I’ve come to the conclusion that I am the worst possible example of staying in the moment. I’d like to tell others that I am in fact good at it, or at least do my best to be. But that would be a lie—a big one. Back when I was eleven and my whole OCD/anxiety thing really kicked in, I had heard the terms, “be present, or live in the moment,” etc. But as an eleven year old, those things went right over my head. I was in the moment. I was a little kid expected to be worry free.
I was always a worrier. My main focus growing up was keeping track of my mom’s every single move. Her literal every move. No one assumed anything was out of the ordinary, because they had no reason to.
Out of the blue I was triggered. Somehow I found out about 2012 and the whole calendar thing. From that day in fourth grade, up until now, about to be graduating high school, my mental and emotional states both went to hell. Obviously I’m still trying to climb my way out of the hole I was thrown into back then. But the damn thing just keeps getting taller.
Every moment of every day since fourth grade has been spent climbing. Brick by brick. Every worry I have is just another brick added to my climb. Due to the fact that I haven’t gotten much better, bricks are being added way faster than I’m able to climb. But let me also add that I’m a slow climber—it takes me a long time to get over most worries.
I think a lot of the reason I haven’t made much progress with the OCD/anxiety is because I haven’t found that pure joy and calm within myself or even my surroundings. Or once again, finding the ability to be present.
There has been times over the last seven years where I’ve ignored my worries or tendencies. But how easily can you ignore something that’s a part of you? So I wouldn’t consider those times successes. I can say that there has been one time I can remember being mostly content. It was summer 2015. I spent every single day golfing. And when I wasn’t golfing, I was with my friends, or working. There was no time for my OCD/anxiety to even bother me. When they tried, I was able to do an okay job at tuning them out. Saying me in an entirety was content would be a lie. Because the second I got home and was alone, every thought and feeling I was able to brush off during the day came back and hit me like a ton of bricks (pun intended), and were then just added to my nightmare of a wall. So every single night I climbed. Everything at night was doubled because of all the time I missed during the day. So in reality, thinking back to that summer, it wasn’t so great at all. But it does speak volumes saying that it was my best summer in the last seven years.
Anyone who knows me, knows that I don’t sleep at night. If you don’t know me, however, you could easily tell from the permanent black bags under my eyes. Daytime is hard for me because I feel like I’m not able to properly live my life. But we will get to that. Nights, though, are a whole new kind of nightmare.
For the most part during the daytime, my thoughts are going through my head at different speeds and worries hit me from different directions. Due to my OCD, I’ll latch onto the big worries and let them consume me. But being that during the day I’m usually around other people, my mind gets distracted on and off. I’d like to say that people distracting me is something that takes the worry away, sadly it doesn’t. I can do my best to direct my attention elsewhere, but the worry is always the number one thing on my mind.
When night finally comes and I’m in my room alone, all of the thoughts and worries I had during the day know it is their time to get my full, undivided attention. And in the last seven years I still haven’t found a way to control them. They show up right on time every night and make me listen on repeat. I feel forced to come up with every single possible solution or outcome, or every way the worry can go wrong. Most people see A and B, but holy crap the alphabet has a lot of letters which all have different outcomes. Sometimes I even have to ditch the letters and fall back on numbers because those, my friend, are infinite. And with a mind like mine, I can expect to stay up all night counting the numbers, and evaluating every possible scenario.
I never really understood how long 24 hours actually is until I spent a few rounds of them wide awake with my thoughts. And once you lose track of time, it doesn’t really matter anymore. 24 hours? 48? 72? Who is even keeping track? I know I sure wasn’t. Time is just something we made up anyway. It doesn’t really exist. So who cares if I spend night and day in my own head for seven straight years—and counting?
In those years, I’m willing to admit, that I’ve become a very angry person. When something gets in my head, and I, for the life of me, can’t get it out. I feel crazy. I get so angry. My entire body tenses I clench my jaw, every sense I have—which are already more sensitive than other people—burst. If I physically let out every scream I’ve ever had eternally, people would mistake me for a banshee. I used to go out to the garage, where we had a punching bag, and just hit it. Over and over again. I have scars on my knuckles from that. The hard part was, no matter what I did, boxing, basketball, football, running, lifting weights, or writing, nothing lasted. The second I stopped doing it, all of those feelings would rush back. And it’s still like that to this day. Nothing takes the pain of my thoughts away.
All of my anxiety and OCD sparked when I went to Centreville, in fourth grade. I moved to Mendon in seventh grade and really only had one close friend, Julia. We met during cross-country and she felt like my safety net at school. During that first year, being my closest friend, she had no clue what I went through every second of the day. I wasn’t comfortable sharing. And I was okay with everyone just assuming I was a shy, and weird tomboy.
During that first year I somehow ended up with a nice group of friends. I’m not going to name all of them, but a couple of them stayed my best friends until this day. And during those middle school years, that group of friends was the best distraction I had from my thoughts at school.
If you were to ask me what my personal definition of hell was, I would say school with zero hesitation. Seventh grade happened for me in 2011/12 and every kid in school had something to say about the whole end-of-world calendar thing. They all thought it was the coolest thing in the entire world. Everyone had an opinion about how it would happen and even specific times. No one had any idea that every time I even heard them mention words like “twelve, world, end, kill, dead, etc.” that I had to hold back tears and calm myself down from the verge of a panic attack.
I. Did. Not. Want. To. Go. To. School. I spent every single morning begging and crying. I was willing to do anything. I would get myself so worked up that I actually got physically sick on multiple occasions and would throw up. This led to a lot of missed days or being late to class. Which from there led to a second round of counseling. Blah. The first time was back when I was still in Centreville. I had three sessions with her and I just didn’t like her, so I talked my parents into letting me stop.
So when they saw how bad I was still doing, they made me start again. It took me a long time to admit, but I really liked this one and I was able to open up to her. To this day she is still my counselor.
I spent all my days of school zoned out, concentrated on not crying. My friends were a great way to get out of my head but they still had no idea what was going on with me. Some days they thought that I was mad at them. And I would just let them think that. Sometimes I would snap and say things I didn’t mean. As far as I know, they never suspected anything. All the times I would randomly start crying, or run out of the classroom sick, or leave school early, or not show up at all, they never questioned it.
I made it through middle school and freshman year I started to become a different kind of worse. I honestly don’t even remember off the top of my head what I was so in my mind about. But it came to a point where I was even worse during the school day because my OCD started picking up on things in the classroom. Peoples voices, dots on the whiteboard, frames on the wall not being straight, people tapping pens or pencils, paper shuffling, the thought that everyone was watching my every move, etc. etc. etc.
I talked my parents into letting me do online schooling for my sophomore year. They had me on medication that they swore was helping, but I wasn’t having it. But when the time came, I spent my entire sophomore year alone. Which was the worst possible environment for me, next to school. Winter came rolling around and I wanted to play basketball so we worked a deal with the school that I would come sit in the library every day, which in turn, made me eligible to play. So that’s what I did. Instead of being alone at home, I was alone in the school. My friends would invite me to eat lunch with them but I just felt so out of touch with them that I couldn’t bring myself to do it.
Then came the summer, which I already said a little about. During that time I got really close to my now best friends, Mary, and Cassie. We did a lot together and they played a big part in my escape. Even when junior year finally rolled around and I decided to go back to school. They were a big part of my decision. I knew I wasn’t alone. And still, they didn’t completely know what I had going on with me. They knew the general stuff. Like, I missed sophomore year because of anxiety and OCD. But I never really felt the need to fill them in. Which is something I still have yet to do.
I’m no longer in school. I left mid junior year to work ahead and graduate early. I’ve stayed in touch with only Mary and Cassie from school. But mostly Mary. Over the years I’ve done a really bad job of informing the ones close to me with what really goes on with me. I’d like to think that they understand, but that really isn’t possible. I know if it came down to it, they would listen to what I had to say. But I’m really bad at verbally expressing my feelings. The best way I can do that is through my writing, and the best way for them do understand is through reading, if they ever wanted to.
I’m still struggling everyday but I am so thankful for the people I have surrounding me. My family has done so much and my mom has sacrificed so much for me. My friends were my backbone at school without even knowing it. A lot has happened in the last few years. Way more than I can process in such a short amount of time. But I plan on writing a memoir of my life so far, more in-depth with specific stories. I feel like I need to get it off my chest and onto paper. I’ve learned a lot of lessons and I grew up really fast. But it all means something, and it happened to me for a reason. I have yet to figure that out.