Lived Experience Stories

Living with OCD



Zach Westerbeck was born into a loving family in Indianapolis, IN and during his youth lived a life no different than what most experience. In 2014, he graduated from Purdue University with a bachelor’s degree in Economics. Shortly after, Zach moved out of state and went on to work for Cisco Systems, where he still works now as a full-time Account Manager.

From the outside, Zach appeared to have the perfect life: a loving family, a caring girlfriend, great friends and an exciting career. However, on the inside he was battling an invisible foe that no one else could see that he knew nothing about.

In 2015, Zach started to experience classic symptoms of an anxiety disorder known as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Those symptoms included severe anxiety and deep depression that led to regular thoughts of suicide.  Zach recounts, “I felt like I was waging a war in my own mind that no one else could see and that I didn’t want anyone else to know about because of fear of judgement. I felt alone, weak and scared of what my future would look like.” He questioned if his life was worth living if he had to feel like that every day.

It wasn’t until Zach hit rock bottom that he began confiding in a few people very close to him. They urged him to get professional medical assistance. Because of their support, in May of 2016, Zach scheduled his first appointment with a psychologist.

“That decision has made all the difference in my life.” Zach states confidently. “I began to get better because of my treatment, and during that time I determined that it was my calling to help anyone else who was going through a brain health issue.”

As he started to do research about his own health and what was taking place in the brain health arena, he received a book from his mom called A Common Struggle that was written by Patrick J. Kennedy. Patrick had battled with Bipolar Disorder and addiction his whole life, and as part of his brain health advocacy work, co-founded One Mind. It was through this book that Zach first learned about One Mind and the brain health work we do.

Zach’s personal mission is to help eliminate the stigma of brain illnesses and disorders, to educate people on what depression and anxiety actually are and to share best practices on how a person can take their brain health from good to great. As part of his efforts, Zach serves as a member of Greek University, a speaker’s bureau, that focuses on educating college students on various topics including brain health.

In December of 2018, Zach contacted One Mind to let us know that he wanted to raise funds for our non-profit. In support of our mission of accelerating cures for brain illnesses and injuries, Zach and his girlfriend held an online fundraiser during the month of January to support One Mind. See his Facebook fundraiser here.

In addition, Zach was the guest on our Brain Waves livestream interview series. His interview occurred on Tuesday, January 29th, 2019. You can watch a recorded version of his interview linked here.

You can also learn more about Zach and his brain health public speaking efforts at

Thank you, Zach and everyone else who supports the brain health community!