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 decided to seek help and I was formally diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. For me this was like half the recovery was already there, a light bulb moment so to speak!!!
Once I understood what was happening inside my poorly brain, I then gathered as much information as I could about the disorder and began to challenge the ocd, rather than letting it challenge me. 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“, and agree with it, and carry on with what I was doing.
I was offered CBT with a therapist, 6 weeks after the formal diagnosis, but ocd told me not to go for CBT as they will say it isn’t ocd and they would lock me away, so in retrospect ocd prevented me from having real CBT!!
So recovery was done on my own and via support and information from an ocd charity. I worked at changing the way I responded to the thoughts, and accepted that from time to time there will be intrusive thoughts, but to put it simply there wasn’t a lot I could do about them at all, leave them be, do nothing but make sure you don’t avoid any triggers or feared situations, go at them, deliberately!!
Recovery I’d say took around 9 months, and over the last 11 years I have had no issues what so ever with ocd, and there isn’t any indications of, or that I would fit into any form of diagnostic criteria of being an ocd sufferer.
Lifestyle changes were made during recovery, looking after number one was important, often we forget about ourselves. Exercise helped me to focus, healthier eating made me feel better in myself, getting a good sleep pattern also helped immensely. Fit in body, fit in mind maybe?
Over the last 11 years I have become quite heavily involved in awareness raising, via charities of ocd action and maternal ocd, and have and continue to do talks about my story and ocd itself via my local NHS.
By doing so I feel that its helped many and made professionals much more aware of what ocd really is all about, it’s not just the handwashing and checking, it does take many manifestations, especially with fear of harming babies / newborns in mums, and dads of course too. I have also attended DR.Heather Sequiera psychologist training courses, sharing my lived experiences with those psychologists that are being educated about OCD.
Over the last couple of years I have organised “picnic in the park” in London for those that suffer with ocd and the families and carers alike, it has been a good opportunity for people to join together and perhaps share stories, support or to just join together and have a nice afternoon together. This year we hope to hold one in the middle area of the uk.
I launched a weekly ocd chat on twitter around 18 months ago, where we get a chance to discuss different aspects of ocd, carers aspects, and a general way of sharing awareness at the same time. It’s normally on a Tuesday evening at 8pm UK time under the hashtag #ASKASHOCD which is also a recognised hashtag by the UK’s leading mental health charity MIND because its important that if you are to use twitter or any other social media network, the information often can be misleading.
If I was to offer any advice now, I would always suggest that if you are or believe you are suffering from ocd do seek help asap.
My blog: askashocd.wordpress.com