With this week being OCD Awareness Week, I have decided to write down my experience of OCD. I am trying to be more open about the Mental Illnesses that I suffer from in hopes that it will help others.
For anyone who suffers from OCD and feels like reading this blog could negatively impact their condition, I would suggest that you stop reading now as I do not want it to trigger you.
Everyone has intrusive thoughts on a daily basis, the main difference. This can be in the form of whether something is clean or hitting someone. These thoughts are typically brushed aside by the majority of people, not letting the thoughts get to them.
OCD is when these thoughts cause a great amount of anxiety. The path of thoughts can lead to people carrying out various actions (compulsions) in order to relieve the feelings for a while.
I have a few different ways that OCD affects me. One way I would check to make sure the door is locked before leaving the house, to the point where I would press the handle down several times.
There have been times when I have walked towards town, only to head back home to double check that I have in fact locked the door. This would get worse the more stressed I was.
Looking back, the main thing that triggered my OCD was the deaths of many different people in my life. I was not used to people dying, not having anyone close to me dying. I did not cope too well with these deaths, burying them down.
My struggle is very personal and whilst other people might have the same forms of OCD, there is a lot of variety in the way that it affects people. There can be many different triggering life events that can cause OCD to develop.
One place still gives me anxiety after many years from the triggering factor. When I walk across a particular bridge in Coleraine, I can feel my balance wavering, worrying that I would fall over the side.
The trigger behind this is that this was the bridge where I was greatly emotional and a friend of mine got me to move on from. This friend of mine then passed away during the period of death.
When my OCD was at its worst, I went for CBT in hopes of dealing with it. This took a while to get as I was on a waiting list which was frustrating. In this period, I had to deal with things on my own which was pretty difficult for me.
This therapy was scary at times because it involved Exposure Response Prevention, which basically means facing your fears head on, putting yourself into a highly anxious state. This was difficult for me and initially I did not really want to do it.
There is an element of my OCD that revolves around my speech, where I would be anxious about saying something inappropriate in public. An example of this being worrying about saying "Fuck you" to the bus driver instead of "Thank you".
This is the reason why in the past I have been hesitant to talk out loud. I am trying to fix this by doing more public speaking and talking to people. I know I have a lot of work to do with this part
I have anxiety when I am near a sharp object, I get an itch on my body that I feel that I would need to deal with. I am scared that I would stab myself, probably doing a lot of harm to myself, possibly killing myself.
I would only eat with a fork because it would be me avoiding the anxiety. Alternatively, if I need to use a knife, I will cut everything that I needed to cut at the start of the meal and then only eat with a fork.
I hope that through writing this blog, someone reading it would be able to understand my OCD. If anyone feels like they need help with their OCD, I would highly recommend seeking out different OCD charities and support services that are out there.
In order to cope better with my OCD, I now go to a local OCD Support Group hosted by a local charity where I will be able to talk about how things are going. This helps me to feel like I am not dealing with things alone.