Ever since I started talking about my OCD the effect has been cathartic. I’ve felt less isolated and I started to feel like I was controlling my mental health as opposed to it controlling me. Equally, by not hiding my mental health or making excuses for things such as the regular hand washing and cleaning, or the reoccurring scars on my arms from constant picking, I’ve allowed myself to “come out” more than once to people who had no idea what real OCD was, let alone that I have it.
But, what comes with talking about it a lot more is the constant reminder that you have it. You would have thought that by talking about why I’m washing my hands again I would eventually teach myself to stop washing my hands as much – seeing as I was aware of it – but this is not the case.
I have OCD, and there is nothing I can do to stop it from being there. I am allowed good days where I haven’t felt the constant niggles, but it will always remain – no matter what I do. I’ve now learnt that fighting it just makes it ten times worse.
This is my OCD
Me + OCD
As a reminder, out of the main 4/5 “types” of OCD, my OCD concentrates on cleanliness – meaning I will often have issues with germs and contamination, checking – meaning I always, no matter what, will check certain things before I leave the house, and symmetry / arranging – meaning I absolutely have to have certain objects a certain way otherwise they’ll eat away at me. I have also been known to have intrusive thoughtss, but it’s calmed down a lot over the past few years.
This may sound pretty simple, especially when you write it down. You may also think that this only effects certain aspects of my day such as going to the toilet or arranging a food shop, but alas, no. OCD hits me on so many levels, here is just a snippet;
- My OCD will tell me every time I wash my hands that my hands aren’t clean enough yet, and “just once more” will be enough.
- Hand sanitizer is both my helping hand and my enemy (especially with cracked/sore hands).
- My OCD will use my child as a canary when it comes to food and whether certain foods are cooked properly (I know it damn well is as I probably over cooked it in the first place, but my brain tells me otherwise).
- Ironically, I actually prefer to eat out for this reason as the responsibility is on someone else – even though the thought of someone else touching my food sends chills down my spine!
- OCD will tell me to sniff and examine food in case it’s off, even though I only bought it a week ago. I lose count sometimes how many times I’ve tested eggs.
- My OCD won’t let me go up to bed – trust me, I’ve tried – until everything downstairs is perfect or a certain way ready for the next day.
- Don’t talk to me about the fear of stomach bugs.
- OCD is checking in on your loved ones, but when they don’t answer their phone after a while or, worse, become uncontactable you irrationally believe something bad has happened.
- OCD will tell me to check everything is switched off before leaving the house, but tell you five minutes down the road that the tumble dryer is still on.
- OCD is thinking about the last time you did something (like washing your hands) and how it worked out “ok” because you did XYZ and, therefore, repeating what you did.
- OCD is replaying past events to make sure no harm, embarrassment, or offence, for example, was caused. The more you think about it, the more you think the bigger the doubt.
This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, and this is my post to raise awareness about OCD – my mental health demon – in the hope that others understand it a little bit better. In the hope that people stop with the phrases “I’m a little OCD” and instead understand that some people often do things because they’re compelled to do so and can’t help it.
This isn’t me every day, or even every week, but sometimes it is. If you’ve read the above and can relate to some or all, I urge you to talk about it and seek advice.
It’s the best thing I ever did.