OCD, Depression, and Suicide: There Is Hope

Eight years ago, I was so depressed I considered committing suicide. My obsessions had completely taken over my life—not only were they daily distractions from work and friends, they were terrible. These obsessions, the fear that I might harm a child, didn’t just consume my free time. They consumed me. Nothing about life was enjoyable anymore. Not my wonderful boyfriend, Peter, who’s now my husband. Not visits with my parents. Not my favorite TV shows, or books, or dinners out.

Not even shoe shopping! On St. Patrick’s Day weekend in 2006, Peter and I went to visit a friend in New York City, and we all went shopping. Peter wanted new shoes, so we headed into a crowded Puma store to browse. I felt a small jolt of panic when I saw a little girl with her father. It was the middle of the week, a school day, so all of the other shoppers were adults, but this one child threw me into a cold sweat. She was sitting on one of the large, square benches where shoppers could try on shoes, minding her own business. To my dismay Peter stopped right in front of her.

I kept my back to her as Peter checked out shoes and asked me what I thought of each pair, but it was as though there was a force behind me. This girl’s mere presence made me feel anxious and I felt compelled to turn around every few seconds to see if she was still there. I felt like I was fighting a magnetic force as I tried desperately to keep my mind on the task at hand, which should have been at the very least simple and at best enjoyable. I finally turned around after a few minutes and saw that the girl was gone. “Thank God,” I thought, exhaling a mental sigh of relief.

This wasn’t normal. It wasn’t right. I knew I couldn’t live life as I was living it, but I didn’t want to ruin the lives around me by taking my own life. Peter would never get over losing the love of his life and never knowing why I committed suicide, and my mom would be devastated. I broke down every time I thought of her—losing me would destroy her, and knowing that kept me going.

Although having a reason to carry on was a good thing, crying every time I thought of my mom was not. Crying at work, at home, in the car, at night, in the morning, in the shower, in front of the bathroom mirror to make sure it was really me and not a stranger—this was not a life worth living.

I got help as soon as I got home from New York City. Being so miserable on a vacation drove home how badly I needed it. You can get help, too. No matter how low you may feel right now, there is hope for a better life. There were several times of my life when I thought I would never feel happy again. I would have settled for neutral. Depression is cruel, but it doesn’t have to win.

Don’t go through this alone. Tell someone how you feel. See a psychiatrist. Talk about the possibility of an antidepressant, and therapy. Exercise. Eat well, to nourish your brain. Hug your friends and family. Journal. Call 1.800.442.HOPE (1.800.442.4673) or 1.800.273.TALK (1.800.273.8255). Do whatever it takes to push past this.

My life is worth living now, and it has been for a long time. That didn’t feel possible eight years ago, it really didn’t. I thought that even if I stopped obsessing I could never forgive myself for what I’d already thought. But I did both. I was able to gain control over my obsessions, and I’ve realized that my bad thoughts were never my fault—OCD tortured me. I was the victim. Now I’m the victor.

Keep your chin up. Write to me if you need someone to talk to, someone who understands.

You are worth it!

This entry was posted in Guest Post, Home Page by Alison Dotson. Bookmark the permalink.

About Alison Dotson

I am the author of Being Me with OCD: How I Learned to Obsess Less and Live My Life, a nonfiction book for teens and young adults with OCD. Part memoir, part self-help guide, Being Me with OCD lets readers know they're not alone in their struggle to get better--and that there is hope.

33 thoughts on “OCD, Depression, and Suicide: There Is Hope

  1. Hi Alison, I’m the mother of a 10 year old boy with OCD. We are doing behavioral therapy and working with a psychiatrist. Problem is he doesn’t think he has a problem so it’s hard.

    • Hi, Linda! I’m sorry; that must be so frustrating. I imagine 10 is a hard age for that. By the time I got help I really, really wanted it. I hope he sticks with it and things get easier for your family!

  2. I’ve had OCD for about 20yrs. now. It was like a rollercoaster, ups & downs. First antidepressant worked perfect for 2yrs. Then it stopped. Then I tried different ones. Some worked ok. Did therapy which helped a bit. Last yr. I had a seizure. About 5 months after OCD was horrible, my Doctor suggested CBT. I was determined to feel better & normal. It’s working!!! Never knew it would work this well. It was hard at first but I stayed determined not to give up! Now I’m feeling great! Busy! Babysitting, going to see movies, shopping, about to volunteer at an animal shelter!! Thank you for sharing your story!! Glad you’re doing well!!

  3. Thank you for your blog post, Alison!

    To Linda Weller – who’s son has OCD – my daughter was diagnosed at age 8 and we followed the same approach. Just keep going and do what they suggest, it will get better!!! She is almost 15 now and is doing very well but it was a long tough road to get here.

    • Thank you Dianne. Can you recommend any online support groups or anything similar. His OCD is very taxing on our household as it’s geared towards his sister and anything she touches or is near so it’s affecting her alot as well.

      • Hi Linda, I don’t know of any. I never could find any other parents while I was going through this with my daughter. You can email me dmdsmith3@hotmail.com and I can certainly help, I am sure there are some online groups now that I couldn’t find back then. If you click on Janet (ocdtalk) ‘s name it takes you to her blog where it looks like there are a lot of followers!

  4. So many blogs and I thought I was original. I have been a therapists for 15 yrs. I discovered I had a chemical imbalance called OCD when I was 31 yrs old. That knowledge changed by life and how I saw myself. Knowledge is power! I commend those who share their stories.

  5. I almost took my life my junior year of high school. I had a plan and I was about to execute it. Fortunately, a teacher found me in distress before I could act. People think that OCD is something to joke at. It’s not. When you see someone in distress, don’t laugh.

    • Wow, I’m so glad your teacher intervened. It can be so hard to tell people how low we feel, and you’re right–people joke about OCD to the point that it doesn’t seem like a big deal. It is a huge deal. That’s why I’m writing about it now that I’m doing so well. It’s still hard sometimes, but if I can help people understand what OCD really is it’s worth it! Thanks for sharing part of your story here.

  6. This truly shows that OCD/depression is beatable! You are really inspiring to have pushed yourself through that and one day I hope to get to where you are right now. I feel, at this point, that my OCD is taking over me, but this really gives me motivation to keep fighting and never give up. Even though I really don’t want to sometimes. Keep going with your journey, you will and have inspired others by doing so. : ) xx

  7. Hi Allison -

    I am happy to have found your blog. Thank you for sharing your encouraging story.

    My dd is 14 & struggling terribly with OCD. This illness reared its ugly head when she was 7 & has grown to debilitating proportion. She has been self harming – very superficial – thinking about suicide – not attending school – not doing any type of school – seeing her friends less & less. Last night I read her journal (bad snoopy mom) & her last entry was that she wants to die & she has a plan. She is begging to be hospitalized.

    Here is our unbelievable situation. We live in the Seattle WA area. We have Seattle Children’s Hospital which is a teaching hospital with University of Wa medical school. One would think they offer premier healthcare. Well much to our disappointment they offer nothing for OCD. There are very, very limited resources here. She has asked to go to Children’s hospital & her ERP therapist & psychiatrist do NOT want her to go there. Their concern is that they do not treat OCD & that they will push very hard to change her meds. I get it.

    On Oct 21st she was admitted to Rogers Memorial Hospital in WI. She was in their residential OCD program for 3 mos then ins stopped coverage. Her Dr told us she is very slow to habituate. Her tx team plus we (her parents) considered this a premature discharge. As you may know or assume this facility is crazy expensive & very far away from us ( big added expense for us to visit her). We are on their waiting list – 2-3 mos wait at this point.

    I was talking with a nurse with our ins co about her 3 mo stay @ Rogers & that ins stopped cov & that her discharge was premature. She told me our ins does not cover long term residential care. But our school district likely does. WHAT???? This is a healthcare matter & we should get financial coverage from our beleaguerd funding coffers for education let alone healthcare? This makes absolutely no sense!

    She is so depressed & wants to go back to Rogers desperately. Even though I don’t know how we’ll afford it.

    I am baffled by mental healthcare in our country. There are so many desperate people – not only OCD sufferers. I want to stand on a mtn top & broadcast that mental illness is as life threatening as cancer or diabetes, etc.

    One day at a time – all the while I’m on suicide watch.

    Thank you for listening.

    Em

    • Oh, I’m so sorry! That must be so frustrating. I know Rogers has a great program, and I didn’t know it only accepted certain types of insurance. If your school district might cover it, does that mean she’d be able to go to Rogers even though it’s out of state, or would it have to be local?

      I hope everything works out for you, and at the very least I hope your daughter’s symptoms improve over time, even as she gets older. I think having OCD as a teenager is a double whammy. It’s hard to deal with everyday issues, and adding a mental disorder to the confusion, hormones, and so on is just piling it on. She’s so lucky to have supportive parents like you, and to have an ERP therapist, too.

      Does Rogers have any ideas on how to make it affordable for you? I’m sure you’ve probably exhausted every option so far. Tell your daughter she can email me through my blog if she wants to talk to someone who’s been through it. (alisondotson.com).

  8. OCD HAS STOLEN MY MOTHER FROM ME !!!!!! She is on many medications, she sees a therapist weekly and sees a psychiaitrist. Its been 3 years at its worst. She is not getting any better. I NEED TO FIND OTHER RESOURCES TO SAVE HER FROM THIS HORRIBLE SICKNESS.. I WANT MY MOM BACK…

  9. Alison, I’d love to talk to you about living with OCD. I’m in the middle of one of my hardest crisis and with no one to talk to. I’ve also got a copy of your book and will start to read it today; Thank you <3

  10. Hi Alison,

    Great blog here. I’m from Nepal and I’ve had OCD since I was a kid. I have always suffered but have gotten much better after having received therapy sessions.

    My problem is, I recently found a loving girl who has OCD too. We never get into fights and get along well, and she accepts me completely for the way I am. The problem is, I keep having obsessions about my kid having severe OCD in the future since we both have OCD. This obsession of mine has put significant strain on my relationship and I feel so frustrated because she understands me so much.

    Therefore, I would like to ask you if you know of any OCD couples (both having OCD) and whether or not my fear is worth worrying constantly about. I would really appreciate any level of help.

    Regards,
    PG

    • Hi, there!

      Thanks for writing. I think it’s great that you’ve found someone who really understands what you’re going through–it can be hard to explain OCD to someone who doesn’t have it. And I understand your concern about OCD being passed on to your children someday. There is some research that shows genetics may play a role in OCD, but there’s no definitive answer. Just because you have OCD doesn’t mean your child will.

      This is what I think: If any of your children do end up having OCD, they’ll be so lucky to have you and your partner as parents. Who better to raise a child with OCD than two people who already understand what it is, how to recognize symptoms and work through them?

      I would treat this worry as any other fear or obsession. It’s holding you back, and that’s not fair. If you need any further support or information, feel free to email the experts at the International OCD Foundation: info@iocdf.org.

      Take care!

      Alison

  11. hi alison……..i inspired by your story…i also have OCD in 22…..it affect me again after 2 years.but now after reading ur story i have got a HOPE

    thank you……

  12. I have just your bio Alison and was moved. My 12 year old daughter is struggling with OCD and I am just wanting to reach out to someone. She has saw a psychiatrist and is on medication. Our daughter watched a movie that too has caused her all kinds of anxiety and OCD thoughts. She has thoughts of killing herself even though she knows she doesn’t want to do that. It causes her so much stress. She cries how she hates OCD. I just want to talk to anyone who understands.

  13. Hi Alison and all others who struggle with OCD,
    I have been married for 7 years with a step son sometimes bonus son who has causes so much stress that it is tearing my family apart. I believe my wife has it also. There are huge battles between all family members. My 4 yr old, stepson 14, step daughter 15 and my wife and I are desperate to find peace again. My wife will say, “Hasn’t he been so good lately”, and then it hits. Today I got a call from my parents who live below us to tell me what was going on with my stepson. Jumping up and down so hard, putting his foot through the wall and throwing his sisters phone, were just a few of the outbursts. My wife can’t handle him anymore and she has asked me to reach out to find some answers. We have been praying for him and our pastor began taking him out to dinner to talk. I need to know what tools I can use to help me, my wife and step son during these times.
    Only the Best,
    ARC

  14. Pingback: OCD, Depression, and Suicide: There Is Hope | Alison Dotson

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