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This Is How It Feels

At twenty-years-old, Craig Miller attempted suicide. He sat on the edge of a bed and swallowed two hundred and fifty pills, never imagining that a note he wrote to himself fourteen years earlier would save his life. That note simply read, "Don't ever forget how this feels." From the time he was six-years-old, Craig lived his life by those words. He believed that if he needed to remember the feelings behind his life's most significant events, then there must be a reason why they happened. And for three extraordinary days following his suicide attempt, as he lay in the Intensive Care Unit floating in and out of consciousness, he found those reasons. He relived days from his childhood when his only friend became his assailant. He relived years of building a troubled relationship with God. He remembered when the pain of his life's tragedies finally caught up to him and he became the victim of severe obsessive compulsive disorder, relentless anxiety, and devastating irrational fear. After each memory, he awoke to the blurred reality of his suicide attempt. The struggle to fight his childhood assailant became a battle with doctors who worked to restrain him. The pain from a fist to his nose became the sting of a tube as it was pushed down his throat. And the memory of freezing alone on a cold winter night became the reality of a dark, lonely hospital room. But after each memory ended, Craig was left with the feeling that remained from reliving it. He felt the imprint it left within him- the deep desire to love, the desperate need to change, and the fiery will to fight. Craig Miller lay in a hospital bed for three days while his body fought for life, but his soul stood undecided on the threshold of existence. He relived the most pivotal moments of his life and saw himself from an entirely new perspective. He learned that God does not punish, and that love, no matter how bad it hurts, is worth it. He learned that compassion is to see the hurt in the eyes of another, no matter how bad we hurt ourselves. He learned that living in the darkness of mental illness can be one of the most powerful paths to self-discovery. And he learned that life, no matter how hard it gets, is worth living.
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About the Author

When he was fifteen-years-old, Craig Miller was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Psychiatrists at a New Hampshire Hospital determined that the rituals and behaviors associated with Craig's OCD consumed ninety five percent of his waking hours. His compulsions spanned the entire spectrum of categorized behaviors including washing, checking, counting, and even self harming. His counting rituals were among his most intrusive as he would spend hours performing complex equations in his head to avoid certain numbers while favoring others. At times he spoke backwards after each sentence to "reverse the intent of the words." He even performed ritualistic prayers to satisfy an irrational fear of God. Aside from these behaviors, Craig's most prominent compulsion was the need to collect pieces of paper he found on the ground. He felt an overwhelming desire to "help" discarded shreds of trash on the side of the road. And as he walked home from school each day, he collected pieces that he saw along the way. He carefully flattened out their wrinkled creases and neatly folded them up in his pocket. For years he lived in a constant state of fear and depression, isolated from the world under the complete control of his OCD and the anxiety associated with it. But despite the overwhelming power OCD had over Craig, there was one thing that was off limits to his intrusive thoughts and compulsive behavior-- writing. As a result Craig began writing constantly, expressing his pain through song lyrics and poetry. He carried a pen with him always. And more often than not he used the paper he collected on the side of the road to write his words. By the time he reached twenty-years-old, his life's traumas, as well as his battle with mental illness had taken a toll on Craig. And one night while sitting on the edge of a rented bed, he attempted to end his life. For three days that followed he lay in the Intensive Care Unit fighting a battle to start over. His triumph over this battle would prove to change his life forever. Now at thirty-six, Craig is free from OCD and the mental illness that once plagued him. He has found peace in his life's events and overcome incredible odds to leave his past behind. And despite everything he has broken ties with, writing has been the one thing to remain with him through it all.

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