I began seeing a psychologist at McMaster University at the Student Wellness Centre at the end of my first year of university, after a particularly difficult few months. At this point, my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder was very strong, and my obsessions increasing in frequency and intensity- causing me to invent new routines to cope, mainly involving repeating phrases over and over in my head or placing objects in specific places for hours until I got them just right. Oh and using hand sanitizer in insanely high amounts to combat the germs I felt that were overtaking my body. My anxiety was at an all time high for this reason, and as a result, I began to feel extremely depressed. I didn't feel like going to class, didn't want to eat. All I wanted to do was lie in my bed, and watch TV. I didn't really feel motived to pursue my dream of becoming a scientist. I was overwhelmed with apathy, which caused me to feel ashamed, and thus causing feelings of hatred towards myself.
One day, I managed to drag myself out of bed to my abnormal psychology class (ironic, no?). We had a guest speaker that day, who talked to us about her experience with extreme, chronic anxiety. As I was listening, I was overcome with emotions, and almost started crying in the middle of class. I felt that I was finally being understood by someone, that I wasn't completely alone and pathetic, because here was another person going through exactly what I was struggling with. After the class, I talked to her, and found out she had received help at the Student Wellness Centre of McMaster University. I didn't waste any time- I knew if I went home and went to bed, my desire to recover like her would be completely overtaken by my apathy again. In tears, I quickly walked over the the wellness centre, where I was taken to see a mental health nurse, who put me in contact with my psychologist. I had seen psychologists before, whom I did NOT like, yet this one seemed very different. His no bullshit approach to therapy that involved me directly confronting my fears was exactly what I had needed after my years of avoidance caused by my anxiety. From there, months and months of continuous cognitive behavioural therapy and exercises would begin. I didn't know when I had decided to attend that class that day that I would be setting myself up for a long yet rewarding road to recovery. I will forever be grateful for that girl who shared her story of anxiety with me and my class. Her presentation marked the exact point when I finally realized how much my life had unravelled, and how desperately I wanted to get it back, and be just like her. Her courageous action of telling her story is exactly why I can sit here, three years later, free of many of my symptoms of OCD, depression, and anxiety. I can only hope that through sharing my stories with mental illness, it helps my readers suffering in similar circumstances to make those small steps towards recovery.