It’s been a while since I wrote an OCD themed post, so with this week marking both World Mental Health Day and OCD Awareness Week, I thought now would be as good a time as any to do one. Anyone who’s followed my blog for a while will know I have OCD, but for those who have only recently discovered it, here’s a little backstory.
I have OCD. It’s largely based around contamination fears (obvs bags of fun being in a pandemic), but I also struggle with compulsive checking and intrusive thoughts. I believe my OCD was influenced after years of struggling with emetophobia (the fear of vomiting), which later seeped into fears around getting ill generally, not just with digestive illnesses. A large part of it involved crippling fears around getting sick for my wedding in 2015, which later led to my diagnosis in 2016. After starting on SSRIs and 6 months’ of high intensity CBT, I went into recovery and was discharged from my local mental health service. I still take medication, and there’s no denying that the pandemic took a bit of a dump on my recovery. Admittedly, I should have sought help, but it felt as though the NHS had enough on their plate, and compared to what other people were going through as a result of Covid-19, I felt like their time would have been better spent on someone else.
Not surprisingly, my anxiety around contamination is still very much there, and has definitely gotten worse since 2020, however, I’m nowhere near at the stage I was before I started treatment in 2016. I mean, there’s still time, but so far, I’m holding onto that and I know what my warning signs are if things start to get worse.
This is, of course, a very short backstory of my OCD, and there are plenty of other posts on my blog where you can read them in more detail. If you’d like to have a look, I’ve listed the links below.
Anyway, compared to my usual posts where I basically describe what it’s like to have OCD, I wanted to do something a little different this year. The intrusive thoughts (and quite often, the subsequent compulsions) that come with OCD are HORRIFIC and anxiety inducing, but to someone without the disorder, they may seem irrational, weird, or just downright stupid. For example, I’ve been given many strange looks in public toilets because I’ll be washing my hands as a person enters, and I’ll still be doing it by the time they come out of the cubicle, and I’ve been eyed up in car parks because I’ve gone back multiple times to check I locked my car. But what a person sees is just half of the story. Generally, the thoughts inside your head are much worse.
So, to illustrate the dark and strange places that my OCD has taken my brain to over the years, I’ve put together a list of just some of the thoughts it’s caused me to have. Brace yourself.
“Your handbrake isn’t on properly – what if the car rolls into another car? What if it rolls into a person?”
“You left your lights on. They’ll drain the battery and your car won’t start and you won’t be able to get home if they’re not turned off.”
“You didn’t lock the car – it’ll get broken into and it’ll be all your fault.”
“You didn’t lock the door/close the windows – someone could break in and steal everything. They could kill Tilly. It’ll be all your fault.”
“You left the fridge open. You’ll both get food poisoning.”
“You left the cupboard under the sink open. Tilly could get in and swallow all the cleaning products.”
“You didn’t blow those candles out. They’ll set fire to the house.”
“You left your phone charger plugged in. It could catch fire and burn the house down.”
“You left your medication in Tilly’s reach. She could eat it and die.”
“You left the bathroom door open. Tilly could fall into the toilet and drown.”
“You didn’t take your pill at the right time. You need the morning after pill.”
“Did you knock that cyclist off their bike when you drove past them?”
“Did you hit that child crossing the road? Did you drive up onto the curb and hit them?”
“[Name] didn’t reply to your text but they’ve read it. You’ve said something to offend them and your friendship is now over.”
Yes, you read that right, these are thoughts that, at one point, occurred on a daily basis. What fun.
After using a toilet in a pub that was filthy:
“You might have caught HIV. What if it’s not caught in time and you develop AIDS?”
After receiving a letter saying my smear test had come back normal:
“They could have mixed up your result. They might not have picked something up.”
After taking a HIV test (triggered to do so after watching It’s a Sin, which had me worrying I’d contracted AIDS) and getting a negative test result:
After going to see my grandparents just before the first lockdown:
“You’ve probably given them both Covid. If they die from it your Mum will never forgive you and it’ll be on your conscience forever.”
After watching/reading something that has a storyline/topic related to cancer:
“You need to touch some wood otherwise you’ll get it.”
After doing my lateral flow test before work every morning:
“Is it DEFINITELY negative? Did you do the test right? What if you read the result wrong?”
After doing my weekly PCR test for work:
After someone who hasn’t visibly washed their hands in front of me touches any of my possessions:
“You HAVE to Dettol that after they’ve gone.”
OCD About OCD
These are my personal favourites.
When I read posts about how OCD isn’t just about cleaning:
“Your OCD is mainly about contamination – is it even OCD? You’re stereotyping and you’re going to offend everyone that has OCD. You don’t have OCD.”
When I hear/read stories from other people with OCD:
“You don’t have the same symptoms as them. They’re suffering more than you. You don’t actually have OCD, you just want attention.”
Before anyone comments, yes, I’m aware these thoughts are irrational, but I wanted to share them just to illustrate exactly what sort of things can go through the mind of someone with OCD. Of course, they differ from person to person, but I hope it’s given you a little bit of extra insight into some of the intrusive thoughts that may come with the illness.
For more information and support on OCD, you can check out the following websites.