The loneliness of OCD
Posted Tuesday 24 July 2012
I was diagnosed with Obsessive compulsive disorder 10 years ago this summer - but I’ve been living with it for longer. I knew what it was but eventually realised I couldn’t cope by myself and I plucked up courage and saw my GP.
I felt embarrassed putting the horrible thoughts that exist inside my head on a daily basis, into words for other people to hear. Although they make such sense to me, I know logically, they’re nonsense. But it was definitely worthwhile. I was put onto medication and found this really helped me get some control back.
Every year, 1 in 4 of us will suffer from a mental health issue, so there’s a lot of us out there. Yet, due to the stigma and ignorance of the illnesses no-one talks and it can feel terribly lonely.
Until very recently I thought I was the only one to have the kinds of thoughts I do. Then I joined Twitter under a pseudonym and started blogging. I’ve found a supportive community of people with a range of mental health conditions with whom I have a lot in common.
I watched a video on OCD-UK’s website and for the first time heard other OCD sufferers explain their obsessions and compulsions and was amazed to find so many similarities.
I want to share with people what it’s like living with this condition, so that other people know they’re not the only ones struggling. Here is what it’s like for me living with OCD and what I do to help myself.
As an anxiety disorder, OCD can be physically, emotionally and mentally exhausting. When I’m confronted with an ‘issue’ the fear can literally paralyse me. It arrives as a wave, starting at my solar plexus washing all over me until I can’t move, I can’t think about anything else and I can barely breathe. I feel sick and my heart rate speeds up. I get stuck in a kind of ‘twilight zone’ with my logical side trying to assert itself and take control of my actions before the obsessive, negative thoughts take hold. I have often lain in bed desperately trying to resist the urge to go and check the doors that I’ve already checked several times and know full well they are locked. I have so often been so frustrated with myself that I’ve cried.
I feel isolated in a sea of people that don’t have the constant battles I have to face every day. I’m jealous of people who sit on the lawn in front of the office, or walk around bare footed. I can no longer do that. It can be difficult to function sometimes when I’m with other people fighting my invading thoughts. Sometimes I just have to get on with doing the thing I really don’t want to do, and then suffer the consequences after.
To help myself I use distraction. I need to give my brain something else to think of, something quite absorbing such as gardening, baking or doing a jigsaw can help. Other tools include having a good song in the background to sing along to; if I can’t resist the urge to sing the words, I can’t have bad thoughts. A good television show or reading a brilliant book also takes my mind ‘off things’. When my brain isn’t fending off too many thoughts I find meditation quite good too. For that half an hour my brain is active but resting. It feels like it’s repairing itself and it’s so absorbing that there are no negative thoughts and that can sometimes break the specific cycle of the day. Whilst none of these cures my OCD, it does give my brain chance to rest. That’s the other important thing – not to get overtired. A tired mind can be my worst enemy.
I really admire the people who talk openly about their mental health, but I’m not there yet. I know talking about it is a good thing which is why I’ve turned to social media as a first step. By tweeting and blogging about my experiences I have the opportunity to interact with others going through similar battles to mine. The support is out there – you just have to know where to look.
Girl With The Hat
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