I sent years running from fear, enslaved by the insidious loop it kept me in. I tried to fight back, to suppress it, but it only fought back stronger. I lived with a monster in my mind and its name was OCD. Around age 11, I started to notice the obscure obsessions I had such as thinking I had brain cancer every time I had a headache or freaking out any time someone took a picture of me because of a fear that “bad people” would track me down and find me. Once these faded, a new one popped up in its place about a year later when I switched schools. My goofy bubbly self was masked with fear that I wouldn’t be accepted or would be made fun of because of a mistake. Sure these feelings are very normal for a kid entering a new middle school, but I took it to the extreme, becoming consumed by my obsessive fear of not being perfect. I became a shy girl, figuring that if I just stayed quiet I could prevent myself from ever making a mistake. My parents were concerned with my behavior and brought me to a counselor but I was reluctant to fully participate in therapy. So we came to the conclusion that I was just having “adjustment issues” and kept moving forward. Well soon enough, a spiral of thoughts that I was a bad person led me to my first breakdown. This time my parents knew that whatever was going on with me was becoming serious. The doctor diagnosed me with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. I felt ashamed to have a mental illness and would always try to hind it from everyone, even my family. Six months later I had my first terrifying encounter with compulsions. A year later at age 15, I suffered a horrible concussion playing field hockey and as a side affect, my doctor told me, my brain lost it’s grip on the OCD to focus on healing. I remember telling her about the many hours a day I spent performing rituals. I started seeing a therapist but it only helped a little bit. My condition stayed somewhat steady in that position for another year until my family moved into a new house, essentially uprooting me from my routines and rituals. I tried to be positive about the change, telling myself that this will be my chance to start over and completely get rid of all the compulsions. Boy was I wrong. Before I knew it my life was spiraling out of control, I couldn’t focus on schoolwork, barely had time for fun, and was anxious all the time. It would take me hours to just get into bed, get ready in the morning, or even walk out of my house. Simply walking down the stair felt like a major chore. In a matter of months my life was crumbling to pieces right before my eyes, but I refused to accept that, I knew I was strong enough to beat this monster but I just didn’t know how. Soon enough, I had major meltdown and couldn’t stay in my house any longer. I stopped going to school for a few weeks too. My whole family knew I had a serious problem going on and it was time to take it to the next level. February 3, 2014 I was admitted into the Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Institute at a hospital. I spent 10 weeks in intensive treatment, which included multiple hours a day of exposure and response prevention and learning how to manage OCD. I put in all my effort and in return this program gave me my life back. The fog of OCD has cleared and now my bubbly 17-year-old personality can shine through. I have not become fearless but rather I learned to live undefined by OCD’s terror. In the game of tug-o-war, I dropped the rope. Not in the act of giving up but instead finding peace and harmony with my opponent. I am grateful to have been through this entire struggle because if I hadn’t known what it’s like to be enslaved, I would have never known what it’s like to be free and that is a feeling like no other.