Twin sisters with OCD die in suspected ‘suicide pact’
Twin sisters from Colorado battling obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) since childhood reportedly committed suicide recently. Bodies of Sara and Amanda Eldrich were discovered with fatal gunshot wounds in a car near the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park in Canon City.
The duo had made headlines in 2015 for undergoing path-breaking deep brain stimulation (DBS) surgery to treat the disorder that changed their lives for better. For the first time, they had felt hopeful, happy and alive. But their success story came to a tragic end on March 30, 2018.
As per a GoFundMe page set up to raise funds for the funeral, the sisters were “amazing young women with big smiles and even bigger hearts.” “Sara and Amanda were creative, artistic, intelligent, compassionate, kind and generous. Unfortunately, they suffered their entire lives with OCD… and they finally succumbed to this insidious disease.”
Life post brain surgery
As toddlers, the twins always tucked in their shirts, washed hands repeatedly, sometimes for 20 minutes at a stretch, and took shower for hours finishing an entire bottle of shampoo. As per Sara, “it was an anxiety that couldn’t be controlled.” Their condition was finally diagnosed as OCD at the age of 16. As they grew up, they cleaned their bathrooms multiple times a day and used hundreds of gloves and bottles of alcohol to disinfect anything that they touched.
The mere thought of using public washrooms incited panic limiting their outings. They could not go barefoot in their own home. The girls would often go without shower for a week due to the persistent anxiety. Due to the debilitating illness, the sisters could not hold jobs or friendships, attend school or even go for movies. The sisters tried everything from medication to counseling and even other forms of therapies to escape the despair they experienced on daily basis but nothing helped. They even tried taking their own lives. Their condition worsened with time until they were treated with deep brain stimulation surgery that’s primarily used to treat Parkinson’s.
In 2015, their lives changed for good when they underwent DBS surgery at Denver’s Littleton Adventist Hospital. The aim was to suppress persistent anxiety and overactive part of the brain. In 2017, the sisters appeared on the popular TV show “The Doctors” to talk about the treatment procedure and share their story of hope and happiness. While Sara felt that she could identify her anxiety and felt confident enough to deal with it, Amanda felt excited to no longer be at war with her existence and felt comfortable enough to get a job and make a difference.
As per the specialists who treated them, within a year following the surgery, the mental health of both the girls improved considerably and they were able to find joy in simple things. According to their friends, the twins “packed an entire lifetime” into the three years following the procedure.
Seek treatment for mental disorders
People suffering from OCD are plagued by recurring, persistent and unwanted thoughts and fears that they cannot control. The resulting actions interfere with their daily activities and social interactions. While most people are aware of their obsessions and compulsions being irrational, they have a hard time keeping their focus off their habits.
Compulsive behavior is a response to underlying anxiety and a desire to suppress intruding thoughts. Though occasional anxiety is considered perfectly normal, recurrent anxious behavior can result in a mental disorder that can worsen the quality of life. Given the illness duration and triggering factors, comprehensive anxiety disorder treatment may combine psychotherapy, medication or both.
If you know someone who is suffering from mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression or OCD, it is time to seek professional support. Get in touch with the Recover Mental Health to know about the best mental health specialists in your area. Call our 24/7 helpline (866) 593-2339 or chat online with a representative to know more about the best anxiety disorder treatment center in your vicinity.