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Thriving With OCD
By Paige Lougheed - 16 Years Old

I truly believe that I need to get the message of hope out to everyone else stuggling with OCD. I know that if I had read an article like this before I was diagnosed, or even after, there is not a doubt in my mind that it would have helped me understand myself in ways unimaginable. I hope that this article can also reach out to others who know someone who might potentially have OCD, and assist them in seeking treatment.

I’m a 15 year old straight-A student. I am also currently in grade eight piano at the Royal Conservatory of Music. At school, I’m involved in cross country as well as track and field. I live, and continue to live, in constant fear. From the monkey bars to the high school hallways, I have suffered from anxiety for as long as I can remember. Although I have made amazing progress in recent years, I have lived with OCD my entire life.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder, most commonly known as OCD, is an anxiety disorder in which a person feels the need to perform tedious rituals or tasks (compulsions) to prevent something bad from happening to them or a loved one (obsessions). Obsessions are persistent, unwanted thoughts that are always entering one’s consciousness at times of high stress. Because OCD is an anxiety disorder, obsessions are frequent. These thoughts can be so disturbing that they cause one to carry out certain rituals that can take up to several hours a day. There are many kinds of different subtypes of OCD, such as hoarding, ordering, contamination, fears of touching poisons, fears of doing something embarrassing or immoral, and religious or safety issues. I, for the most part, check things compulsively, although I do have an irrational fear of doing something immoral.

OCD started for me when I was about 8 years old, around the time my parents got a divorce. Because I was so young, I considered my compulsions to be “magic”, and my obsessions the rules of how my magic worked. There were certain laws I had to follow, like not thinking particular thoughts or making sure my shoes were always in the exact same spot. I classified magic into two different types: good magic and bad magic. If something was bad, I couldn’t touch it or else I would become contaminated. If something was good, I could. I soon found almost everything I touched was bad magic, never good.

For example, when I was young I brought home a stuffed animal from the Pacific National Exibition. When I held it in my hands, I found it was covered in bad magic. I would have hid it in my toy box with my other toys, but I was afraid it would contaminate them. I stuffed the animal at the back of my closet and never went near it again.

It was around the time I was in grade six that my anxiety became so bad, it got to the point where I wanted to inflict harm on myself. Not because my self-esteem was that low, I just had all these thoughts and feelings that I couldn’t explain. I didn’t know what they were or where they came from, so I couldn’t express myself properly. I sought a “release” anywhere I could get one. Sometimes, my anxiety was so overwhelming, compulsions just weren’t enough.

I remember once when I got in an argument with my mom while we were packing my bags to go to my dad’s house. My mom was packing toothpaste for my sister and I, and I wanted to keep the lid open because I thought it would release the good magic inside the toothpaste tube. I was convinced that if the lid was open, the good magic inside the tube would get suffocated and ultimately become bad magic, which I was afraid would poison my breathing air. Of course my mom didn’t understand any of this when I tried to explain, but she knew how much it upset me and in the end, the cap was left open.

After that, my mom noticed my odd behaviour and took me to see a doctor. The doctor sent me to a psychiatrist, who informed me I had OCD. I went through cognitive-behaviour therapy (CBT) for over a year, and when I came out I was brand-new. I began to notice things about myself that I hadn’t before. I was better at noticing obsessions when they crossed my mind and restraining myself from rituals. I realized I was never actually depressed. CBT got to the root of my problems, which I realized wasn’t breaking the laws of “magic”; it was the anxiety that caused it. I learned to relax, but it didn’t last long. 

You’ll never hear somebody with OCD say, “I really want to” or, “I know I shouldn’t” when trying to explain their rituals. They use words like, “have to” or, “can’t”. Simply because the anxiety is so intense, we literally feel like we have no choice.

Every night, I have to check that every door and window in the house is locked. When I’m in bed, if I hear the slightest creak or shutter, I have to get out of bed and check that the noise isn’t someone breaking into my house. I cannot handle being home alone without checking the window in the kitchen every other second. During these compulsions, I somehow know nothing bad is actually going to happen. But suddenly, every muscle in my body tenses, I feel sick to my stomach, and then comes that overpowering voice in your head that whispers, “What if you’re wrong?”

It doesn’t matter if you have OCD a little or a lot. It affects every aspect of your life. If you notice that you, a family member or friend with similar symptoms, please consult a doctor. Because you can get better, and there is always hope. CBT did miracles for me. Although I still have my struggles, I haven’t been consistent in my daily rituals for years. You most likely have no idea how different you or your loved ones’ life could truly be.

I’m not quite sure I locked the door when I sat down to write this.

Maybe I should get up and check. No, I won’t.

.

Paige Logheed Bio:

Paige Lougheed is a student at Earl Marriott Secondary. She is fifteen years old, currently in grade ten. She enjoys playing the piano as well as running, and has a passion for reading and writing.

Kidshealth.org is a really good website because they have a section catered to teenagers with mental illness, including different types of anxiety disorders. 

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COMMENTS (6) | children, mental illness, OCD
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Comments

6 Responses to “Thriving With OCD”

  1. Graham Dunne
    January 26th, 2011 @ 9:57 am

    A seriously insightful young lady. Her intelligence and thoughtfulness shine through in this article. And I learned some unexpected things about OCD!

  2. Chris Ogilvie
    January 26th, 2011 @ 8:46 pm

    Thanks for sharing your experiences Paige. You are helping so many young people by letting them know how and what you felt.

  3. Denise
    January 27th, 2011 @ 4:57 am

    Dear Paige,
    You are a brave, intelligent and beautiful girl. Thank you for providing us with some insight. Your words are “magic”.

  4. Jennifer Conde
    January 27th, 2011 @ 10:07 am

    Thanks for sharing your story, Paige. You wrote it so clearly and honestly, I’m sure it will be an inspiration for others.

  5. Julie Milligan
    February 17th, 2011 @ 10:24 pm

    What a well-written account of all you have gone through and continue to struggle with. It is amazing that you have accomplished so much in spite of the fears you battle every day. Thank you for being brave enough to share your story to help others. You should be proud.

  6. Nicole Chanway
    September 16th, 2011 @ 5:34 pm

    An honest and eloquent account of something that many people are afraid to talk about. Thank you for being so brave, and for sharing this with us. Excellent writing.

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