In a new essay for Teen Vogue published on Friday, May 4, Stranger Things and Riverdale actor Shannon Purser detailed her mental health struggles while raising awareness for what it means to have diagnosed obsessive compulsive disorder. The actor revealed how previously undiagnosed OCD and depression led her to have suicidal ideation and what she has learned about her condition since her diagnosis. With the help of a therapist, she wrote that she has learned how to cope with the effects of the disorder.
Purser wrote in her essay that OCD did not affect her in the way it is often portrayed in media (such as obsessive cleaning), but instead with obsessive thoughts. She wrote, "You may also have heard of OCD because lots of people like to casually diagnose themselves with it, saying things like, ‘I hate when things are messy, I’m so OCD.’”
The National Institute of Mental Health’s list of OCD symptoms includes "Excessive cleaning" and "Having things symmetrical or in a perfect order," as well as "Obsessions are repeated thoughts, urges, or mental images that cause anxiety," and "Aggressive thoughts towards others or self."
Purser explained further in the essay that obsessive thoughts affected her life in ways big and small, including her ability to get through a school assignment, and her feelings of self worth.
After many of her fans and others read the 20-year-old actor’s essay, they came out to support her on social media. Many people applauded her bravery, and others related to her essay via social media.
One of her biggest supporters was Stranger Things castmate David Harbour.
Many others also thanked her for her candor.
Others related to her.
Purser wrote that she is now managing her condition and is able to go off medication (under the advisement of her doctors), but she explained in the essay that she wishes she knew more earlier. "I wish I’d been able to reach out for help sooner," she wrote. "I was so consumed by fear and shame that I’d convinced myself that no one in the world was going through these trials."
She concluded the essay by writing that having the internet, and learning she was not alone, was the first step to her recovery. Her essay seems to be helping others to know they are not alone and that they can get help.
If you or someone you know are experiencing suicidal thoughts, call 911, or call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.
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