Jaslyn, 17

The graphic thoughts of my mother dying and constant worrying about anaphylaxis wasted my youth and left me hopeless.

Jaslyn Picture

My OCD started as young as 10 years old. My first recollection of a compulsion was “touching wood” 1000 times before I fell asleep or else my mum would die. By the time I was 13 years old I would pray up to 70 times a day in order to keep my mother safe, even though I wasn’t religious. My entire life was OCD. Everything I saw, everything I touched, everything I did was OCD. My grades dropped, I lost friends, and I saw no future for myself. At a time when I was supposed to be full of life, everything around me was hopeless.

When I was 14, I was exhausted and would’ve given anything to be free. The weight of feeling responsible for someone else’s life at such a young age truly takes its toll. So I woke up one morning and I stopped every compulsion I had. I had planned it for months, and it was without a doubt the most terrifying, yet liberating thing I have ever done. The intrusive thoughts never stopped, but they were manageable. I started to enjoy life again and I felt like a person, with real dreams and achievements and a life ahead.

Two years into my new and improved life, and not too far into my senior year of high school, I started noticing intrusive thoughts about anaphylaxis. This was totally uncalled for, considering I don’t even have any allergies. I mostly blamed it on the stress of school, and it was nothing to worry about, and it would pass just like all other thoughts do. But before I knew it, I couldn’t eat because I was too scared. My first thought in the morning was, “Am I going to go into anaphylaxis today?” and I just didn’t want to get up and face the world. Once again, my grades started dropping and I lost a lot of motivation.

The most confronting thing about the relapse was that I wasn’t expecting it, not even a little bit. The thoughts were not even kind of similar to the thoughts I was having in my previous experience. It made me think that my entire recovery had been a lie and I had just repressed the illness rather than dealt with it. And while OCD results in crippling anxiety, it’s never just fear. It’s a terrible combination of guilt, sadness, hopelessness and fear all in one. It’s exhausting and lonely, and so often misunderstood. Because of this, opening up to others has not only been emotional, but embarrassing. It seems so strange to others to worry about anaphylaxis, especially when you don’t even have allergies. Similarly, nobody wants their parents to die, but not many spend their whole lives doing strange things trying to prevent it from happening. It feels stupid just writing about it. Who would worry about that? More so, who would worry about it so much that there is no room in your life for anything else? But accepting that it’s not you that’s thinking these things, it’s OCD, is the first step to moving on. Nobody wants to think like this, and it’s not your fault.

I have faith in myself and everyone else with OCD. Nothing lasts forever, and every challenge is just another opportunity to grow. In the words of Franklin D. Roosevelt, “a smooth sea never made a skilled sailor”.

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