Hello! I would like to share a bit about my life in the hope that someone with PDA, OCD or BDD can relate a little and feel less alone. For myself, I have definitely felt alone not knowing anyone else with PDA!
By Ida Anderson
When I was only little, I could remember cleaning the bathroom for 1 or 2 hours and lining up my toys in pairs so they wouldn't feel lonely. I was around 12 when I was diagnosed with OCD, but it never really came a shock to me. It just made so much sense for my urges and thoughts. When I was 11, I went to secondary school and things became really hard for me. I would spend 4-8 hours a day redoing work and completing homework just so it was perfect. In addition, I was struggling with my friendships and I felt very alone. At this point my happiness plummeted and anxiety rapidly increased.
Soon after I moved to a smaller school with the hope things would get better, however my OCD, anxiety and loneliness shot up! I was struggling a lot by then and was diagnosed with depression and had some suicidal thoughts. I was not coping well in a mainstream school and it seemed as if everyone else was.
Due to my OCD I had become vegan as my OCD was very controlling and thought some foods were unsafe. And at this point I was pretty much only eating pasta and soup. However, in the morning and at lunchtime I would starve as I found eating before and during school too stressful. This resulted in dizziness and several faints.
I remember at the age of 14 I fainted and cracked the back of my head. People started to realise I wasn't coping well, and I left school. A few weeks on I was diagnosed with PDA, pathological demand avoidance. Although it made sense it was a very bittersweet moment. I knew I had my issues and it was nice getting a reason for why I behaved the way I did, however, to go from being "normal" to suddenly being labelled as the girl with autism was a lot to process and made me lose a lot of self-confidence.
After all that I moved to a special needs school. Eventually, I was diagnosed with BDD and my OCD became significantly worse. I thought I was so ugly that I had to spend 4 hours in the morning putting on makeup. But even with the makeup, I found it extremely hard to leave the house. I still wasn't coping well even in a special needs school and I was on a medication which was disagreeing with me. It got to the point where I overdosed and soon after dropped out of school. And for whole 2 whole years I didn't do anything!
My life now!
I then got introduced to exposure therapy and was helped by this nice guy for a whole year. It improved my life so much! I now can leave the house a lot more, as long as it's with my mum or someone I know. I don't have to spend forever putting on makeup - just a little concealer and mascara will do. I don't have to spend all my time on OCD rituals, and I am finally ready to go back to school!
I still have a long way to go but I would love to share my journey with others whether you're diagnosed, a parent or just interested in the subject!