Jonathan: How I studied with OCD

Jonathan is a Bachelor of Business and Commerce graduate who has spent the last decade in retail and business management. For fun he loves to get outdoors, see the world and meet new people. He’s a strong believer that life is more than just study and work, and that real joy comes from being involved with people.

When I was 13, I was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. It was a huge disruption to my life and the life of my family. I honestly thought my life was over. I could not get out of bed and if I did, I could not get back in. If I managed to get into the shower, it took hours to convince myself that I could get out. I remember sitting in a test in Grade 9 trying desperately to work out how to pick up the pen without the world collapsing around me.

I managed to get through to Grade 12, but only because my patient and eternally loving mother helped with Years 10, 11 and 12. I will always be grateful to her for that and also to my siblings, who lost a lot of time and attention from our mother in the process. They still think I’m spoilt.


Eventually, after twice-weekly psychologist appointments, I managed to feel well enough to get a job at my local supermarket. I then spent 10 years convinced that that job was as far in life as I dared to go. I was not so anxious anymore and could manage life fairly well, as long as I checked the door 10 times before I left home and only walked around the house to peer in at the iron to make sure it was off 2 or 3 times.

Then I woke up one day and had this crazy thought:

'I don’t want to die and simply be known as the guy who sacrificed his life to straightening tins on the supermarket shelf, even if mine are the only aisles where the labels are perfectly aligned. I want to be something more.’

So I summoned all of my courage and every coping technique I had at my disposal and enrolled in a Diploma of Financial Services at the start of 2011. For the first time in my life I actually felt like I could achieve something. I thought the day I graduated with my diploma was the best day of my life. I had conquered my personal Mt Everest.

While I was basking in my graduation glory, a friend mentioned I should go to university and further my studies. I was like, ‘I don’t think so… there is no way I will ever go to uni.’ But the idea stuck and a week or two later, I was enrolled in a Bachelor of Business and Commerce majoring in accounting at USQ.

I remember sitting in the auditorium of the Springfield campus during orientation and seeing the words THE UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN QUEENSLAND projected across the entire wall. I nearly ran out, I was feeling so sick with nerves.

Three years later, I’m filled with optimism and I’m so incredibly proud of what I have achieved. Even with OCD, I now work in an accounting firm, slaying OCD moments every day. I’m planning more studies and I’m looking forward to a life with many open doors because of my achievements. I am something more!

My family at I celebrating my graduation!

Every student has a unique story of courage, determination and the great sacrifices we made in order to reach our graduation day. But whatever your story, whatever your sacrifice, I know every graduate will back me when I say they were all sacrifices that were worth making because you can achieve dreams even when you’re faced with adversity.

If you’d like the support of USQ to help you manage your disability while undertaking study, the Disability Support Team are the people to see. From general support and advocacy to assistive technologies and equipment, get in touch with the team to find out about the resources on offer to help you conquer your very own Mt Everest!


John: Your journey to greatness

Emma:  Why social anxiety shouldn't stop you from studying

Kim: A letter to first year students from a first year graduate