Stranger Things’ Shannon Purser opens up about her struggles with OCD

The actress says she wishes she'd been able to seek help earlier

Shannon Purser has opened up about her struggles with mental health in a new essay.

The piece, written for Teen Vogue, sees the Stranger Things and Riverdale actress talk about her OCD and suicidal ideation.

She describes how her depression and OCD led to suicidal thoughts, adding that many people don’t fully understand the struggles of diagnosable OCD.

“The world seems to see OCD as a weird quirk to joke about,” she wrote. “A few winters ago, Target even released a sweater that read “OCD. Obsessive Christmas Disorder.” But wanting to keep things clean or just really loving Christmas is in no way comparable to what it is really like to have diagnosable OCD.”

She adds that the compulsions differ for those who suffer from OCD, describing how she “developed a compulsion to re-read almost every sentence over and over again, until I was completely convinced that I’d absorbed the material.

“I love books, and I’m normally a pretty fast reader, but at that time, it took me hours to read small amounts, making schoolwork increasingly difficult,” she continued. “My OCD turned something I loved into something tedious and frustrating.”

She adds that her OCD caused her to “stop talking to people” and “warped” her self-image. “Having a stray, weird thought or image pop into your head — maybe something super-sexual or violent — can be a perfectly normal thing for the brain to do, and most people are able to brush those thoughts off and move on. I wasn’t,” she explains.

“Instead, they were all I could think about, and they got worse and worse until I was convinced that I was an unstable predator. It was nightmarish. I felt dangerous. I thought I deserved to die, and I felt utterly alone.”

She eventually told her mother about her struggles and sought help from a specialist therapist. Purser praises the internet for allowing her to understand her disorders, allowing her to become more comfortable talking about them.

When sharing the essay on Twitter, Purser wrote, “Thanks so much @TeenVogue for giving me this opportunity. I hope someone will read this and feel a little more understood and a little less alone.”