“I was an adult with a serious problem that was ruining my life. I visited a psychiatrist who had been recommended to me. An hour into my introductory session the doctor looked directly at me and said; “You have OCD. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.” I was already in tears, which continued to flow for hours. Those tears had been a long time coming.”
“The psychiatrist explained that I could try medication, behavioral therapy, or a combination of both. I was still in a state of denial so I bought the medication and continued my life as if nothing were the matter. But, the drug did not help me. I was tired of explaining my symptoms to psychiatrists only to have them delve into my family’s history, jot down a few notes and charge me a fortune. What I wanted, was to feel better.”
“So, I enrolled for a behavioral therapy course. I felt strange attending sessions in a psychiatric hospital and dealing with a chronic disease. Only then did it sink in that I was really ill and needed to resign myself to a lifetime of treatment.”
“I was assigned to a nurse who took me through my obsessions and rituals that caused me the most anxiety. Then we worked our way down the list. I realized that I would have to work very hard on the areas I had been avoiding. The nurse told me to bring items that I felt were contaminated. I would also have to rent a car and learn to stop turning around compulsively to check whether I’d hit anything. She told me to go into the hospital kitchen and turn off the appliances one by one, making sure to check each one only once and not twenty times the way I usually do.”
“The program lasted for seven weeks and I accomplished most of the assignments. The medication must have helped a bit but I think that having the support of the nurse helped more. Being with other OCD patients helped too, as we were able to speak openly about our compulsions and we had a great deal to talk about. This was the first time I realized that other people had the problems that I thought were mine alone.”
“When the program ended, I felt insecure but saw the nurse or one of the psychiatrists from time to time on a private basis. I also attended a support group every two weeks. There are times when I don’t feel the need to take medication but I take it as I cannot bear the thought of relapse. I am determined to manage my illness for the rest of my life. It’s chronic but I am no longer going to let it run my life. After all, it could have been worse.”
I heard this story from a young man who approached me after hearing about the voluntary work I have been doing in the field of mental health.