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.
MEDIA CONTENT COORDINATOR
Several of my family members have OCD, so it was not a surprise when my nighttime routine started taking almost two hours because I had to check and recheck every lock in the house, and then check under every bed and couch. I was also not surprised when I developed symptoms of contamination OCD which only intensified when I moved to NYC for college. Although it’s my favorite place in the world, NYC is not an easy place to live when you have OCD; I’ll never forget trying not to touch the subway poles or using 50 alcohol swabs to clean my key after I dropped it on the sidewalk. I can’t even imagine how many roommates I angered because of the constant smell of my alcohol swabs. While my OCD behaviors got in the way of my daily life, it didn’t really bother me until September of 2018.
My life completely changed in September of 2018. The intrusive thoughts intensified, and my OCD behaviors were suddenly more mental than physical. My OCD also started to convince me that my intrusive thoughts might actually be memories of things that I did. In the OCD community we call this “false memories.” These “false memories” are always of me doing something terrible - like committing crimes. I left school in December of 2018 and spent the following year terrified. Terrified that my OCD was right, and that I really was this horrible person who committed all of these crimes. I didn’t even bother trying to find happiness during that year, because I didn’t think I deserved it. I instead just layed in bed day after day, trying like hell to reassure myself that I was not the appalling person my OCD convinced me I was. I yearned for those brief moments of reassurance where I could actually breathe, and smile.
I finally received some much needed help in spring of 2020 when I spent three months at an OCD treatment center. I recently left the treatment center and I cannot wait to live my life again.
MEDIA CONTENT COORDINATOR
When I was seven years old I thought that the devil was speaking to me. I thought I would wake up in the middle of the night and kill my family. If I didn’t pray just right or say the right things to my mom when she left the house she would die.
When I was eleven I struggled a lot with the idea of accidentally harming my loved ones if I wasn’t careful enough. I worried about committing a hit and run. I worried if I didn’t give my sister the bigger slice of pizza I was a terrible person.
My symptoms only spiraled as I got older. They jumped from religious scrupulosity, to harm by neglect, to harm by intent, to sexual intrusive thoughts, to moral scrupulosity, to contamination- you name it and my OCD clung to it.
I wasn’t officially diagnosed until I was 14. Being undiagnosed and coming from a family who had little experience with mental health made me feel very lost. And for a while I thought I was losing my mind and that I was a terrible person. Learning more about mental health and finding support through others’ experiences has really aided me in my lows throughout the years. This is what brings me to Hard Quirk––the passion to educate society on OCD and allow those struggling to find an answer and a community sooner than I did that motivates me. Because in knowledge of a diagnosis comes the ability to find self compassion and self understanding and that is what I hope my vulnerability will bring others.