Overall, I’ve had a pretty awesome life. I’ve traveled a lot, met some amazing people, lived the dream, and found somebody I love.
But it wasn’t always awesome.
When I first moved away from home in 2011, I had a really hard time. I was 3000 miles away from my family, really stressed out, a nervous nelly, and afraid of what was coming.
A little background – I’ve been obsessive compulsive basically my whole life. Since 1st grade, I’ve been an absolute neat freak and worry wart. I always had to have everything clean and organized, vacuuming my room more often than I should have. I would also stay up late at night crying to my stuffed animals about how I thought the house was going to burn down. Obviously, that wasn’t going to happen and it was just me overthinking everything. This kind of thing has always been a struggle for me.
Fast forward to age 21 and living alone in a strange city for the first time and it’s like my OCD went into hyperdrive. I started worrying constantly about nothing and thanks to the old man that lived next door to me and accidentally tried to key into my apartment (an honest mistake, I know) my compulsive locking got out of control. I would barricade my door at night with my dining room chair, lock the door almost 200 times before I was satisfied, and would often leave for work but then have to drive right back home to make sure I locked the door behind me.
Of course, after my time in Arizona, I was led to New Orleans. My issues didn’t subside at all, and probably got worse. I would stay up almost all night worrying about the future and coloring (it helped me calm down). At that point, I decided it was time for me to come home and work things out.
I drove back home and spent 4 months going to therapy, hanging out with my parents, and working on myself. It was a really hard decision because I didn’t want to be a useless lump, but I really needed a break. By this time, my anxiety was out of control, my sleeping pattern was seriously messed up, and I was having at least 2 panic attacks a day.
My parents were especially helpful during this hard time. They understood what was going on, did their best to help me out, and supported me. I know it was hard for them too, seeing me so unsteady. I found out later that my mom was also going to see a therapist in an attempt to help me even more. I don’t think she realized how much I appreciated all of her assistance; she would distract me when I was anxious, come lay in bed with me when she would come home from work if I were hiding, and bringing me Spidey when I needed it. My dad did a lot too, making sure that I wasn’t sitting in the house all the time and getting me out in the world so I would stop being afraid of everything.
After those 4 months at home, although I may not have been totally ready yet, I felt comfortable enough to move back to New Orleans after I took a job at Tulane. While I still struggle with anxiety and OCD, I have improved a lot (much thanks to my boyfriend, Bud).
I think I had to go through that difficult time to realize that I am stronger than I thought.