May 28, 2013

Photo of a dogOCD... Oh yeah... OCD is about neatness and tidiness, isn't it? It's about keeping things in order... It's washing your hands a lot...

This was my, and I’m sure many other people's, view of OCD. In fact, I make fun of myself a lot because I am incredibly untidy. I wish I had the tidiness part of OCD I claim... But I know that really I wish I didn't experience this condition at all.

People laugh about the compulsions that can come with OCD. I know, I have done it myself. With a laugh they say "Oh I've got that! I check the door all the time," or "I know what you mean, I'm a neat freak." This makes any explanation harder in some ways because they may just do these things with no compulsion involved.

I have not told many people about the OCD thing

I have not told many people about the OCD thing, lots of people know that I have anxiety and depression but when people think that OCD is all about tidiness because that’s what TV shows them, then how can I explain my OCD. I worry that people will not believe me because if I was washing my hands or keeping my stuff majorly tidy, then you would be able to see it. My OCD is hidden in my head and leaves me with this crippling anxiety so that I can't function properly.

The people that I have told are the people that I knew would make the big effort to understand anyway. The people that have been there for me when I have been off work with anxiety and the people who ask how I am and care about the answer. The fact that it requires a huge explanation puts me off. I have to explain the condition first, that it is about obsessing and compulsions, not that it is about tidiness, then move on to how it is for me.

These people have been ace but I wish I could be more open about it. It's the fear of people thinking I should just be able to ignore it all and the lack of understanding of what OCD can be that puts me off. Ideally, I would love to be able to explain to more people and all I ask is that they do what the people I have already told did... put their previous experience to one side and listen to how it is for me.

I have been living with OCD for 24 years

It has taken me until this year to realise that OCD is what I have been living with for the last 24 years. I always thought I was simply rubbish at enjoying things, at living in the moment, at being sociable with others. But what I didn't know, was that the constant buzz in my head is not normal or at least it's not what everyone else experiences. This is because I understood OCD in the same way most others did (cleaning, tidying, ordering) Until I saw one TV programme that showed me different.

My head is like a horrible person, picking up on all the negative feelings I have about myself and obsessively bombarding me with them. I am told how rubbish I am, how sad, how nobody wants anything to do with me and that I will never be 'normal', whatever that means. This isn't a voice in my head, it's me telling me, which is why it is nearly impossible to fight. I compulsively pick away at myself, I question everything and if I can see the negative in something then I do.

This is not low self-esteem, this is obsessive worrying and compulsive thinking causing pain... I can't just ignore them all the time. I am not giving in to them. It hurts and it's hard.

OCD can be different things for different people

I am writing this in the hope that other people might identify with what I am talking about (though I wouldn't wish this on anyone) and because I think the more people speak out and support each other, the easier it may become. Also I want people to understand that OCD can be different things for different people. It would be great if people could remember that it stands for “Obsessive Compulsive Disorder” and not “Obsessive Cleaning Disorder”.

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