Chrissie, 38, US

11216566_509119632595898_8787944279956203619_n“I live successfully with the Pure O/Intrusive branch of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and depression.
OCD doesn’t always get the respect and understanding of its severity in the media, but I hope my advocacy work helps to educate people on how torturing it really is.

I began suffering from grotesque/violent/sexual unwanted obsessions at age 8. The anxiety accompanying these intrusive thoughts caused me to perform mental compulsions up to 10 hours a day. I kept all of this a secret for 12 years believing I must have done something ‘bad’ to offend God.

At age 20, a clinical depression and a delusional ‘pact with God’ caused me to attempt suicide. I luckily survived. I was admitted to an inpatient psych ward, given meds, and diagnosed OCD.

A year later, I was treated with CBT/ERP therapy which saved my life and taught me to manage the horrific thoughts from my disorder that I battle everyday.

I spent the next 12 years in ‘personal stigma’ where I experienced deep-seated anger/sadness/shame/embarrassment for being ‘mentally ill’.

In 2011, I broke the silence of my disorder and embraced my life with OCD. I began public speaking, created a podcast called ‘Mental Illness Matters Radio’. I became an outspoken advocate for Pure OCD and began working for Effective OCD Treatment in Denver as an ERP coach. Coaching ERP was so successful that I began a career as a Peer Support for individuals with mental illness and addiction in Denver, CO. I am a Crisis Intervention team trainer for the Denver Police and Sheriff departments. I do videos on stigma reduction on youtube and manage the page ‘Mental Illness Isn’t a Trend’.

I cannot believe I can do all these things now to help reduce stigma and educate on OCD and mental illness. For a great portion of my childhood/adolescent years, my mental illness told me I was nothing. It told me I would never amount to anything. It told me I didn’t deserve a good life. It told me I was a disgrace to my family and to the world. It told me I didn’t deserve to live.

I now know how much mental illness lies and tries to cheat those that suffer out of a life they deserve and CAN have.
There is not one person with mental illness that cannot have the life they want and deserve. I am a testament to that as well as all of the other advocates that post on this page.

Never give up. Never let stigma win over you or your illness. You deserve a good life. You are a good person. You are unique because of your struggles. You are NOT your illness. Your illness does not define you, and you do not define your illness.

But most importantly, you are not alone.”

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