Humanist Psychologists such as the likes of Maslow and Rogers believe that we all have free will. I learned this in my psychology lessons, a subject that I took predominantly to try and learn more about myself. I was always confused about why I felt completely abnormal. I felt like I had no control. I had no control over my compulsions.
It was as if a kidnapper was holding me hostage, and spewing troubling words constantly into my brain. Instead, it was not a kidnapper. It was not a real, evil person trying to manipulate me. It was just a chemical imbalance in my brain that made me see life so much differently. I was so much stronger than my thoughts, so why was I letting them take everything from me?
My first experience with OCD was when I was around 5 to 6 years old. I was very shy, and often in a world of my own. I cannot really remember my life before OCD when my life was completely carefree. I was a curious and self-aware child, a habit that still follows me today. I have always been curious, probably one of the reasons why I have been so interested in the way my brain works. From a very young age, I was riddled with unnecessary anxiety.
The compulsions followed shortly after, they took up my entire day. I would come home from school, usually, this would be the best part of a child’s day. Instead, for me, it was the start of hour-long rituals until my brain had perfected it. It went something like this: If you do not wash your hands 4 times if you do not tap the door 4 times then this bad thing will happen. It made me feel like I had no free will at all. The thoughts were the worst part of OCD, I could feel them tearing down every aspect of myself. Convincing me that I was a horrible person. I was having to seek constant reassurance that I was doing everything just right. This is just a brief overview of what life was like for me. It is hard when your brain is against you, it is a silent but deadly illness.
Like many, my OCD symptoms were divided between these recurrent, persistent thoughts and then the mix of compulsions that you are often driven towards due to these thoughts. I had been having these symptoms my entire life, and no matter how many times I am told to just ignore it, I always fell back into the cycle.
When I was 13, I was diagnosed with OCD. I was immediately given CBT, it offered me a way to control my thoughts. Unfortunately for me, the thoughts kept winning. I knew I had to keep trying to fight back against OCD. This is when I took a step further, alongside OCD, I was also diagnosed with Bipolar disorder. My doctor prescribed me SSRIs, these really not only helped manage my Bipolar but also helped with my OCD symptoms. After years of being so confused with myself, things began to get better.
I am grateful that I can enjoy life and that I am no longer scared of it. Breaking from that OCD cycle is always going to be a struggle, but one I am willing to fight. To anyone reading this, dealing with the same struggles. You are not alone. Don’t let it break you. If you are in the midst of OCD, it may sound cheesy and utterly basic to say but you are not alone. You may feel completely isolated, and that you are the only one in the universe suffering from this. But you are not. You have the right to be happy in life, and not be living in constant fear of your thoughts.