You have been around for quite some time now for my son (now 22yrs old)…… I first noticed when he was 13yrs old, I thought it was just little fad he was going through. Bending down touching the floor, or the top of a fence or not walking on the cracks on the pavement.
You did that for 3yrs then on a holiday weekend it all came pouring. You could not cope anymore, you thought you were gay, a bad person, a really really bad person and would go to hell, you cried with fear. OCD gave you a breakdown! You were admitted to hospital and diagnosed with OCD…. You had continuous intrusive thoughts, sexual, violent, religious thoughts…. Your head was full…… I could visibly see your worry, your pain, your fear!!! But I was helpless and did not know what to do….. I cried with you, I tried to re-assure you….. I did the best I could.
For all of us dealing with OCD no matter how severe and in whatever shape or form, know that your inner fortitude must be incredibly strong to deal with this monster every day.
It was Winston Churchill who gave his manic depression the name ‘black dog’ and I think a lot of you reading this may know what he was referring to when he penned that 75 years ago, I certainly can.
My OCD story started almost 5 years ago. I was 35.
I had a newborn son at home, life was great despite being exhausted ( he was a terrible sleeper) but I still had some of that new Dad ‘shine’ to me…it kept me going through those long days trying my best to manage a work/ life balance.
I remember the day so vividly when my OCD raised its ugly head for the first time. I was walking home after work , I used to cherish that time. Clear the mind…. Fresh air. I couldn’t wait to get home and see my baby boy. it was unseasonably warm for a February day in Toronto and it felt good to be walking with the sun on my face . Out of nowhere I had this thought ‘what if I hate my son ?’ It felt like An MMA fighter had sunk his fist into my solar plexus and was circling the ring looking for his next opening. I just stood there on the pavement, horrified, confused, scared… That thought sent a 50,000 volt shock through my system. I couldn’t get it out of my head.
Though at points I paint a negative picture I believe in the absolute core of my being that OCD is something anyone can recover from and is ultimately not something I’d trade for the world.
Here is my account of what it’s like to live with OCD. I hope to express myself as honestly as I can. Over the years of recovery, I’ve had to open up about the nature of my OCD through productive discussions with cognitive behavioural therapists and reassurance seeking questions directed towards friends and my long suffering parents. As a result, I now feel able to discuss some of my intrusions on The OCD Stories. I’ll begin by briefly describing my childhood experiences with OCD, my thoughts on CBT, and finally where I am now. Though at points I paint a negative picture I believe in the absolute core of my being that OCD is something anyone can recover from and is ultimately not something I’d trade for the world.
When I was nine my parents moved to Bristol and I was placed in a large school named Clifton College. Moving from a 100-person village school to Bristol was an overwhelming experience. I was picked on endlessly and attempted to isolate myself as best as I could. In my experience children are capable of immense cruelty towards each other, acting as a group to pick on the weakest or the perceived weakest. I can only speculate but I believe this experience acted as a trigger for my OCD and has shaped me significantly. OCD is about control. We attempt to control our thoughts, actions and environment all in a hopeless attempt to reduce the uncertainty. OCD takes over your life, by telling you what to do, promising to make things better but ultimately reneges on every deal it makes. Despite promising you that this is the last piece of reassurance it needs, it always demands more, growing each time you entertain it.
If you want to feel better you will need to face your fears
Hello I am 37 years old and have been struggling with OCD since 2012.
I have always been a worrier. Before I knew I had OCD, I would worry about almost everything. I remember trying to call my mother and she would not answer. In my mind I would think that something bad must have happened to her. Maybe my step dad must have murdered her. I would keep calling and calling almost every 10 minutes until she answered. I never knew I had OCD. To me it was just normal worrying. I would drop off my daughters (5 and 6) at school through the drive through drop off and I would drive around school to make sure they made it in. If for some reason I would not see one of my daughters in school after dropping them off, I would worry and feel as if I would faint. I would then call school to make sure that my daughter was in class.
One day in summer I was overwhelmed and really stressed. I had taken a vacation to spend time with my daughters and booked the whole week with activities for us to do. One day we were scheduled to go to the pool. The heat was terrible. I didn’t drink much water that day. That day I started feeling sick, my body was weak, but I still kept going. I remember the sweat running down my back. Later that afternoon I decided to go to the gym, I took my dauthers with me and left them at the kiddy day care. One of my daughters was thirsty so I gave her my water bottle. After the gym we went back home and it was time to cook dinner. The AC in my apartment was not working, my apartment was like 90 degrees. I still decided to cook. While I was cooking I began to feel the sweat drop down my back. I soon started to feel dizzy and confused. I told my husband that I was not feeling well and he told me to take a nap. I laid down in bed and felt my heart palpitating really fast. I didn’t know what was happening. I began to get scared. I put my girls to bed and drove myself to emergency.
It can always be treated now. There is always great hope. The last few years have been the best years of my life.
I was 7 years-old and it was the first time I’d stayed over at my Grandma’s on my own. The evening was great – it’s a lovely sort of hazy memory of childhood happiness, having fun, being cosy and happy at your Gran’s.
But suddenly, as she was hugging me Goodnight, the thought shot into my head that if I strangled her she wouldn’t be able to stop me because of being too frail. It terrified me. There was no thought in the world that could have appalled me more.
Looking back now I can see that the circumstances conjured this up in my mind. It was an involuntary thought – intrusive. The problem was that the thought didn’t go in one ear and out the other. I obsessed about it. I was a growing boy, shocked to realize that I was already stronger than my Gran. In the nightime stillness of her bungalow I glimpsed through childhood eyes the vulnerability of an elderly person that I loved dearly.
I decided to share my story because I want you to know you are not alone.
I was 26. I had just given birth to my first born, a boy. He was a
baby who had been prayed for and yearned for, and waited for through the heartache and tears of two miscarriages. It should have been the
happiest time in my life. I remember the first vivid intrusive thought. It was my first week
home alone with him. I was cooking. He was laying in his infant seat
in the kitchen. I had a flash of accidentally dropping my knife and
hurting him. Immediately, the thought morphed into my stabbing him on
purpose. Panic rushed in. I was hot and shaky. Terrified. I cried out
to God to protect my son from me.
Of course, these are just a couple of minute benefits on a long list of disadvantages and difficulties, but to me, they matter.
Since early childhood, I have been living with a monster in my mind. To me, this is the most accurate way to describe OCD, as it, quite simply, feels like a separate and conflicting being that lives inside of me. When I was a kid, the monster had a face but never a name. A middle aged vampire. A young guy wearing a back to front baseball cap. Sometimes I could have sworn I’d see the vampires shadow on my bedroom wall, haunting me. But, in reality, it left no trace of its existence. It, and all of its weapons designed to hurt me, were simply a figurement of my imagination, I told myself. My brain being bad. It was only years later that I learnt there was a name for my suffering: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
My struggle started around the age of seven or eight. My struggle with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder began when I was around seven or eight years old. Back then, it was more irritating than anything. I began to feel unignorable urges to touch and stare at things until they felt ‘right’ and, after a while these compulsions helped ease the anxiety I felt about childhood phobias. From this age, I was already beginning to feel different from the other kids. I felt stuck in my own little world most of the time, trapped in a battle with the urges. By the time I reached ten, the obsessional side of my OCD developed majorly, keeping me up all night and leading me to spend every night in the bathroom, carrying out compulsions. At this point, I remember two obsessions being present; the phobia of losing my hair due to the condition alopecia (which my mum’s cousin had suffered from) or by being diagnosed with cancer, and the fear that something bad would happen to my family if I didn’t carry out a series of ritualistic compulsions. I remember feeling a crippling sense of anxiety in the middle of the night, when everyone else was asleep, convinced that my hair was going to fall out, and brushing it compulsively until I became sure that it wasn’t. I remember feeling ashamed and disgusted about the unusual and bizarre compulsions the monster told me to participate in, or else, my family would be in danger. It was a scary and confusing time of my life, but back then, it was bearable, and I was unaware that anything was really wrong.
So if a thought came in, I would embrace it and say “oh is that it ocd, is that the best you’ve got, bring it on“
My ocd story: Pre-diagnosis it started around the age of 6 where I would spend a lot of time at night ensuring that the pillow on my bed was a certain distance from the wall, to prevent myself from hitting my head on the wall and harming myself. This compulsion, like any compulsion simply never satisfied the ocd, so I would often sleep on the floor as another compulsion which made it more “easier”, so to speak.
Moving onwards, I would go many months symptom free, only to be hit by new variations, so in retrospect my ocd, looking back often waxed and waned over the years, pre diagnosis. Health obsessions, relationship obsessions, was I supposed to be a girl obsession, checking on the kids when they were babies eg are they breathing properly, what if the blankets go onto there faces etc, which was very exhaustive.
Into my mid 30s I had horrid thoughts that I may have harmed the kids when they were babies, and these thoughts were so strong I actually started to believe in them, what ever compulsion I carried out, they just came back stronger and more powerful. Compulsions were ruminations, drinking water to try and flush them away, drinking alcohol also was used as a compulsion as it had the ability to eradicate the thoughts, until the next day of course, where it was back with vengeance and of course the dealings of a hangover too.
I hope people can relate to it and realise they’re not alone.
20 months ago I was diagnosed with OCD. It was something I could always relate to. Growing up, every time I saw a documentary on TV about OCD it all seemed uncomfortably familiar. I remember seeing a man who couldn’t go to bed until he had arranged the pots on his fireplace in a way he felt comfortable with. He was in agony. I could relate to him but because my OCD wasn’t the stereotypical type of OCD the public are familiar with, I too, never saw my condition as being OCD. I’ve always been tense and sensitive. Never a confrontational kid and always, generally, well behaved at home and at school. I never have liked to rock the boat so whenever things came up in my life which did just that my fight or flight response, I now know, never worked properly for me. I bottled it up and carried it round with me. I was quiet and shut down. People often have referred to me a the ‘quiet one’ or ‘sensible one’ amongst my group of friends which to the outsider it must look like that. However, I did recently hear a quote which said that sometimes the quietest people have the loudest minds. I can relate to that as well. There have been times I can feel myself slipping into my head and becoming anti-social. I dont want it to happen. I want to project myself and show my true self, but sometimes I get lost in thought.
My first real involvement with OCD was when I was 10. Around that time me and friends were making prank calls, sending pizzas to people’s houses, silly stuff, harmless really but no doubt annoying to the people we were doing it to. Then one day I made a prank phone call to the 999 operator. This came back to haunt me, as later that day the operator called back and spoke to my Mother who was furious. “What if someone who was in a burning house couldn’t get through to the operator because of you” or something along those lines were said. Also, I was told my Grandpa, who was my best mate growing up and who died when I was 6 (and also a phone operator for the fire brigade!!!) would’ve been ashamed of me.