OCD Awareness Week (17th – 23rd Feb 2014).
I don’t usually take part in “So-and-So” weeks as a lot of the time they don’t relate to me and I certainly wouldn’t want to try and understand something I have no comprehension about. However, following a few emails, tweets and blog posts about this particular subject, and because I’m a sufferer too, I thought I’d bring awareness to the subject as well. There are more of us than you think!
OCD, or Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, is an anxiety disorder that can produce heavy anxiety, fear, apprehension or worry; brought on by thoughts or obsessions deep within the brain. It can be seen in many forms, from being excessively (in some people’s eyes) clean, to the way someone walks down the road, to how many times something is done to even just “feeling” right. For some, it controls their life; for others they control it to a degree, but it will always linger – especially on bad days. OCD isn’t a phobia of something, it is an anxiety disorder. An OCD sufferer is not afraid of dirt, they just can’t manage being in the same room as it – they may want to clean it.
As a sufferer, my OCD is “order” and cleanliness. By this, everything has it’s place and everything has to be specifically placed. My house has to be a certain limit of clean and there cannot be “stuff” like receipts or pieces of paper hanging around. It sounds silly, I can even recognise how it looks from the outside, but I can’t help it. I often try and joke about how similar I am to Monica from Friends, but even when I try to just dump something, such as my phone on the sofa, I simply can’t and I end up having to go back to my phone and neatly place it on the coffee table, in line with the edge of the table, or in my pocket. I’ve often had to go back downstairs as I know an empty glass was sitting on the side waiting to be washed up (all the washing up has to be done before bed). A friend of mine can’t walk on large cracks in the pavement and can only walk on 2/3 of those BT covers.
Over the years, I have dealt with it and simply forced myself to ignore something that others would think was silly, such as the way I put food on my plate, and it’s worked – however there still things today that irk me and I cannot ignore. Things like, where things are placed in the fridge and cupboards, how the curtains have to crease a certain way when they’re opened, how my desk is organised, the volume on a stereo and how it has to be on an even number or multiple of 5 are but a few daemons, but I deal with them. Some things cannot be described, as I just “feel” out of place somewhere on my body.
When I was a child, I never knew that what I was doing in the supermarket, such as reorganising the cheese into size order or removing the one can from the empty box onto the shelf and disposing of the card was weird, but apparently it was and my mum just took it was little quirk. It never did anyone any harm but I would become obsessed. Thankfully since meeting S, she has helped me through issues and embraced it. She has never once told me to stop doing something but, in turn, she would reassure me that there was nothing I could do about a certain something, or someone would just mess it up again anyway – and this would help. She never complains that I may be late coming up stairs to bed or that I may have to re park the car a few times to get it perfect – she’s just there and waits for my brain to finish boiling over.
Over the years, I have met people with OCD – some worse sufferers than others. Thankfully, many sufferers have received help or are coping with their anxiety on their own, but others aren’t. So if you know someone who suffers, don’t joke around with it, as it’s likely to be causing them stress. Simply ignore what they’re doing; rather than bringing attention to it by telling them to “stop being silly” – as more often than not they don’t want to be doing what they’re doing. Better yet, ask them if they need any help or assistance.
There are tons of places you can visit if you’re a sufferer or need help in assisting others. If you’re not that confident, then there are places online. Both sites below offer a variety of tools for those suffering and those supporting.
OCD UK – http://www.ocduk.org/awareness
OCD Action – http://www.ocdaction.org.uk
There is also a Twitter conversation happening this week, you can join in by using the hashtag #OCDWOA.