Hey there, I’m Chelsea! I am 27 years old and am currently completing my year-long mental health counseling residency to become a psychotherapist! It has been quite strange to shift from the patient to the therapist, and I never imagined doing so. I suffered in the past with OCD and Tourette Syndrome (along with the other illnesses included with the Deluxe OCD package, such as Depression and Anxiety). It has changed my life completely. The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that there is a future we never imagined for ourselves, and we must never give up! The present is temporary so if it is a difficult chapter, know that it will pass; if it is a peaceful chapter, savor every moment.
My Tourette Syndrome first presented itself when I was eight years old and eventually evolved into OCD and other diagnoses. I traveled all over the United States with my family to receive treatment. I was introduced to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Exposure Response Therapy (ERP) when I went to UPENN, The Center for the Treatment and Study of Anxiety. I worked with two doctors every day for a little over a month. My parents and I lived in a hotel room, making the best of it. That is always what I have found myself doing—making the best of every situation. Eventually, they referred me for more intensive treatment. In 2010 I was admitted to Rogers Memorial Hospital located in Wisconsin. It was a residential hospital for mental illness. I was admitted into the adolescent unit with other teenagers suffering from debilitating OCD. After three months of living there and working on facing my OCD, I felt “cured.”
I spent four years feeling free from the chains of OCD. I graduated from high school and went off to college to study Psychology. My OCD crept back in during my Freshman year of college. In all honesty, there were signs of it I hadn’t noticed in the previous years. This OCD, however, was new. It morphed into something unexpected. It tricked me into thinking I was dizzy. Irrational, intrusive thoughts played games with my mind. I took a medical leave from college my sophomore year and realized that what we had thought was Postural Orthostatic Hypertension (POTS) ended up being predominantly OCD/Anxiety. I tried fighting it on my own, but this was new territory. I gained over 50 pounds in a matter of months, causing disordered eating. Rogers Memorial Hospital admitted me for a second time.
The first step was admission into the Eating Disorder Center and then into the Adult OCD Center Cedar Ridge. It was the hardest fight I would ever face, but the experience was unbelievably positive. The people I met, the support system there, and the beautiful environment made this time a fond memory and a place I go back to in my mind when I need comfort.
My life experiences seem surreal looking back. In the present, I still face some lingering thoughts and emotions here and there. I am growing as a person and learning more about what works for me and what does not. I have officially graduated with my master’s of arts in psychology and will complete my master of science in mental health counseling this May. School has always been my most crippling trigger. I would have said in the past that getting this far is a miracle. However, I do not think there was ever another option for me. I refuse to give in to my mental illnesses and make sacrifices due to fears and emotions that do not hold truth in my life.
I thank God every day for the strength and support I have been given. I will continue to fight for the life I have always dreamed of and hopefully offer support and awareness to anyone reading this blog! I would love for you all to come along on this journey through life with me!
~ Stay Chipper Friends! ~
I would love to hear from you if you find you are relating to anything I’ve written! You can email me at Chipperchelseakay@gmail.com!
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