OCD – Let’s Talk About It!

“And I’m rumbling in this OCD…”  Anyone remember the JCB song?
When I’m stuck in my worst OCD moments, I try to sing my version of this song in my head to try and bring some childhood light to the moment.JCB song

So, yes, I guess this is my way of sharing that I have obsessive compulsive disorder.

This is a big thing for me to blog about especially as it means sharing my vulnerability. However, through doing this, I do not want pity please! I want joy and encouragement AND MOST OF ALL, I want the stigma of mental health to be diminished. I want friends, friends-of-friends and friends-I’m-yet-to-meet to know that having an issue in your mind does not make you weak or less of a fun person. You are simply going through something that is common; it’s just rare for people to talk about it.

The Royals are doing a beautiful thing at the moment. The awesome trio of Prince Harry, William and Kate are all raising awareness of mental health and the lads have shared their anxiety they experienced through the death of their mother, Princess Diana.

‘Mind Over Marathon’ on BBC One this week looked at how 10 unlikely runners, all with mental health issues, are training for the London Marathon and have been using exercise and training as a way to ease their minds. A chap on the show stated, “I hate the term ‘mental health’, because it has the word ‘mental’ in it!” And he’s so right. Culture has put a dampener on the word ‘mental’ and has changed the word into something that sounds scary; perhaps even a word to label someone you’d avoid.

In January 2015, a close friend of mine tragically, and unexpectedly, died. I had only known and worked with him for five months and yet during this time he made such an impact on my life. His joy, the Cole’s house games nights, pub trips and the depth of our conversations put me at great ease during the start of my first full time job and I miss him dearly. I remember having a particularly hard day and so he said, “Let’s go for a walk and talk it out.” It’s a precious memory. I’m so thankful that I got meet and have lots of time with a wonderful brother in Christ. His death affected me significantly; the screams that erupted from within me when he died shattered a part of me that I’ve never been able to fix.

The bits that were shattered were my sense of certainty and I have developed a fear of positive experiences, meaning that when something is going well, my mind then wanders to the worst case scenarios. I overthink and obsess about these to the point of exhaustion, with thoughts and images flying all around my mind, leaving me flooded with anxiety. I then seek reassurance from those closest to me to gain a sense of certainty which, in the long run, makes the OCD worse.

By the way, I just want to add that most people have a misconception about what OCD actually is; it’s far more complicated. Some people say, “I’m a bit OCD about this…” or whatever because they like to be neat or clean. “Many people now use the term “a bit OCD-ish” without understanding the onerous nature of the disorder in its severe form.”OCD Action

You might also think that people with OCD obsessively clean and yes, some people with OCD do suffer from a perfectionism belief, but not all. (I don’t! In fact, I am very untidy!) OCD beliefs/traits involve someone obsessively feeling like everything is all their fault, some overestimate danger, some desire constant control of their thoughts, some want to feel certain about everything and some fear positive experiences.

I only feel able to talk about this as I have spent time talking to psychological therapists (again, sounds scary, but it’s not) who diagnosed my issue as obsessive compulsive disorder. I now have face-to-face CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) with a therapist which is helping so much. I am starting to realise the origin of my thoughts and over the coming weeks will learn more about how to change my response to the thoughts I get.

I hide my ‘sads’, as my dear friend Grace calls them, very well. Only those very close to me have seen the ‘sads’. I am proud of myself for the way I have held myself. I have let out my emotions, but as I say, only to those very close to me, who know me inside-out and who I trust wholly. And, I thank them for their perseverance with me. I cannot even believe what I put you guys through. Actually, no, scratch that. Let’s re-word that. I cannot even believe what the OCD puts you guys through.

The above sentence is extremely important and is the main reason why I was brave enough to write this post. In a recent session with my therapist, I was constantly saying how I ruin things. How I ruin good moments with horrible thinking and horrible reactions. My therapist then asked me to talk about ‘me’; about my background and who I am. I then, joyfully, got to talk about myself and my past which I really enjoyed! (Tehehehe!) At the end of the session, my therapist asked, “So what do you think your overwhelming thoughts say about you as a person?” And, my immediate response was, “Nothing!”

A smile grew over my therapist’s face. And, you know what? It’s so chuffing true. The OCD is not me. The OCD is not who I am. I am a girl who loves to be goofy and who is getting married to the man of my dreams. I am a girl who loves to dance, laugh, encourage others, eat crisps, watch Tom Hanks films and cuddle animals. I am not the OCD. It’s just something that I’m experiencing as a reaction to the situations I’ve been through. That’s all. 🙂

So, to anyone who is experiencing something that they are finding overwhelming, please know that it does not define you. Also know that talking about it makes it better. Honestly. It was the hugest relief to talk to a professional about the exact thoughts I have. I tried to hide them for so long and that made things so much worse. If something hurts, you go to the doctors for help. It is the same for your mind. Be brave. Help is available for everyone.

I am so thankful to God that He carries me through this and I trust Him with all things. Experiencing this also means that I can help others who go through the same or similar and that is a great comfort. James 1v2-4

Life is tough, but I am tougher.