Is there hope with OCD?
The second when the manager – my boss – said to me that he wanted to properly employ me (I had only been an intern up to that point), my body was showered with goosebumps. So much so that I had to ‘shake’ myself to try to make them go away, but it didn’t work. I quickly rubbed my hands across my bare underarms, attempting to disguise what was happening, but the manager’s gaze had already dropped and so he watched the little hair on my skin stick up like needles on a cactus. His eyes came up again and grew wide with surprise as they met mine.
I was having a mind-body reaction. Because I couldn’t believe what had just happened. That I was offered a proper position; that I was wanted. That I was seemingly good at what I was doing at the office where I had started as an intern during the summer of this year. “We want to keep you,” my boss added, and so my arms looked even more like prickly cactuses.
Holy moly – me? That anxious, insecure figure who hadn’t had a job and earned money since 2007 due to the debilitating mental illness OCD?
Fifteen years had gone by since I last had a paid job. Fifteen long years of feeling rather useless. Now, I received what seemed the biggest ego boost there is.
“Well, do you want to work here properly?” he asked as I hadn’t said anything, my words stuck at the back of my tongue.
What a question – of course I wanted to. Couldn’t he see from the response of my skin. 😉
I nodded and, eventually, my words returned so that I could answer, “That would be fantastic!”
The goosebumps kept flaring up later in the day when I overheard how the boss said to someone else: “Katja is brilliant, so we’re employing her.”
So, is there hope with OCD? Maybe you would think there is, if I told you that back in 2006, I was pushed into resigning from a position because I didn’t do well and wasn’t wanted any more, during a time when my OCD was really, really bad.
The moment when my boss and I signed the contract, I almost cried. I said to him, “You have no idea what this means to me.” And how could he – he had no clue about what I had gone through.
That was this year in August.
Back in August of last year, I was still in therapy. I’d been assigned 20 sessions via the NHS. While it took ages waiting for them to begin (19 months), I was grateful to eventually get some advice, tricks and tips on how to work on low self-esteem, exercise self-care and generally learn how to look after my mental health (I am still a work-in-progress in all aspects!). Interestingly, even though I had those sessions via video calls and could stay at home, I remember how I needed to ask my therapist to change the hour from 10am to 11am for the starting time. With little motivation back then, and still suffering too much from my OCD, I was unable to get out of bed early enough to get up, ready and dress and place myself in front of my computer screen to meet the therapist. However, only one year later, by August of this year, I was able to make it out of bed, get myself ready and then cycle to work for a 10am-start. So is there hope with OCD? I have not even begun, in this blog post, to talk about the 4 hours that I used to take to get ready and out of the house when I lived in Paris, several years ago...
The fact that I have left my job already again, not long after being properly employed, is another story (I got bullied by one of my female colleagues and because I wasn’t the first and only one suffering from her, I decided I needed to protect my mental health and resigned).
Now without a job, there is no reason to think there is no hope. Because what has been triggered by me leaving this job is that I am moving to Germany next month. Who would have thought?!
Two years ago, if someone had told me this would happen, I would have declared them crazy 😉, given the nature of my OCD. But one year ago, I already felt some change. A strong desire to return to Zurich sparked inside me. Yes, I know, Zurich is Switzerland, not Germany, but it is one of the locations I consider contaminated because my parents were there, back in 2007, together with me.
As Zurich is the home of my heart, I began – last year – to work harder on my OCD (using ERP techniques, self-love and self-care tricks and tips, ACT [Acceptance and Commitment Therapy]). By Christmas 2021, I was ready and prepared to travel to Zurich. I named my ‘project’ The Grand ERP Trip and planned on walking by the Zurich Lake where I had been with my parents all those years ago (in case you don’t know yet: my parents are my source of contamination).
Unfortunately, Covid put an end to that trip. We were unable to travel due to too many restrictions in place. But my husband and I managed to arrive in Zurich in March of this year instead. We strolled down the lake and even sat down by its shore, regardless of whether my parents had been sitting on the same bench all those years ago. So, is there hope with OCD?
Unlike in the past, this time on my return from a contaminated place (Zurich in this instance), I did not throw any clothes or belongings away that I’d had with me. I did not wash myself to get rid of the contamination but accepted it, brought it back home to England and wasn’t bothered about how I was spreading the dirt in our flat.
In only a few weeks’ time, I will move to southern Germany to be close to Zurich and am hoping to find work there sometime soon, so that I can permanently live in that ‘contaminated’ yet beloved city of mine. I can do this. I feel it’s possible.
So, again, is there hope with OCD?
Well, I think there is.
If you enjoyed reading this post, you might want to check out my website to read more on OCD and my journey: www.katjagschulz.com
Thank you for reading and for your support!
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