In 2011 I was diagnosed with OCD.
Following my mother breaking her ankle gruesomely on Mother’s Day and taking my best friend to identify her brother’s body after a sudden and unexpected death, I took my PhD qualifying exams. I passed, for what it’s worth, but I bought myself a consolation cat just in case. Radar had some behavioral issues, and he proceeded to “eliminate” all over my new apartment and furniture. My boyfriend (now husband) and family were all hours away. My fellow grad student posse (consisting of about three people) wasn’t in town that summer. It was just me.
I started binge eating. I didn’t know that’s what it was called, I just did it. I gained 30 pounds pretty quickly.
Thankfully…somehow…the secret binge eating was the biggest red flag to me that something was wrong. I went to see a therapist and she listened, then handed me a pamphlet and asked me to review it and get back to her.
That’s silly…I watched Monk, I saw What About Bob? and that’s not me. Despite my scientific mind and background, I’d fallen into the trap that Hollywood had set. I was a real person with a real mental illness, not a caricature.
I recognized my binge eating as an escalating compulsion I could trace back throughout my life. I realized my intrusive thoughts changed the way I did things in my daily life so I could keep them away. I had to push every preset button on the radio before selecting a station. My nightly prayers were a half hour affair as a child, and if I didn’t do it just right, I had to start over. It sometimes took hours. I went through a brief period that particular semester where I never trusted my car to be in park. And so on, and so forth.
I began a regimen of cognitive behavioral therapy and Prozac.
It sucked. But I got better. I felt my mind calming down, and it felt like I was the “normal” version of me.
I failed both my classes that semester. With solid F’s. They were hard engineering classes, certainly, but I believe I’d have normally pulled out a (still uncharacteristically low) C from each of them any other semester. These were supposed to be my last credits for my PhD.
I was still binge eating. I was still staring at the walls, crying. Every day. Radar was a lifesaver, perhaps literally. He and I worked through our issues together (the vet almost put him on Prozac for anxiety issues as well….).
By the end of the semester I was put on Wellbutrin as well, to treat my chronic depression. Another pattern I could trace back through my life. And Lunesta, for my insomnia, another lifelong affliction which I’ve since learned is particularly common in people with depression.
Oh, and depression is very commonly linked to OCD.
I began identifying patterns (in a healthy, less obsessive way) connecting my illnesses. I was intrigued and learning more about myself than I had in the years I had spent trying to mold myself into the person I thought I was supposed to be.
A year after I began my therapy, I quit my PhD program, packed up my apartment and moved back east. My boyfriend proposed to me the day after I quit. I took on multiple odd and normal-people jobs to pay the bills while I finished my consolation M.S.
Matt and I got married, and, as of the day I’m writing this page, I quit my corporate position to spend more time discovering myself and my purpose.
I’m working on losing the binge eating weight.
I want to run another half marathon.
I’m working towards financial independence and full self-employment.
I want to contribute something substantial to the world.
I’m hoping this website can help both you and me get to a point in our lives where we’re happy. Not deliriously happy, like many personal development blogs promise, but legitimately happy.
I have mental illnesses, and that’s ok.
Let’s be ok together.