I realised a few days ago, that OCD is something I’ve not discussed in detail. It is a mixture of the fact that I struggle to verbalize what I’ve struggled with, but also the fact that some of the things are difficult for me to discuss. For the past few years, OCD is something I’ve been ashamed of. It’s a deeply misunderstood illness that effects 1.2% of the UK. The words ‘OCD’, may immediately cause an individual to illustrate their understanding of spotless floors and neatly alligned pencils (thank you for that, obsessive compulsive cleaners). They’re not entirely incorrect – some people do struggle with this renowned portrayl of OCD, and it’s just as serious as any other type of OCD. But, I’m a pretty messy individual, and I still have OCD. How strange.
I can remember my OCD beginning to manifest at a young age. I had a ritual of checking every place in my house in the evening. I was terrified that somebody would be hiding there, which might seem pretty normal at a young age. But I was checking in the smallest gaps, in drawers and tiny spaces, where a small rabbit would’t even manage to fit. And I knew I was being silly, but I needed to check these spaces. It wasn’t a cause of huge stress for me, and did get better as I began to mature and felt stupid for worrying over something so stereotypically childish.
I’ve always been a worrier, and was especially worried when seperated from my Mum, even for a few minutes. These compulsive rituals were my way with dealing with anxiety that I didn’t undertsand. I’ve experienced varying forms of my OCD. I suppose you could refer to it as a shapeshifter that has been lurking in the shadows the majority of my life.
Until I reached the age of 13, I didn’t find any cause for major distress with my OCD. I genuinely believed I was just being childish, and would grow out of it. School caused my anxiety to sky rocket, and in, retrospect, I was obssesive over my school work, although I put it down to just being an over achiever. The moment I knew it was severe arrived during the first day back to school after Christmas, January 2016. I was sat in the library, doing school work, and suddenly I was overwhelmed with a fear that I hadn’t looked at the assigned work properly. I read everything again. But the fear was still there, and I read everything, analysing it over and over again, ensuring I didn’t even miss a letter. By this point, I felt naseous and faint, and ran into the toilets. I tried to talk sense to myself, but it had zero effect. While I was trying to calm myself, I remeber so clearly searching up OCD. I felt so ashamed, because the symptoms matched, and I felt like I was going insane. That day was just a glimpse into what would follow.
To put it simply, things spiralled. My eating disorder got worse, I spent the majority of my time at school having horrible anxiety attacks, and every morning was a battle to get me out the door. The thought of facing the school work, that would take me hours to finish with OCD screaming at me, was unbearable.
I left school in March 2016, becuase I was too mentally and phsycially unwell to attend. The minute I was told I was able to have time off school, I expected immediate relief. Instead I was met with a compulsive need to seperate every part of my school life from my home life. I spent what would equate to days, hiding everything that I could even vaguely associate with school. It started off with the obvious things; uniform, school books, pe kit. But it quickly expanded to everything from hair bands to things with the word ‘school’ in. I shut everything away in a room in the house, that I couldn’t be near when opened. Diving by a school provoked panic.
This now seems like a distant memory, and I am glad of it. But I’m by no means recovered. I fight these OCD urges every single day, and maybe some day I will be able to talk about things that terrify me now.
If you are struggling with OCD, it’s important to remeber you are not fighting this by yourself. There are people you can talk to, and there are varying degrees of support available. It’s a sign of strength to reach out for help. Nobody deserves to fight any mental illness by themselves.
OCD Helpline – 0845 390 6232
MIND Infoline: 0845 766 0163
Info regarding OCD: nhs.uk
Stay safe and take care of yourselves,