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Statice / Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

From Chaos to Control: A Journey Through Life with OCD

OCD made Turno very anxious about simple things like locking the door. But with help, he got better and now appreciates good mental health.

By Ahmad Musaib / Edited by Aiden Chantemsin

Updated May 27, 2024

"Did I lock the door when coming out?" Overthinking something quite simple like this would leave Turno, a 15-year-old former OCD patient, anxious to the point that his hands would be sweaty and his day's workflow would be disrupted.

OCD, or obsessive-compulsive disorder, is a mental illness that gives people repetitive unwanted thoughts and behaviors. Engaging in these unwanted actions consumes time and causes interference in their life. They often fear contamination, have difficulty tolerating uncertainty, and need things orderly and symmetrical, among other symptoms.

Do you know that every hundredth person in the world has OCD? And though the percentage may seem small, it is about 70 million people. Though doctors are not sure about the causes of OCD, genetics, brain abnormalities, and the environment are thought to be a factor. People are not born with this, and most of the time, they develop signs of OCD in their teens or early adulthood. But don't worry! OCD is a controllable illness. Even the great actor Leonardo DiCaprio has OCD and became an Oscar winner. Indeed, OCD is not something that can hold you back if appropriately treated.

The Patient's Experience

It was in October 2020, in the middle of the whole pandemic, when Turno was told that he had OCD by his psychiatrist. As if the times were not stressful enough, now he had a mental illness labeled to him. In a society where mental illness was stigmatized, he could not tell everybody about it. They would always ask him why he was stressed about simple things, and as he would try to tell them, he would be ridiculed and told that he was just "weak" and "weird."

He kept a small support system of family, teachers, and close friends. Though they were considerate towards him, that could not help the struggles of OCD.

"It was like hell; no entertainment could please me at that time. Like I was tense for silly things such as my behavior to others."

Because Turno was worried about simple social interactions and tried to stimulate himself through entertainment, he became frustrated about his mental illness.

"Doctor prescribed antidepressants too 'cause I was frustrated with OCD."

Clara feared that "the condition would remain forever, and I would always have these nasty withdrawal symptoms."

Actually, depression and OCD go hand in hand. They are commonly associated. It is also reported that people with depression would have OCD before their depressive symptoms.

When asked how OCD had affected his social and family life, Turno responded: "Not my family life, but it affected my education."

He was lucky to have a supportive family because not many people around the world have their family's support in fighting mental illnesses since it is so stigmatized in many places. He was a class nine student then and had to study for his SSC. The academic pressure of online schooling did not make his situation any better.

Overcoming OCD

Though it was a great struggle, he recovered from it quite early, whereas it usually takes 6 to 12 months to heal.

"Fortunately, it was within only four months. At that time, I started to lead a simple life and lessened communication with others. Taking proper medication and therapy sessions with my psychiatrist helped me a lot."

Turno then said that he tried gradually increasing his social interactions with others and slowly gained confidence, as not being able to pick up social cues was something he often overthought.

"But now I've started to regain what I had lost that time. Now I can realize the benefits of proper mental health."

Going through this has taught him the privilege of a healthy mental state. He wishes to not take this for granted.

Advice from Turno

"An advice to everyone is to try to avoid overthinking."

"Always try to concentrate on what you like to do. Be thankful when you are mentally fit. And for example, if you are confused and anxious with your action, bear in mind that you can solve it another time."

Though OCD can make one's life chaotic, it is possible to take control of it and use it to their benefit. People who have OCD often have good attention to detail and organizing skills.

OCD in Today's World

Though people diagnosed with OCD are increasing, support for people suffering from this around the world is also growing. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) with exposure and response prevention (ERP) is commonly suggested to OCD patients. Friends with OCD and OCD Tribe are one of the many international OCD support groups where people can seek help. We can create a society that is sympathetic and helpful towards OCD patients by understanding their compulsions and learning about OCD.

Sources es/syc-203544