#dontcallmecrazy, My name is Crystal

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I have had anxiety and rumination OCD for as long as I can remember. However, they really started to make their way to the surface my senior year of high school. No, I don’t flick a switch on and off a million times or clean my house until my fingers bleed (in fact I am fairly unorganized). However, I began to obsess over every little thing that could go wrong in so many aspects of my life. Positive thoughts were buried in the background and negative thoughts made their way to the forefront. I gained about 20 pounds and my anxiety levels went through the roof.

The first real relationship I saw it affect was the one with my parents. I was accepted to a fantastic college, signed all the papers, picked a roommate and bought everything I could need for a dorm room, and two weeks before I was about to leave, I started to fear being so far from home. Would my parents be okay? What if something bad was going to happen? I started to obsess about their well-being. If they were supposed to be home, and they weren’t, I would call. If they didn’t answer I would call again. I would call 15 times until I knew they were okay. My mom knew something was wrong beyond the average teen fears, but I refused her help.  I never left for college and spent my freshman year at the local community college. This behavior transferred from my parents right into my romantic relationships, however this is when I realized how detrimental these anxieties and behaviors could be. In the back of my mind, I knew I was being irrational, but there was nothing that could stop the negative thoughts from coming.

The OCD thoughts then transferred from what many see as “bigger” issues, to much smaller ones. Something as minuscule as not buying something I knew I wanted would eat at me for hours or days. I would replay scenarios and decisions over and over in my mind.  It wasn’t until my romantic relationship ended because of my anxieties that I realized I needed help. I sought out a therapist and I learned how to be in control of my thoughts. It will never go away, I will always have these anxieties, these ruminations, and every single day I battle them. However, I now know techniques to help me through them. I have also found my happiness in walks with my dog, bubble baths, wine, my nieces, my nephews, my friends and my family. I sometimes find myself trying to hide my anxiety, however the more I own it, the more I talk about it, the more control I feel I have over it.

Certain physical attributes to my anxiety still exist but I work through them, I twirl my hair until it falls out in one spot (so I got it cut into a cute bob), I bite my nails, (so I get them done weekly) but I am so much healthier and happier from the help I have received. I no longer see a therapist and I am very good at coping on my own.

To anyone who does not suffer from any form of anxiety or mental illness, I ask you to just be patient, listen, and do your best to understand. Do not demean my thoughts, do not tell me that my anxiety is stupid or wrong. Do not tell me I am overreacting or being “crazy”. Do not think because I often appear happy or carefree, that I am making this up.  I am a happy person, but one who works very hard to be. These feelings are already overwhelming enough. All a person needs is someone to be patient, kind, and understanding, just until I can sort out all of my feelings and rationalize them on my own.

I like to think my anxiety stems from a heart that is just too big. The idea that anything bad could happen in this world, to anyone I care about, and that I have no control over it, just overwhelms me so much that my body and mind just can’t seem to cope. Or the idea that one decision made can have a ripple effect, absolutely terrifies me. I feel now, that I am so much stronger because of my mental illness, I am more empathetic, compassionate, and understanding to those around me.  I am not ashamed of it. I am in a constant battle that I am in the process of winning. I am proud of who I am and will NEVER let my illness define me.

#dontcallmecrazy. My name is Crystal and I have #anxiety and #ruminationOCD, but they do not have me. 

- Crystal Ricci, 2018