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Winning the OCD Battle

By: Madison, a patient of  Dr. Izquierdo
My name is Madison and I am a 15-year-old 9th grader who battled with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) for almost two years.  I started treatment with Dr. Izquierdo at Renewed Freedom Center a little less than a year ago.  When I started therapy, I thought I would never get rid of my many compulsions and there was no hope of ever overcoming my OCD. My obsessions and compulsions took control over my life.  I never got a breath of air and always felt like the OCD was holding me back from living my life as my true self.
At the time, I was extremely stressed at home and at school, all of which made my OCD much stronger and louder.  At its worse, I was consumed by the belief I had to follow all of its “rules” (i.e., compulsions) and that I had no choice. I became depressed for a short period because I thought the pain would never end.  I became so stressed that it took a physical toll on my body. I was suffering from constant headaches. I would tense my body in order to hold myself from performing my compulsions all the time. I had trouble focusing in school because I was so anxious and distracted by obsessions about homework assignments.  I ended up missing entire class lessons because my mind was always somewhere else.  For the first time in my life, as a straight-A student, I was in trouble because my compulsions were controlling me.

I’m sad to say at one point, I even pushed my friends away because I thought isolation would be easier and no one could understand what I was going through. My family even noticed a change in my behavior. I wouldn’t talk much, which was surprising because I was always the kid who would never shut up.
I had about 30 compulsions performed at least once every day.  One of my hardest compulsions was reading.  I would re-read each word many times in multiple ways.  I did this because the OCD told me it would help me comprehend the information, but it was just giving me more headaches.  My parents didn’t understand at first how I could read and learn all the lines for an upcoming play, but not read a book that was assigned for school.  I guess it makes sense it was hard for them to get it because OCD doesn’t make sense!
Dr. Izquierdo really helped me express to my family what I was going through and all the chaos going on in my head.  Teaching my family more about OCD and how it works helped them understand they can better support me when things got hard.
My first step in beating OCD was to confront things that frightened me and made me feel anxious.  Even though it was very hard to do, I knew facing my fears was the only way to beat my OCD.  By doing all the exposures, with Dr. Izquierdo at RFC and at home, I was able to build courage and prove to myself that I could handle feeling afraid, and even uncomfortable, without engaging in compulsions.
Exposures got easier over time, however, my OCD fought back by creating new compulsions which eventually left me feeling discouraged and even defeated.  Even though I felt this way, I continued to keep fighting back.  With all the support I had from my family and treatment team, I was able to maintain motivation to achieve my goal of overcoming OCD for good.  This wasn’t easy, but with dedication, bravery, and practice, I learned how to overcome my fears by facing them directly. I learned how to say “No!” to the OCD monster inside my head.
After 8 months of treatment at RFC, I am proud to say I have beaten my OCD monster.  It doesn’t control how I feel or the decisions I make anymore.  I feel free! Now, I spend more time enjoying school, friends, and family without being tied down by all the obsessions and compulsions.  I am a lot more confident and inspired to take risks knowing, I can handle the discomfort of ‘not knowing’ exactly how things will turn out.
I decided to share my story hoping it would inspire other people who are also struggling with anxiety/OCD.  Although it may seem impossible to beat at first, there’s definitely a light at the end of the tunnel.  Beating OCD has been one of the biggest challenges, I’ve ever had to face in my life, but I definitely learned a lot more about myself through the process. I realized that I am much stronger and courageous than I ever believed myself to be.  I encourage anyone, who is going through something like I did, to always keep in mind there’s hope even when it may feel hopeless!