When Rituals Are Never Enough

By Nathan Wiegratz

“If you're committed to improving your life, seek treatment today! Don’t wallow in self-pity or feel sorry for yourself. I’ve done enough of that for everybody.”

I’ve battled the roller coaster known as OCD since I was nine, and I’m now 24. Uncomfortable with my hand washing rituals, I hid my behavior as much as I could from parents, friends, and teachers. Hand washing gradually turned into excessive perfectionism, religiousness, and politeness as I went from middle into high school. My social life was non-existent, and I was consumed by being and living as the ‘perfect’ person. I strongly felt and believed this is what God wanted me to do.

I was so good at hiding my rituals that everything appeared great on the outside. Then my world came crashing down. I was diagnosed with severe depression at the beginning of my senior year of high school.

Numerous medications and ECT (shock therapy) did nothing to help. Months later I found a doctor who realized OCD, not depression, was my primary problem. He put me on Anafranil the following summer and my depression lifted. Yet, OCD was still as strong as ever. Sure, medication helped, but only somewhat. My parents did some research and found out about cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) for OCD. I was told it was the best treatment available, but not easy. I gave it a try and immediately wanted to quit and instead search for a magic cure for my problems, but I was persuaded to stick with it.

Then I started to notice improvement, little by little. Soon, I realized what a social life and the meaning of fun were. I went back to college and decided to try psychology, which sure beat chemistry. Two years later I was hired for a new job. It wasn’t just any job, but one as a counselor at the hospital I had hated so much, the place where I wanted to quit my treatment for OCD. Three years later, I’m still there and now thinking about going on to graduate school. If you're committed to improving your life, seek treatment today! Don’t wallow in self-pity or feel sorry for yourself. I’ve done enough of that for everybody.

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