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George Somers

OCD

Questioning Yourself, and Hubristic Overthinking

When I was eighteen, I started this relationship with a plucky, punky, quite typically teenage angst fellow eighteen year-old. Like a lot of teenage relationships, it was a questionable match, we had little in common and it was short-lived, the pair of us calling it quits shortly before I moved away to London for university.

Coincidentally, brought on by the unfamiliar surroundings of a daunting new environment, and having moved four hundred miles away from my home town, it was in these initial months that OCD began making a cameo in my day-to-day life. By the start of my second year, it had a leading role in my story.

However, after a few years of reflection, it’s finally occurred to me that the source of my OCD was not solely a substantial social, or academic shift; the people we meet and the interactions we have with others through our “outside lives” play a huge part in how we process, perceive and think about ourselves in our “inside lives”.

Around two to three weeks before I moved away for uni, I get a text. It’s from a close friend, we’ve known each other for countless years throughout school and college, and she’d been encountering her own severe issues with mental health for a number of months. As a rule of thumb, if a friend with mental health problems contacts you at one o’clock in the morning and says that they’re feeling “a bit off”, you should give them your full, undivided attention. We agree to meet up the following evening to have a chat about what she’s going through, and after a few drinks, she makes a tipsy, ill-advised pass at me. I tell her that, even in my own woozy and blurred state, it’s a terrible idea, we both in turn laugh it off, and I leave.

The following morning, I woke up in what felt like it wasn’t my body.

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OCD

OCD is a superpower

Many of those living with OCD can trace their mental health lineage back to a moment, or at least a vague, indiscriminate period, when Obsessive Compulsive first became a problem for them. It makes its grand debut in a loud, emotional, difficult to navigate, and all-round shitty opening number.

Perhaps not a specific point in time when Obsessive Compulsive reared its ugly head and strode with confidence and swagger as an unwelcome guest into their lives, but at least an inkling in retrospect of how and why those three letters came to leave such a stamp on how they live today. I, however, am not one of these people. I can’t tell you why I am obsessive, there is seemingly no explanation why I have to satisfy my compulsions, other than the unnerving feeling that aspects of my environment need to be “just right” in order for me to feel comfortable. “Just right” – I feel like OCD sufferers should have that slogan printed on business cards.

While I can’t explain where, when or how I’ve found myself where I am today and as a proud member of the mental health community, I am very aware of the social factors which have lead me to this point in my life.

At the age of six, every child in the UK is dressed in a formal shirt and tie, top button tightly done up, backpack buckle fastened, shoes polished, blazer ironed and generally made to look like they’re sweaty, middle aged businessmen commuting into work on the tube. We then spend the next ten years teaching children, teenagers, young adults what success looks like. We explain that hard work leads to good grades, that academic excellence then leads to a well-paid occupation, that job leads to career ladder progression, which all in turn leads to money, friends, family and happiness. We tell students to sit up straight, to stand up straight, do their top buttons up, adjust their ties – we even give them a uniform.

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