Of the few mental struggles I’ve dealt with in my past, OCD is by far the scariest and the hardest. Obsessive compulsive disorder is one of the most debilitating disorders out there and tries to take away every single thing that’s good in your life. I’ve briefly spoken in previous blogs about my battle but I’ve never really opened up about it’s true impact on my life, but with lockdown this year the rise in OCD cases has risen massively and I want to do everything in my power to help those suffering.
So what is OCD?
OCD is an anxiety disorder which creates either obsessive and intrusive thoughts or compulsions (e.g. actions, like touching a light switch 8 times). Imagine having to touch every light switch you see 8 times….it’s time consuming and hard to hide but the consequences of not doing this are much worse. If you fail to carry out these compulsions it causes great distress and in my case I thought if I didn’t, my family would die. Sounds stupid right? When you have OCD it feels as real as anything else. It’s so distressing that some suffers will commit suicide. This is why raising awareness is so important!❣️
The part that no one talks about
As well as compulsions, and in my opinion, the worst part of OCD is intrusive thoughts. These can be so unbelievably scary and will do anything and everything to take away everything good in your life. OCD will try to sabotage your relationships, job and self-esteem. They create false images and thoughts that are mentally distressing and cause physical reactions. They feel so real and make you feel as far away from yourself as possible.
The first time I ever experienced these thoughts was in lockdown and I had no idea what they were. Now I’m usually good at knowing what’s going on in my head, I have good control but this time….I was lost, scared and had no idea what to do.
Eventually I decided to do some research and what I found was exhilarating. In fact, even though I have suffered with OCD on and off for years, I never knew OCD was so complex. There are hundreds of types-
If this blog reaches just one person who is suffering without even knowing, I will be forever grateful.❤️
So how do you combat OCD?
(This is not professional advice but based upon my own experience of recovery).
Once again, I didn’t seek therapy, I worked out every single way I could fight this on my own.
Here is my self help guide to overcoming your OCD-
1). Acceptance- Like everything, step one is always accepting what’s going on. It’s okay, you are not alone and you WILL get through this. Each individuals journey is different but each journey has an equal chance of ending in full recovery!
2). Don’t feel ashamed- Millions of people suffer with OCD, you are not crazy and it doesn’t make you a different person. You may have OCD but OCD doesn’t have to have you! Having a mental disorder does not define you.💖
3). Have absolutely no fear- I promise you, whatever you may think, these thoughts are in no way real! My analogy is that thoughts in OCD are like a seed. If you give a seed, water and sunlight, it will grow. Just like if we give intrusive thoughts attention, they will grow and keep growing until there’s a tree too big to cut down. They thrive off fear. Without your fear, these thoughts can’t thrive…. so cut the branches before they’ve even grown.🌳
4). Opposite actions- To me, this is the key for recovery, especially when it comes to compulsions. Whatever urge or thought you are facing, do the COMPLETE opposite. At first, this will be the hardest thing in the world. But day after day, it becomes easier and the fear becomes less and less before one day you realise…I didn’t touch the light switch and nobody died! Eventually you will let go of OCD…. and eventually it loses its power. You have to be strong but you’ve got this!
5). Speak to those close to you- It’s hard to understand how to support someone with OCD if you’ve never experienced it yourself. But ask your family to read up a little, you don’t have to tell them what you’re feeling or thinking but you can ask for support. My loved ones have saved me, more times than they know.
6). Give up the need for reassurance- To the one with intrusive thoughts who googles their intrusive thoughts every 5 minutes. Stop looking for reassurance ….the thoughts aren’t real and you don’t need to reassured. Stop watering the seed! I know they feel real, but they’re not.
7). “But this thought is definitely real!“- Recovery is a funny one, the more control you get back, the more the OCD tries to win. Your thoughts will get worse and more upsetting but keep going! You are a warrior!💪🏻
8). You deserve love and you are worthy- A lot of OCD comes down to the fear of losing everyone in you life. That won’t happen. Your family loves you, your friends love you and so does your partner. OCD makes you feel you are worthy of nothing. But this is how it wins by breaking down relationships with others and with yourself. Be confident, love yourself and to whoever is reading this, you are worthy of love and you deserve to be happy. The only way you will win this fight is by being louder and stronger than you doubts.
9). Get on that motivating playlist– You won’t believe how much a good playlist can lift your mood! Get on some Beyoncé and remember who you are!
10). Do a workout- As you all know, exercise is my saviour and has been all my life. For me, when fighting demons, certain sports are better than others. I find lifting weights or boxing a great way of releasing the frustration and upset that OCD creates. Sport is an outlet and releases happy hormones! Find what bet suits you.
11). It’s okay to get upset when it all gets too much- As much as being strong is key to recovery, it’s also important to let out this weird bundle of emotions. Have a cry if you need to or even go to a field and just scream! No emotion should be shut away. If you need more hugs than usual, that’s okay. Recovery is a roller-coaster of good and bad days. Don’t let the bad days deflate you too much.
12). And finally, talk to other sufferers- Those thoughts you think are crazy…I’ve probably had the same ones. There’s so many OCD forums that share people’s stories. Remember, you are never alone.
If you’ve read this far…THANK YOU so much. This blog means so much to me, its been hard to write but I want to help as many of you as possible. I’ve been through so many journeys in terms of my mental health but each one has made me who I am today and right now I feel stronger than ever before. I’m happy and just so grateful for the amazing life I have right now. I still have bad days but I don’t let my OCD control me anymore…..I promise you recovery is possible. Every battle I’ve faced has made me the woman I am today, I am strong, happy and I am so grateful for the amazing people I have in my life.🥰
Remember, the moments of struggle are the moments you remember most…they’re the ones that make you who you are. Be strong, keep going and remember how amazing you are. Together we will defeat disorders like this!
For professional advice and support please use the link below-