Hitting Rock Bottom in a Treatment Desert
Suffering with OCD is isolating enough. It's a whole different battle, for people living in areas where treatment is hard to find, and others are unfamiliar with their disorder.
Written by Hazel Anne
01 Hazel Anne shares her ongoing struggle with OCD, and what life at her personal rock bottom is like.
02 Despite being diagnosed, Hazel still lives in an area where treatment is hard to find. The professionals she does see, are ill informed on OCD and unable to provide proper treatment.
03 If you live in areas where treatment is hard to find, there are still options. To view the IOCDF's professional directory or head to Better Help for online counseling, scroll to the bottom of this article.
In November, I reached my low.
I was depressed, I was losing hope that I was ever going to feel better. I was dealing with what felt like the weight of the world on my shoulders. I started my day checking to make sure ovens, lights, and straighteners were off, doors were locked and my pets safely inside. On the way to work I would go over every possible way things could go wrong throughout the day, while simultaneously glancing behind me at every pothole I hit to ensure it was only a pothole and not a person.
At work, I would use hand sanitizer until my hands would bleed, making me increasingly worried about intruding germs. Once new hand sanitizer was on, I'd need to change my band aids. And then potentially reapply. But what if new germs managed to sneak in? The cycle wouldn't end.
Arriving home, I'd run to the shower and throw my clothes in the wash on the way there. Next, came the bleach. Everything I touched pre-shower needed to be washed. Nothing could be too clean. By the time this routine was finished, I was mentally and physically exhausted. It was never ending. Even on days I wasn’t working I would find something else to worry about and another reason I had to clean. Not to mention the constant intrusive thoughts running through my mind, one after the other. I was miserable. I wasn't safe in my own mind. I was afraid of everything, including myself.
One night in November while driving home with my husband, I broke down. The low I had reached was crippling, and I felt I may never recover. I felt alone and as if nothing I could do was going to give me peace of mind. This was how I would spend the rest of my life.
I wasn't suicidal, but I dreaded thinking that every day was going to be this hard. I did not understand that others were struggling with this as well. In reality, my struggle was fairly common and directly related to the OCD I was diagnosed with in 2007.
That night when I got home, I stumbled onto IntrusiveThoughts.org. I can’t remember how I found it, but when I did, I cried and cried. This time, they were tears of relief. Relief that for the first time in a very long time, I wasn't alone.
Through the site, I found the hope that recovery was possible and that I'd be able to achieve it. Of course, that's easier said than done. I live in a small town. There is no real acknowledgment of OCD around me. No specialists. No support groups. I see a psychiatrist who is in the room for all of maybe five minutes, and throws prescriptions and inconsistent visits with "a counselor" around as if that's all the help a person needs.
So for now, I go to counseling every one or two months, and I take the medicine that sometimes dulls my anxieties. But ultimately, I’m not really getting better. I’m placating my anxieties the best I can, without ever truly overcoming them. However, thanks to this site, I have hope. Hope that one day I can move to a place where I can get quality help and be stronger than my OCD. Until then, I wait. I read about others like me. And I hope.