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Inside Hailey Clauson’s Mental Health Journey

The SI Swimsuit model talks about her struggles with OCD and how she overcame them.

SI Swimsuit model Hailey Clauson opens up about her experiences in therapy, living with obsessive-compulsive disorder and combating social comparison in this personal video. Despite her success – she recently became partner at a boutique modeling agency – the 2016 SI Swimsuit cover model had some hurdles to jump over to continue running the marathon of everyday life. Pulling back the curtain of her life, she reveals a different side of herself.

“I just kind of went through this moment of life and I realized that I didn't know who I was. I was very anxious. I was obsessing over certain thoughts and couldn’t get them out of my head,” she says. “Some of them were unwanted thoughts and I didn't know why. And I couldn’t just move past the thoughts in my head, like normal people do or what you think normal people do. “

Clauson says that talking with a therapist was vital in order to work through those unwanted thoughts. “Eventually I started going to therapy, and after telling her my story and what's going on and how I’m processing things in my head, she came to the conclusion that I do have OCD,” says Clauson.

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The International OCD Foundation reports that between two to three million adults suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder in the United States. This chronic mental health condition affects people of all ages and occurs when a person gets caught in a cycle of obsessions and compulsions. The diagnosis served as a relief to Clauson as it helped her better relate to what she was going through.

“I always thought OCD was like people that had to clean nonstop or turn on and turn off lights, but OCD can also be obsessive thinking,” says Clauson. “You go over and over in your head certain topics or certain things that you’re obsessing over. And so that’s what I was doing. So once I found that out, it was really helpful for me because then I was able to categorize what was going on with me and then I was able to learn how to live with it. It’s something that I will have to deal with for the rest of my life. But I think once I was able to identify what was going on with me and able to learn how to live with it life has become a lot easier and I don’t feel so overwhelmed. Therapy has been one of the best things that has ever happened to me for my OCD and just for other aspects of life.”

Given Clauson’s presence on social media, her IG followers might be surprised to learn that she’s struggled with her mental health. Clauson is wary of social comparison. “I think we see a lot of people on social media’s highlight reels,” she says. “So we see them looking their best, living their best life, everything looks perfect and I think we sometimes compare ourselves to those people in their lifestyles. Don’t compare yourself to other people on social media or in general.”

By being vulnerable about her own struggles with mental health, Clauson has found many people share her story. “Ever since I came out about my own mental health struggles, it has made me realize that I’m not alone because so many people came out to me and told me their stories,” she says. “I think we all have so much more in common than we think. And in a time like this, when everybody’s so divided, it’s so important to come together and support each other. Because at the end of the day, we all just want to be happy.”