Personal Stories

OCD: The Struggle Through Time

Hello I’m Jake. I’m here to share my story with others about how I have struggled with OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). It goes as far back as when I was around nine years old or so. It’s been unbelievably hard living with this mental health condition. I’ve been through two hospitalizations for psychiatric care and been to four different psychiatrists. The amount of medicines I’ve been on is over ten and I am still struggling to find ways to help my condition.  

My daily life is hindered in a number of ways most people’s lives aren’t. The first thing I usually notice at the start of my day is what kind of clothes I am wearing. I get very concerned about what color combos are proper. No, I’m not just worrying about looking good. It takes me over 30 minutes sometimes to get dressed. There have been times it takes me over an hour. Keep in mind this whole time I usually end up in just a T-shirt and shorts. It’s not like I’m putting on dress pants and a dress shirt or anything. But, to the point, it takes me a long time to decide on what shirt to wear, whether it looks good, what material it’s made out of, what socks/pants/underwear to wear and what I want my appearance to be for the day. 

When I go to get breakfast I struggle to decide what I want. If there’s multiple options of food available it can be difficult for me to decide on what to eat because of number of calories. I realize everyone does this but for me it’s especially hard. After eating, I go to brush my teeth and I struggle to decide what toothpaste to use (we have several kinds), what floss and even which kind of mouthwash I want to use. If shaving is needed, I can spend another hour trying to decide which of my razor blades to use, which pre-shave I want to use (if any), and then what shaving cream followed by a pre-shave (if I want to use one). I feel a compulsive need to alternate toothpastes, mouthwashes, shaving creams, toilet paper kinds and even laundry detergents/fabric softeners.  

I get so worked up sometimes and so frustrated at my inability to make simple decisions that I spend a lot of time crying alone in my parent’s basement while my mom and dad (who live with me) just go about their day. It’s unbearably hard sometimes to deal with this because I’ve never met anyone who has OCD to the extent I do. It frustrates me greatly when I’m in classes and I have to hear people say to their friends “You must be OCD.” It isn’t something that should be taken lightly.  

I’ve seen five psychologists who are therapy counselors but have found it to be of little help. The constant medicine struggle to find one that works for me is ongoing and it’s going on three and a half years of med rotating and changing. Most SSRI medicines do very little for me and don’t seem to help me very much at all. Different anxiety aids may help temporarily to calm me down but don’t really address the issue very well. I call it a temporary solution to a permanent problem.  

There’s so little I can say just to explain how frustrating this is. I’ve been a long time athlete and I always hear the “exercise to relieve your stress talk” or do meditation/yoga. While these are great things for anxiety, I never find them in the least bit helpful to OCD. I just come home after exercising and start worrying about how much protein I should intake, how many electrolytes I need, how many carbs I need, how many calories I’m consuming, etc. It’s an endless struggle. Nothing will probably make it go away and all the counseling I’ve done doesn’t seem to help much. The “don’t worry about it” or “don’t think about it” don’t work for me.  

I stay up at night wondering if I’ve used the correct laundry detergent on my clothes. For whatever reason that has been the big one for me the past couple of weeks. This morning I had anxiety about my magnesium intake. Before I exercise I contemplate the use of pre-workouts and sports drinks for adequate hydration. I debate over whey protein, soy protein, egg protein, plant protein, casein protein, etc. for my supplementation needs as an athlete.  

By now I hope you get the point. OCD is no laughing matter and I have a lot of compulsions and obsessions that are difficult to deal with. Most days I don’t even want to get out of bed in the morning because of all the hard decision making that awaits me. I know nothing bad will happen really if I don’t spend hours in my room deciding what to wear, what laundry soap to use, what shaving cream, etc. but in the end it doesn’t change anything. I know very little of anything could go wrong but every time I’m confronted with these triggers I’ve mentioned the struggle begins.  


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