The following is an interview between Maria Black of My Soul Balm and Hannah Siller of Serene Life Consulting.
The purpose of this interview is to offer one person’s account of living with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. This disorder is often misrepresented as being overly organized or clean. These perceptions can be harmful to a person living with the disorder as they downplay symptoms and create stigma around it.
This is OCD
Tell us about your Mental Health disorder (educate the audience)
I have the alphabet soup of Diagnoses that many people with mental health issues deal with (OCD, PTSD, GAD, PD, you get the idea)
Do you have symptoms?
What are they?
I have paranoia, anger issues, severe anxiety, somatic obsessions (specifically for me it’s being obsessed that I might have foreign or malignant objects in my body i.e. cancer), difficulty sleeping, intense bouts of sadness. I also obsess that I might lose control and hurt someone (harm OCD)
How does your mental health impact your life?
I’m not going to lie, my mental health makes life hard. Really hard. It’s tough for me to maintain relationships because I have a lot of behaviors that push people away which makes me feel lonely most of the time. The paranoia and attention seeking are really off putting to a lot of people (and I totally understand lol) But there are lots of good days too – especially now that I’ve found a community of good, understanding people, improved my support system, got on meds, and learned new coping skills.
How did you first know there was a problem?
I’ve always known there was something wrong with me. But I think it really became apparent when I was about 11 and I started having these intense emotional meltdowns that lasted for hours. And then again in high school when I had a full on dissociative/depersonalization episode that led to a deep depression for many years afterwards.
How were you diagnosed?
I wasn’t diagnosed with anything except GAD until I was almost 30. Unfortunately, at that point I was acutely suicidal and self harming. I was hospitalized and got the diagnoses of Panic Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder and OCD from the in-house psychiatrist.
What was your reaction to learning you have a mental health issue?
“Well, that explains a lot, lol” But seriously, I felt so relieved to finally put a name to the issues I’d been experiencing all my life. The day I got diagnosed, I was able to start my healing journey and I haven’t looked back.
Talk about the impact mental health stigma has on you.
OCD specifically is heavily impacted with stigma. Many OCD patients go years and years without being diagnosed because we don’t know what we’ve got is OCD. People have a very narrow view of the disorder because of pop culture telling them it’s just about obsessive cleanliness. The disorder is actually incredibly complex and expresses itself in hundreds of ways that are unique to each individual depending on their beliefs and fears. I thought I was a monster for the longest time because I had Harm OCD, which is the obsession that you might hurt someone. I was so ashamed and never told anyone because I was scared of being locked away. This shame and stigma prevented me from getting the help I needed until it was too late.
Advice for others with the same disorder.
Do lots of research! It will help you understand your disorder and make it much less scary. Also, talk to others about your disorder – you’ll likely realize how common your symptoms actually are and help you feel less alone <3
Thank you Maria for your story!
Maria Black, owner of My Soul Balm, is an amazing blogger and mental health advocate. Make sure to check out her other work in the link provided