The Devastating Reality Of Having Depression And OCD At The Same Time

Photo: Johan Larson / Shutterstock
woman looking depressed

Living with depression

I sat alone in my room, curtains keeping the light out and blankets pulled over my head, shielding me from the rest of the world. Tears began to form, but I had already cried so much that the well was almost dry. I was exhausted. All my energy was gone, wasted on constant tears and lack of restful sleep. 

It had been weeks of constant sadness with no reprieve in sight, and I had nowhere to turn. And all I heard was my brain saying: "You’re worthless. You’re a disappointment. Life isn’t worth living. It’s never going to get better."

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The words played over and over in my head. And as a teenager, I accepted them. I believed the words so much that I actually wished that I could close my eyes and never wake up. I was so tired of being consumed by sadness and pain every day. I was tired of being depressed and had lost hope that things would improve.

Looking back, I never thought I’d see improvement, but over the past eight or nine years, I’ve learned to cope.

Living with OCD

For much of my life, I have struggled with needing things to be perfect. I would walk down to the kitchen after everyone had left and found the counter covered in someone’s breakfast remnants. I immediately cleaned it up. I tossed the crumbs in the trash and washed the dish.

Then I saw all the other dishes piled in the sink and proceeded to wash those too. When I got to the family room, I saw the cushions were out of place, so I immediately fixed them. The blankets were strewn around the room, so I folded them. I saw the shoe rack in the dining room was overflowing, so I reorganized it. 

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I never saw a problem with it. But then I realized if I didn’t fix what my brain saw as a mistake, it would control my thoughts. That was the moment I realized I had OCD and have had it for years.

But it wasn’t until about ten months ago that I started receiving treatment for my OCD. It was manageable at first, but one day the thoughts became intrusive, more so than I had ever experienced before. It started with reminders of past mistakes I made and suddenly became horrible intrusive thoughts that left me wracked with guilt and shame and wanting to shut my brain off forever.

I didn’t know what to do, so I suffered in silence until it got so bad that I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t shut my brain off. I couldn’t stop crying or shaking, and I was terrified. I was scared to voice the thoughts, but I didn’t know what else to do. So I told my mom and my therapist, and I felt lighter. It didn’t stop the thoughts, but it took some shame away.

Living with depression and OCD

"Don’t get out of bed today. It’s not worth it," said Depression.

OCD replied, "If you don’t get out of bed, nothing will get done. And you know you’ll feel horrible about it later."

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Depression told me, "You should just give up. You’re already a failure."

OCD shot back, "If you stop, you’re a failure."

How am I supposed to know what to do? I feel hopeless and broken. All I want to do is curl up in a ball, but if I do that, nothing will be fixed or organized. And that will eat me alive. I have no hope for anything, which makes sense because I feel like a failure. But if I don’t do anything, then I’m a failure.

It’s a constant cycle of warring thoughts and feelings that all exist in my brain.

And while I know that the negative thoughts going through my brain aren’t true, it doesn’t make it any easier. I should be able to trust my brain, but with OCD and depression, that’s not always possible. And it makes it very challenging.

However, some days having both OCD and depression is what keeps me going.

Depression tries to tear me down and leaves me struggling, but OCD forces me to get things done. If I just had depression, I might stay holed up in bed, but because I have OCD, my mind doesn’t let me do that.

No matter how depressed I am, my need to get things done and be perfect overtakes everything. It’s not how I want to be, but it’s allowed me to achieve my goals and keep going when part of me wants to give up.

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Kayla Brown is a writer, photographer, and content creator. She is the author of A Season of Changes.