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I was always a perfectionist. I colour co-ordinated my binders and notes, always liked things to be oriented just so. My parents always said I had “obsessive-compulsive tendencies”, and I couldn’t disagree with that.

It wasn’t until I moved away from home to start university that these little quirks became more sinister. I wasn’t able to complete basic tasks like locking the doors or going to bed without “what-ifs” floating around my head, and that led to extreme anxiety and compulsions. I thought this was just a part of anxiety, that I was just stressed. I didn’t realize it wasn’t “just another part of being anxious” until I called my dad in the middle of the night on a Wednesday, crying because I couldn’t stop checking my doors.

In December of my second year, I was officially diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder, or OCD. I thought I knew what it was. It wasn’t as commonly talked about as anxiety and depression, but it was still something we touched on during psychology classes in high school. Turns out, OCD isn’t as simple as I was led to believe, and it isn’t just being tidy and organized.

My diagnosis tilted everything I thought I knew about myself on its head—I suddenly had another puzzle piece in my hands, but I wasn’t sure where it fit.

I’m incredibly fortunate to come from a family where mental health and mental illness isn’t something to be ashamed of. I knew, deep down, my diagnosis didn’t mean I was sick or crazy, it was just an illness in my brain. I wouldn’t judge others for a mental health diagnosis, and I wouldn’t judge myself for needing medication for acid reflux, so why was I judging myself for this?

I felt alienated, like I could talk to people about my anxiety, but as soon as an acronym came into play, I would be judged. Eventually, I realized the only person judging me was myself. My family, my doctors, my friends, and my therapist all had my back. I just had to get on board with them.

It’s been almost a year since my diagnosis, and I’ve made peace with it. I have my coping strategies that I learned in therapy (which I am incredibly grateful to have), and an amazing support system in my family and friends. People aren’t always understanding, and that sucks sometimes, but if I’m not open about my experiences, I’m letting down people like myself a year ago.

I am by no means a spokesperson for OCD, since no two people will experience it the same way, but I sure as hell am an advocate for mental health. I’m not a doctor, so I can’t give advice, but I can share my experiences so people who have also received a diagnosis will know that they aren’t alone.

So, this is my friendly reminder that you aren’t alone. And if you feel like you are, know that there’s a total stranger out there rooting for you. It’s me.

Jaime Nemett

UWindsor '24

Jaime is an undergrad student in Forensics Science with a concentration in Biology at UWindsor. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, music, drawing, and rewatching her favourite TV shows and movies.