September 28, 2016

I want to tell you about a manifestation of OCD that isn’t well known about, so that more people can understand it. I used to experience an obsession of constantly apologising to people, even for things that I hadn't done, things that were in my head. I would even apologise to random strangers.

Having that compulsion meant years of complete isolation, loneliness and misunderstanding from my parents and others around me. There was a lot of bad talk about me, and most people knew me as "creepy", “scary”, and, in basic terms, not a safe person to be around. I would spend most of my time by myself, staring at the wall, doing almost literally absolutely nothing, obsessing over the "sins" that I had committed on that day. I had no friends whatsoever during those years. I remember a moment when I was confronted by an authority because many people were seriously freaked out and concerned over my unusual behaviour. I could find no happiness during those years because I was enslaved by my OCD, and at the same time, I was completely misunderstood as a person.

It was bad for my parents as well as for me. Of course, I was a dreadful disappointment to them. They sadly had to explain to people sometimes about my condition, or when I would apologise to people they would ask, "Has she apologised to you?", and then show an expression of complete embarrassment. My parents are one of the best things in the world, but I was a complete embarrassment and disgrace to them. My world was so lonely. It would be hours and hours of frustration for them. Many hours of therapists, many arguments and discussions of what medications to take, so much embarrassment, anger, and frustration. They loved me to death, and they would do anything for me, but they just didn't know what to do. It was a constant spiral of these emotions, with the OCD ruining almost every aspect of my life.

Let me describe a bit more about my OCD. In my religion, one must apologise for one’s sins, in order for their sins to be forgiven by God. So, I thought that I had to apologise for EVERY sin that I had committed, in order to not pay for my sins in the afterlife. This includes making disgusting looks, eye rolling, saying something in an annoying voice, etc... So almost every day, my OCD would take over in my head, saying "you made a disgusting look at that stranger over there, she is probably offended, you are going to go to have to pay for your sins in the afterlife". I would have to make sure every second, that I didn't commit any sins. I would just be repeatedly apologising to people, for things that I haven't really done, these were just misconceptions in my OCD head. So I would apologise for saying something in an annoying voice when I really hadn't done anything at all. This also resulted in really ticks that I would constantly walk around with all day, ruining the aspect of walking normally.

Trying to describe what it is like to have the compulsion of apologising to random people, and what has been going on in my head, is difficult. But the lack of understanding of the illness, the misconception that I was just simply “crazy” meant that people behaved very negatively towards me. The fact that I was apologising to random people, for things that I haven't done, caused people to and negatively towards me, to think that I was “crazy”. OCD is a disease. It’s a disease where you feel the need for perfection in many situations (commonly related to fears concerning religion), and which can take over a person’s life.

I’m hoping that some people will recognise this manifestation of OCD having read this. If you’re wondering how you can change your own behaviour in response, here’s what you can do to help others like me:

  • Be completely understanding of the mental illness. Do not gossip, or be mean to the person, by telling them that they are mentally sick. Constantly apologising is a common OCD/anxiety trait.
  • Be a friend to the person experiencing it, and invite them to do activities with you. Distraction is great for OCD. Also (as a close friend): ask them not to apologise, even though they feel they did something wrong. Reinforcement usually makes the OCD worse, and it's important being exposed to the fact that they have not "committed a sin", and that everything will really be normal and okay. It will lessen the anxiety.
  • If you see a person with a constant ritual of apologising, and others are reacting negatively remind them that the person is not a threat to society, it's just anxiety/OCD. Don't go to the authorities saying that the person is some sort of major concern – it will just make the situation MUCH worse for the person that is experiencing the OCD.

OCD in my life has shaped me over the years, drastically, and rapidly, with improvements, shining moments, failures, and growths. With that, I have decided to create a blog, called ocdtalk.com, which lists my stories, life-shaping experiences, and lessons facing OCD. Feel free to send me your stories and best tips that you use in facing OCD for my FAQ site. Hopefully we can learn and face through everyone's struggles, together.

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Comments

Understanding and the true nature of...

Hi, Good read, I like! This is probably being really pedantic but that's just me. Are you of the opinion that someone who is being understanding OF the illness should also UNDERSTAND the illness? Strange question I know but in my experience not even sufferers of the same illness (i.e. Two depressives) can know what it is like for the other, not truly. I think all a helper or friend can do is be aware that the illness is present in the person and not be judgmental. Probably the same thing you said just in a different way. Any road. All the best, keep fighting the gentle fight! Ad.

Understanding Mental Illness

I actually one time had a talk with a therapist, that sometimes people with OCD, feel like nobody understands their OCD, but truly, there are people out there who understand the OCD. With depression, everybody experiences it differently, even when I tried to explain it to my previous therapist, she couldn't understand it.All in all, you just have to be very nonjudgemental for whatever thoughts they have in their mind.

Thank you

Thank you so much, but not really:) I just want people to be aware that OCD can be interpreted as a serious mental illness, and to not be afraid and nonjudgemental to each other. I really was very happy that I was able to make a difference. Thank you.

Possible OCD cure for some

Dear Silence thanks for blogging, I'll give you my stock reply. I had OCD, cured of it, didn't follow through with the psychiatrist, he died, now I'm schizophrenic, an author and a writer. The trick isn't that tough, but don't follow through, you'll end up in worse shape. Hence, the book. Please visit my blog schizophreniarepressioncured.blogspot.com Now there's real help for some, help for us all. Silence, if your repeating the same thoughts over and over in your head, there's hope. The damn thing about it is there isn't a psychiatrist in this world who practices this therapy or is even aware of it. I'm doing the best I can do! F*** it!

Thank you, and I agree

Thank you for the advice. The hard thing though, is to find out is that your mental illness side is true or not though. Definitely will check out your blog:) Definitely f*** it too, your awesome:)

Religious OCD - Confessing

OCD manifests itself in many different ways. I suffer with Pure O, which I have had since I was young. I have worried about just about everything under the sun: contamination, AIDS, sexuality & going to Hell. I sympathise for the author of this article. Just to show how ridiculous OCD is. I have never been very religious but I did worry about going to Hell. I had an ex Catholic girlfriend who told me I was going to Hell. At Uni this planted an OCD seed, where I then started to worry about it. With mental fuel from horror movies and seeing terrifying Dante Inferno type pictures of Hell. It got hold of me for a while. I was also terrified of committing a sin and my OCD even thought lying was a sin. This made job interviews a bit more challenging as I wanted to ensure I didn't lie. Also worrying about not paying or paying the wrong amount led to me sometimes double checking with a retailer. Anyways Catholic confessing which is already a sort of ritual is absolute 'gold dust' for an OCD sufferer as you are bound to doubt whether you have confessed everything and because it is mental illness, that doubt will never be settled. Leading to one giving into their compulsions of confessing and trying to feel 'just right.' Basically this will end up being a vicious cycle fuelled by an already weird ritual and potentially an unsympathetic Catholic priest that might not understand what this is - OCD. I genuinely feel for the author and commend her for writing this article. I'm sorry that your network hasn't been more supportive and shame on anyone who got you investigated by the police or labelled you crazy. Chin up, if there is a God he will understand your mental torment. Please don't give into your mental compulsions of confessing constantly. This is re-enforcing your OCD but try and do what a normal Catholic might do i.e. confess once and leave it at that. In a way your religious ritual is fueling this but I suggest you let your Catholic priest understand you have a mental illness and ask them to read an article on religious OCD. I have no doubt they have come across worshippers who have gone to them noticeably frequently to confess. But they might not recognise OCD so educate them!

Hey, the author says I really appreciate your sympathy

Hey, Silence here:) I just wanted to say, that I have gotten a lot better. I don't apologise as much anymore. I just focus on doing what I think is right, and I only apologise if the person says he or she is offended. I really thank you for your support. I would have never thought before that I would have somebody that really understands what I am going through, so thank you. I wouldn't say shame on them because the problem with society(which is what I want to help and to solve) is the understanding of mental illness. So that if another person with OCD is doing the same thing as I did, people don't get scared/afraid of them. It would be awesome if you could share this article with other people, in order to help me with this cause. I am also thinking of creating a list of top 49 list of tips on how to deal with OCD, you can find my list so far at ocdtalk.com. It would be awesome if you could email me a small paragraph of your own best tips for dealing with OCD at tryingandfighting.100@gmail.com, because I don't really have a paragraph on how to deal with religious OCD. Again, thank you for the support.

Hey Silence, I was lead to

Hey Silence, I was lead to your blog from TheOCDstories & I really enjoyed reading this. Now I will be reading more of your posts, & getting involved. Thank you for sharing.

Thank you, it means a lot

Thank you so much! I am so happy that you are able to relate to my OCD story,and open your eyes to the struggles of those with OCD. Comment on any of my posts if you can relate, or email me at tryingandfighting.100@gmail.com, would love to get you involved in the fight to end mental stigma/on my blog.

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