MHS graduate earns VFW Girl Scout of the Year

MORGANTOWN — It starts with a needle-stick of worry.
You’re halfway to work or school, when it emerges from the ether:
Did I lock the door? I know I did. I think I did. Now I don’t know. I better go back and be sure.

The space heater. I know I turned it off. But I don’t remember unplugging it. The owner’s manual didn’t say you had to, but what if there’s a short in it or something? The house could burn down.

Now multiply that angst by 10.

Or 20, or 100.

That’s what Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is like.
While all of us display OCD traits at one time or another, Sarah Boylstein, West Virginia’s VFW Girl Scout of the Year for 2018, can especially tell you about it.

Sarah, 18, a recent Morgantown High School graduate who will study business and marketing at WVU this fall, dealt with it for the bulk of her teen years.

Until she decided to own her OCD.
Soldiering on

After getting help for the disorder, which the International OCD Foundation calls “a very real mental health condition,” Sarah created a program on OCD and other emotional disorders and took it the students of Suncrest Middle School.

That project earned her the Gold Award earlier this year, which is the highest recognition for community service the Girl Scout organization bestows.

On a rainy Thursday night in Westover, a group of people who are no strangers to angst and post-traumatic stress presented the VFW honor.

The national VFW organization founded the award in 2001, as a way to honor citizenship and community service among Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts. National honorees can receive up to $5,000 in scholarships.

She was recognized with the state VFW award at John L. Frazier Post 9916.

Russ Melito, the post commander who served with the U.S. Marines, said he was impressed by Sarah’s unselfishness to the cause.

She thought of her fellow soldiers, as it were, he said.
That was evident, the Marine said, by the sense of mission outlined in the essay she entered for the award, which discussed her project.

And, he said, he knows she’ll keep doing the work, because she’s winning her battles with OCD.

“Sarah’s a real up-and-comer,” he said. “We’re proud of her, and her work.”
Obessions, compulsions
In her program, she talks about how OCD can spin out of control, with the repetitions and rituals: If you’re telling your parents goodnight, for example, you can’t go to sleep unless you say a sequence of words the exact same every night.

You might be able to do “three” of something — but four is out.

It never hurts to make sure you washed your hands, unless you have to wash them 50 times a day.

According to the International OCD Foundation, nearly 3 million adults and a half a million young people in the U.S. are affected by the disorder.

“I just want people, young people especially, to know they aren’t alone if they have OCD,” she said.
“It doesn’t mean you’re neurotic or ‘crazy.’ It just means you have something that can be successfully treated.”