My Battle With Mental Health - Bella

Bella courageously shares some of her journey with mental health, inspiring us all that we are stronger than we think.

I wanted to share a photo from the time I spent this Summer at the OCDI (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Institute).  I left on 8/15 and spent 36 days in this residential program, discharging on 9/19.

It was probably one of or the hardest times of my life. I had to live with 8 others also suffering with OCD, all different types, in a house called; The Orchard House. There was another facility on the main campus of the hospital that had an additional 20 residents in the OCDI.

I was there for my BFRB (Body Focused Repetitive Behaviours). I suffer from both trichotillomania (when one pulls out their own hair for pleasure) as well as dermatillomania (when one picks their skin, over & over - leaving scars).  The trich triggers my worst OCD which is symmetry ~ I need my eyelashes & brows to be exactly the same .... as well as pictures on walls/or tables/shelves to all be straight and all of my things in a specific order.

I've been suffering with OCD since about the age of 8..... I have also been diagnosed with both clinical depression & anxiety (as well as social anxiety). You can imagine how hard it was gonna be living with strangers. So while in the OCDI the main focus was to work on stopping the behaviour's when the urges to pull or pick came.

We had 4 hours a day M-Th of ERP (Exposure & Response Prevention) or Exposure Therapy. Usually 1 hour was coached (if lucky enough we'd get 2 hours coached) and the rest were self directed. Which means, you have to do them alone and be your own coach. Sometimes those were the hardest ..... but I gave 110% every time, my goal was to get well and go home as pull/pick free as possible.

Friday's we only had 2 hours of ERP, then 2 hours of Tracking Progress, first hour we would learn about life after treatment, and second, a computer survey of assessment. Weekends only 1 hour and almost always self directed. The rest of the day was full of groups or meetings with our team (Behavioural Therapist 3 times per week, Family counselor 1 time per week & psychiatrist 1 time per week).

Groups were, Goal planning in morning, Family Issues, Emotion Regulation, Mindfulness, Guilt group, Cognitive behaviour, self assessment (last group of day). Maintaining health once a week was mandatory and then optional times. We also had assigned groups, Perfectionism, Habit reversal, yoga, intrusive thoughts and some others. We also had a once a week mandatory outing the house or outside.

There outside was so pretty, we literally had an orchard next to our house. 

We were encouraged to think of something rational you could do to help de-stress ~ I said go for a walk! And that's what I did. 

Unfortunately circumstances out of my control had me discharged earlier than I had wanted, the 1st day of what would have been my 6th week, I was hoping to do 8, but it is what it is.

Since being home, I've struggled but I am trying my hardest to look through my notes, worksheets and use the DBT & CBT skills I learned as well as doing self directed Exposure Therapy to keep myself on the right track.

I did an Out Of The Darkness walk for suicide prevention, with no make-up as an exposure, my eyelashes have grown back but my eyebrows are still possibly growing or could be done, but without make-up on the brows, I'm very insecure, but I did the walk, and even posted a pic on my FB page! That was a great accomplishment and I raised $350 for the National Suicide foundation!! Such a great feeling.

I think the most important thing I learned is I am NOT MY OCD, I am not any of my illnesses, I am just a girl who had mental illness.

I choose to be real and tell my story so that others can too, it's okay to not be okay and help is out there!! Thanks for letting me share all of this with you!!

- Thank you Bella for sharing your courageous story with us. 

@whatifitispossible (anything is possible if you truly want it and try hard)