Why was I put on earth? ..

There’s nothing like holding a sweet puppy in your arms as she sleeps. It brings me calmness.

As I am on my way to a bridal expo with my mom and her best friend to help my sister who is getting married this summer, I reflect on something I realized very recently.. I was not created and put on this earth to worry all day every single day of my life, more than what’s healthy. It’s been more unhealthy throughout my life. I worry about anything and everything, and often times I make up things to worry about. My dad calls me out on that, and so does my mom.

Jesus said that we WILL have trouble in this life, but He promises peace. (John 16:33). Why have I never embraced this? Pride, control, self-suffiency..

The more in control I want and make myself to be in this short time on earth, the more anxious I become, and the longer I dwell on things that are not important or worth worrying about. I’ve worried every day of my life for at least the past 10 years. 

Yes, I have an anxiety disorder, but I refuse to succumb to it any longer.. my parents have opened their home to me and I’m about to start a new job after a horrible past of habitually quitting jobs after not even a month. My family and friends love me no matter what .. and so does my Jesus. I am so so so blessed. Too blessed to worry all the time when it’s NOT necessary.

This is a short update, but I wanted to share my declaration I have just found.. we are not put on this earth by God to be miserable. He brought heaven down to earth in the person of Jesus Christ to bring His people the “peace that surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7). Yes, there are times when all of us worry. I won’t deny or degrade that. But now, finally, I realized that I don’t have to worry miserably. I know God is in control, all the time. 

Thank you for getting this far in this post.. you reading this breaks the stigma of mental illness more than you think. 

Love,

Holli

Why do I care so much?

I realize that it has been such a long time since I posted; I tend to get discouraged and start thinking that there’s no point in keeping a blog if I’m writing a book at the same time. However, in reality, I think sharing my blog on Facebook is a push in the right direction for my story to become noticed so that it can help someone else struggling with anxiety, OCD, depression, or all of those at one time like I’ve dealt with.

The topic I want to write about today is asking the question: “Why do I care so much about what people think of me? Why, even though I live to please God, does it matter so much to me what anyone and everyone thinks of me? It’s so hard to shake this feeling no matter how hard I try to shake it.

Earlier in my blog I shared with you all my OCD’s main premise: intrusive, scary thoughts. As much as those thoughts STILL terrify me on a daily basis, they’re not the only symptom of OCD that I suffer with.

I have constant, obsessive anxiety about what people think about me, whether I know the person personally or accidentally cut them off in traffic. Sometimes I do make mistakes as I’m driving, and I then obsess about someone taking down my license plate number and calling the police, when in reality I know that’s unlikely. I also become scared that someone overheard me in a conversation and is going to tell someone else what I said, therefore the “grapevine” is a disturbing concept for me that I feel is real but it’s not as prevalent as I obsess over it to be. . In cases of people I know and love personally, I obsess nonstop about what they are thinking about me or not thinking about me, knowing I can’t control what anyone thinks of me. When I obsess like this, it drives me to despair to where I end up slyly seeking reassurance from them, whether that means texting them about something that has nothing to do with our conversation that day just to see what their attitude about me is like, or if that means asking them up-front, “Are you okay? Are you mad at me?” This always ends up driving the person crazy and makes me worry more that I drove them crazy.

I have a special friend who taught me that I don’t have to confess every little “mistake” to people. I’ve struggled with compulsive confessing and it’s not in the least bit fun or ideal. It’s quite the fight and quite the struggle, to the point where I feel physical pain from worrying so much.

I love writing about my OCD because I want people to understand how close people get to giving up and giving in to self-harm, whether that self-harm is physical or emotional. I do think there is such thing as “emotional self-harm”. In other words, those of us who have a mental illness beat ourselves up over things that don’t matter as much as we think they do. I want people to understand that there is a stigma associated with mental illness, and that stigma drives people to ignore mental health because it’s not a physical illness, branding us “crazy”, even though there ARE chemical imbalances in our brains that cause this “Stinkin’ Thinkin”.

If you or someone you know is struggling with a mental illness, please do not think that you are by ANY means alone. It comforts me to talk to other people that have anxiety and depression because my personal experience with OCD and depression has led to me not thinking of anyone else but myself, and selfishness (to the extent that mine is) is toxic. I forget about everyone else and even think “I have ultimate OCD, and no one else has it as bad as I do.” WRONG. I praise God that He has revealed to me that I need to reach out more to the people around me instead of reaching in to myself. Philippians 2:3 is a very strong word for those of us who struggle with selfishness. It says, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.” As hard as this is for me, I’m slowly becoming less self-sufficient and more focused on the cross of Jesus Christ and the life He has given me to reach other people.

I pray that you all take something from this and know that I am working more and more to reach out to others with anxiety. We are not alone. Praise God for that!

Love to all,
HOLLI

Medication: The Cold, Hard Truth

I’ve been on medication for my OCD ever since I could define the term “OCD”. This has been almost 10 years–10 years of one prescription after another. Unfortunately, in the past, my regimen was one doctor after another. One therapist after another. One psychologist after another.
Here I am, at age 24, doing what I love: writing. Writing my story, about my long, hard fight with a mental illness that is real and true.
I just thought that I’d go into a little bit of detail about what my journey with OCD on so many heavy medications is like, and post more in the future about my journey writing my first book–a memoir about my experience with a traumatizing mental illness.

I’ve always found comfort in knowing I take medication for my OCD.
I find comfort in that because knowing that I’m on medication means that I have an illness and that my intrusive thoughts and urges are NOT my fault.
I find comfort in knowing that I take medications because I expect the medications to “fix” my intrusive thoughts and keep them away.
The COLD, HARD TRUTH about psychiatric medications is that they help, yes, but they are not a fix-all or end-all of OCD. Or any other mental illness. The medications just simply take the “edge off” or the “sting” of those horrible thoughts, and help ease the pain of the “fiery darts” that are thrown into the mind of the sufferer.

One of the medications I’m on I can’t sleep without. I’m dependent on a pill in order to sleep through the night. It feels awful knowing I can’t sleep on my own.

I have been on so much medication that I am now on more medication than ever before. I’ve been told that my eyes are dilated because of how many meds I’m on. That wasn’t easy to swallow. Right now, my main problem is the side effects of the combination of medication I am on. Ready to hear the side effect? It may not make any sense to you, but it’s scary to deal with and honestly makes no sense to me either.

The side effect that completely wears me down and changes the pattern of my day is when my eyes “go batty”, as I call it. My eyeballs, inside my skull, look up and down uncontrollably. I’ll look up at the sky and my eyes remain looking at the sky until they force themselves down to take a break, then UP again at the sky. This makes it hard to see and even hard to drive my car. Up and down, up and down. Its usual cause is when I don’t eat enough and/or work out too hard at the gym. I have to find a way to eat enough in the mornings before I go to the gym or else, batty eyes are coming. It’s so scary and I become LIVID when it happens. It takes 2 Ativan, laying down, and food to get it to go away. It’s awful, as you can probably assume.

Yet, in the midst of all of that, I find peace knowing that one day I will be completely healed, in the arms of my Savior. Right now, all I can do is walk about my day to day life. I see my amazing psychiatrist on January 25, 2017, and I’m anticipating the discussion I’m going to have with him about potentially decreasing the dosages of my medications. I’m definitely going to discuss the issue of my eyes. I shouldn’t have to deal with that; it’s a nuisance and not my friend.

OCD hasn’t been my friend; it’s been my decade-long enemy.

I hope you gained some understanding about what being on really heavy psychiatric medication is like. I know it’s hard to relate if you don’t have OCD or are not on medications for even physical illnesses, but if you are on medications for something, just know that you are not alone and that there is hope in the name of Jesus for your healing. He paid for our healing on the Cross.

Much love,
Holli Anne Perkins

The best is yet to come. 

Sometimes I get discouraged, feeling like no one wants to know my story. That’s not true. It was proved to me today. 

Of all places, I met someone at the dentist’s office that made my day. She was a dental hygienist. Our conversation started by talking about my college degree in Creative Writing. She asked me what I write.. and I told her that I write about anxiety. This sweet girl listened to me talk about my anxiety while she was cleaning my teeth.. not an easy task!

I was touched because she understood. She understood the stigma. She understood the struggle. I felt safe talking to her about my OCD and anxiety. Of all places, at the dentist. 

I’ve gotten comments from several people saying how brave I am to share my story like I do. I can’t disagree–it’s not to be taken lightly that OCD gets as serious as it is for me. Sometimes I get discouraged, but I found more hope in just getting my teeth cleaned. 

Thank You, Jesus, for the precious girl who cleaned my teeth… thank You that You use simple situations like that to bless us and allow us to feel completely accepted and cared for. You are a miracle worker. Thank You for Your help thus far, and may You please bless my new friend, that dear dental hygienist. In Your Mighty and Precious Name I pray.. amen. 

Not for a moment did You forsake me. 

I feel like I told too much of my story too soon. 

I really do. 

But there’s something so sovereign about our God that tells me it’s okay and He’s taking care of me. I wish I could say that I’m healed from OCD and anxiety, but I’m not healed in my brain. I’m healed in my heart. 

I may have obsessions and compulsions on a daily basis. I may worry myself sick some days. I may feel like giving in to darkness and despair sometimes. But what God has been teaching me is that I have to lean on Him and Him alone, for He will NEVER leave me or forsake me. I want a ministry to come out of my story. 

Shame on the devil for making God’s people feel inferior or useless. One day he WILL be thrown into the lake of fire and get what he deserves for the attack he tried to do on my life for years. 

Anyway, I just wanted to update today because I hadn’t in a long time; because I was discouraged .. feeling that my story wasn’t getting anywhere and that it isn’t going to change anything or help anyone. 

My babies unconditionally love me. My God unconditionally loves me. My family and true friends unconditionally love me.  

I have nothing to worry about. 


Lord Jesus, may my story touch someone. I feel like I told everything way too soon and people are running away from me because of it, wondering what’s wrong with me. I have a mental illness, but the mental illness doesn’t have me. YOU have me. May Your Spirit help me overcome every attack from the enemy. May You bless every person who reads this blog. I’m weary, Lord; I’m weary from the life I’ve lived full of anxiety. I need You. I love You. Do what only You can do. 

Jesus: My Dear Friend

Jesus Christ is more than just a concept.
He is more than just an imaginary friend.
While my previous posts are hard to read, I want to encourage you, the reader, in this:
My God is bigger than those mountains that need to be moved. He can move them.

As a disclaimer, I know my previous posts are not for everyone. Not everyone is comfortable with them, and I understand that. But they’re my life story, aside from Jesus, because He is my entire life! I know how it feels to be confused about Him or not sure if you fully believe. But I’ve gotten to the point where I fully believe and nothing or no one can take that away from me. Nothing can take it away from any believer.

I just hope this blog is a ministry to those that suffer with OCD. I want to bring light to the very very dark places where OCD sits. Those pits, those miserable dark corners where no light can shine through.unknown

He loves you, you know. And you are special, treasured, and cared for. No matter what illness you have or what battle you’re fighting.

I just wanted to shed some light on my dark posts.

Love to all,

Holli

Mental Illness.. at the brink.

What could become of someone with a severe mental illness? Several things, I’ve discovered, can come about in someone’s life who is constantly labeled as “crazy” by the stigma of mental illness.

The person with an illness that has required 24/7/365 treatment can either A) The hardest option: Live a full life, using coping skills to get through episodes of mental illness attack, being coached and coaching themselves on living an ever-increasing independent life. B) The much easier option: live a defeated life with no hope beyond the next moment, feeling alone and beyond reach for help. I have lived option B; in fact, I lived it for ten years. It was always easier to lay rotting in despair than to rise above the circumstances and live an abundant life. By “easier”, I don’t mean “easier to deal with”. I mean “easier to settle for because life is just so hard”. Life is hard for everyone; I’ve seen people deal with significantly worse situations. However, I do not want to minimize the life of someone with an illness in the chemical realms of the brain because it is not easy for a second to deal with; it’s a living hell.

Now, I want to share my story with you in another way..

Since I struggle so strongly with OCD, I thought blogging and putting my story out there would really be helpful in my struggle. I graduated from Marshall University with a degree in Creative Writing, and I wrote the following nonfiction essay that was published in EtCetera, Marshall’s literary magazine. I was mentored by a wonderful professor that believed in me and my story. I gained so much self-confidence about sharing my story because of being published, and I was so well received by others that I knew I had to continue! So, without further ado, here is “Pandemonium’s Order”.

Pandemonium’s Order

 “Mom, I need to go to the hospital,” you say on the phone to your worried mother as you stand frantic in your dorm room during your freshman year of college.

“No. You don’t. You’ll be fine,” she replies, out of shock.

“Okay, mom.” You hang up the Nokia old-school cell phone and head to your Math 099 class in distress. You have anxiously checked your phone for text messages in class when you finally receive,

“Get ready. I’m taking you to the hospital.”

The mental hospital. The mental institution. The psychiatric ward.

Fear overtakes your mind as you realize that the time has come that you must face the demons that have taunted you for four years.

You pack your clothes and wait for your mother to arrive at the university to pick you up. You drive down the street holding your mother’s hand while she drove. She tells you to give her your cell phone.

You arrive at River Park Hospital and walk in to find a receptionist at the front window. She says, “Can I help you?”

You say plainly and quickly, “I am admitting myself.”

You know at the young age of nineteen that you feel alone entering a hospital while most people your age are enjoying life.

She leads you down a quiet hallway with framed flowers on the wall as you feel the evening darkness outside.

You and your mother enter a medium-sized assessment room where you sit down on a couch that looks comfortable but is stiff because of your tense muscles.

The nurse walks in and asks you why you are here. You tell her everything you can think of about your symptoms as your mother holds your hand tightly but nervously. You must tell her about your fear of guns, knives, cleaning products, and imaginary poisons.

“Wait here,” she calmly says, “I am going to call the doctor and see if he wants to admit you.”

Sitting in the room, waiting with your mother and drinking 7-UP in a Styrofoam cup, you tap your foot and wonder how much time has passed since the nurse left to call the psychiatrist.

She finally returns with a plastic hospital bracelet that has your name hand-written with Sharpie and the name “Dr. Spangler” written under it and ties it to your wrist. It is now that you realize you are booked to stay in the hospital.

You say goodbye to your mother. “You’ll be fine, honey,” she says as she hugs you. “I love you,” she reminds you, although you already know.

Dare to think about how you are staying in the psychiatric hospital for seven to ten days.

You’re thinking about how it feels to be strip-searched. I dont want them to see me naked! No one but my mother has seen me naked!  Your naked body, under a hospital gown, is being stared at to make sure you don’t have any weapons on your person, things that you could use to harm yourself or someone else. Another nurse opens the front of the hospital gown she asked you to put on and stares at your bare flesh. You do not have anything on your body that would cause an uproar, such as a razor blade.

You put your clothes back on and, closing the door of the bathroom behind you, and the nurses ask, “Is your bra wired?” “Yes”, you say, and then after you have to give them your bra as you stand with a shirt on with no bra under it, you watch in horror as the nurses gnaw and slice your expensive nude-colored Victoria’s Secret bra.

You meet Dr. Spangler after you wake up on the second day of your stay. He says, “Bless your heart” when you tell him your fears and symptoms. You realize then that he is an empathetic doctor and that he is going to take care of you.

Jillian, the new psychologist at the hospital, with her long and wavy brown hair, flowing skirt, and employee ID necklace on, walks into group session where you and the other patients are learning coping skills together. You are immediately drawn to her because she seems to genuinely care about mentally ill people.

“If any of you need to talk, I’ll be in my office,” she says kindly.

You walk into her office and sit down before her desk, being handed a pamphlet describing OCD and treatment options.

You talk to her about why you’re there and how badly you want to be normal.

Is the hospital really equipping you to deal with your OCD in everyday life?

You don’t believe so, unfortunately, because they don’t do anything but put you on medication and talk about your prognosis. They don’t provide you with the therapy you needed. The only two people who genuinely help you are Jillian and Dr. Spangler.

Don’t forget the manic-depressive Tom, who is extremely attractive since he shaved his beard. He is trying to kiss you while getting cookies and milk in the kitchen during free time. He says afterward, “I’ll give you a kiss later when the nurses aren’t watching.”

“Major Payne” plays from the VCR as you cuddle with Tom under the blanket you brought from your bedroom.  Don’t forget how the nurse tells you that if you and Tom continue to mingle, you’d be sent to the geriatrics unit with the old and senile people.

Therefore, you must steer clear of him until your discharge even though you like canoodling with him. You imagine leaving the hospital and keeping in touch with him because you wrote your phone number on a scrap piece of paper from a coloring book in the common room and gave it to him. Hes not going to call me.

Don’t forget how you are going in and out of the psychiatrist’s office and up and down the hallway to the nurse’s station to get your morning and evening medications, knowing the routine you have to follow. In your fuzzy socks and long johns at 6 AM you wait for your Ativan and wonder what the day ahead will bring. Will I get to do something else besides sit around and watch TV, filling out crossword puzzles and reading books?

Don’t forget OWP’s.

Off Ward Privileges..The time of day in which you are allowed to exit the locked unit of the psych ward and go downstairs to the run-down cafeteria to eat mushy spaghetti and drink Tru-Moo chocolate milk. Remember how this was is upgrade from having your meals sent to you on a covered tray, where the mush was even mushier?

Heaven forbid you remember passing the people in their separate room in the cafeteria who were branded mentally insane, walking back to the elevator in your leggings with the nurse who are just ignoring the “crazies” and their nurse. They are people who had done “insane” things, like murder and rape. Don’t even think about them and how seeing them is scaring the ants that are already in your pants.
***

Check to make sure the silver-knobbed door is locked; walk back from down the hallway back to your dorm room to wiggle the knob, realizing it was locked the entire time.  Repeatedly check to see if your alarm on your iPhone is set; get out of bed right before you fall asleep, and in the dark, search for your phone, click the screen on, and search for the alarm, only to find that it is in fact set for 9:30 AM. Stay far away from weapons and cleaning supplies. Move your foot away from these items so none of them come in even the littlest bit of contact with your body. Confess every single little thing you do or think to someone who can reassure you; call your therapist to confess to her that you cut someone off in traffic and your franticness that the police are after you.

***

You remember when you were diagnosed at fifteen. You remember the scary symptoms. Death in general scares you to no end. You used to be afraid of killing yourself.

You were afraid when you hung your towel on your shoulders that you would wrap it around your neck and suffocate yourself.

Your daddy’s mindset is, “I’m not sure what’s going on, but I found someone who can help.”

Try not to think about how you are kicked out of college until you can provide a note from your psychiatrist saying you were safe to be at school and that you are not a threat to yourself or anyone else. Try not to think about the several times the counselor at the university, sitting in her windowed office with you on the couch in front of her, tells you to seek hospitalization for your absurd thoughts and fears.

You are at St. Mary’s hospital’s emergency room only to show how you don’t want to be there. You are crying and you almost scream. You are in an uproar, saying “I don’t wanna be here!”  because you are afraid of being locked up and having a mental hospital record, like “crazy people” have. You fuss and carry on, only to be sent home with instructions on how to get better in an outpatient setting. They tell you to stop taking the Lithium you have been taking and come back if things get worse.

None of those attempts work.

***
Dr. Spangler pulls you into the small, beige-walled assessment room in the main ward of the locked unit where you ask about your schedule for the rest of the week. “And Monday,” he proclaims, “discharge!”  You are excited at this moment because it is here that you realize you can leave the hospital because no one thinks you are crazy enough to stay any longer.

***

Back home, do not pick up the phone and call your boss again. She was probably napping when you called her and that’s why she sounded so impatient and annoyed.

Put down the phone and do your homework and stop worrying that you’re going to get fired for calling your boss on her day off just to see if you’re on the schedule for next week when you said to your other boss that you’d just call Monday and ask.

Make sure you lock your door the first time so you don’t have to come back and check to see if it’s locked and risk being late. Your precious valuables will be fine in there, you have to tell yourself. But what if someone gets in my room and steals my iPad and bank statements?  Turn around once you’re already outside the building. Walk back inside. Go all the way up the elevator. Turn the knob that’s already been locked once.

Set your alarm and check it only one time as opposed to the four times you check it before falling asleep to make sure you won’t oversleep, therefore humiliating yourself the next day. Make sure it’s set to the correct ringtone so it will be loud enough.

Make sure it’s set early enough so you can hit the snooze three times so you don’t have to get up and endure the day as early as you should. Sleep as long as you possibly can before you’re forced to get out of bed. My bed is just too comfortable to even get out of!

Make sure you don’t move in the direction of cheating on your boyfriend. After all, you are naked and the shower is running while a boy sneaks in to the bathroom with his girlfriend when he isn’t supposed to. Be certain that you don’t have any impulses to get out of the shower, run over to this boy, kiss him, and drag him into the shower with you. You wouldn’t want to act on the horrible thought you had of having sex in the shower with someone you didn’t know, would you?

Stay away from Clorox Bleach, Windex, and the imaginary rat poison on your foot that you are afraid to come across even though there is nothing like it anywhere around you. It is easy to come across cleaning supplies because they are in your mother’s kitchen and you use them to clean up after dinner, but you must make sure they don’t get into anyone’s food or drinks. Keep your mind focused on the task at hand and make sure you don’t invite any thoughts of poison on your foot that isn’t ever going to be there into your head. You worry that the rat poison has been put on your foot without your knowledge and you are concerned that you carry it around putting it on people’s food. You obsess and worry about contamination by items that are not present in the room, and if they are present, you freak out that they are touching you. You don’t want anything to do with any of these chemicals because you’re terrified of them. You think they’re bad and you shouldn’t think they’re bad if used properly. Use these objects properly, like you know you are going to.

While you’re trying to live, don’t think of all the ways you could die.

Don’t go near a gun or a knife. You’re afraid of them, so afraid that you want to cry every time you see one in person. They’re bad, you think, and they’re only used to do harm to others. No, they’re not. They’re used to cut chicken for your chicken pot pie. They’re used to make sure the cow you’re eating doesn’t suffer when being put down, so you can have it for dinner. They’re used by your daddy to bring home venison. Don’t be afraid of these objects that are harmless if used correctly. Crazy people use them unwisely. You’re not crazy, remember? They’re not going to hurt you or anyone else.

***

Don’t forget how your daddy came to pick you up the Monday after your ninth day at the hospital.

You are saying goodbye to the nurses who took care of you and are even saying goodbye to the other patients in there with you. Michael, the violent chain-gang thug who got sprinkled with tap water to get baptized when a pastor came to visit, clung to you and said, “I love you”. You say, “I love you too”, knowing you’ll never see him again even though he also has your phone number. Will he call me?

They wish you well and you should remember giving some of them hugs because they all struggle and you could relate, even if in different ways. Think about how desperate each of their situations are and how desperate yours is. Your situation has placed you in a place you need to be in right now. Remember that.

***

A year and a half after being discharged from the hospital, you see the psychologist you’ll never forget, Jillian, at Wendy’s restaurant. At first, you don’t speak to her because you’re afraid of being embarrassed. However, she finally walks up to you and says, “You did it”, after introducing herself to you once more and asking about how your life is going now. You felt an immense amount of pride at that moment that she remembered you and sees your progress just by looking at you.

***

Worship God at Baptist Campus Ministry with the loud band singing, “Oh praise the One who paid my debt and raised this life up from the dead!” Raise your hands in praise as you stand in the midst of one hundred and fifty other college students who have different issues than you, but they still have issues and they still struggle. Remember all that God has brought you from.

***

Pass River Park Hospital every time you drive down 6th Avenue.

Remember it with your analytical brain that imagines what it would be like to go back.

Reader, thank you so much, if you got this far with my story!
I’m going to start on a book proposal to pitch at “She Speaks” conference in 2o17.

Love,

Holli

Harm OCD: The REAL Truth Defying the Stigma

 

january-2015-3-iHello, dear reader!
To start out my blogging journey on my life with Harm OCD (Harm Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder), I’ve decided to post a piece of work I wrote about 2 years ago as a jump-start, letting you all in on what is going on with me and what has kept my mind spinning for so many years. I still stand by every word I wrote then, and I wanted to share this with you because it was such a proud moment for me to have written such a piece of work as this.

They’re going to judge you, the enemy wants me to believe.
Actually, people come to respect me even more after they hear my story. I’m not looking for affirmation or more respect. It just takes a whole lot of courage to share such a story with the whole world.

God wants to deliver His beloved people from hectic and scary illnesses, and we know that it is not easy, but it is worth every single moment of the strife because we know we will see His face one day!
So, enjoy, and just know that this life hasn’t been easy, but it’s been WORTH IT ALL.

December 14, 2014
“I have had a really good day today. I went to Planet Fitness as I have been five out of six days this week so far, ate lunch at Panera Bread, and now, here I sit at Starbucks with my Windows tablet and my Venti Decaf Skinny Peppermint Mocha (my favorite drink of theirs, may I add).

I have a story to tell. A story to tell that no one else can tell, and a story that I have been yearning to put out into the world for such a long time. I’ve been longing for someone to understand me.
If you make it to the end of this post, you’re strong, and you’re a blessing.
I was given a vision some two years ago that I’d write a book about what I’m about to reveal to all of my readers.

It’s time to start.

It’s worth a book, it’s worth telling, it’s worth revealing. It’s real.

I’m not here to start a riot.
I am not here to make much of myself.
I am not here putting myself out there without knowing the risks of what I’m doing.
I could lose friends over this, but if I lose them, were they really my friends?
I could scare people, but if I scare them, they need to know me better.

I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I know what you may be thinking, and I don’t blame you for it. You might be thinking something along the lines, of “She washes her hands, she organizes by color and size, she cleans nonstop.”
My story is much more complicated than that, and if you choose to read further, I promise that you will learn something new today.

There is such a negative stigma associated with mental illness, and my story serves to attempt to destroy that stigma.
I’m not in the business to need or want anyone to feel sorry for me.
I’m just a woman who has suffered IMMENSE mental trauma and has a story to tell about what it’s like for me and people like me to live day by day with a mental illness.

Maybe I’ll even reach someone else who suffers like this, too. They’ll know they’re not alone.

I become frustrated, and sometimes even livid with the stigma of mental illness, but especially with the stigma of OCD because people are all, “Oh, I have OCD because I clean my room a lot,” or “I’m SO OCD, these things have to be in order”.. Yes, those are symptoms of OCD, but EVERYONE has thoughts and happenings like that without giving any regard to true suffering.

OCD is a chemical imbalance in the brain that, in most cases, people are born with. Each case is different, but I believe I was born with mine.
People are just ignorant to what a mental illness really is:
Not just an emotional problem.. A chemical, medical problem.

Now, here’s my particular case.
I have a form of OCD that is described on various websites that define different symptoms of OCD. But the kind of OCD I have is not what people who know little or nothing about OCD think it is..
I have what’s called “Harm OCD”.
There are tons of resources online about what Harm OCD is, but basically, Harm OCD consists of unwanted thoughts of hurting and even more unwanted impulses to harm other people, and the brutality level of the thoughts varies.
Harm OCD also persuades sufferers to fear that they will act on the thoughts.
Coming from someone who has been medically diagnosed with this disease, it’s often like you’re living in hell, and that hell is your mind because you’re scared you’re going to kill somebody.
When people jokingly or casually say things about hurting other people, it bothers me deeply because to those like me, that’s the scariest and worst thing we could ever think or say.
Now, I’ve never hurt anyone, and I know in my heart and every part of my being that I NEVER will, but the urges are real and the DESPAIR, SHAME, and GUILT that I feel after have I have an urge is REAL.

The compulsions are real, too. For example, when I have a declaration thought like, “I’m going to kill someone” (the simplest one), I make the first noise I can think of, whether that’s uttering “Uhhhh”, or singing a song. That’s the “compulsion” part of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: an attempt to relieve the anxiety.
The worst thoughts for me and the most distressing are the thoughts that I’m “planning” something awful. I try to stop the thought from even completing itself. They scare me the most. I would never act on these thoughts, so I ask myself, “Why must OCD be so cruel?”

It’s awful, folks. Not fun. I am aware that everyone has thoughts like these occasionally.. I’m not blind or ignorant to human nature. I just have a disease that increases mine significantly and in a scary way.

Everyone who knows me knows that these thoughts and urges are completely against my value system and personality, let alone my heart.
I have false “movements towards” acting on the thoughts within my body that no one else can see, and they’re mostly out of compulsion, the rest out of obsession, but they scream inside of me so loudly that I feel like I’m actually in hell.
I move away from people if I have an urge to lash out.

I plan on disclosing more as I progress with this blog; this will NOT be my only post. This is a journey of letting people know what really is real and destroying the stigma.
For now, just know, reader, that my disclaimer should go without saying:
People with this kind of OCD who have the same, uncontrollable, unwanted thoughts as I have want to be loved and accepted for who they completely are, OCD and all.
I’m simply speaking on behalf of those out there like me, or with any mental illness, who need help getting their voice out there to raise awareness.

I take six different medications for my OCD. It does NOT go untreated. I see a psychiatrist, who I will often refer to as Dr. E, and I see a psychologist, Dr. N. I also go to group therapy on Thursdays. I work with Dialectical Behavior Therapy, which is tremendously helpful if the homework (literally) is done with it. So, I have three opportunities to receive help and do good for myself and my mental health.

I’ve been hospitalized three times, and I am not shy to talk about those three instances. The first time was for 10 days, the second time was for 6 days, and the last time was for 23 days. I am NOT ashamed of my hospitalizations. I will, definitely, talk more about them in the very near future.

I am not ashamed of myself or my OCD. My Savior isn’t ashamed of me. When he looks at me, He sees Christ, because He’s my everything, and I’m not just saying that.
Had you looked at me three years ago, you wouldn’t recognize me.

I know, friend, that this blog post was not easy to read, so, if you made it this far, I genuinely thank you.

Here’s to this journey toward something bigger..something “beyond anything we could ask or think”. (Ephesians 3:20)
“And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted about measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” – II Corinthians 12: 7-10″