Due to the nature of this article it is being shared anonymously on our platform. This is an option for all of our writers, and does not in anyway detract from the quality of the article.
I was like you once. I also thought OCD meant getting a bit annoyed about a red marker paired with a bunch of blue markers or having to clean an immaculate kitchen continuously. In my youth, those were the contrasting images of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder I saw. Tidy-ness, organisation, and stubbornness. If you’ve ever met me or seen my room, you would never suspect I had OCD. I live in organised chaos. As a child I was probably the most likely to be the sticky one covered in jam who stuffs important permission slips into a black hole of a bag. In fact most times when I tell people, they look at me a bit strangely and go, ‘really?’
Not that I blame them.
To be honest, as long as people aren’t going ‘I’m a bit OCD’ then I’m pretty much fine with it. OCD can manifest in a number of ways and in a number of worries. I often worry about my relationship or family or that I have done or will do something very bad. In the last couple years since trying to be more open about my anxiety. This comes out as constant verbal checking. ‘Is that ok?’ or even ‘do i have ocd?’ (yes, you do).
The reason why my OCD has gone uncovered for so long is because much of my fears strike against my compulsions in a form known as Pure O. Or OCD with mainly mental compulsions as opposed to physical ones like handwashing. For example, I have a horrible fear that speaking my fears out loud will make them come true. You can imagine how annoying that is for any therapists I talk to. As a child these fears ate me up inside. One funny thing is that despite being consumed by anxiety that I couldn’t speak in school, I still believed that I didn’t have an anxiety disorder. That my anxiety was just shyness or silly worrying, even though I had stomach aches going into school, was mainly mute, and was largely an insomniac due to nighttime rumination.
Another reason I don’t like to talk about my OCD is that I haven’t mastered how to control the shame over my intrusive thoughts. Everyone has intrusive thoughts. They are unwanted thoughts that you find distressing and disturbing. My OCD was so insidious that I had intrusive thoughts about sex that I didn’t want. I also had worries as part of relationship OCD that I wasn’t having enough sex. All in all I was one confused horny bastard, who flipflopped between believing I was a sex addict and feeling almost asexual. The brain is one confusing beast.
What is so hard about OCD is that the fears and compulsions are very personal and specific. Many people have the contamination type and many have my type as well. And we all sit in fear of our thoughts, believing that we’re the worst people in the world. When we aren’t, not by a long shot. In fact many believe that OCD is born from a fear of grey areas, which showcases itself in things you may value most. So for example a person valuing their family, may worry intensely about having to protect them, or worry about how much they need to be a good son/daughter/mother/father, or even worry about introducing people to their family and so on and so forth. This can show itself to the sufferer in a variety of compulsions which may not even make much sense to them.
I am more well now than I have ever been but I still have a ways to go. I have been noticing more and more about myself through my journey to get well. I am not my OCD but it certainly does affect me, in some ways I hate and in other ways I love. For example, I tell the people I love, ‘I love you’ a lot. I just tried writing why that is but my brain honestly won’t let me type the words down. I never truly thought about it that much before I got in a relationship, and saying I love you comes with a reciprocated response. He was confused and a bit upset that I was constantly saying it. ‘I know you love me, I love you too. You’ve said it 30 times. Are you ok?’ That question made me think long and hard about why I felt the need to continue saying it. Although I cannot vocalise the fear right now, I know part of the reason is because I need the people I love to know that I love them. Which is pretty lovely. And now we say it constantly. For him to support me like that is wonderful, and although I hate my OCD I can laugh at it.
Ultimately, OCD is one hell of a ride. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. However, I think sometimes that it has made me a stronger person. Struggling with myself not to check or not to listen to my thoughts goes against every instinct I have. But I do. It’s not easy but I’d like to believe I’m stronger for it. Hey, I’ve certainly come a long way from being that sleepless almost-mute girl in school.
- If you think even slightly that you might need help with your anxiety or depression. Ask for it. Research conditions. Ask your GP or community mental health organisations.
- Pay attention to your routines. Do you do them because you like them or you feel they help you. Or is there something more fearful at play.
- If your friend or loved one has OCD, you can ask them how they deal with it. But know that it is also intensely personal (the reason why I’m publishing this anonymously), and not everyone wants to or can voice their fears aloud.
- If you can, do CBT exercises or buy a workbook. Everyone has unhelpful thoughts sometimes and being able to locate them can be massively helpful, even if you don’t suffer from mental illness.
- I know people say a lot of bullshit about how yoga can cure depression, but exercise or other distraction methods can definitely help get you out of your head. I listen to a podcast called Sleep with Me which is basically an old guy telling long tangential stories that bore you to sleep. Hey, it’s better than listening to your thoughts.
- If you need to take medication, know that it can help you massively