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OCD

OCD

The Intangible Demons in My Head

I don’t wash my hands a hundred times a day. I don’t clean obsessively, or need things to be “just right”. I don’t count numbers, or switch light switches on and off. But I have OCD. Dear old OCD has been with me for a quite some time, and is always finding new ways to terrify me. Thanks again for that OCD.

For me, my OCD is mostly around intrusive thoughts and reassurance seeking. I remember my first intrusive thought, when I was just 9 years old, I couldn’t fall asleep, because I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was suffocating my dog with the blanket. I keep looking and checking on her, until I was certain it was off her and she could breathe. I felt if I didn’t keep checking, she would die, and it would all be my fault.

As I grew older, my GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder) and OCD symptoms grew larger and larger until they overflowed, and my parents knew it was time to take me to a therapist. My intrusive thoughts, or “bad thoughts” as I called them, revolved mostly around hurting myself, or killing myself. I was terrified that I would somehow manage to kill myself, and that because I thought that, it was going to happen. I avoided the kitchen, and couldn’t do anything dangerous in fear it would be me trying to commit suicide.

Let me make it clear that I was not going to do these things, but this is the nature of OCD, to make you doubt, doubt, doubt, fear the worst things, think the worst most “blasphemous” thoughts. Everytime I heard the word suicide, alarm bells, no freaking air raids go off in my head. I went into full panic. I write “were” because it used to be much worse. Although, this is still something I experience on a daily basis, it is much better than before.

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OCD

My OCD took all of my primary school years

Hi,

I’m Jake, now 24 and no longer a severe sufferer of OCD. I battled OCD from as young as I could remember, although at the time I had no idea it was OCD. My friends in primary school and my family used to just says (it’s just jakes way). Thinking back now for other kids to react the way they did is very positive because I was never bullied or made to feel like a freak about it, it wasn’t until I got older and started secondary school when it got so bad I would be late for school most days and even had to afford P.E. in school sometimes…next paragraph you will understand why.

My OCD thoughts would taunt me and make me do near enough most things repeatedly, to a point where I was putting boxer shorts, trousers, socks, trainers you name it any item of clothing I was taking on and off 20 or more times before I was happy enough to leave the house or go onto the next item of clothing. I would also get in and out the bath multiple times when they got to a point I made the bathroom so wet with bath water we had to get a shower installed to help the situation. I’m going into this much detail because at the time I never thought I would be where I am today or writing about my experience. Now having my OCD controlled so much where I don’t even notice I have it (apart from being clean and tidy) I feel I can speak out and hope to help other sufferers that trust me it gets better and yes you can live a normal life.

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OCD

Baby Steps

My OCD story started in childhood. I remember walking and counting, and walking and counting. I made up complex rituals around even numbers and sets of three. I always had to end my steps on a certain number, or with a set of three. When I was with my family or my friends, we would arrive at a destination or a stop at a crosswalk, and I would continue to take tiny steps in place to complete my ritual.

I also made up rituals about colors. I became convinced that it was imperative to avoid certain color combinations. I would move my toys, my books, my clothes – anything to avoid seeing certain colors together. Many of my childhood friends made up games or sang songs about avoiding cracks in the sidewalk, but I took the game to another level. I would avoid an exact number of cracks, tiles, or objects on the ground, or I would step on every single one and end with a set of three.

I would say that my childhood OCD was almost purely behavioral. I had no obsessions, very few “what ifs” and no idea why I felt compelled to do these things. However, I did have the beginnings of one emotion I believe is ubiquitous among many OCD sufferers: shame. Even as a child, I remember being aware that my behavior was not “normal.” I was afraid adults would laugh or scold me if they knew about my behavior, so I kept my rituals secret.

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OCD

Our thoughts do not define who we are

I’ve shared my story before. Back when I was suffering and didn’t know much about OCD. But it’s been a year with severe ocd. It’s been a year and I’m in recovery. So I’ll share my story in more and better detail.

All I did was have a off day, I walked into my kitchen and thought “what if there’s no spark in my boyfriend and I’s Relationship?” I panicked. “What if I lose feelings? Is this losing feelings? But I love him. Why would I?” My first OCD attack. I’ll never forget it. For weeks after that I was okay. I didn’t have obsessions or compulsions and life was well. Until I began to fall for him more. My anxiety spiked and peaked to new levels, I was having more thoughts about us which I didn’t quite get. I’d time myself on my phone and reassure myself for that amount of time. The thoughts still returned, rookie mistake. After that I’d google things like “am I lying to myself?” And one night I had an anxiety attack so big I almost left him from having intrusive thoughts . The day after it happened, I was anxious. I couldn’t stop it. I didn’t know why. It progressed and got worse and I realized.. I had ROCD.

I remember wanting to seek treatment the day I found out I had it. I could resonate with some of the symptoms and found that the deeper I got into it, the more and more I could relate to this little diagnosis I put on myself. So fast forward about 2 months and I’m struggling deeply with various obsessions. A thought popped out of nowhere. “What if I’m gay?” I freaked, and took an online test. It said I was straight, I knew I was. I couldn’t understand the deal! I was just worrying if I loved my boyfriend or not the day before, why the sudden sexuality issue? So I obsessed, the same way I did with my partner. And uncovered my HOCD the day I began obsessing.

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OCD

Living with Brian

Hi, my names Joe and I have had Obsessive Compulsive Disorder since I was four years old.
I am now twenty and still suffer with the condition. My story started when I faced a few traumatic experiences around illness and contamination when I was four years old. I won’t go into exactly what happened as I find it very hard to talk about but I will say that they were serious enough to leave me scarred for life.

Before I continue my story I would like to point out that my OCD now is not all focused around contamination and illness. I very much see what happened to me as a child as a seed for my OCD. Over the years as I have grown my OCD has turned into this ginormous tree, and every brach is a different strand or worry that I may have.

I have been in and out of therapy and counselling all my life and some things have worked more than others for me. I have also been prescribed two kinds of drugs by my GP over the years to combat both extreme levels of Anxiety and Depression that was as a result of my OCD.

Even though throughout my life I have had a lot of help and support, I suppose in my mind I think “how can I get rid of this, when I don’t know a life any different?” as I have had the condition for longer than I can remember.
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OCD

OCD and the Prince of Peace

Sunday morning church service is a time of quiet reflection to draw nearer to God…to God. To God. To God. Stop it.

But for myself, and the rest of the one in forty adults with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, that quietness doesn’t come on Sunday. Or any other day. There is no real quiet with OCD. But it seems church would be a place to alleviate the intrusive thoughts and the uncomfortable compulsions for an hour a week, right? Not so much.

Being dressed up for church is helpful. It affords me the chance to open the door to the rectory with my necktie thereby avoiding the germs of all the dirty souls who have come before me.

Churchgoers are creatures of habit. They like to sit in the same place every Sunday. This also works to my advantage. Familiarity and consistency are like armor against those serotonin rebuking demons living in my brain.

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OCD

Taking OCD for a drive

OCD has been apart of my life since I can remember, but it wasn’t always apparent until I received my official diagnosis two summers ago and started to reflect on how it had affected me. In hopes of shedding light on the mental health stigma, I present my story to the OCD community.

Let’s call my OCD a creature. An elusive being; not one that slinks about unnoticed in the shadows, but not one that rears its head and cries for all to see. My OCD is a creature that merely sits on its haunches and waits for an opportunity to act. Unseen by many, it ponders carefully in the furled bracken of my mind- observing, adapting, and striking out to permeate into the physical world when the time comes. Barred back by reason, my creature claws tenaciously at the barriers my mind puts up in an effort to control the beast. But every so often, it breaks through. Every so often, my OCD takes hold of me.

As a six-year-old, my thoughts should have been a whirl of care-free illusions. However, it was then that my creature decided to forego this construct and lash out. Upon seeing something intriguing, my mind told me that if I wanted to remember it, I would have to stare at the image for no less than three seconds and say the phrase “Okay, now, good.” This compulsion is the earliest symptom of my OCD that I can accurately recall. If I did not perform this ritual, something would go wrong. Of course, my parents were unaware of this until I began my Cognitive-Based Therapy years later and revealed all the compulsions I had accumulated over the years. Eventually, my rituals and tics would evolve from psychological to physical as the creature grew over time and began to control my movements.

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OCD

My OCD Story Part One: Living with OCD

OCD formally entered my life two years ago, but in hindsight, OCD has virtually touched every aspect of my life for as long as I can remember. One of my earliest memories of it is when the influenza virus finally made its way to my home country Venezuela. I was probably around 6 years old. I had heard the news on the radio that people were getting very sick and even dying from this and all I could feel was this paralysing anxiety and dread that I was going to also get it. I kept asking my parents for a surgeon’s mask to wear until the virus subsided and they kept refusing, laughing that I even wanted to wear such a thing outside. The only thing they said when I kept asking if I could get the virus was “you’re too young to be worrying about this” and while they moved on with their lives, I was trapped in endless overthinking about whether or not I could get seriously sick and if I would die soon.

Throughout all my education, I excelled in my courses at a great cost. Behind my straight A’s, top of the class achievements, and published papers at university level was great anxiety, panic attacks, self-punishment for not doing enough, and endless exhaustion from overexertion. I now know OCD was the one making me practice literally all the math problems (not one could be left undone before an exam!) because otherwise there was a slight chance I wasn’t prepared enough for the test. I saw my friends practicing five of them at the most, getting them all right like I did, but they knew when to stop; whereas I had to keep going because I could never feel confident enough until they were all done. And even then I didn’t feel confident enough – it was never enough. I now know OCD was the one keeping me in the library everyday (including weekends) until 11pm at night, prioritising staying on top of the class over all the friendships and connections I was starved from, being a student overseas away from family and friends. I now know OCD was the greatest obstacle in my education career, the one that beat me up so hard for not being perfect enough that I couldn’t finish my dream degree, a Masters in Research in Sexuality and Gender studies at my dream university. OCD didn’t let me finish my dissertation because it was never ‘good enough’, even though everyone told me I was a great writer, my destiny was academia, my research was exciting. None of this mattered because OCD kept drilling at me “you can’t do it, it’s never going to be perfect, so you might as well not do it”.

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OCD

At the age of 7

My OCD began to develop around the age of seven, around the time of my Grandmas death. I have always had a happy and fun family life, my parents have always worshiped me and my younger brother and I have very happy childhood memories. I have been very lucky with my upbringing as I have a very loving mother and father. I have always had a strong relationship with my Mum, she is my best friend and my main support network – she has been and always will be my rock. I can remember at a young age shouting down stairs to my mum and dad every night to make sure they were still there and that they were ok, even from being young I worried about my parents health and wellbeing.

My Grandma passed away before my younger brother was born. Back then it was just me, my mum and my dad, I have very faint memories of this but I am told that once my Grandma passed away I used to order the coats on the stairs every night. My mums would be at the bottom I presume so she was the safest, and then mine in the middle and my dad’s at the top protecting us. I have fond memories of Primary School, although there is one that sticks out. I must have been in the first year of school, I remember it was parents evening that night, so as you do you get your trays out ready for the parents to see your work when they arrive in the afternoon. I remember needing the toilet, I had my hand up as you do at the age asking for permission to leave my seat, the teacher at the time refused and asked me to wait, before I knew it I had an accident. I remember feeling so embarrassed and ashamed of myself, even at 9 years of age I was horrified. To make matters worse, I remember having to change into a P.E kit for the rest of the day. I cannot remember how quickly it developed but for a long time after this, I was obsessed with going to the toilet. Before leaving the house, I would go to the toilet at least 3 times to prevent this from ever happening to me again. It got to the point where I would sit on the toilet to just see if I needed to go, long car journeys with my parents meant frequent stops at service stations, in the end my Mum took me to see somebody about the problem and that is as far as I can remember. Looking back it is clear to me that it caused a lot of anxiety for me at the time, and I was trying to prevent the problem from happening by constantly going to the toilet. There is nothing else poignant for me that happened during this time. I remember being on holiday with my Mum, Dad and younger brother in Spain, and there was people on the streets selling drugs – whether or not this was due to anxiety I hated it – I remember thinking what if my dad took them? I remember shouting that I wanted to go home. I think it was at this point I started to develop fears of harm coming to my family.

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OCD

80% happiness and 20% fleeting ‘what ifs’

My story starts off, probably somewhat different from most in that I hadn’t really experienced OCD at any stage in my childhood – anxiety, most definitely, but never OCD specifically that I can recall. I guess this is what made my journey of discovery that bit longer – I really had no idea what was happening or what was wrong with me.

I remember the moment so clearly – it was September 29th 2007, and I was sitting in Burger King with my boyfriend; we were both 19 and had just celebrated our one year anniversary a week earlier. Everything was perfect…perfect being the word that would ultimately come back and bite me in the ass.

I referred to a joke that I had heard earlier that week, and after reciting it back, I distinctly remember my boyfriend responding with a polite, yet quite insincere sounding ‘chuckle’ – you know the kind when you’re not really engaged in the conversation and offer that sort of response you think the other person wants to hear? We all do it. Except, when he did it, I had a thought…a jarring thought. And it went something like this:

He didn’t laugh at that joke

He really didn’t seem interested in what I was saying

What if he doesn’t find me interesting anymore?

What if this relationship isn’t right?

Oh god….

And so began my spiral into what would ultimately become 9 and a half years of utter despair and anxiety towards romantic relationships.

That moment changed me; however, I got through the rest of the meal. We said our goodbyes and I got on to the bus. Soon after I sat down, I experienced my first ever panic attack.

How could this be happening? How could I be having these doubts all of a sudden? Everything was FINE! Everything was PERFECT! Of course, this was only the beginning of a long road of scrutiny with my thoughts, and the next day I called in sick to work because I was so distraught. I mentioned it to my Mum, and of course, she didn’t really know where this was coming from either. But because I was only 19 and this was my first serious relationship (I think she secretly wanted me to get out and play the field more), she openly questioned the same thing…which of course set me off even more. I started confiding in friends and other family members, begging for help. “It’ll pass” most of them said.

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