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My OCD Journey: From Hiding in Shame to Embracing My Truth

June 25, 20245 min read

"Embracing my OCD has made me stronger and more resilient. It’s a part of my story, but it doesn’t define me." - Andrea

Hey hey, beautiful CollectHERs! 🌟

Today, I’m opening up about something deeply personal and often shrouded in shame: my OCD rituals. For years, I hid these rituals from everyone, feeling embarrassed and isolated. But it's time to shed some light on this part of my life, share my journey, and show how I’ve turned shame into strength.

Understanding OCD

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a mental health condition characterized by intrusive thoughts (obsessions) and repetitive behaviors (compulsions) that one feels driven to perform. It’s not just about being neat or organized—it's a constant battle with anxiety and fear.

The Shame of OCD: Why I Hid My Rituals

Living with OCD often means dealing with rituals that seem irrational or strange to others. For me, these rituals were a way to manage the overwhelming anxiety and fear that came with intrusive thoughts. But instead of feeling relief, I felt a deep sense of shame and embarrassment. Deep down, I know these irrational fears are just that—fake—but it doesn’t take away the anxiety until I do the compulsion. I know this is crazy, but it doesn’t take away that I feel I have to do it.

I remember countless nights spent performing intricate rituals, convinced that if I didn’t complete them perfectly, something terrible would happen. I would repeat actions over and over, checking and rechecking until I was mentally and physically exhausted. But the worst part wasn’t the rituals themselves—it was the fear of being judged if anyone found out.

One day, my therapist had me write down all my compulsions. Page after page filled my notebook, and seeing it all laid out was terrifying. But it also ignited a fire in me to push harder every day to overcome these compulsions.

One of my biggest struggles has always been checking the stove. I used to check it 15+ times before I could even think about going to bed, terrified that if I didn’t, the house would blow up and my whole family would die. Over time, I had to flip the script in my mind. I started telling myself, "You’ve checked it five times, it's okay. Go to bed." Now, I’ve gotten it down to just 1-2 checks. This progress is monumental for me.

Another example is water spots on silverware. My brain would scream, "If you don’t rewash it, someone will get hurt." I had to learn to tell myself, "This is just water. It will not kill anyone. It will be okay." Even now, it’s hard to let my family use silverware with water spots, but I’m learning to manage it. My brain still jumps to the worst-case scenario, thinking they will die. When it was bad, I could eat from the spotted silverware, but no one else could.

Embracing my OCD journey means accepting these daily battles and recognizing the progress I've made. Sharing my story helps me break free from the shame and empowers me to continue pushing forward, one step at a time.

My Journey to Embracing My Truth

Breaking free from the shame of OCD has been a challenging journey, but it's one that has brought immense growth and self-acceptance. Here’s how I turned my shame into strength:

Seeking Support: Opening up to my husband, close friends, and therapists was a game-changer. They offered understanding and compassion, helping me realize that I wasn’t alone in my struggles. One particularly eye-opening moment was when my therapist looked up dates associated with my fears to confirm whether anyone had been hurt in my area. To my surprise and relief, no one had been harmed. This factual confirmation helped me see how irrational my fears truly were.

Educating Myself: Learning about OCD helped me understand that my rituals were not my fault. They were symptoms of a condition that I could manage with the right tools and strategies. Finding support groups that linked me to people with the same irrational fears helped a ton! Additionally, finding out about the different kinds of OCD helped as well. It was eye-opening to see the variety of ways this condition can manifest and comforting to know that I wasn't alone in my specific struggles.

Therapy and Treatment: Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and exposure and response prevention (ERP) have been crucial in helping me manage my OCD. These therapies taught me how to face my fears without resorting to rituals.

Practicing Self-Compassion: I learned to be kinder to myself. Instead of beating myself up for having OCD, I began to accept it as part of who I am. This shift in mindset was incredibly liberating. Taking time for myself and giving myself grace daily made a huge difference.

Sharing My Story: I've always wanted to share my story, but I was terrified of what people would think. Deep down, I feared they might actually believe I had hurt someone, but now… I have confidence and strength. Talking openly about my OCD has been empowering. By sharing my journey through this blog, I hope to break the stigma and encourage others to seek help and support.

Turning Shame into Strength

Embracing my OCD has made me stronger and more resilient. It’s a part of my story, but it doesn’t define me. I’ve learned that vulnerability is not a weakness—it’s a strength that connects us to others and fosters empathy and understanding. Each step I've taken towards accepting my condition has been a victory, no matter how small. It's been about recognizing my worth beyond my rituals and fears and finding joy and fulfillment in the everyday moments.

Sharing my journey hasn't just been about releasing my own burden; it's been about creating a bridge for others who feel isolated in their struggles. I've discovered that by opening up, we build a community of support and solidarity. We find courage in each other’s stories and strength in our shared experiences.

Final Thoughts

If you’re struggling with OCD or any mental wellness condition, know that you are not alone. There is strength in seeking help, in educating yourself, and in embracing your truth. Together, we can break the stigma and support each other on this journey to better mental wellness.

I’d love to hear about your experiences with OCD or any mental health challenges. Drop your thoughts in the community, and let’s support each other on this journey to self-acceptance and empowerment.

Until next time, stay strong, stay kind, and keep embracing your truth.

XOXO, Andrea

blog author image

Andrea Knapp

Hello, I'm Andrea. Beyond being a wife, mother, daughter, and friend, I am a survivor of mental wellness challenges that once seemed insurmountable. My journey through fear, self-doubt, and a huge misbelief about my own nature has been both a battle and a revelation. The fear was real, intense, and at times, paralyzing—I worried about judgment to an extreme, haunted by thoughts that felt alien yet overpowering. For too long, I believed I was not a good person. But through time, support, and a lot of inner work, I've come to not just believe but know that I am far from the negative thoughts that once consumed me. The power of the mind, the weight of words, and the strength found in facing our darkest fears cannot be understated. My journey has been one of deep introspection, learning, and ultimately, taking back control from the shadows of diagnosis that loomed large over my life. Finding my purpose has been transformative. Today, I stand before you, not just as Andrea, but as a voice for mental health, an advocate for hope, and a living testament to the possibility of better days. My experiences with suicidal ideation, self-harm, and emotional turmoil are chapters of my past that have shaped but do not define me. I've risen from a place where I felt utterly lost, to a state of gratitude and genuine happiness that once seemed unattainable. Medications, natural remedies, and a commitment to self-love and healing have been integral to my journey. While the path to wellness is unique for everyone, and I don't know what the future holds, I stand firm in my belief and determination to continue this fight, not just for myself but for anyone who feels lost in the darkness. If you're struggling, know that you're not alone. I've walked through the storm and seen the other side, and I'm here to tell you: It can get better. It can even become great. Never give up on yourself. Your happiness matters, your story matters, and most importantly, you matter. Love yourself, embrace your journey, and remember, we're in this together.

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Hello, I'm Andrea, a survivor of mental wellness challenges that once seemed impossible while being a wife, mother, daughter, and friend.

The journey through fear, self-doubt, and having a massive misbelief about my nature has been both a battle and a revelation. The fear was REAL, intense, and, at times, paralyzing—Talk about feeling worried about judgment, haunted by thoughts that felt foreign yet overpowering.

I felt I was not a good person for too long, and I actually believed it! But through time, support, and a lot of inner work, I've come to not just think but know that I am far from the negative thoughts that once consumed me. 

What I learned is the power of the mind, the weight of words, and the strength found in facing our darkest fears are not an understatement. My path to confidence has been a journey of deep self-reflection, learning, and ultimately, taking back control over the shadows of my diagnosis that loomed primarily over my life.

Embracing my purpose has genuinely transformed my life. Standing here today, I'm not just Andrea—I'm a fierce advocate for mental health, a beacon of hope, and living proof that better days are fucking possible. The intrusive OCD thoughts that once haunted me, scaring me into believing they were real, are just chapters in my story. Alongside battles with suicidal ideation, self-harm, and overwhelming emotional chaos, these experiences have molded me, but damn sure don't define me. From feeling completely lost to living in a state of gratitude and joy that seemed utterly out of reach—I'm here to tell you it's real and achievable.

My Mission?

I show the overthinking woman how to act in confidence so she can stop the mental exhaustion and elevate mind, body, and money.

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