Darren, 54, New York, USA

I am afraid to get better because OCD is the only thing I have known. What do I do with all the newfound freedom?

darren-no-textPeople who know me may be surprised to learn that I have a mental illness. What must be understood about OCD is its secretiveness. I find the behavior repugnant and try my best to hide it. Sufferers of this disorder are marvelous actors and actresses, rivaling the best work of Brando or Hepburn. Somehow, we manage to cope and survive. Through a huge effort we continue to live and work as normally as possible. OCD drains your mental and physical energy. Overcoming the urge to perform some behavior is nearly impossible. Even when you aren’t involved in a ritual or obsession, the specter of OCD looms large in your mind. It is a 24-hour-a-day struggle; even my dreams are vulnerable. It is hard not to hate oneself. OCD destroys your self-esteem. People with OCD are survivors. For whatever reason, we have this illness to deal with. Life is all about challenges and obstacles. Obsessive-compulsive disorder is one great hurdle, but it can be fought. For some, medication may work. I’ve had only limited success with medicines such as Prozac, Anafranil and Zoloft. At best, they have alleviated the depression that comes with OCD. Behavior therapy may also help in some cases. Unfortunately, the availability and quality of treatment for this disorder vary.

Categories: The Wall

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