When OCD First Strangled Me

By Georgie Waters

The light in the bathroom trickles down onto my red school uniform, and I feel an unexpected tingle on my neck from the breeze. Instantly, I realise that the air is completely still, except for your voice whispering in my ear, ever so quietly. Then, your distressing threats begin; I shove my hands under the scorching water again, scalding my young skin in the process. Meanwhile, your grip tightens around my neck…

And as you grow stronger with every day that passes, you make it almost impossible for me to relate to other people, hindering my ability to form, or even maintain, bonds with people my own age.

By the age of twelve I am just beginning to develop my own identity, just beginning to learn who I am. But when you first held that rope of words around my throat, you cut out a piece of me too, removing a freedom that you will never return to my heart.

People are unpredictable enough without needing to add my concoction of mental illness into the mix. Your presence causes me to analyse every single sentence that flies past my ears, whether it be from an actual person, or you: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Anxiety and Depression all wrapped into one messy, knotted ball of yarn, a tangled blend of my brain…

And when I reach high school age, your presence, which manifests as OCD and Anxiety together, rise to the surface of my brain, bubbling violently. Occasionally, I can calm you by reducing stress of heated situations, but, more often than not, I am defeated, and you rip even more out of me…

In my third year of university, I just can’t do this anymore, any of it. I struggle immensely, having never felt more alone. You suffocate me with your weight, and this heaviness is only accentuated by the cruelty of an ‘educator’ who taught me nothing but hatred.

This woman is the epitome of mental health stigma. She just couldn’t understand that people are different, that many of us fight inner demons silently. My journey through education is a struggle, an almost impossible possibility. And when I think it can’t get any worse, you wrap yourself and that terrible stigma around my neck again until I black out…

You have made my life so much harder than I could have ever imagined; every day of my life, I doubt every single decision and sometimes, I am so paralysed by fear that I fail to make any at all. On these days, I cry for hours, just wanting everything to end as the marks appear on my skin. But I know that things will get better; they always do. I have the help I need and enough support to get me through the hardest of days now. And although my identity has now blossomed in ways I never expected, I will never forget that day, the day you first strangled me.


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