For a long time, I was able to live with my OCD. It didn’t get in the way of going to school or hanging out with my friends, and because it was happening in my head, no one really knew what was going on—not even my parents. But the OCD became worse as I grew older. I started having thoughts about hurting myself and others, and that petrified me. I began picking at my skin too. I knew that I needed to get help.
First, my mom took me to the pediatrician. The doctor asked me all sorts of questions and determined that I definitely had anxiety. I saw a couple of other doctors after that, but it took some time before I was properly diagnosed with OCD. I learned that not all doctors are trained to recognize mental health conditions.
Now I see a therapist and a psychiatrist. With the help of my therapist, I purposefully confront the things that scare me. Doctors call these confrontations “exposures.” Bit by bit, I’m learning that I can feel anxiety about these things without reacting to that anxiety.
For example, one of my worst obsessions used to revolve around books: I thought that if I touched or read one, something awful would happen. My therapy started by having me simply be in the same room as a book, and I slowly worked my way up until I was able to happily pick up a novel and read it. This therapy treatment doesn’t get rid of my obsessive-compulsive disorder completely, and different obsessions still arise—but it definitely helps.