HARD QUIRK CO-FOUNDER
From my earliest years, I was turning out to be a bit of a wild child--my vivid imagination came to life through creativity and relentless self-expression. My parents reflect on my younger self as "the life of the party"––always creating art, dancing, dressing up, putting on a performance, and eliciting laughter––but the party grew still by age 8, when unidentified social anxiety and obsessive-compulsive symptoms left me nearly mute outside of situations where I was expected to speak. I dedicated my adolescence to pleasing everyone I crossed paths with and striving toward perfection.
By 16 I was struggling to keep up with these unrelenting high standards. I'd developed an eating disorder that required treatment interventions, and my junior year of high school marked the beginning of a harrowing 6-year journey through various levels of the mental health care system. It wasn't until my sixth residential treatment stay at 20 years old that I finally received what I never realized I needed 12 years prior: a diagnosis of obsessive-compulsive disorder. All along, I'd been dealing with debilitating perfectionism, sexual intrusive thoughts, social phobia, health anxiety, and body dysmorphic disorder––and never knew because I was too ashamed and afraid of my own thoughts to share, and had no idea that OCD could look like this.
Now, at 22, with plenty of support, treatment, and personal growth to back me up, I am rediscovering my voice. I am an active participant in my own life and building a comforting home within myself. I am thrilled to be studying psychology and art therapy, with the hopes of helping others through their own mental health struggles and recovery journeys. Through Hard Quirk, I hope to be the voice that my younger self needed to hear, that many people today could benefit from hearing––a voice that is still lacking in mental health awareness platforms today.
HARD QUIRK CO-FOUNDER
When severe OCD hit in July 2018, I was no stranger to adversity. I'd been raised strong in a rural east Texas community by my single mother. I focused on education and independence, allowing my intuition to lead me to the pacific northwest and then to North Carolina for college. In college, obsessive behaviors showed up and restrictive eating followed closely behind. Treatment quickly became medically necessary, and I had to leave the life that I had built in NC. I stayed at home for over a year. My obsessions and intrusive thoughts fixated on food and water which made the extensive daily rituals I was performing, quite dangerous. I struggled for months through two dramatic weight losses, panic attacks, depressive episodes, disrupted relationships, and isolation.
In 2020, after two residential treatments, I celebrate actively living in recovery. I live with intrusive thoughts, magical thinking, scrupulosity, compulsive urges, avoidance, emotional and physical contamination, and 'just right' OCD. There is so much more to me than the past two years- something I realize as I embrace the balance of living with this illness in a beautiful new city, and exploring a new position in social work. I hold gratitude for my thrilling, devastating, loving, stressful, terrifying values-driven life.