I never knew I had OCD… if anything it would be the thing I thought I was LEAST likely to have, as I was very untidy (and still am to this day). I understood OCD as the condition whereby sufferers had to have a clean and organised environment and involved washing your hands and counting things. I was incorrect.
I experienced bullying growing up and looking back now that I’m aware I had OCD I understand why I felt so much hurt and sadness and struggled to cope with my emotions. Sufferers of OCD often experience intense feelings both positive and negative, either way, they are intense and all-consuming when bad.
I struggled through school, struggled to even sit in an exam room, let alone reproduce the knowledge I had in my head. I lived my life not knowing that what I felt and thought, how people treated me and how I responded was all centred around my OCD. However, it wasn’t until I entered the workplace that my OCD boiled over and I experienced uncontrollable, dark thoughts and feelings and lost touch with reality and what I believed to be true.
I worked in a DIY retailer and found myself constantly paranoid about whether everything in the store that I had moved or stacked had been done in line with health and safety regulations. I kept thinking that heavy objects that I had been responsible for placing could fall on people and harm them and that as a result and as an employee I would be responsible. This got to the point where I had a breakdown and when I turned 18 it only got worse. My thoughts latched on to the fact that I was now formally an adult and had to conform to adult rules and adult “punishment”. My OCD thoughts decided to have a field day because they knew it was a good time to tell me over and over again that I could now go to jail, my ultimate fear, the one my OCD just loved telling me was where I was headed because it knew this was my fear, my obsession. My mind and dark thoughts completely took over completely and altered my behaviour because of how it made me see the world. Things escalated further when sex abuse scandals became a regular feature in the media, this triggered anxieties in me. I became exceptionally anxious and was unable to function in a sociable, practical way. I wanted to stay in my room. I would not talk on the phone or go on the internet, especially social media for fear of accidentally searching sites I shouldn't and being put in jail for it. I destroyed my electronic devices, grinding them down all the time wondering if I had ever done anything wrong ...I couldn't ever recall a specific, but all I could think about was 'what if'? My mind completely took over how I perceived the world, I became exceptionally anxious and isolated from those around me as, if I couldn’t understand what was going on within my head, how could they?
It was at this point that I was taken to a psychiatrist and finally received a diagnosis, I have OCD. This was such a relief, before this I thought I was going insane, but now I had a name for what I was experiencing, I could find out more about the condition and understand myself better. Slowly, as a result of exceptional therapy and understanding of my condition and how it behaves, I have begun my journey of recovery and management. My therapist, India Haylor has empowered me to tackle my thoughts head on. I have been taught about my condition and its behaviour and shown so clearly the way to conquer it. I have battled with the thoughts and learned various coping mechanisms to manage my condition and be able to contribute to the lives those around me once more.
Going through the treatment was one of the most frightening yet rewarding things I have ever done. I was broken down into my building blocks and rebuilt with a new outlook on life as I gained the strength and tools I need to be able to manage my condition. I still have moments of doubt and anxiety, as is to be expected, but what has improved significantly is the amount of time it takes me to get back to normality; rather than dwelling on my thoughts for months on end I can now rationalise them and get on with day to day life. This is why I have decided to change my path in life completely, as now I can think of nothing more rewarding than being able to help others going through hard and confusing times I went through, impart my experiences of the condition and ultimately helping people going through the darkest times of their lives, to be able to face their OCD and come out the other side with everything needed to live a full and rewarding life.