My Story, Never Give Up!
As a 5-11, over 240-pound man, if you saw me on the street you would not think anything is wrong with me. The truth though is far different. I have endured Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Agoraphobia, and anxiety for most of my life.
My first incident occurred when I was just four years old. I watched Thriller and saw Michael Jackson turn into a werewolf. It traumatized me. When I started kindergarten, I would hide underneath tables because I was afraid that my teacher would turn into a werewolf. I started seeing a psychiatrist shortly thereafter at around five years old. However, my behavior didn’t get better. If anything, it got worse.
A couple of years later, I had just come up from my basement when I had the irresistible compulsion to go back down, this time with the lights off. I felt the need to repeatedly go up and down the stairs with the lights off, walking further and further into the basement each time. In my teenage years, I displayed other “weird” behaviors, and when one ended, another new compulsion began.
Some activities started consuming my life. Like when I needed to repeatedly wash my hands, check my car to see if I accidentally hit someone, walk backward down stairs, take frequent showers or brush my teeth for nine minutes, and exactly nine minutes. I cleaned my body with Lysol wipes. I tapped the floor with my foot and a table with my hand nine times to protect people I loved. If something added up to a bad number then I would use nine to make up for it.
As I grew older, my compulsions controlled my life. When I went to nightclubs with friends I would stand in four directions irrespective of where I was. I often had to ask if I could work from home, sometimes for weeks at a time, because my compulsions had worsened.
I remember my first panic attack. I was walking in a mall with friends, laughing and joking when all of sudden I felt my chest tighten up and I had difficulty breathing. I started to sweat and told my friends I needed to go to the hospital. Very concerned, they told me to take deep breaths, since I was too focused on the fear! My next panic attack occurred while eating, as I felt food going slowly down my throat. I went to the ER, only to find out once again that I was fine.
I experienced many more panic attacks. Each time I felt drained and tired afterward. I eventually stopped going to public places, fearing another panic attack and worrying that my OCD would go out of control. Needless to say, my relationships started to suffer. My friends would pick me up and I would have to duck to go to their house. I covered my face with my hands in the car so no one could see me. My girlfriend had to take me out when no one was around. My Agoraphobia limited my space to only the hallway. I eventually feared windows and the outside world.
I subsequently isolated myself from everyone and stopped speaking to friends. I cried frequently. Yet, despite my struggles, part of me said, “I can’t give up.” I kept fighting each and every day. John Cena is my hero so I had to be a fighter.
The breakthrough came one morning when I got my hands on a beautiful book called The Secret. After reading this treasure, I realized that in order to change my life, I needed to change myself. I did not want to struggle any more so I decided that enough was enough! I had faith in God and most importantly, I had faith in myself. I walked outside feeling like a free man.
It was extremely difficult as my mind started playing games. I felt that the further I walked from home, the more likely I would suffer a panic attack. But this time it was different. This time I confronted those thoughts. I continued walking. Every day I would walk, going further and further, slowly but steadily, taking deep, steady breaths each time.
After suffering agoraphobia for about four years, I eventually started going out more, socializing, and meeting friends. I felt unstoppable. I was breaking free and making steady progress with depression, anxiety, and OCD. Actively challenging my negative thoughts paid off.
Today I write inspirational articles for mental health organizations, hospitals, and police officers and I am much happier and full of passion. I am flourishing and succeeding because of The Secret.
The Secret taught me about thoughts. What we think, we are putting out to the Universe. We have thousands of thoughts a day. And I learned to choose the thoughts that are going to enable me to take positive actions in my life. I could not believe it. The more positive thoughts and actions I took, the more the Universe was giving me more positive experiences in my life. I was attracting positivity and feeling so much happier.
My advice is to never give up! The law of attraction works!
Darkness does not last because the sun always finds its way back.
I want you to remember that everyone struggles, but there is something admirable about a person who never gives up that puts them on another level. I see that in you. I never gave up because I knew good things would happen. I knew there was more to my life than Agoraphobia. I want you to focus on yourself and your happiness, not what other people are thinking. Let them judge you. Judging is ignorance and you are excellence.
I want you to put your hand out and there will be thousands of hands that will reach back out. I need you to take that first step on your path to overcoming whatever you are going through. Yes, it will be uncomfortable, but it is not going to break you. You have already come so far and are still standing strong in one piece.
There are people who are willing to help, you but you have to make that decision to reach out. Talk to someone you trust who can help you alleviate some of that burden you are going through. Talking it out is very therapeutic because it makes you feel that you are not alone. And the truth is you will never be alone. So many people are struggling just like you.
The Secret has also taught me about the following:
Do not feel ashamed. Mental illness does not change the wonderful person you are. It is the burden, not you.
Be you! Never wish to be someone else. You are a wonderful creation who is talented, gifted, and kind. There is only one you. Embrace it!
Do not fear anything. Irrational fear keeps you stuck. Courage forms greatness. Do not overthink anything. Overthinking makes a mountain out of a molehill. Just don’t think about it and go for it. Whatever you are trying to do to progress in your life, do it.
You deserve to be happy. Whatever you are going through, you will overcome it. Nothing will bring you down and nothing can stop you. You are strong. You are loved, valued, worthy, and important. Your focus should be on what makes your heart smile every day.
I love goals. Goals give us meaning, purpose, and a reason to get up in the morning with positive intentions. Look for something that is challenging and keeps you focused on attaining it. Do not focus on the left or right side. Your eyes need to be on that prize. Believe you can accomplish anything. A positive mindset brings positive results. You are not alone. I am not only a person with OCD and anxiety, I am a fighter. And you could be, too. God bless you and never give up!
To Rhonda and John Cena, thank you so very much for inspiring me to inspire others.
Danny Gautama (The Fighter)