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The Faces of Mental Health: Josh’s Story

This story was shared by Josh, a member of our parish. We are publishing it here as part of our Faith in Action education series on mental health.

My first OCD episode occurred in middle school. Its intensity and unfamiliarity are something I will never forget, and for a very long time, I was convinced I was losing my mind. Previously I had dealt with your garden variety anxiety, but this was an entirely different beast altogether, and the fact that OCD is so misrepresented in media and so misunderstood by the general population only multiplied my suffering. It was the first time in my life that I felt truly, completely, profoundly alone. As far as I knew, these thoughts, feelings, and rituals were totally unique to me, which is why being able to put a name and label was, and still is, very important to me. Of course, as any mental health expert worth their salt will tell you, you are not your disorder, but being able to contextualize whatever feelings you’re dealing with is just as important as coping with and overcoming them.

What is OCD? Depends on who you ask, really. The most clinical answer goes something like this: any pattern of obsessive, anxious thinking accompanied by ritualistic behavior that causes the sufferer significant distress severe enough that it interferes with their day to day function. The specific obsessions and compulsions can differ from person to person, but the one unifying characteristic is how these symptoms are treated and ultimately overcome.

I think one of the biggest obstacles for me early on was becoming too caught up in the specifics of the way my OCD expressed itself, wondering if perhaps I was misdiagnosed and maybe these thoughts really ARE my fault. I’m told by my therapist these doubts are extremely common among people with OCD. I do not want to give anyone the impression that I am completely “cured” of my OCD. Rather, I want people to realize it does get better, and there are coping strategies that make disorders like this manageable and in the process you may even learn a thing or two about myself. I still have my bad days, and I suspect I always will. These days, however, I have a larger perspective and insight into the disorder that I did not have at thirteen.

About Josh

I am an alumni of St. Justin Martyr, CBC, and as of very recently, Truman State University. I am the oldest child of Angie and Dave along with Luke and Lilly. While at Truman I studied Psychology and Communication, and I would like to work with people struggling with substance abuse and mental illness. I enjoy music, both as a listener and musician. I am the former President of the Aquadome, which is a non-profit DIY music and arts venue in Kirksville that provides a positive and safe environment for expression and the arts. I played in various bands in college and am currently the bassist for a folk/alternative country group called Two Headed Cow. My other hobbies include reading, hiking, going to open mics, and hanging out with my friends!

St Justin Faith in Action committee thanks you Josh for your open and honest expression of your journey with OCD. You have given us all a little better understanding of your condition. You can be proud of your achievements. You have provided a sense of hope for others who might find themselves with similar behaviors in their own lives or the lives of family or friends. We will continue to keep you in prayer for your daily work and your daily balance to keep your OCD manageable.

As we hear stories like Josh’s, let us remember as a St. Justin community to lift those dealing with mental health issues up in prayer just like we would anyone else. For any who wish to share your story of your mental health journey, you may submit your article directly to faithinaction@stjustinmartyr.org.

 

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