at 11:35 PM

Clear my throat three times. Count my walking paces. Constantly avoid all even numbers except eight. Turn all pen caps to the right. And touch my book three more times. Perfect.

I am diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Specifically, I have compulsive behavior, meaning I get anxious easily and make up habits or routines, and perform them over and over to temporarily provide relief from distress. These behaviors take away time and energy, but most of all, OCD has cracked and scarred my self-esteem in unimaginable ways.

I have always lived ashamed that I have a mental disorder. I have no supporters, because people do not understand how distressing OCD can be. My parents try to believe that their perfect daughter does not have it, while my friends generally do not give my disorder a second thought. And whenever people catch me performing my habits, I feel humiliated and out of place. People judge me as psychotic or abnormal, so over the years, I have learned to keep my habits a secret.

There are eight types of compulsive behaviors.  I have seven; checking, counting, repeating, asking for reassurance, hoarding, arranging, and repeating prayers. I have come up with more than 20 habits in each category. These habits can be as small as avoiding bottom left corners of books and as big as giving each letter a different meaning.

When repeating actions or rearranging, I think "it's just not right." So as I rearrange my pens or books, the positioning has to be "just right." Now perfectionism leaves me feeling unaccomplished. Whenever I get a bad grade or a few points off my essay, I feel inadequate and unhappy with myself.

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These different habits periodically grow on me, making it a part of who I am.  I'm so used to them that its just a natural movement for me. But, OCD is a bully that will constantly irritate and harass me. It causes daily chaos in my life. I often wish that I could afford a special treatment therapist, even though I fear taking medication.

Still, I accept myself for having OCD, and believe that every day is a step closer to curing it, a step closer to being set free.

With a Perspective, I'm Angela Kim.

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Angela Kim is 15 and a sophomore at Alameda Community Learning Center.

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