Change can, of course, lead to anxiety. But perhaps it’s challenging yourself to face this, to be open to the world and all it has to offer, that also opens you to the beauty and variety of a deeply fulfilling life.
I was diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder at eleven years old, but while it was then I was first offered a label for some aspects of my thought processes and behaviour, it would be some years later, as a young adult, that I finally feel I developed an understanding and insight into the depth and variety of my obsessive compulsive tendencies, and how they had come to affect my life.
In life, we often find ourselves pushing beyond our comfort zones, and as a result, we may experience anxiety in the face of uncertainty and the unknown. To feel anxious is innately human; to feel anxious over decisions we’ve made, to feel anxious about the past and future. While closely intertwined and co-morbid with anxiety in a general sense, OCD is a separate diagnosis. As a condition, it is dichotomous; on one hand, a recognisable pattern of thoughts and actions feeding into one another in an identifiable obsessive-compulsive spiral, on the other, a nebulous concept, with obsessions and compulsions varying enormously for each individual sufferer.
Obsessions may be generalised as ideas relating to harm or misfortune befalling the sufferer or people around them. It is key to remember that obsessions are not indicative of a person’s desires, nor are they indicative of a way a person wishes to act. Everybody, at some point in their lives, will experience ‘ego-dystonic’ intrusive thoughts, or thoughts which are alien to their sense of self and personality. A conscientious driver may have a fleeting thought about swerving his car into an oncoming vehicle or upcoming pedestrian; a person who prizes themselves on being calm and collected may experience a sudden thought about acting in an aggressive or violent way towards somebody; a person manoeuvring to avoid entering somebody’s personal space on the street may suddenly have an intrusive thought about groping or touching the other person in a sexually inappropriate way; a person waiting behind another on a station platform may have a sudden mental image of pushing the bystander into an oncoming train.