My OCD Story

I was invited to write my OCD story by Stuart, who administers the blog, The OCD Stories. This is a great blog to read about how it is to deal with OCD everyday by those who endure it. It is also a positive blog as it focuses on recovery and improvement as well as giving you a small glance into the world of chronic sufferers. Every OCD sufferer is different.

I personally found the blog encouraging and it helped me realise I’m not alone. I wish I had discovered it sooner and I recommend becoming a subscriber to anyone with OCD and those who support them.

I would like to share the unedited version of My OCD story:

I have wondered many times when my OCD story started and I have to conclude I always had a propensity to over-analyse and fixate on things from a young age, but instead of growing out of it and becoming more confident and learning the crucial art of letting issues go, I let my feelings hang around and fester. I learned to live in fear with the expectation of the worst outcomes.

I don’t ever remember not being afraid. I was always terrified, I felt I never fitted in and I was socially isolated. I stuck to routines in order to preserve a feeling of security; when I was at school it involved arriving at the same time every day, using the same routes to get to lessons etc. As an adolescent my symptoms were the worst, I felt extreme anxiety in doing things my peers did, like going to the cinema, shopping, going on holiday and doing anything without my parents. My feelings of depression and worthlessness started at an early age and continued to grow with me.

I had a brief period between the ages of sixteen to eighteen, when I felt more optimistic, confident and I felt accepted by new friends at a new school where I took my A-levels. This was not to last and ended abruptly in the summer of 1992.

What most people in hindsight would consider a minor set back in my career path at 18 has derailed me ever since and I spent a year living in shame, more isolated and in total embarrassment. I went to medical school when I was nineteen but took my shame, self-loathing and my sense of never quite being enough with me. Subsequently, I was ruled by compulsions to avoid getting hurt and to keep my shameful imperfection away from others. I was basically implementing avoidance strategies to such an extreme I was missing out on everything.

My time at university was not one of happiness and discovery, but fear, isolation and despair, which I kept to myself and battled alone. However despite this I somehow passed finals first time, contrary to what I’d convinced myself and took on my first post with excitement. As an adult my compulsions involved using the same route to get anywhere, isolating myself to avoid being out in public and not coping well with any level of deviation from the norm. I kept up appearances for 3 years before unravelling.

My coping mechanisms were limited and I felt dangerously alone and vulnerable. Instead of seeking help I spent years  telling myself to get a grip and simultaneously nurturing the  avoidance which lead to me going into a crisis where I avoided everything. I was diagnosed with OCD in 2009, when I was suicidal and beyond coping anymore, approximately 20 years after I first had symptoms. I was discouraged and too afraid to seek help until my symptoms reached an extreme crisis point, by which time I had put my career aside permanently and life on hold indefinitely.

Three years after I was diagnosed I underwent CBT group therapy for 10 weeks followed by 6 weeks of individual psychotherapy. However, acceptance of having an illness is hard, you are led to believe you have a choice when it comes to having mental health symptoms, like you choose not to walk out the front door and to have fear shadow your actions and thoughts. There is no pleasure in my symptoms or compulsions. Why would anyone want to live this way? I was unable to control my anxiety to leave my home without my husband for 9 years and its only now after a year and a half of psychodynamic group therapy that I have regained some limited independence.

The fear of bad things happening to me or my husband never leaves, but I have begun to feel a level of optimism that has been absent since I was 18. I spent a week by myself, while my husband was away on a course. I tended the cats and myself as well as driving myself to my medical appointments, which is quite a victory for me. I am still a long way from regaining total independence and fully understanding why I feel such fear and lack of personal security, but I am beginning to see the damage that years of hiding, compressing my feelings and living with anxiety and depression have done to my confidence and my life as a whole.

My therapeutic journey has barely begun but now I can talk about it and I feel more positive than I have in years.

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18 thoughts on “My OCD Story

  1. Ouch. I can empathize with some of it, though.
    I drive (pun intended) our roomie and my boyfriend nuts because I turn the same way out of the parking spot and go the same way to work and home again. It takes me at least a week to be comfortable when I’m forced to go a different way due to ^&*() construction around here and they’re forcing me to find new routes constantly because they keep closing off the regular ones.
    Good luck. I hope you find your happy medium somewhere along the line.

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      • ooooooooooo. While I hate driving I have, unfortunately, deemed it a necessary evil. Just don’t ask me to drive out of my comfort zone–home ground. I CAN do it. I have done it plenty of times but there are just some places I would rather use their transit system (Toronto) than fight their traffic and my own anxiety at the same time.
        I will just be grateful you aren’t where I am physically right now. They are tearing up roads left and right so they can implement a Light Rail System and have given themselves a very short time frame to get it up and running. As a result we have streets that are either severely restricted (including the one for our public hospital) or closed off entirely for at least the next 13 months.
        I have found that if I actually anticipate which roads will be closed I can look for alternate routes beforehand. Of course, then I have to remind myself from the moment I get in the car to where the route differs that I need to take the new route, lol.
        We’re able to make a joke out of it though. Usually.

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      • What a nightmare. In such situations I have been known to drive miles out of my way on ‘safer’ roads to avoid problem areas. It is easier on home territory but my home territory is a busy city and it’s hard to rationalise having driven here for years and now having to almost relearn it. I have to say a small part of me does enjoy the driving when it’s relatively trouble-free.

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      • :). Unfortunately I can’t drive out of the way to avoid the trouble area since I work smack dab in the middle of it 😦 Since there is only ONE road in/out of that area, short but one road none the less, I don’t have much choice in how to get there since any side streets dead end/do not connect with the main artery.
        I’m just hoping at this point that they relent some and give us a little leeway for the winter since snow/ice/slippery roads do not mix, at all, with construction zones.

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      • I hope they finish the work up soon, it’s only going to get busier leading up to Christmas. My bugbear is driving in the dark. It’s light for hours, why can’t I finish up appointments when it’s light, instead of the dark

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      • I never had a choice about driving in the dark since I was working night shift when I finally got my license some 20 years ago.
        Mine is unfamiliar places. I can do it, especially since the advent of GPS devices, I just don’t enjoy it.
        I think the whole population of a half mil, give or take, is hoping right along with you and me, lol.

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  2. Thanks Babus for sharing your story, I am glad that you are getting the help that you deserve.

    I am starting group CBT therapy in February for social anxiety, I believe this will be a new chapter in my life. I am fine socialising but find groups terrifying and can relate to you when you talk about avoidance. Fear is such a powerful emotion, it can truly stop us from living our lives 😒

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  3. This post has left me in tears, as it mirrors so much of what my son went through, though your journey has taken a longer time. Thank you so much for sharing; I have no doubt your words will inspire others to fight their OCD. I wish you all the best as you continue moving forward.

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