone, even for just a few minutes. I refused to sleep alone (sorry mom and dad), so my parents slept on a gymnastics mat next to my bed. 

Fear of throwing up

As suddenly as these fears had consumed me, they shifted. It again felt like an all of a sudden moment. I woke up one day and was feeling sick to my stomach. I went to school and during math class, I noticed my stomach was making strange noises. I was so embarrassed. As I sat there, the stomach ache worsened. Eventually, I left the classroom and went to the nurse’s office. I was so worried that I would be sent home. This went on for about 2 weeks, intensifying every time I had math class. I would get sicker and sicker and be sent home during math class. At that time I had been in the advanced class track at school. Unfortunately, my grades began to slip and I struggled with anxiety. I was forced to drop out of the advanced track. I began to have intense fear about the possibility of throwing up in public. I had a paper map of all of the trash cans in my school, just in case I ever needed to throw up. I needed to be prepared. I carried plastic grocery bags in my pockets everywhere I went. 

The odd thing was that I really wasn’t sick, at least there was no medical explanation for my stomach aches. I was just so afraid of becoming sick that I started to feel sick. All I knew to do, was to tell my parents that my stomach was hurting. They took me to the doctor and I was diagnosed with lactose intolerance. Spoiler alert, I am not lactose intolerant. My doctors and parents just couldn’t identify the source of my stomach problems. 

Pedophilia theme

Eventually, I graduated to the fear of peeing my pants. I would walk with my hands covering my backside at all times. Then came health themes. Eventually, it all came full circle back to harm themes. This cycle continues for years. I was 23 when I had a spike that led me to finally seek professional help. The theme was pedophilia. I watched a documentary on Michael Jackson which led me to feel horrified. My older sister had just given birth to my adorable baby nephew. I was so in love with this baby. However, after watching that show I became triggered by the thought, what if I love my nephew too much?  What if I was like Michael Jackson? The thought that I might hurt him someday or turn into a pedophile was unbearable. I stopped visiting my family. I cut off face timing with my nephew. I deleted all of the photos of him off of my phone. I was so scared.

I went to therapy to get help. Within the first few minutes of my session, my therapist knew I had severe Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). This was the very first time I had ever been diagnosed. After so many years of suffering, it finally had been given a name. Prior to my diagnosis of OCD, I had been misdiagnosed with Panic Disorder, lactose intolerance, hormone issues,  and Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD). I had no idea how to convey my symptoms to the numerous doctors I had seen, school personnel, or even my family. I couldn’t put into words what I was experiencing. I had even previously been given a 10-question quiz by my primary doctor to see if I had OCD and I was told I did not, because I didn’t have compulsions around hygiene. Somehow, I managed to live a semi-normal life throughout all those years, but I was constantly struggling internally and mentally exhausted from the OCD.

Sadly, many doctors and therapists are not well-versed in most OCD themes and it can take so long to get a proper diagnosis and treatment for OCD.

One of the most helpful things that a diagnosis helped with was finding the right language to describe my experience. I had started traditional “talk therapy” and I did not find much improvement in my symptoms. However, I did find solace in knowing that what I had gone through had a name and that I was not alone. I was now able to share with others what I was going through.

Journaling and ERP

Between getting diagnosed and getting proper Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) treatment it took 3 years. During this time I created my own guided journals to help me in dealing with my own mental health. I started a business called Discreet Journal and have sold over 2,000 guided wellness journals all across the globe! It’s my passion project and it helps me educate others on OCD.

Once I knew what I was dealing with, I signed myself up for an OCD conference in 2020 where I met the founder of NOCD. I signed up for ERP therapy through NOCD and began working with a therapist who I have seen on and off for 2 years. ERP has been the biggest help. I also began using an SSRI medication to help. The combination of ERP, medication, and journaling has allowed me to be in the best mental health space of my life! I still have bad days, but I now have the right tools. I don’t fight my thoughts constantly, I invite them in. I utilize ERP skills to deal with these, and they subside. I hope I can help others feel less alone in their OCD journey by sharing my story.

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