What it's like living with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Guest blogger Chloe gives us her story and her tips
Hello, my name is Chloe and I am 19 years old. I was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in 2008, but have had OCD symptoms since I was 9 following the death of my much-loved Nan.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is an anxiety disorder, and a very serious one, too. A lot of people joke about it and it’s often misunderstood.
OCD can centre on many things - my OCD centres on contamination fears, fears of death and a fear of bad things happening to others. Every day I have to battle with intrusive thoughts, to relieve myself of the anxiety I have to perform compulsions. Compulsions are actions that the person performs to relieve themselves of anxiety.
My compulsions include excessive hand-washing and cleaning, counting rituals (often in my head), tapping a certain number of times and the need for constant reassurance. Some people have OCD without the compulsions, and this is called Pure-O.
I have to remind myself that the intrusive thoughts are the OCD, not me. I get thoughts and images in my head of people dying, and thoughts of contracting diseases like HIV and cancer. If it’s a particularly bad day, I often have trouble dressing or doing ‘normal’ things like turning on the taps as my OCD has leaded me to believe I can catch diseases from just touching things. On good days, I can try and fight the OCD, by resisting the urge to carry out the compulsions.
Everyone in the world experiences unwanted thoughts ever so often, but people with OCD cannot just dismiss the intrusive thoughts.
You may be reading this thinking, "There’s no way out! I think I have OCD and the future doesn’t look good!" Although there is no known cure for OCD, there are treatments and medications that can help people with OCD manage their condition.
In 2008 I was referred to the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Team, from then on I was under their treatment until I was 18. Then I was then passed on to the Community Mental Health Team who deals with people age 18+. The treatment and support I received was excellent, and I had the opportunity to do Cognitive Behavioural Therapy as part of my treatment. I was inspired by my therapist at the Community Team to helps others, so I set up a local OCD support group and I run a website raising awareness of OCD.
Although I still and always will have OCD, I am finally learning how to manage it. There will be good and bad days but the important thing is not to beat yourself up about it - everyone has bad days and you can get through it.
- If you believe you have OCD, please see your GP. They can offer you advice and support and help you access treatment.
- You can also help yourself manage your OCD by doing things you enjoy. I particularly enjoy writing poetry and walking by the beach.
- Talk to someone you trust, whether that’s to someone from your family, or a friend. It’s good to get it all off your chest and not bottle it up.
- Get the right amount of sleep - if I don’t get the right amount of sleep, my OCD seems worse the next day and I find it harder to manage.
- Remember, you can get through this. Don’t be ashamed of having a mental illness. I think of it as if I had a broken leg, I wouldn’t leave that untreated. Mental health is equally important as physical health.