Through The Storm This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

December 12, 2008
The fan clicks unevenly. My pencil is off-center on the desk. My neighbor’s notebook is touching my arm. Breathe. Don’t get overwhelmed. Focus.

As the teacher lectures, my mind wanders to a million other imperfections (my bags aren’t touching). Seemingly ­insignificant placements, noises, and sensations plague my mind, consuming my thoughts and ­trapping me in a prison of my own creation.

OCD. The letters roll softly off my tongue now, not like their original excruciating sharpness. Obsessive-compulsive disorder – these words are so commonly thrown around, a diagnosis often misused to describe Type-A ­personalities. Just the sound of these three words can bring anxiety and fear to a true sufferer, yet most people are unaware of the reality of this disorder.

I was officially diagnosed with OCD/panic disorder sophomore year. While others fretted over homework, taking notes, and ­Friday night plans, my biggest struggle was to stay in class. I fought to control my body from showing outwardly the battle I was fighting within. My main concern was staying me – staying “normal” – through all the medications and countless hours of cognitive therapy.

I would like to say that I conquered my battle, that I again became the good student I once was. However, junior year was one of the toughest of my life. Meds changed – upped more and more until the only thing I could feel was anxiety and anger.

Mistake number one: I gave up. Changing a thought process is hard. I did not want to. Avoidance became my top priority. I thought if I could avoid a trigger, I wouldn’t have a panic attack.

Mistake number two: I gave in. I succumbed to the idea that my disorder defined and controlled me, rather than realize I had the strength to control it and define myself. Finally my house of cards crashed down on me, revealing my laziness and self-deceit.

Accomplishment number one: I took back control of my mind and my emotions. No longer would
my “issues” define who I was or excuse my actions. My challenges are still real and painful, but I have realized I have tools to control most of my anxiety and can learn more. Though I still feel those compulsions every day, the effect they have on me is almost ­obsolete.

Accomplishment number two: I became me again.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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Sarah M. said...
Jun. 10, 2009 at 6:35 pm
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