I think I’ve shown traits of both OCD and GAD since a very young age, which have gradually increased as I got older. On New Years Eve 2013 I lost my father. We have a family business and to go from working for your father to then having to maintain a business, all while dealing with your grief, was for me extremely traumatic.
Then in July 2018 we lost a family friend to suicide. I felt such guilt that I hadn’t been able to help them, or that I could have made them feel worse. I was constantly examining my interactions with them, as small as they were, and looking for ways I may have caused this. This is such an unrealistic point of view and completely untrue, but I was consumed with the worry that I could have done something – what if, what if, what if.
These two circumstances were big triggers for me, and my anxiety increased to the point where I was struggling to cope every day. I was having panic attacks and barely sleeping. My compulsions were overwhelming and severely affecting my daily life.
In November last year, I self-referred myself to our local NHS mental health service. I was interviewed and referred for CBT which I started in January this year. I’m learning a lot from CBT and I’ve started to make progress with my anxiety levels, and OCD traits.
I don’t think I will ever be “fixed”, and I now see the negatives in that sort of language, but I am starting to build myself some self-care routines and some better coping mechanisms to help me to become healthier and happier. I can feel that I am becoming calmer, more in tune with my needs and more able to accept myself.
I have experienced some absolutely awful comments about my mental health. I have also realised the amount of throwaway comments people make, how flippantly people can say “Oh I am a little bit OCD like you” (Erm no, you aren’t.) I have realised just how much stigma and ignorance there is attached to mental health in general, let alone OCD, and I think a lot of people would believe they are more understanding than they actually are.
I don’t need you to understand how I feel, to have felt it yourself, but I do need love, and kindness, and tolerance, not judgment, rejection, impatience. I would offer these things to you if you were having a bad day, why can’t you do the same for me?
It really has made me see that we need to talk about mental health, we need to highlight the debilitating nature of these conditions – the effects they have on our lives, let alone the lives of the people who support us. There isn’t really an excuse for ignorance anymore, the information is there for it to be seen so the more we push it out there the better.
I still have bad days and some really anxious days. I still struggle. But I can also start to see that silver lining to my OCD cloud, I’m starting to have peaceful days too. I am a work in progress, but I’m a happier work in progress and I am proud of what I am achieving. If I can help anyone else by sharing my story or help to remove the stigma surrounding OCD then this will be a positive step for me.