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I have made friends with my diagnoses, anxiety and depression, about 5 years ago. For me, depression was an easy one to accept. I had researched countless hours about what depression was, the varying symptoms and how to cope with it – all before telling anyone I was struggling. I went as far as taking online quizzes labeled “Do I Have Depression?”. Not to my surprise, each came back saying “highly likely” or “see a provider”.
Anxiety was another easy one to accept. For me, it actually felt like a relief. Looking back at my childhood, I thought I was just being difficult or worried too much. Oftentimes, I felt I was just too sensitive. But, in reality, many times I was feeling anxious and overstimulated. During high school, I would stay home by myself when my family was at work and extracurricular activities. Unlike other kids who could walk around the house freely and relax in the silence, I would be frozen. My anxiety told me at any second someone would break into the house. I would sit and go through different scenarios in my head and how I could get out of the house if something happened. I kept 2 phones with me at all times and stayed in the living room until someone came home. And I just thought I was being crazy and needed to calm down, but I couldn’t. So, when I was given the label of generalized anxiety disorder, I felt like what was happening in my head had been rationalized.
Recently, I have developed more prominent signs of OCD. For me, it’s been in the form of contamination OCD or what I like to call “germ OCD”. When I come home from being out in public, I immediately have to wash my hands. Not once, but multiple times until they feel clean. I also need to change my clothes immediately in fear of sitting on something and getting it “dirty” from being outside of my house. I have also been obsessive about numbers, specifically the volume of music playing in my car or on the TV. They all have to be odd. If not, I will continuously think about it until it is fixed. After talking through these symptoms over many weeks with my therapist and healthcare provider, we decided what I am experiencing is most likely OCD. I felt so discouraged when this label was first brought up. I felt as though all the hard work I’ve been doing in therapy was wasted. Honestly, I felt like it was one more thing to add to the list of “what’s wrong with me”.
Over the past few weeks I have come to realize it’s not just “one more thing that’s wrong with me”. For me, talk about diagnoses and a new diagnosis is a way to explain why I am thinking the way I am. I also try to remind myself that just because I am experiencing these symptoms now, does not necessarily mean I will always experience them. But, if I do, it is okay and I will continue to learn ways to cope.
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