Hello all 🙂
My last post was about the common misconceptions associated with OCD, so in my attempt to raise more awareness about this misunderstood condition, this post will about explaining the realities of OCD, and different ways it can manifest itself.
This post will be quite personal because it’ll be about how OCD affects me everyday. Hopefully this post will try to challenge the current stigma attached to OCD and show that OCD is not just about being tidy or organised, and that it is a serious debilitating disorder – one that is unfortunately so often trivialised. (Hence so many people saying things like ‘lol I’m so ocd about ——‘.)
Intrusive thoughts are one way in which OCD can manifest itself. They are basically unwanted, anxiety-provoking thoughts which re-play constantly in your head. It really is horrible to deal with, I could be watching TV or be in a lesson at school and I’ll suddenly get an unsettling thought such as ‘what if my family/ friends / myself are going to die’, ‘what if they’re in a car crash’ ‘what if they have a heart attack and die’ and thoughts of that nature. I become fixated upon these thoughts, become unable to concentrate, and constantly see vivid images of family members being run over, or them/myself being stabbed. It’s really stressful and horrific, and it seems nearly impossible to get rid of these thoughts. I try to cancel out intrusive thoughts and relieve the anxiety through various rituals, such as repeatedly counting in my head (usually up to 5) until it feels ‘right’, or tapping things such as repeatedly tapping my hands on my desk or tapping foot on the floor. The way OCD manifests itself can vary from person to person, and so different people will have different intrusive thoughts, however they all cause distress and anxiety.
Compulsions are actions, which can be physical (e.g tapping) or mental (e.g repeating certain words in your head or trying to suppress a thought). They can be in response to anxiety, or they can be behaviours which HAVE to be done because if they are not, anxiety will follow. One of my compulsions involves constantly checking things for reassurance, such as checking that I have left lights switched off, or closed the front door, or left switches turned off. Although I KNOW that the door is closed, I will have to repeatedly have to check, because ‘what if’ I was wrong, ‘what if’ I left it open, and ‘what if’ something bad could happen as a result of this and it’ll be my fault. My constant need for reassurance sometimes causes me to repeatedly ask someone the same question over and over again just to be sure that I know, no matter how trivial the question is. For example, if I’m planning on going shopping with my mum later on in the day, I will constantly ask her what time exactly we are leaving the house, and I’ll have to keep on asking her even though I already know the answer. Not only is this stressful and embarrassing for me, it’s (most likely) very annoying for the other person (especially if they’re unaware of WHY I need to keep on re-asking).
With my OCD, ‘what if’ worries constantly control my mind, and I constantly ruminate about all the possible bad outcomes which could occur and which would somehow be my fault (for not counting enough times, for not checking enough times, etc). This leads to me completing compulsions, or simple actions, over and over again until it feels ‘right’ or ‘safe’, because if I stop this action before it feels like I’ve done it enough times, something ‘bad’ might happen.
Obviously I’m aware that this kind of thinking is completely irrational and untrue, but OCD is EXTREMELY illogical, and the fear and anxiety which you go through makes you compelled to complete these useless actions because of the slight chance that the OCD thought may be true and real (even though it obviously isn’t). This realisation is even more stressful because you’re aware that your behaviour and thoughts are illogical but feel that you have to do it anyway.
There are so many more things I could include in this post (contamination fears, need for symmetry when walking), but I’ll stop now or else I’ll be writing forever – there are never ending examples of how OCD manifests itself because it constantly changes and adapts over time.
I really hope this post gives a bit of insight into what OCD can really be like! This post is based on my own personal experiences though and it differs from person to person 🙂