Hello, Pure O

by Natasha Peters

Natasha Peters was born and raised in Southern California.  She currently lives in San Diego with her husband, 2 children and their dog Cali.  Natasha was diagnosed with Pure O OCD in 2014.  She has since learned to effectively manage her OCD and live a happy life.  She is currently writing her first book that describes her mental health journey and recovery, in hopes it will help others who are suffering with OCD. 

I was terrified of what anyone would think and didn’t understand what was happening inside my brain, so I stayed quiet about it and tried to seem as normal as possible.

natasha peters

After a traumatic childhood, and an abusive relationship in my late teens early 20’s, I finally felt at ease and was living life on my terms. It was such an exciting time in my life. My husband and I were newlyweds and living on the east coast for the first time (I had always wanted to live in/near NYC, so I was psyched!). I prized my career and looked forward to the future opportunities that lay ahead. I was energetic, happy, ambitious, so needless to say, I was beside myself! Then out of nowhere, OCD took my life in a completely different direction. I had no clue what was happening inside my head. OCD hit me like a ton of bricks and turned my world upside down. 

Natasha with her husband and two children

On an ordinary Sunday morning, in the winter of 2009, unforeseen intrusive thoughts began pouring into my mind. I was hit with one alarming thought after another. Very quickly and with no warning at all, OCD invaded my mind with fictitious, blasphemous thoughts that went against my beliefs and who I am.  I later learned that intrusive thoughts are unwanted, disturbing thoughts that cause much distress. When you have OCD, these thoughts stick to your brain and repeat over and over. 

OCD gave me no chance to prepare for its attack on my mind and disrupted my entire being. A massive flow of anxiety took over my body, and I was sick to my stomach. I was terrified of what anyone would think and didn’t understand what was happening inside my brain, so I stayed quiet about it and tried to seem as normal as possible. Unfortunately, the relentless, foreign thoughts took over, and I felt so lonely and disassociated. “How could I think such a horrible thought?”- “Am I being punished for something?” “These thoughts are CRAZY!!! Have I gone crazy??!!” “I’m so afraid; this is so scary, please God help me!”

At the time, I didn’t know I was dealing with a mental illness. I didn’t know much about mental illnesses. Fast forward a few years later, and I was hospitalized and diagnosed with a less common form of OCD referred to as Purely Obsessional OCD or Pure O. This type of OCD is primarily cognitive. The sufferer performs mental compulsions (rituals such as prayer, counting in their heads, etc., to make a bad thought better or go away) rather than the physical compulsions (excessive handwashing, etc.) we see with the more commonly known type of OCD. Being told I had a mental illness was shocking. It was painful to hear and difficult to accept. My life changed that Sunday morning in 2009, and my diagnosis was just the beginning of my journey with OCD. 

In hindsight, my diagnosis saved my lifeIt forced me to choose between getting better or staying sick. I had a new normal to face and adapt to. Thankfully I accepted the challenge and started to work towards getting my life back to my terms. It’s been six years since I found out I have OCD, and although I still have OCD, it no longer consumes me. I’ve learned to manage my illness and live life on my terms again. When OCD visits, it can’t stay long because I’m able to identify it’s tricks and move on with my day. From time to time, I still have days where I catch myself in a mental compulsion after having an intrusive thought, but I’m able to grab a tool from my toolbox and effectively move past it.

If you’re struggling, I urge you to get help. It’s not easy, but it’s worth the freedom you will gain. I’m now “living” my life with OCD. I have mostly good days, whereas every day was challenging before. I still have anxiety and deal with depression, but it no longer consumes me because I know it’s temporary, and I can work towards feeling better. With years of therapy and support, I learned to be my own advocate, to love myself again, and accept love from others. I’m still learning and growing, and with every OCD battle, my tools get sharpened, and I’m more prepared for the next battle. OCD is showing me what I’m capable of, and for that, I’m grateful. The confidence and strength I’ve gained through this have helped me in every area of my life. 

Remember, you’re not alone in your battle. Many of us live with OCD and other related disorders, but it’s up to you to decide how you fight. I hope you choose to win and live a happy life because you deserve it. YOU can do it. 

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