August 28th 2015, was the day my doctor diagnosed me with OCD and anxiety. I came to him after a number of tests and exams were taken and everything kept coming back normal. But I knew something was wrong. Two years before I was diagnosed, I started having bad headaches. These headaches would last all day and sometimes all week. At first, I thought it was due to my new job because I was working 10 hour shifts staring at a computer all day so I thought my eyes were the problem. I got my eyes checked, got glasses for the computer, but nothing changed. Instead it got worse. Anytime I would get a headache, I would become extremely dizzy, to the point where I could not even lift my head. It got so bad to where I had ended up in the hospital. I remember it like it was yesterday. I had just come home from work and my headache was excruciatingly painful. Any sound that I heard felt like nails on a chalk board and sent vibrations through my whole body. I was nauseous and extremely lightheaded. My sister suggested that I take an Excedrin for the headache. However, about 30 mins after taking that my lightheadedness turned into what seemed like life threatening dizziness. I tried walking to my bed but the floors felt as if they were slanted downward, the walks were teeter totting back and forth, and next thing I knew I was on the floor. I remember small amounts of darkness. I was in an out. I crawled to my phone to call my sister for help. I remember crying to her and begging her to come over to help. My whole body was shaking. I was doing whatever I could to hold my head hoping that everything would just stop. I was rushed to the hospital that night. After 4 days, I was back home and being treated for vertigo caused by migraines. However, when I came home after those 4 days in the hospital, I have never been the same since. What I experienced, what my body and mind went through those 4 days was by far the most terrifying days of my life. I would not wish what happened to me on my worst enemy. From then on, I had grown fearful of getting dizzy to the point where I stopped going out, I couldn’t concentrate at work, and I didn’t want to leave my house. All this fear and stress however, created symptoms of lightheadedness and more headaches. I was stressed beyond belief at this point. Not only was I dealing with a lot of personal stress at home and at work, but I was also dealing with this sickness, this fear. I became depressed, because it felt like this would be my new life and that I would never be okay again. My sisters told me not to give up and to try going back to doctors to see if there was anything else that could be happening. But after two years filled with rotating doctors, numerous exams, and about 15 different tests, in which all results came out normal, I felt defeated. So I went back to my original doctor, who has known me since I was little, and broke down crying in the exam room. I told him everything from the very beginning. I told him the symptoms I was feeling was not made up or in my head, that if someone were to cut your wrist the pain that you would feel is as real as the symptoms that I have been feeling.
My doctor sat down with me, my mom, and my sister and told me he thinks he knows why I am still getting dizzy and still having these headaches. He told me that I have an anxiety and OCD disorder. I told him I know I have OCD as I had suffered with a small form of it my whole life, but that there was no way my OCD was doing this. I got angry. I felt as if he thought I was making everything up. But he quickly told me that because I never really treated my OCD over the years it had gotten worse. He told me because I went through a traumatic event as well as dealing with a number of other stress factors in my life that my OCD and my anxiety had grown stronger, grown out of control. He told me the mind is a very powerful thing and that I am feeling ill because my mind is making me feel ill. He told me I had lost control of my own mind. It took me a few weeks of trying to understand exactly what my doctor had told me. I went through phases of denial, and phases of which all I did was research and reading books about other people’s experience with OCD and anxiety and I started noticing similarities: depression, excessive worry and extreme tension, the constant feeling that nothing is ever right, and repeated unwanted thoughts. Once I came around to the idea that this could be my problem after all, I agreed to starting therapy and starting medicine for my OCD. After a few weeks, my headaches and dizziness subsided. I was able to sleep at night, and I started noticing more and more these routine tendencies I was doing in which I never knew I was even doing them in the past. Things were becoming clearer, and I was starting to finally become awake. However, the more and more I became aware of things that I had done or had thought of because of my OCD the more I became anxious. My doctor had prescribed me an anxiety medicine only to be used when needed, but I was too afraid to take them which is funny because my therapist had told me that people who are afraid to take anxiety medicine are actually the ones that need them. I think over the past year in which I was diagnosed, I had taken four of the anxiety meds. Not that I didn’t need them more often, but my fear of taking them was still too great so I tried teas, vitamins, and yoga instead.
As time passed, I became fully awake to my illness. I felt better physically. However, emotionally I still have a long way to go and unfortunately, life doesn’t stop just because you’re going through something hard. No quite the opposite in fact. My life became harder to deal with & more complicated during this last year or so. Not only was I struggling with my OCD and anxiety, I had started a new job, I got engaged, I had lost my grandfather, and I had lost my Aunt, whom I was extremely close with. Like I said, life doesn’t stop or slow down for anything. Thankfully, I have had the support of my sisters and the love of my life to lean on. I don’t think I could have taken the strides I have taken this past year without them. Although my parents are there for me as well, they are also old school and were raised in a time where things like OCD and anxiety was unheard of. Thus, they do not really understand what I am going through all the time. My mother would tell me to snap out of it and my father would say just be happy don’t let things get to you. I would in turn become angry because if it was that simply trust me I wouldn’t be in therapy or be taking meds or would have spent almost 4 years now feeling the way I have been feeling. But seeing them upset after my outbursts just made me feel guilty and well, that just fueled my OCD even more. I learned, however, the more I trusted and opened up to my family and my now husband about how my mind works, thinks, reacts, the more I felt understood and actually was able to lean on them more for help then I normally would ever do. I am stronger today then I was 4 years ago because of that. I have good days and bad days; however, every day is a day in which I literally have to work on controlling my OCD and anxiety. Sometimes I lose that battle, but as my mother said I am stubborn and refuse to give up, which brings me to today. So here I am writing to you because one of the things I have learned through all this is that writing is a way for me to spill out everything in my head. Putting it out on paper somehow silences the negative thoughts or what I call the devil inside my head. Through writing I am able to calm myself down. I am able to breathe again; at least for now.