Will talks about his journey with OCD, and why he is wearing his Mind badge for World Mental Health Day.
It’s safe to say that every single day I focus on ignoring or battling what my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is telling me. It’s not the best way to deal with it, but I also think it is important to try and remind myself who I actually am. In university I was overwhelmed by these thoughts, up to hundreds in just one day, and it led to a very tough time where I thought I was a bad, unpure person. They would be of a sexual or violent nature, and I found it incredibly distressing.
"I thought I was a bad, unpure person."
Despite trying to take my mind off them, there seemed to be no rhyme or reason to what I was going through. I tried various things – drinking seemed to work for a little bit, spending time with certain friends worked sometimes, going home was a temporary change of scene which captured my attention. Despite all this I couldn’t shake off these intrusions, which were plaguing me. If anything, they seemed to get worse over time. Soon I began to judge each day by how many of these horrible thoughts I had.
None of this seemed like OCD to me. I had no idea intrusions and fearful thoughts are a symptom of OCD, and that compulsions were a way to try and get rid of them, or deal with the distress they caused. Sometimes these obsessions and compulsions can seem completely unrelated. With no obvious compulsions and a limited understanding of OCD, it took a long time to get to the point where I knew that what I was experiencing was a mental health problem.
"I was suffering from a mental health problem, and I had little real-life knowledge of what this actually meant."
When I lay on the sofa in tears, after a birthday ruined by paranoia and anxiety, I knew I had to get some help. I had been to the doctors a year before but was scared off by the potential illnesses which were now listed on my medical notes. I didn’t want those labels hanging over me, and I particularly didn’t want to be viewed as “mad.” At that point, although I was suffering from a mental health problem, I had little real-life knowledge of what this actually meant.
My diagnosis was a huge turning point, but it was just the beginning. I had been hoping it was the end, and I would be cured in a month. Indeed, I felt very hopeful and positive that I would be back to feeling well again in no time at all. Most of all I felt incredibly relieved that someone had been able to finally answer why I had been feeling so bad, and that it wasn’t my fault.
But the miracle cure I was expecting didn’t come. Instead I suddenly had this label of OCD and very little strategy of how to move forward from this point. I also felt I had to explain why I was off work, and how I could prevent this happening in the future, yet I knew next to nothing about OCD.
"Mind was a treasure trove of content; for the first time I found stories of people who were going through the same thing as me."
This is where Mind came in. After realising I knew very little about tackling this thing which had a hold over my life, I looked for information about what OCD is. Mind was a treasure trove of content; for the first time I found stories of people who were going through the same thing as me. To accompany this there was an explanation of what OCD is – and most importantly here was explanation of why I was suffering.
It felt like a weight off my shoulders. I began to realise I was no longer this bad person OCD was making me feel I was. I could look my family in the eyes again.
"I am proud to support an organisation which pushes for greater knowledge, awareness and understanding of mental health."
This is why I am proud to wear a badge for Mind on World Mental Health day. I am proud to support an organisation which pushes for greater knowledge, awareness and understanding of mental health. This gives people relief, like what I experienced, when they understand more about their mental illness.
Now I no longer judge a day by how many intrusions I have and I have put in place structures to make my mental health my priority. I know that if I am having a bad day a simple nap has a hugely positive effect, like a computer rebooting, and if I haven’t been active for a while, I know that a run or some sport will release the endorphins to put my worries back into perspective. All of this information is on the Mind website and genuinely makes a difference.
No day is perfect, but now I feel as though I am on the up. A huge reason for that is the information which Mind has, ready to access for anyone who needs it.
The Mind pin badge donation offer has now closed. If you got a badge, remember to wear it on October 10th for World Mental Health Day.