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Mind Over Matter

Despite the stigma and society’s suspicion of illegitimacy, I never had a doubt in my mind that I was facing a particularly complex issue when I was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. It was the beast of my mind, and I was a warrior with no armor or weapons. The beginning was slow. Repetition and counting were inconveniences that hindered my ability to do things quickly and calmly. Anxiety, however, began to swell and sway in the core of my body with a rapidity that I can only compare to the spread of a virus. Compulsive behaviors and rituals began to add on to each other, at times taking me twice the amount of time to accomplish simple tasks. The stress and frustration of not being able to control my own thoughts weighed on my mind until my I began to have routine breakdowns and fits of rage.

I was a normal nine year old, average in almost every respect except for my above average language skills that my mother loved to brag about and my insatiable curiosity.  I was always carrying around a book, and asking questions about how everything worked. No one ever suspected that anything was off, and maybe there wasn’t. It wasn’t until the night I witnessed my mother's first panic attack that triggered my psyche into disorder. Too soon after, I had my own first panic attack, which is not the ideal coming of age event most young girls dream of.

“I can’t breathe,” I screamed at the top of my lungs at a poolside birthday party. I repeated the phrase, attracting the attention of all the partygoers before my father and uncle rushed to my rescue. I laid down on a pool chair and caught my breath before realizing that in all actuality, I wasn’t dying. My accelerated heart rate, closed throat, and cold sweats begged to differ but physically I was just fine. I remember the look of concern my dad shot my uncle, and the grimace on both their faces. That night they took me home to be with my mother. Later, I started to repeat phrases in my head and demanded that I always have water with me. Those habits involved into my current diagnosis of OCD.

It’s hard to believe that 9 to 10 years later, although not completely, I’ve healed. Pieces of my former self came back together. I carry books with me everywhere, and I strive to learn something new everyday. I've become a version of myself that my family and friends are ecstatic to see. I do still have OCD, and I do still have compulsive behavior and intrusive thoughts. I still get frustrated that some tasks take me so long. I would never say I am happy to have this disorder. Part of me is still healing. However, I did not acquire the maturity to make peace with my issues through comfort and happiness. It took a lot of hardship to gain the knowledge that I can survive even the rainiest of days. I will never stop the war with my OCD, but I will always welcome the life lessons that come from losses and victories of the battles.

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