She is 26-years old and her name is Ashley Dawson. Seven years ago she was formally diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). But she has struggled with OCD’s intrusive thoughts, ritualistic behavior and tics since she was four.
The International OCD Foundation defines OCD as a condition that,
occurs when a person gets caught in a cycle of obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are unwanted, intrusive thoughts, images, or urges that trigger intensely distressing feelings. Compulsions are behaviors an individual engages in to attempt to get rid of the obsessions and/or decrease his or her distress.
The doctors she works with now believe a series of strep infections triggered PANDAS, or Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections. She also has been diagnosed with depression, EDNOS, fibromyalgia, IBS and Hashimoto’s disease.
Dawson recently told Buzzfeed she’d spent her whole life trying to make her tics look natural to hide her OCD because, to her, it was embarrassing.
Then one day, she decided she was tired of hiding her disorder. She uploaded a video to TikTok that revealed her real life.
A caption on her video read, “I’m going to show you how I eat breakfast with severe OCD (possibly caused by PANDAS).
Her video has been viewed millions of times.
She believes letting people think OCD is only about being obsessively clean damages the mental health community and makes the disorder even more difficult to explain to a confused society.
She hopes her video bring more awareness about what OCD really is. Since people who have it also usually have high levels of empathy, it can be difficult for them to reveal what they truly live with.
Dawson is a digital creator, model, actress and writer where she lives in Atlanta.