As a young girl, school was a place I truly enjoyed being, a place where friends were easily made and good grades were achieved with little effort. I was ALWAYS “The Teacher’s Pet”. I was a people pleaser and wanted nothing more to be the perfect child, friend, daughter and sister.
In August 1971 my sixteen year old brother, Jerry was killed tragically in a car accident. Little did I know that his death would open the door to years of torment and torture, loneliness and life lost. When I returned to fifth grade that September, I began experiencing thoughts of losing my mother, the one truly stable person in my life. These overwhelming thoughts began to strip me of my confidence, good grades and friendships. The constant chatter left little room for me to keep hold of important information vital for learning and the embarrassing rituals caused me to distance myself from others, fearing they would notice that I was different. I found myself constantly attempting to neutralize these horrifying thoughts and repeating rituals in the hopes of keeping my mom safe. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder had me convinced that I a ten year old girl, was responsible for her mom’s life.
My name is Denise Folcik. I am the mother of four, grandmother of eight and I am 55 years old. I have lived with OCD for forty-five years. I spent thirty six years of my life saving the lives of people I loved, with the thought of losing them being unbelievably unbearable. The thought of death, the word death, anything to do with death brought anxiety that well exceeded ten on any scale. Showering, hand washing, counting, neutralizing thoughts of death and ENDLESS cleaning consumed me twenty four hours every day. But, performing rituals was the only way I could be certain my loved ones remained safe. Then… five years ago…my youngest daughter married a FUNERAL DIRECTOR! Yes, a funeral director! After the panic, anxiety and fear subsided, this relationship became one of the best forms of Exposure-Response Prevention Therapy I could have ever imagined. This was so important, as the bond with my daughter was at risk if I couldn’t overcome my fears.
At age 43, I was admitted into Roger’s Memorial Hospital Residential OCD Program, which forever changed the course of my life.
After a lot of treatment, determination and hard work, I hung up my Super Hero cape and turned the responsibility over to God and am living a life with minimal OCD thoughts…and freedom from the monster! I am currently the Executive Director of OCD Wisconsin and the author of Obeying Conflicting Demands: Silencing the Voice of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. I was honored to have Dr. Bradley Riemann share his insight in the foreword for my book.
I also have three children and a grandson who live with OCD and I want nothing more than to help make changes so the world is more aware and accepting of this illness. My hope is that my loved ones and all others who live with OCD feel no shame and have resources and help readily available.
My passion is sharing my story with others who are struggling or have lost hope and feel they can never recover from OCD. When I was in treatment we had a guest speaker share his journey of recovery and that evening was the first time in my life I realized that I too, could live a life free of OCD. I love nothing better than paying it forward!