Letter #103

Content Warning: Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, panic attacks, intrusive thoughts


Dear friend, 


There’s been something weighing on my mind recently. I’ve struggled with OCD since my junior year of high school, and since then, I’ve had this obsession with perfection. Any time I felt like I slipped up and did something wrong, I would go into full-on panic mode. My body slowly became numb, and I found it difficult to form coherent thoughts. I was convinced that even the smallest mistake would result in great tragedy, and it would all be my fault–that if only I was just a little more careful, then maybe bad things wouldn’t happen.


I am now a junior in college, and I must say, my OCD has improved significantly. I went from having anxiety attacks every other day to having one every few months. My recurring intrusive thoughts occur far less frequently, since I learned how to control my reactions to them. That said, I sometimes have mini OCD-flare ups, and it feels like I’ve thrown away the years of progress that got me to where I am now. I realize that such intense reactions to these flare ups correspond to my perfectionism tendency that I mentioned earlier.


When I self-diagnosed with OCD, I believed that progress was only progress if it was linear, and anytime I gave into a compulsion, even if it was a minor one, I punished myself for it. I would conjure up the worst things I could say about myself and play them on a loop in my mind. For years, I made myself feel like I needed to do everything right, and it’s been exhausting, both mentally and physically. 


Even though I’ve struggled with OCD these past few years, the goal has been to bring my intrusive thoughts and compulsions to a minimum, which I’ve successfully


done. Nevertheless, I still have my low moments. For example, with school stress, I find myself slipping back into these self-deprecating habits, but it doesn’t take away from the years and years of work I’ve invested in my mental health. It’s perfectly okay to have setbacks in the midst of tremendous growth and learning. Healing is not a straight line – it’s a wave.

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