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My All-State Experience

All-State should be one of the best weekends, but for me it became a battle with my mind. I wanted so badly to have fun like everyone around me, to enjoy an experience on being in a band with the best band players in the state, but my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) took over and turned the wonderful experience into a struggle to make it through in one piece.

For those who don’t know, All-State is a group of the best people in the whole state (band, orchestra, and choir) who get together and put difficult music together in two days, with a concert at the end. To get into All-State on your respective instrument or voice part, you have to go through a stressful audition process, with only a small percent of those who try out making it.

The day of auditioning for All-State was extremely stressful for me. I wanted to make All-State to not let anyone down, but I also didn’t want to make All-State because I didn’t want to miss school for the festival. Basically it was a lose lose situation.

Somehow, I managed to make All-State, which should have been a happy time. However, I felt extremely guilty. I saw those who didn’t make it, and how upset they were. My brain told me that I didn’t deserve to make All-State, and that it was my fault that those other people didn’t make it and were upset. I felt like a horrible person, like I was being rewarded for doing the wrong thing. I went home that day feeling worse than when going to the audition.

Going to the All-State festival involves missing school, something that does not go well for me. In the weeks before All-State my anxiety grew, because I knew I was going to miss a day and a half of school. I had a breakdown or two about missing school, and I’d repeatedly ask my mom if I had to go to All-State (even though I knew I’d be going because it would be very selfish of me not to since I took that spot away from someone else who would’ve loved to go).

The day came all too soon where I was leaving for All-State, and I felt like I was being stretched to the breaking point. Everyone was excited, and nervous for their chair placement auditions (with the All-State music we had been practicing since being accepted), but mostly excited. However, I wanted to cry because I was missing school, important information, and I could not completely make up all stuff that I missed (I could make up the work, but the lectures are something that cannot ever truly be made up).

I made it through chair placement auditions, and we went and got pizza for dinner. The fact that I ate pizza was pretty big, considering that I have issues with eating foods I consider “unhealthy”. However, that night my OCD took the fact that I ate pizza and went to work.

Everyone else I was sharing a room with had gone to sleep, and my OCD struck. It told me that the pizza was making my face really oily, so oily that I couldn’t possibly clean it enough. It told me that I had to peel off my face, that was the only way to not have a pizza oil infested face for the rest of my life. I vividly saw myself peeling off my face, and I felt like the only way I’d be okay is by giving in to the OCD.

I did not give in. The urge was extremely strong, and if I didn’t concentrate hard enough on not giving in, my hands would come up to my face and prepare to somehow peel it off. So, I sat on my hands and waited it out, while feeling like my face was an ever growing grease pit. Slowly, the feeling went away and I was able to go to bed after finishing getting ready.

The next night, after everyone else was asleep, my OCD acted up again. I was in the middle of getting ready to go to bed, about to brush my hair, when my OCD said that I couldn’t. It said that my brush was dirty and had hair on it, and that if I brushed my hair without cleaning the brush the hair and dirt in the brush would go into the hair on my head and wouldn’t come out. I tried to resist the OCD, but it was so strong.

So, at midnight, I started cleaning my brush. First, I pulled all of the hair out of the brush and threw it away. Then, I went through and cleaned each individual bristle. I’m not sure how long it took, but I didn’t get to bed until sometime after one.

Finally, the time for the concert was coming. All that stood between me and going home to do my homework was a dinner break, the concert, and the drive home. I got out late for the dinner break because of individual pictures that we all took in our concert dress, and there wasn’t much time to eat. Naturally, I was worried about making it back in time. My family was eating with my friend and her family, it should have been fun.

However, all of the built up anxiety finally came out. I was already on the edge, some comments had been made in the car ride over that sent my anxiety skyrocketing, we accidentally cut in front of a family trying to get into the restaurant away from the cold (and I felt like a horrible person because of it), we were short on time to eat, and I had to make a decision about what to eat when my brain was screaming at me that I was going to be late. I was holding back tears, but I couldn’t hold in my emotions enough, and the tears were coming. I left the line and walked as fast as I could to the bathroom, while the tears started coming out.

Once in the bathroom, the tears came, and I tried with all of my effort to hold the breakdown in because I did not have time to deal with it. My mom came in and gave me a tissue, and took away the decision of what I was going to eat, and I was able to barely avoid breaking down.

I ate as fast as I could, trying to silence the thoughts that I would be late. The time was getting closer, and it was getting harder and harder to control the building panic. I was going to be late to the concert, and all of the stuff I’d gone through in the past few days would’ve been for nothing. I stepped on my mom’s foot, trying to subtly tell her that I was at the edge and I needed to leave. The tears were coming, and when she saw them start she got out of the booth and I went to the bathroom once again, trying to figure out how I was going to get to the concert in time.

My mom came in shortly after, saying that they were ready to go, and I had never pulled myself together faster in my life. I walked out of the bathroom and went to the car. I was going to be late, we had to hurry.

I ended up being fifteen minutes early. I managed to pull myself together, and no one else knew how close I was to a complete breakdown. My friends asked me if I was okay and I said yes, because I was able to outwardly appear okay, and I made it through the rest of the evening without issue.

OCD aside, the All-State festival was fun. However, my mental illness took the joy away from me, something that I deserved after all of the work I had put into preparing for the audition to get into All-State and the chair placement audition.

While my experience wasn’t the best, that’s the reality of my life, and I just take whatever joy I can get. I have hope for a better day where I can do things without my OCD interfering with my happiness. Life goes on, and I will move on and focus on my recovery. Somehow, everything will work out, and the experience will help direct me to becoming a better and happier person.

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