I’ve been waiting for the right time to come out of the closet. I’ve come out once already, sophomore year of college, when I dated my first girl. This isn’t that type of coming out. Today, I am coming out as a sufferer and SURVIVOR of Harm OCD. No, I don’t have to touch door knobs 3 times so I “feel right” I can step on sidewalk cracks and not have to “redo” my steps. I don’t have to wash my hands a ridiculous amount of times.
When people hear that someone is suffering from OCD, their minds go right to those examples, which is definitely OCD behavior. I’m here to talk about the other side of OCD that people don’t know about. That people don’t talk about. Harm OCD (also knows as Pure O)
To put it simply, Harm OCD is a constant worry/fear that you are going to harm someone. (This disorder normally attacks the people you love) Weird right? If you don’t want to harm someone, especially someone you care so much about, you wouldn’t. Right?
I had a “normal” upbringing. 2 loving parents. A younger brother (who I bullied daily but only like a normal older sister would.. I think?) never been abused physically or emotionally or anything of that nature. Had many friends. Played a lot of sports, etc. I honestly had and still have a lot to look forward to. Fast forward a few years (age 25) where my life changed in less than 5 seconds after watching a documentary. I’m not sure how it triggered me exactly, all I know is that my life was forever changed afterwards. I suffered from constant intrusive thoughts. Horrible ones. Ones that left me sick. Unable to move. To eat. It was so bad that I drank Gatorade just to get SOME calories into my body. I was eating nothing. (I’m so mad this happened during Thanksgiving because I missed one heck of a meal) I made myself so sick that I had a fever above a 99. That’s how powerful your brain is. That’s how powerful mental health is, or lack there of. I would have constant thoughts of hurting people. Random ones that I passed by on the street or friends I would go out with at night. I lasted a few days before I confided in my partner. She didn’t understand however stood be me and supported me however she could. Tried to make me feel better but nothing worked. Took me to vitamin shops, we tried everything herb wise that you could imagine. I didn’t think my life could get any worse.
Fast forward again. Around Christmas of 2016. My partner and I went to a broadway show. We took the bus into New York City. A bus I’ve taken plenty of times. A ride I was pretty comfortable with. All of a sudden I felt my heart flutter. And sink into my stomach as if a 100 pound weight had been tied to it. My brain thought it would be cool to make me think that I had a bomb strapped to my body. Under my jacket. I immediately felt around my body like my life depended on it. Every inch. Mind you, My partner was siting right next to me probably wondering what in the world I was doing. I told her I felt like I couldn’t breathe. And that I needed to get off the bus. I would lie awake at night next to my partner as she slept, in fear that I would somehow sleepwalk to the kitchen, grab a knife, and stab her with it. I chose not to sleep to protect her… from myself.
I would have NEVER in a million years thought that I’d overcome the monsters in my head. I was so close to throwing in the towel. I was so close to calling it quits. I can honestly say I am the happiest I have ever been in my life. There is a silver lining. You just need to stick around for it.
People who experience mental disorders are the most caring, thoughtful, strong, unique individuals I have ever come across.
Mental disorders do not discriminate. Not a single soul would think I’ve been through this type of ordeal. When I tell people, I hear something like this: “I would have never guessed” “you seem so normal” “you seem popular” blah blah blah. MENTAL DISORDERS DON’T HAVE A LOOK. They don’t say “oh this person looks like they should have a mental disorder, let me stick on them” NO. It can happen at any time. To anybody. Be kind. People are going through things that you know nothing about. This has changed how I act and react towards others immensely.
I have finally got a grip on my mental health. I thank god everyday that I never gave up. I was so, so close to resorting to a permanent way out. I am so fortunate. I know others are not as lucky. I am telling you this from the bottom of my heart, it does and will ALWAYS get better in time. I turned a ditch into a mountain. And I refuse to shrink. Please stay. All of you. We need each other. More than anything. If anyone is suffering please reach out to me, I would love to connect.
You live most of your life inside your head. Make sure it’s a nice place to be.
Story submitted by Danielle.