Battling OCD Since The Age Of 14, This Young Golfer Is Not Letting Negativity Control Her Life
- IWB Post
- May 16, 2019
Mental Health Awareness Week – while all over the world, the month of May is observing attempts to further open dialogue about mental health, India is still struggling to get free of the taboos suffocating this concern-worthy issue. It has been 73 years since India became a free nation, but its people are yet to achieve the freedom of openly sharing concerns over their mental health without the fear of being judged.
Such is the story of 17-year-old budding golfer Durga Nittur I had the opportunity to chat with today. Living in Bangalore, this young teen plays for the national circuit (IGU- Indian Golf Union) and will be playing in a few international tournaments this year. And yet, despite the records in golfing she one day hopes to break, she is unable to shatter the mentality of people when it comes to conditions like OCD – Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder- which she has been suffering from since the age of 14.
“OCD affects me every day for sure, for example, I check if I’ve locked the doors about 10 times a day even though I know I have done it. If I don’t, it becomes a loop in my head and that’s all I can think of until I check it. Sometimes, these compulsions take up so much of my time that I become less efficient in my work. I have thousands of thoughts when I’m practicing (golf), so many times I’ve had to stop practicing because of these thoughts,” she shares.
Playing golf since the age of 10, OCD sowed many hurdles in her path but her passion and love for the sport refused to let her give up. At the age of 14, advised by her coach, who noticed her mental stress owing to her condition, she sought help from a psychologist. “I’m glad I did that,” she adds with a smile.
But till date, her parents are not aware of what she has been suffering from. “I have hidden it from my parents. One thing everyone has to understand is that no one is born with OCD and it can develop at any time of life. So, just because as a kid you don’t have it, doesn’t mean you don’t have it now. My parents are still unaware unfortunately, I don’t know how they may respond. But I am working with my psychologist to develop the guts to tell them,” she explains.
Being someone who is so concerned about her parents’ reaction to her situation, I wondered how she tackles those who tend to criticize or demean her for having OCD. “Yep, I have been made fun of… a lot. It still happens but I have decided to take it lightly and make sure they understand that having this condition is no joke. Mostly, I try and tell them how I feel and give them examples. Half the people react the way they do is because they have zero knowledge about mental health. So, when I explain it to them, many, thankfully, understand that,” she says.
And what about the ones who don’t? “Better to remove such negative elements from your life, I say. I stopped talking to many people who make fun of me for having OCD, I tried really hard to make them understand, and they just say, it’s in your head,” she adds.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a chronic and long-lasting disorder where a person has uncontrollable, recurrent obsessions and behaviors (compulsions) that they have the urge to repeat over and over again. This often ends up interfering with all aspects of their life, such as school, work, personal relationships and their ability to concentrate.
Excessive stress is observed as one of the major triggers of OCD and when it comes to a sportsperson, the environment of competition and stress is pretty much a constant presence.
“I work with a psychologist and a sports psychologist to cope and perform better under pressure. I have learned to do that by understanding that my game is more important than my compulsions. I do get compulsive in the middle, sometimes I’m mentally strong enough to deal with it and sometimes I do what I feel like doing. On the golf course, I’ve learned how to deal with stress but I still struggle a lot in social situations,” Durga shares. She has also been using an app called Liberate, which makes it easier for her to deal with her compulsions.
The app allows the user to manage their OCD in an effective way, by sharing information about OCD, its causes, types, and methods on combating it. Its features include tracking the user’s compulsions and building an environment suitable to control their OCD.
One of the symptoms of having a mental health issue is that most of the times the one living with it will appear normal, showing no signs that they are suffering an internal battle throughout the day. “It’s true that people don’t know of my condition like I mentioned before, I don’t even know if my parents know about it. That means I do appear absolutely normal around, but it’s what happens in that head that no-one knows about. Sometimes, my compulsions don’t even look like compulsions, it probably just looks like I’m walking around, while actually, every time I’m checking the locks on the door,” she adds.
“It’s possible to cope with OCD, it’s not easy at all, but it’s possible. You have to make sure that you want to achieve your goal so badly, that you are willing to do everything for it, even if it means countless hours dealing with your compulsions. Remember, you can win over your OCD, you’re way stronger than it!” she declares with a triumphant smile.