Mary’s story: How Rogers helped her rise above her OCD and anxietyPosted on 07/20/22 10:44:am
Share this article:
Mary says before getting help at Rogers, her obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and anxiety were preventing her from living a healthy life.
“I was fired from a lot of jobs,” says Mary. “I was always late for work because I would leave then have to check that the door was locked. I couldn’t get hugs from people. I would sit down and stand up about seven times. Seven seemed to be my number.”
Mary says her therapist recommended a psychological evaluation. During that meeting, the clinician asked her to hand over seven pennies she kept in her pocket.
“I reluctantly gave them to her,” says Mary. “She lined them up on her desk and as we were talking, she mixed them up. It didn’t distract her, but she could see it bothered me, and she referred me to Rogers.”
In 2008, Mary spent three months in OCD and Anxiety adult residential care in Wisconsin.
“I was hesitant to go,” she says. “I didn’t want to give up my OCD because it was what I knew.”
Mary says she doesn’t regret residential treatment because day by day she learned how to live without the confines of her OCD.
“It was as though I was carrying a huge sack,” she says. “Every day someone from Rogers removed something and the backpack got lighter and lighter. It got to a point where I realized I didn’t really have it anymore. I still do certain things, but nowhere near where it’s keeping me from living life.”
Mary is grateful for the coping skills she learned through evidence-based cognitive behavioral therapy which she still uses today.
“One example is thought challenging,” says Mary. “I could have anxiety about going to work because it is near an airport and a plane might crash into the building. While possible, it’s not very probable. Each morning I have a routine when I get dressed for work. When I was in the grips of OCD, I thought if I didn't follow it, something bad might happen. Now I purposely disrupt the routine to prove that the world still turns, and nothing that happens in the day is related to whether I strictly adhere to it. I may not always be successful in battling OCD urges, but my coping skills have allowed me to live life to the fullest.”
Mary says being with other people who were also struggling with OCD was reassuring.
“I realized there were other people just like me,” she says. “No one looked at me like I was an odd ball. The minute I walked in I felt like a human being with just some quirky things, and that’s because of the staff. I could tell it wasn’t just a job to them. It was their calling.”
Mary says she’s sharing her story in the hopes of helping other people share theirs and get the treatment they need.
“Getting help for your mental health is the same thing as taking medication to lower your blood pressure,” she says. “People with mental health challenges are CEOs, schoolteachers, doctors, lawyers, and anything in between. I think stigma needs to be broken so people aren’t ashamed. You’re not alone. It’s important to have people in your life who support you and allow you to be yourself. I love my life now and it wouldn't have been possible without Rogers.”