There was a mental illness present in my life years before my eating disorder ever took hold. My parents thought I just had some quirks, kids at school dismissed it as me being weird, and I kept quiet about every ritual and paranoid fear that I had. My first memory of having an intrusive thought was in my classroom when I was 5 years old. 5 years old.. and already, mental illness was playing a huge role in my life. The issue was, nobody could tell, and to me.. it was just life.
Until I was 10 years old, I had to hide rolly pollies in my pencil box during class and see if they lived. It determined how well I would do in school.
Until I was 12 years old, I had to check under my mom’s car before we left the house to make sure there were no raccoons underneath. If I forgot to check, which rarely happened, I’d make up an excuse of why I had to go back inside (“I left my notebook!” And come back with a random notebook I didn’t need) so that I could get a look before we left. If I didn’t, our car could explode.
Until I was 14 years old, I had to leave the bathroom to wash my hands in the kitchen. Every time. If not, I would be unsafe.
Until I was 19, I couldn’t look in a mirror past 2 A.M. If I did, I knew I’d see a demon.
Until I was 20, I couldn’t fall asleep between the hours of 3 and 4 A.M. It was the haunting hour. If the clock struck 3, I forced myself to stay awake for another hour. It happened on school nights a lot, especially in high school. If I didn’t, I would die.
Until I was 21, I didn’t know that I had OCD.
Until I was 21, I carried a few bottles of hand sanitizer with me wherever I went. If I didn’t, I’d automatically get sick.
Until I was 21, I couldn’t wear clothes that I had worn throughout the day in my bed. My bed was my safe space, and my clothes were covered in “train germs” or even “restaurant germs”.
Until I was 21, I had to knock on something, anything, every time I had a scary thought. If I didn’t, what I thought would happen. Knocking kept me safe. When I was in public, I’d discreetly knock on my leg.
Until I was 22, I didn’t truly accept that I had lost most of my life to OCD.
This year, I am fighting HARD to never lose another day.
Reproduced with permission, originally published here
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