2003-11-14, 6:33 p.m.

Started seeing a new therapist yesterday, something I should have done 3 years ago. I have obsessive-compulsive disorder. Itís not something I usually broadcast, but I donít mind if people know either because I think I deal with it rather well most of the time. I wonít go into long, drawn-out details on my symptoms, but to say that despite the temporary lapse every few years, I donít exhibit any obvious symptoms anymore. Even so, the thoughts and fears of OCD getting worst are something I will always carry with me. I never want to feel anything remotely akin to the way I felt the first week I acknowledged that I had the disorder. The chaos of thought and abject terror that were my life for 2 weeks petrify me. Itís not something I can relate to other who have never had a similar experience, but the closest I can come if to say that I knew in the rational half of my mind that the obsessions and compulsions were pointless and irrational, yet there was this nagging force from within that kept convincing me that I couldnít trust anything I thought. To be paranoid of what were once certainties is earth-shattering for a 16 year old. It still haunts me which is all the more reason to still see a therapist despite being symptom-free.

The therapist Iíve seen for the past 7 years did what he could, but I donít think we ever established the type of relationship where I could open up. Number one, he was a man and two, we just didnít see eye to eye. I appreciate his effort and that he helped me to stay well, but I need more. Whenever I approached him about new techniques to quell the anxiety or recently published research, he tuned me out. I donít know if I was offending him by making suggestions, but he certainly didnít seem to appreciate it. Carrie was completely different. Sheís empathetic where he was apathetic, nurturing where he was cold and enthusiastic where he was just doing his job. I donít know if thatís just the difference between a psychiatrist and a social worker or the difference between a man and a woman, but there is definitely a difference.

Dr. S always made me feel like it was a deep, dark secret in my past that caused my OCD despite the fact that all research shows the opposite. It is purely a chemical disease. Carrie verified that for me. She is much more willing to accept the new studies and ways of thinking. She even believes that in 20 years theyíll be able to use a laser to tweak the section of the brain affected by OCD to fix it. Itís exciting to hear good news and ideas that give me hope for the future. She offered to pull articles to prove that the vast amount of research shows that across all walks of life and cultures, OCD affects people the same way and causes nearly identical behaviors and thoughts. I honestly canít explain how refreshing it is to feel like I have someone in my corner rooting for me.

I worry that telling people about OCD will change their opinion of me or treat me like broken glass. Iím afraid people wonít see it like I do. Despite the pain that has come with the disease, I know that it has made me a more independent and faithful person. I know that sounds cheesy or like a motivational speaker, but itís true. It was a tough time in my life and I know God was with me every step of the way along with my family. I wonít lie and say that I wouldnít like to trade it in or get rid of it, but I know that it could be much worse and that it has made me realize I am stronger than I ever thought I was.

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