Why I Am Deserving

I recently answered a scholarship application essay about why I deserve the scholarship, and my answer shows my growth over the last few months.

 

Only a few short months ago, I would have referred to my grades as the sole reason to be worthy of a scholarship. At that point in my life, my entire life revolved around school and achieving perfect grades. However, after being gone from school for most of the first semester to receive treatment for my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), I now have additional insight as to how I make the world a better place.

Throughout my high school career I have focused on achieving perfect grades, and my 4.46 GPA shows my academic accomplishments. What is not shown in the GPA is how unhealthy my life was until this year. I have OCD, which is composed of obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are unwanted thoughts about things that scare the person (germs, failing, accidentally hurting someone). The compulsion in the action performed to ease the anxiety, but it ends up reinforcing the obsessions and causes it to come back with more force. For me, my fear was of failing school, and I’d constantly be bombarded by thoughts of failing an assignment and getting kicked out of school. Compulsions I performed included rereading textbooks, going overboard on assignments, and doing extra work.

While my grades were fantastic, I wasn’t able to do anything except schoolwork.

Shortly after starting my senior year, I left school to go to a day program to get help with my OCD. At that point I was barely eating, drinking water, or sleeping because it took time away from studying. After a few weeks I transferred to a residential program where I spent a little over two months challenging my OCD to get better. The proven treatment for OCD is called Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) therapy. It involves exposing yourself to your fear and not performing the compulsion to ease anxiety. While sitting with the anxiety is terrifying, eventually the anxiety goes down and the brain slowly learns that the fear isn’t as bad as it appears.

For me, ERP involved school being limited, and eventually cut off. I challenged myself to engage in other activities my OCD hadn’t allowed me to do such as cooking, reading, and self care. I learned that there is more to life than just grades, and I learned the value of developing relationships with other people. Part of ERP involves overcorrecting, which is where the person is challenged to go to the other extreme of their OCD so that they will be better prepared to handle normal situations. For someone with a fear of contamination, it would involve something like eating gummy bears off of a toilet, so normal things such as shaking hands or touching a doorknob is easier. My overcorrecting was not doing any school for a few weeks, and having a limited schedule now that I’m back at school.

While not having a full class load is challenging for me, it has allowed me to branch out in other areas. I now go to a senior center and play piano weekly, which has been something I wanted to do but could never find time for. In addition, I blog and have an Instagram account about OCD in order to spread awareness about the disorder and to end the stigma about people with OCD just being clean.

Through my experiences I feel that I have proven to myself that I am hard working and resilient, someone who will work towards making the world a better place. I have learned the power of empathy, and how much potential every person has to overcome their struggles and succeed. My goal in pursuing higher education is to be better equipped to help those around me.