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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.
Read about Mind's campaigns
We'll fight your corner. We believe everyone with a mental health problem should be able to access excellent care and services. We also believe you should be treated fairly, positively and with respect.
Blogs and stories can show that people with mental health problems are cared about, understood and listened to. We can use it to challenge the status quo and change attitudes.