Adira Weixlmann is a former patient at McLean’s OCD Institute (OCDI)
Life transitions can be an intense combination of positive and negative. Change creates great excitement and hope for the future, but can also be riddled with intense anxiety and worry about the unknown. As an OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) sufferer, I can confirm that OCD will make you doubt your abilities to start this new adventure, despite your readiness.
The most notable change in my life as of late is moving more than 2,000 miles across the country from my hometown of St. Louis to San Francisco. Ever since a family vacation to California when I was seven years old, I’ve been enamored with the warm sunshine, crashing ocean waves, and incredibly tall palm trees here. Though it seemed natural that my first chance to live in California might come during college, it unfortunately never happened, as my OCD developed quickly and intensely. As my list of desirable universities shrank due to personal academic preferences, it also narrowed out of fear for being far from the safety of home.
After one semester of college my OCD had an almost uncontrollable grip on me. Not only did I question my ability to stay in school, I slowly started to wonder if I’d ever become a resident of my beloved Golden State. After several years of family support, countless therapy sessions, time in intensive outpatient treatment, and two subsequent stays at the OCDI, I was able to get myself in a much better place and again began to see all the opportunities the world had to offer.
Freeing myself of the significant grip OCD had on me allowed me to get back to living my life. This transition, though positive, was anxiety provoking. Transitions for anyone, OCD sufferer or not, can trigger a strong dichotomy of excitement and anxiety. These changes can come in all varieties–starting a new school year, leaving residential treatment, living away from home for the first time, or getting married. It’s natural for changes to be anxiety provoking, but this concern should not prevent you from chasing your dreams.
It wasn’t easy for me to leave the comforts of home. And despite my wishes, every day hasn’t been a day at the beach (literally or figuratively). But while it was hard to leave the immediate support of family and friends, I realized I had to look out for my own dreams and desires, especially in spite of OCD.