My Experience with OCD

By Lori P, age 12

OCD has been a struggle from the very beginning.  It started 2 years ago.  My mom noticed it when I wouldn't wear half the clothes in my dresser.  I was scared that the colours black and red represented death.  I worried about death a lot.  I worried that my parents would die, mostly my mom.  I thought things that I did would make them die.  That anxiety passed, but then, I started to worry about chemicals.  I couldn't touch the outside of chemical bottles without washing my hands.  I washed my hands so much that I had big red blisters on all of my knuckles.  Tapping was a big part of my life.  I had to tap a certain amount of times until I felt safe.

The first thing we did to help make my OCD go away was go to a psychiatrist and have her officially diagnose me. That day she prescribed medication for me.  I also saw an art therapist for about a year, which helped very little.  It was not the art therapy, it was just the therapist.  At the same time they put me on a high dose of medication.  We soon realised the dose was too high because I developed aggression.  As soon as the dose was lowered, the aggression went away.

Finally, I went to see Tamar Chansky in Philadelphia.  We drove from Baltimore every other Friday to visit her.  I spent two hours every visit doing exposure and response prevention therapy.  Anything I worried about we would do something to help me stop worrying about it.  Everything Tamar did I did.  When I was worried about dirt we would run in the mud and come back and lick our shoes.  We scrubbed her basement sink with Comet, didn't wash our hands and then ate lunch.  When I would go home I would have homework.  I would have to do the same things every day for two weeks.

Going to Tamar’s has really helped my OCD and made me feel much better.  I trust her.  Now I see her every three months.  I still worry about some things.  Like, is it OK if I don't wash my hands after cleaning?  It mostly comes back when I am tired.  When my OCD comes back I do exposure and response just like I do with Tamar.  My OCD is not in control of my life and I am much happier.