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The Thought That Cried Wolf

How I survived over 35 years being bluffed by my own brain.

Escrito por Chase Craft

The Thought That Cried Wolf

01 Chase started getting harm intrusive thoughts when he was eleven years old.

02 Over time, his theme shifted to religion. He secretly dealt with his intrusive thoughts while also being bullied at school.

03 After graduation, the harm intrusive thoughts only came back stronger.

04 When he found the courage to talk with his mom’s friend, he finally discovered he had OCD.

The year was 1984. Ronald Reagan was President of the United States, Michael Jackson was the King of Pop, and there was no internet, email, or dot com anything. 

Those who grew up in this era will often describe it as a simpler time, without the invasion of technology that dominates today’s world. For me, this year altered the course of my life, and has carried me through a three-decade long journey with many tears, trials, tribulations, and most of all, torment. This is the story of my ongoing, personal battle with OCD, aka, obsessive compulsive disorder

When It All Started

My descent into the world of OCD began on Monday, May 28th 1984 — Memorial Day to be exact. I was a pretty happy eleven-year-old, looking forward to that coming Friday. It would be the end of my fifth grade year and the beginning of summer vacation. I had a somewhat difficult year moving to a new school and dealing with being bullied, mainly because I was shy and quiet. 

That afternoon, I was getting ready to celebrate the end of the school year and watch an espionage thriller on TV. Thrillers were one of my favorite genres. The episode I watched was about an arms trader who was trying to destroy a commercial aircraft which carried documents proving his illegal sales of weapons. After his plan failed, he shot himself as the police were fixing to arrest him. The second this scene ended, a thought popped into my head: I could easily kill myself.

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I was stunned. I had no desire to kill myself. I had an entire life ahead of me. I quickly pushed the thought out with disgust. 

But once again, it came back. It said that all I had to do was walk into the kitchen, pull a knife out of the drawer and stab myself. I tried my best to push the thought out again, but it kept returning. That’s when I started to get scared. 

Where did this thought come from? What did it mean? Was I really in danger of hurting myself? It made no sense. I remember yelling “stop!” and blocking the thought from my head. This appeared to help, so I calmed down and went to sleep. 

For the rest of the week, I continued having intrusive thoughts. I’d get upset and cry frequently because I didn’t want to hurt myself. I told my mom and she said to just “think of something else.” I tried this many, many times. But for some reason, the thoughts were only getting more frequent and intense. They continued to invade my brain day and night, and were beginning to take an emotional toll.

I tried my best to push the thought out again, but it kept returning.

The beginning of that summer, thoughts of harming myself pounded my mind and crushed my soul. Then, they took a terrifying turn and began to torment me with intrusions of stabbing my family members. They’d say things like, “Just go ahead and stab your mom and dad!” or “Stick your brother with that steak knife!” This absolutely horrified me, because I loved my family more than anything. I was so puzzled as to why I was having these terrible thoughts. 

The end of summer came and school was back in session. Surprisingly, the thoughts seemed to subside as I got back into the routine of school and other activities. They still came from time to time, but were nowhere near as debilitating as they’d been. Little did I know that they temporarily retreated to plan another series of attacks.

High School

My mom enrolled me in a private Christian school for ninth through 12th grade. The spiritual environment not only resurrected the bizarre thoughts but provided them with new material. At the beginning of my freshman year, I started getting intrusive thoughts that God was going to embarrass me in front of everybody. Considering that I was shy and withdrawn, this was particularly terrifying. 

Like the harm thoughts before them, these thoughts were impossible to get rid of. They greatly impacted my academics. The constant look of strain and fear on my face made me the target of bullying. I was hit, spit on, and jabbed in the leg with pencils. People labeled me as stupid, weird, ugly and everything in between. I was being abused on the outside by my peers and on the inside by my brain. I fell into a depression and had to be hospitalized for 30 days. In spite of conversing with many professionals in and out of the hospital, I never spoke of my thoughts out of fear that people wouldn’t understand.

I was being abused on the outside by my peers and on the inside by my brain.

My high school years were destroyed by these hellish thoughts, along with taunts and teasing from my classmates. It was like this all the way to graduation, which finally freed me from the bullies at school. However, I was far from being free from the bully in my brain.

Post-Grad Life

The thoughts of God humiliating me faded with my exit from the religious academic environment that brought them to life. However, this temporary peace was about to come to a screeching halt. Once again, I started having horrific thoughts of harming loved ones, as well as strangers.

These thoughts plagued me day and night. They became so intense that I’d get physically sick to my stomach and vomit. I was still living with my parents and working part time at a music store, keeping a fake smile on my face while gut-wrenching thoughts of committing harm dominated my mind. There was no way I could tell anyone what was wrong because I feared being sent to an asylum. I couldn’t fathom being locked away for who knows how long.

The thoughts of harm continued to bother me well into 1993. They were having a field day in my head, making my life a living hell. I tried to hold onto my part-time job and function as best I could. Sometimes I wished I were back in high school, getting harassed by bullies and tormented by religious thoughts instead.

Finally, in April of that year, I decided I needed help. The thoughts and excruciating anxiety were becoming too much to bear. I had to get to a psychiatrist no matter what. If they committed me somewhere, then so be it — at least my loved ones would be safe. I asked around and got the name of a well-known psychiatrist in my city and made an appointment. It would be three weeks before I was able to get in, but I didn’t care.

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The Discovery

One week before my appointment, my mom had a group of church friends come over for dinner. One of her friends had also suffered for many years from intrusive thoughts about God and faith. She had been in and out of the hospital, and had been on and off different medications. I had heard about her problem before, but when I asked my mom if that might be what was happening to me, she said no, and that her friend’s problem was probably caused by hormones. 

After dinner ended and people were standing around talking, I decided to ask my mom’s friend if I could speak with her about her intrusive thoughts. I felt safe talking to her and I told her everything that had been going on with my mind. When I finished, she looked me right in the eyes and said,“Chase, you’re not going crazy, nor are you dangerous. You have been suffering from the exact same thing that I have had all these years. It is an anxiety disorder called obsessive compulsive disorder.” 

Finally, the mental monster that had sprung to life in my head nine years earlier had now been exposed as a legitimate, clinical mental disorder. And it could be treated with medication and proper therapy.

Recovery

Even though this mind thief had been unmasked, my compulsive responses had become second nature. And while OCD is known to cause anxiety-provoking thoughts in its victims, most professionals at the time were more familiar with hand washing and cleaning rituals. For the next few years, the disorder would use these two disadvantages to its advantage. 

My OCD started to get more intense. My intrusive thoughts consisted of going to hell, dying in a car accident, getting mugged/murdered, offending God, going blind, yelling out inappropriate things in public, slapping a massage therapist as they were working on me, and many others. 

But despite the turmoil the disorder has caused, I have managed to graduate from college, hold down a full-time job, make friends, travel internationally, and make a pretty good life for myself. I still have my battles, but thanks to a combination of Ritalin, Prozac, self-help books, and online support groups, I am now better able to manage my symptoms in the whole 37 years that I have been afflicted with the disorder. Best of all, I am able to offer support, encouragement and love to others who continue to suffer from this brain beast known as obsessive-compulsive disorder.

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