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Warner Robins teen with OCD opens up about onset, symptoms

Leah Castleberry said her OCd symptoms began last August / Shannon Lilly (WGXA)

WARNER ROBINS, Ga. -- Over 3 million people in the United States live with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), including some in Middle Georgia

Fourteen-year-old Leah Castleberry started noticing symptoms of OCD last August.

"I had to color code my subjects with specific colors," Castleberry said. "I had to lock my doors constantly and check around my house. I had to arrange my pillows on my bed a certain way every single day."

It also impacted her schoolwork and friendships.

"They would be able to finish faster than me but I wouldn't because I would have to re-write my paper or write really, really slow to make sure it was really neat," Castleberry said.

Her symptoms didn't stop there, though.

"Once they started increasing every day I realized I needed help," Castleberry said.

The symptoms went beyond the observable. She began having thoughts that if she didn't do certain things, should could get hurt.

"Like I could be walking down the street and get to close to a mailbox then somebody might come out of the house and kill me," Castleberry said.

She said those thoughts started after witnessing crime in her neighborhood, among other things.

"It was a house next door to mine and the whole roof was caught on fire, so I came home and I walked right past it and it kind of made me realize that that could be my house," Castleberry said.

According to therapist Mary-Catherine Riner, these symptoms are categorized as harm OCD, just one of many forms OCD can take.

Riner said to help Castleberry and other patients, she uses exposure and response prevention therapy

"They have to maybe count or lock the door ten times everyday, every time they leave the house, then I just start them back like what if we make it to nine, or what if we go every other day, or if that's too anxiety-proving, why don't we imagine that scene for a second and see what fears come up?" Riner said.

Castleberry said she's seen improvement since starting therapy sessions with Riner. She wants other to know that if they experience and of the symptoms, they aren't alone.



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