The term OCD has become a catchall for being controlling or overly consumed with tidiness and order. Obsessive-compulsive disorder is, however, one of the most debilitating anxiety disorders there is, according to the World Health Organization. I was a teenager when I first began exhibiting the classic symptoms of OCD—obsessive thoughts accompanied by frequent compulsions—but it wasn’t until years later that I had a name for what I was experiencing.
For a long time I didn’t know what was wrong with me. What I did know was that I felt alone, embarrassed, pathetic, and sick. Sometimes I felt like I was going crazy. I felt haunted by a force beyond my control.
Over the years, I tried everything I could find to stop the obsessive thoughts. I tried "thought stopping," including visualizing a stop sign, and snapping a rubber band on my wrist. I tried ignoring and accepting the thoughts. I repeated mantras and affirmations. I began a daily meditation practice. I learned tapping, also known as Emotional Freedom Technique, or EFT. I saw multiple therapists. I did some very important soul-searching, inner child work, journaling, and energy healing.
Although I still use several of these techniques to help with my overall healing and wellness, all of them provided only temporary relief from the OCD. My painfully persistent thoughts always returned with a vengeance. I was terrified I would always be suffering, trapped in my own mind, controlled by these vicious thoughts. I worried I would never be able to have a healthy relationship. I feared I wouldn’t be able to have children lest they inherit this disturbing disorder.