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by Sam Wickey

Growing up as a terrified Amish child was extremely difficult because I could not speak to anyone about my fears, nightmares, and personal illusions that were perceived as reality. My family did not believe in any form of expression or communication because we were in the strictest Amish sect. They did not even believe in hugging their children or saying I love you.

My OCD began at age 7, and I remember sitting on a chair in front of my family. I opened my mouth wide, and then inhaled a lot of air while looking at my mother. I then held up my hand and blew out the air onto the back of my hand like I was fogging up a glass. I would repeat this action over and over, but no one would say a word. They would watch in confusion. I did this action over and over because I longed to feel connected and comforted by my mother who could not hug me. In my mind, I was inhaling my mother and blowing her out on my skin.

As more time passed my OCD worsened. I began acting out other strange rituals. It was becoming difficult to get dressed every day. I would count as I put on my clothes, or I had to redo actions if my mind hung onto a terrified thought. I knew something was wrong with me, but I couldn’t talk about it. I then became terrified that my brothers would become like me and they would also have to act out
strange rituals.

I would sob and pray for up to an hour or more repeating my prayer over and over because I could not convince myself that God heard me, or maybe I wasn’t saying the right words. I believed my brothers would become like me and be a slave to acting out these strange behaviors.

My OCD made it difficult to attend school because the kids thought I was crazy. I would get beaten up regularly by bullies. Coming home with bruises and snot in my hair began to worry my mom, and I remember hearing my parents argue about getting me help. My dad was a rebel, and he didn’t fit into the Amish community. He struggled with the Amish traditions which led to my family getting shunned. I felt more terrified as I had to transition into the modern world.

After leaving the Amish, I participated in many seminars and high event courses to break through fear. I participated in these seminars for several years. It helped me. Then a very powerful thought came to me and the thought was “Don’t be afraid. Just don’t be afraid. Everything will be ok if you stop being afraid.”

I found sculpting to be very therapeutic and inspiring especially after being commissioned by an NBA team to create bronze sculptures of two of their top players. It was a huge honor when they presented the sculptures to the players at an NBA halftime show on national television.

After people learned about my sculptures and that I was from the Amish they kept asking me if I would write a story about my life. Eventually I decided to begin writing and then I produced a movie about my life as an Amish child with extreme OCD.

The wonderful film reviews are beyond anything I ever imagined. People are expressing to me how my film has helped their families and how it has helped them heal from different issues. Even people who were never hugged or told they were loved when they were a child.

My film “My Name Is Sam” has helped me heal from my past and it is helping people who are struggling with OCD. I never thought I would receive so many heartfelt emails and posts from people around the world who are struggling with the same or similar disorder.

This is what has inspired me to reach out to a remarkable organization, “Anxiety and Depression Association of America” who is clearly a bright light in this world. Their mission statement spells out how much they focus on improving quality of life for those with anxiety, depression, OCD, PTSD, and co-occurring disorders through education, practice, and research. The amount of resources on their website is incredible.

Living with OCD doesn’t need to hinder you from living life. I hope my film and ADAA continues to reach anyone who needs help and gives them hope and relief from their mental slavery. I came from the darkest path and found the light. Thank you ADAA for all that you do.

For those interested in watching my film, it is available on Amazon Prime. To learn more about me or watch my film, please visit my website - www.sambronze.com

Comments

Sam, thank you for sharing your childhood struggle with OCD. Whether one was part of a strict Amish family or a non-Amish family in the 1970s, the struggle with OCD was emotionally painful for the child, parents, and family alike.

Back then, the tools used to treat OCD today were virtually non-existent. And, like the Amish, few families would entertain the idea of sending their child to a mental health professional for treatment in those days. That was too often viewed as a sign of weakness by the parents and pretty much stamped the person seeking the treatment as "crazy." While that stigma is still fairly commonplace, it is nothing like it was during the end of the last century.

I can relate to your childhood OCD experiences very well. I also grew up during the same period in the 70s. For me, I was able to hide a lot my OCD compulsions, as many were mental. But, whether one's compulsions are physical or mental, it's the obsessions that drive them that are so torturous for the sufferer. In my situation, I was not diagnosed and treated until just four years ago. That was mostly due to my own ignorance about what OCD was (I associated it mostly with contamination fears and repeatedly checking door locks and stove knobs) and my extreme reluctance to seek mental health treatment of any kind for fear of being labeled as crazy by family, friends, school/work peers, etc.

Your movie is an important contribution to the cause of spreading awareness about OCD that is very heartfelt. I applaud you for bringing your life story to the forefront for everyone's benefit.

Hi Paul,

Thank you for writing. I am sorry you have had to deal with OCD. Thank you for your comments about my film. I am very happy it's finally being viewed everywhere and even happier that people are writing to let me know how much it means to them. I am not ashamed of my disorder anymore. I am driven to tell as many people as possible. Have a great day!

Sam Wickey

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