Sage, 14, Alberta, Canada

I couldn’t focus. I couldn’t think. It was this debilitating blur that I couldn’t shake.

sage-no-textI was diagnosed with OCD when I was 6 years old. I remember taking a pill for the first time (I did not enjoy it). It started like separation anxiety. I remember going to school and the principal would be there to help me to my class. I used to cry when I went to school. I remember we’d drive to the city and go into this building. It was great. I got hot chocolate, goldfish, and this lady called my ‘therapist’ would read me stories, the ones about those puppet things? Max Lucado, that’s it. I just learned that that’s called play therapy. I also went to this one therapist, it was in a smaller building, but I got to sit in this chair and there were stuffed animals everywhere. I kinda grew up with it. Some days were better than others. Some nights I would cry. Some nights I just wanted to sleep. Sleep and all the thoughts would go away. I would shut down on the outside, but on the inside I was a mess.

I remember sitting in Science last year and I couldn’t focus. I couldn’t think. It was this debilitating blur that I couldn’t shake. I had to tell my mom. It’s basically my main compulsion. When I’m in a ‘cycle’ I organize things, but if I just tell her all the feelings will go away. I usually worry about everything I do wrong in a day. I shouldn’t have said that, why did I do that? I used to worry about things other people did too. Why did they do that? It didn’t even have to involve me. I was doing the worrying for other people.

I also look for reassurance. Compulsively apologizing, double-checking, that kind of thing. Last year I stopped taking my medicine. That’s what this one guy I knew had done. He was just going to trust God with it. I could do that. Right? Wrong. It started at school during drama. It consumed everything. I didn’t tell anyone. I went to dance. I was on the verge of crying the whole time. I remember thinking dark stuff. Distraction. I needed a distraction. During my break I lay on a bench, crying, just repeating the word ‘Prozac’. Just get Prozac (my med) and you’ll be okay. I went through ballet, 1 hour and 15 minutes, still trying not to cry. I cried in the car. I went back on Prozac. The doctor asks questions. How frequent my anxiety was, how debilitating, stuff like that. I had a really bad ‘episode’ in Health once. That’s probably not the right vocabulary but it happened nevertheless. I started to shake. I couldn’t work. I just closed my computer, I wasn’t going to actually get stuff done. I started rocking back and forth, the whole deal.

The worst was probably around Christmas last year. I was on this other med for acne and one of the side effects is depression. The doctor said that was debatable, all teens had mood swings. Well, the two weeks before Christmas break I felt… lethargic. That’s the word I used. I didn’t want to do anything, didn’t want to go anywhere. I would sit in the youth parking lot and I would have to convince myself to get out of the truck. Then, one night, I was babysitting. The darkest, most horrible thought popped into my head. Oh my gosh, what if I do that? When people panic, you expect to see that. I must have looked like a statue on the outside. But on the inside my mind was racing. I’m a horrible person. I’m crazy. These people don’t want me around their kid! The thought wouldn’t go away. Then the thought of killing myself just came up. Thinking about it now is scary, trust me. It was dark. I wasn’t thinking about tomorrow. I wasn’t thinking about my friends, not really. I was stuck in that moment, in that dark cycle. I went upstairs and when I came down, I thought about jumping off the stairs. Totally calm about it. I started thinking about overdosing. I somehow knew I wouldn’t do it, but it was scary. I left the place, took my cash, and went home.

I went to the doctor for a refill. When he asked me about side effects I said I had been feeling depressed. I brushed it off. I’m just a teenager, teenagers have mood swings. My mom jokingly asked if I was suicidal. I laughed and said no but on the inside my brain was screaming YES, yes you are! It was Christmas day. I was in the kitchen when the thoughts popped up. You lied to a doctor. You’re not okay. You’re not okay. You lied. I remember sitting on the floor, covering my ears. “You’re not allowed in my head!” I screamed to myself. “You’re not allowed in my head!” I couldn’t. I went and told my mom. She threw out the acne meds.

The [Secret Illness] wall has really helped me, the research I’m doing has really helped me. I learned more about this. I learned that those dark thoughts are normal symptoms. I thought I was crazy. I’m not crazy. You’re not crazy. You are beautifully and wonderfully made. Go and use your gifts to make the world a better place. Make time for yourself. Breathe. I’m rooting for you.

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