I Had OCD My Whole Life And Didn’t Know It

How my dark thoughts turned into a diagnosis.

Written by Whitney Stein

I Had OCD My Whole Life And Didn’t Know It

01 When Whitney began having suicidal intrusive thoughts, she was confused as to what they meant.

02 Previously, she had been diagnosed with postpartum anxiety and depression, but the intrusive thoughts seemed to fall outside her diagnosis.

03 After months of confusion, she googled her symptoms and found out she had OCD. She then saw a specialist, got officially diagnosed, and now does mental health advocacy to help anyone else who might be struggling.

Three summers ago, I was at the beach with my family. It was a beautiful sunny day, and I watched my dad and husband walk toward the shoreline as my kids played in the ocean. I thought to myself, “It’s such a nice day out! I’m so happy to be here. I wish I were dead.” 

I immediately panicked. 

It wasn’t a foreign thought or feeling for me. In fact, it was actually a pretty common theme throughout my life. But never in such opposition like that day. Feeling the sun on my skin, thinking about how beautiful everything was, then my brain jumping to, “I wish I were dead.” However familiar those dark thoughts were, it still freaked the shit out of me.

I had already been diagnosed with postpartum depression and anxiety, but it had been at least a year since my second child was born. How could I still be feeling this way, and so frequently? Flashes of urges to hurt myself or longings to be dead. Weird thoughts about my killing myself. I tried to analyze and search my mind for answers.

Dr. Phillipson Talks Science, Symptoms & Treatment of OCD

Do I want to kill myself? No. At least I don’t think so. Then what’s happening? Am I sad, tired, anxious, angry, frustrated? Yes! But those didn’t feel like the real reason for that thought. I just couldn’t figure it out.

I told my psychiatrist what had happened that week, and she thought it might be a good idea to raise my medication. There was no talk of OCD yet. Back then, I didn’t know you could have thoughts about suicide that have nothing to do with being sad or anxious. For the next several months, I would constantly check my thoughts and feelings, searching for any reason for why I might want to kill myself. It became exhausting. 

It wasn’t until some other compulsive thoughts became unbearable that I finally googled rumination and found “Pure OCD.” Could this be it? When I saw an OCD specialist later that year, I was formally diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I came to the realization that it wasn’t only postpartum anxiety or depression, but I had been unknowingly suffering from OCD for most of my life.

I didn’t know you could have thoughts about suicide that have nothing to do with being sad or anxious.

If you’re reading this and you are finally figuring out what you are suffering from, know that you don’t have to do it alone. There is help available, and as cliché as it sounds, it does get better. My hope is that more people like me will share their story and start normalizing these thoughts, feelings, sensations, and urges until it becomes common information — because no one should have to question if something is “wrong” with them. It’s okay to ask for help, and there are well-qualified professionals, advocates, and friends who will be there to support you.  

It’s only by doing ERP therapy with a professional on a weekly basis that I can push through the uncomfortable intrusive thoughts long enough to know that my story is worth telling, even if it only helps one person.


You can find Whitney @brave_lotus_yoga where she gets candid about her mental health and what helps her, so that others can feel less alone. 

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