LIVING WITH OCD
In seventh grade at the pre-pubertal age of 12, John was at the height of his game and extremely productive. He was in two plays, on many sports teams and felt he was the center of attention with his humor and general wellbeing. He was free of anxiety.
Unfortunately in the 8th grade high levels of anxiety returned. He was unable to socialize with certain friends at lunch or else they would be “contaminated.” The whole concept of contamination was becoming a dominant feature in all of his interactions. He feared that if certain rituals were not performed in his head that his relationships would be contaminated. Friends would not be harmed but John’s relationship with them would become contaminated.
After a long semester of anxiety, John learned that he would be accepted into a prestigious Catholic scholarship school in Manhattan (Regis) on the basis of his academic achievement and interview. He realized this would be a major commitment in commuting time and homework but he willingly rose to the challenge. Prior to entering Regis John had a serious head injury while mountain biking with his cousins in Arizona. He suffered a true concussion with amnesia. He recovered within 24 hours.
John started at Regis with the normal trepidation of a high school freshman. He was evaluated by the school psychologist who said his anxiety was normal. Midway through the school year several students were suspended for off campus marijuana use. John became obsessed that he was responsible for their actions and it ruined his freshman year due to his anxiety.
His summer of freshman year was fairly stress-free and he began intensive CBT (congenital behavioral therapy) with a psychologist who specialized in OCD. After his first visit he had a parent’s meeting and his parents were told that John would require therapy for a long time. He also recommended that his privacy be honored and his parents not participate in any therapy sessions. That request was honored for 10 years.
In sophomore year John was stable and able to enjoy many aspects of high school life. He was on the tennis team and the yearbook.
In March of 2005, while a freshman at Colgate, John decided to journal all of his thoughts as part of his therapy.
After college he continued to write and to fight by dedicating himself to humanitarian causes. He spent 6 months in San Diego and on the road with Invisible Children. He loved that volunteer job but his OCD slowly eroded his relationships and he was forced to leave.
He fled to Alaska the following summer, hoping to work on a fishing boat catching Salmon and Haddock. He ended up working in cannery with end stage alcoholics whom he befriended.