Date of Interview - Tuesday, February 21, 2017 @ 8pm MST
Chrissie Hodges lives with Pure OCD. As one of the most stigmatized, unknown, and shameful types of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Pure O causes sufferers to doubt the thoughts entering their mind, as well as doubt their moral compass. With the onset of symptoms at age 8, Chrissie quickly learned to adhere to silence, cope with the debilitating obsessions through mental rituals, and create a façade of a life to the outside world.
For 12 years, Chrissie endured sexual, violent, and gruesome obsessions ruled by scrupulosity. With no outward compulsions, the defining characteristic of Pure O, she was able to hide the rumination, avoidance, and mental rituals that occupied up to 10-12 hours per day. Weaving in and out of depressive states, Chrissie functioned with the belief that her behavior as a ‘moral person’ determined the intensity of the bad thoughts. The circular entrapment of being a falsified, imaginary, and individualized martyr was excruciating.
At age 20, Chrissie fell into a deep depression. Her rituals could no longer sustain the demand of theorem proof or disproof of her unsolvable obsessions. Suicide became the only reasonable and viable option. While escaping life was the absolute last option she wanted, Chrissie believed the shameful, embarrassing, and guilt ridden obsessions were an innate part of her moral being, lending to her belief that she did not deserve to live. Her scrupulosity did not argue that point. She felt as if to protect her family and friends from the shameful person she was, suicide was the only option.
In December 1998, Chrissie survived a horrific suicide attempt from a self-inflicted wound and attempt at hypothermia. After surgery and psychological evaluation, Chrissie was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Her obsession/compulsion combination did not follow the ‘normal’ and mainstream definition of OCD, prompting her to find the community of sufferers with ‘Pure O’. Pure O is defined as the branch of OCD with intrusive and unwanted thoughts accompanied by mental rituals. A year after her hospitalization, Chrissie had extensive Exposure Response Prevention therapy (ERP) to eradicate her primary obsession and teach her to manage Pure O on a daily basis.
After battling the personal stigma associated with mental illness and struggling through the 5 stages of recovery, Chrissie is now an outspoken advocate for Pure O, stigma reduction, and peer support. Chrissie works as a Peer Support in Denver, Colorado in the State Institute as well as transition clients in the community. She is a facilitator for Peer Support training. She hosts a weekly radio podcast, ‘Mental Illness Matters Radio’ featuring individuals who live successfully with mental illness. Chrissie is a CBT/ERP coach for Effective OCD Treatment in Denver, CO. She is a public speaker and a valued member of the Crisis Intervention Team training for the Denver Police Department and Denver Sheriff’s Department.
Chrissie believes that anyone can live successfully with mental illness no matter what the diagnosis and circumstance. She is a firm believer that peer support is essential in the recovery journey from diagnosis through the tough stages of personal stigma. She believes in the power of lived experience and the importance of sharing our stories of living with and surviving mental illness.
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