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My OCD Story – OCDuk

Hello everyone,

How the dickens are we?

Today I’m here to share with you my full OCD story in support of OCDuk. OCDuk is an organisation that i have supported since the day i found them over 3 years ago.I recently featured on the front page of one of there magazines in which i shared more the recovery side of my story. Today I’m sharing with you my OCD story from top to toe!

Starting from the beginning. I don’t remember an exact time when my OCD started. It wasn’t an exactly a wake up and check everything in sight sort of situation. Going back through my life there were slight glimpses of it but it was never enough to be classed as OCD.

Often when my main abuser would always leave their television on all night or even on standby and regardless of the time of night id get up to turn it off. Again id probably call it more ‘worried child’ than OCD. My OCD actually began to show its face properly after being assaulted not once but twice and the trauma of those set me into overdrive.

I first ever had that ‘this is weird’ situation when i was a tattoo artist.I had been drawing for as long as i can remember and drawing and art was what got me through some of the toughest times in my life but then OCD started to show his face. Every design i did wasn’t right and every design i did i ended up throwing out. Obviously this halted my career as once id tattooed people i couldn’t exactly throw them out.

After leaving my beloved job of tattooing i noticed my OCD creep on more and more.By this time id already started a new OCD trait and i was double checking plugs and switches around the house.

The next thing i would notice would be when completing shopping lists.Usually id right them on a scrap piece of paper or on an odd note but as time went by id be writing them on a fresh non wrinkled whole piece of A4 paper using a ruler to line up my letters.

Shortly after that i moved city’s and ended up getting my own place to live. Having all that responsibility of a full apartment to look after only left my OCD getting worse and worse by the day. My daily mission was to make sure NOTHING bad could happen and this is the time i realised that something definitely wasn’t right.

I had been to my GP and councillors various times but i just wasn’t getting anywhere and with that i decided to leave things as they were. Low and behold my OCD just got worse. After a while i had completely had enough and something clicked in my head and said i wasn’t going to live like i was anymore and i decided to go back to my GP again.

This time we went through what i had tried before and both agreed that it didn’t really work and mainly because i was in a not so safe nor ideal situation. I was told to try CBT again but this time with someone else and they knew of just the person.

I was told of a lady that had as much determination as me. Who was kind and warm hearted but had a lot of fight and knowledge in her. After the long dreaded waiting list that plagues the mental health system of the UK i was put through to the lady of my dreams.

My first session was spent chatting about my life and what id been through and how i got to the situation i had. She confirmed everything i had already been diagnosed with and we talked about her feelings and beliefs. She told me how she wanted to prove to those higher up than her that with time and practice OCD could be managed. She saw the determination that i had and was almost jumping out of her seat with excitement at the challenge i had given her.

OCD – WRITING

My second session my therapist wanted to jump straight in to my writing. She was intrigued by my what she called ‘fear of writing’ which i guess it was. I explained to her that nothing looked right and that everything i did felt a mess.

On asking me did my abuser do everything perfectly i answered ‘yes’, quickly realised what id said and changed it to a ‘no’. I only wish i had a picture of her face after i said this. I can only describe it as a ‘Yep you actually just said that’ sort of a look.Luckily we both saw the funny side of it and It only showed how i had been so conditioned into thinking that my abuser and everyone else was on some sort of pedestal and i was underneath trying to do everything as well as them.

She told me i should head out and buy myself a nice journal, because little did i know, i was about to learn how to write again!

How did she start to teach me? well she told me to write. Nothing more,nothing less and all she kept saying was “Go on then” I remember saying over and over again “but i cant” and her replying “well why can’t you?” and why truly? an intense amount of fear that’s why. I.was.TERRIFIED. All i kept thinking was what would happen if i wrote something and she just went HAHA what kind of muppet writes like that. The fear was so intense i even remember shaking and starting to feel a little sick. I was probably looking like id seen a ghost and she had an almost smirk on her face. She explained to me that she wasn’t trying to be harsh but instead was trying to show me how simple it was. We went over again that there was no such thing as perfection even to the point of her pulling old scraggly bits of notes out of her draws with writing on it. She sat next to me and asked me to tell her what was wrong with her writing but honestly ,i couldn’t find a thing. There was no holding back with politeness. Her hand writing was so lovely and had character to it and no matter how much she tried to convince me mine still looked like an abomination.

I managed to pull myself together and wrote one single word. We both sat staring at it for a while and i was waiting for her to say ‘Oh, now i can see why you don’t want to write’ instead she only complemented it. We went through her writing again and she showed me how her letters were all at different heights and places and showed how id almost seen past all that to look at the positives. She taught me how differently i looked at mine and we discussed different scenarios where id been in a position that i was told of someone else’s perfection and how mine was always not quite up to standard.

I remember i kept going on about my writing being almost ‘child like’ but even my therapist kept noting i hadn’t written in such a long time
and I guess that was it. It was like learning to write for the first time. I diddnt know whether to join things up or leave them as separate letters.Though it stuck out like a sore thumb to me i started to tell myself that though it maybe wasn’t how i wanted it to be at least i was trying and i had to start somewhere.

Daily i was given writing exercises. I would write my progress and how i was feeling both with my writing and therapy in general. After getting more comfortable with my writing we would experiment with things like writing in different coloured pens, using highlighters and even getting my therapist to scribble on pages (Though we both agreed not too much scribbling as it was such a lovely book)

Slowly but surely i started to realise how much i was picking at my writing and that i had set this impossible standard for myself.My therapist was pleased with where i had go to with my writing and felt it a good time to move on.

Though it was time to move onto the next thing, my challenge was to keep up with what id learnt and write down my feelings and progression.

OCD – RITUALS AND CHECKING

IMPORTANT: My ‘checking’ routine involved touching and holding.The tap for example was one you would have to flick up to turn on.
I would hold or press down on it to make sure it was off. Then i would do it a certain amount of times. The plugs were either touching, holding or just looking again doing this for a certain amount of times.

We started off by discussing my routines and rituals and what i had tried before.To her great amusement i told her a little tale of how id tried managing my OCD myself with books and research but i was almost worried about my life without OCD. I told her that my main issue was that due to my dopiness i was worried that i actually might not of turned things off as thats something i would do and that if i got rid of my OCD i might cook myself alive. She found it hilarious and took great amusement in what i like to call me ‘missing a bit’.There was no way of her denying it as if you’ve met me, its pretty darn obvious. She told me it was lovely quality and that it was my own little quirk. She said that though it could be partly true the thought could be made stronger due to the OCD. She told me that it was all about trusting myself and not blaming myself and the only way to test the theory was to start challenging my OCD.

When she had managed to pull herself together and stop laughing at me she explained to me our plan of action.She told me that a lot of therapists try to tackle OCD as minimising it or doing things less but she expressed her concerns that technically was still OCD. She told me that our process was going to be the same but she wanted by the end of it for me to be not doing a thing.We worked out that all together i must of been doing my checks for approximately 5 hours a day and i remember thinking ‘Yeah good one’ when she told me she wanted me to not be checking anything.

I engaged in lots of different ways to try and tackle my OCD and the first would be based on complete willpower. I had a few sessions all about what OCD is and how it managed to creep its way into my life. On the basis of me knowing a little more about what was going on she wanted to test me. I had to try and work out what i positively had to do and what i could leave alone and that wasn’t as easy as it sounds believe me!

We decided to test it on my ‘good’ days as i often noted how they were days i would do less. Regardless, it was hard. In fact i was pretty much up all night. I had split things into what i had to do and sometimes could leave but did that mean i was sleeping soundly not worrying about a thing, nope!Instead i was up all night listening out for the sound of flooding, someone breaking in or the house setting on fire.

My therapist was thrilled and kept asking me how i had split the things up into two.I explained that i had my more trusted things like the door which i had to check it was locked but spending so much time talking about the rational mind left me thinking about how a can of hairspray sat on its own probably wasn’t going to do anything. Though it was great i had got through the night i told her id been up all night and couldn’t bear to live my life like i had the previous night.

It lead us to talking about how the OCD routines are often easier to do that not to do. Its often the common thing with OCD for people to say ‘well can’t you just not do it’ but no, you can’t. She explained to me a good way of looking at OCD was like having a good guy and bad guy on your shoulders.

One saying “You can leave it’” and the other saying “don’t or the whole house will burn down”. She explained that most people drop out of treatment as battling with OCD is so hard. Some people have been doing their rituals and routines for so long it almost becomes easier to not fight it. Regardless, i wasn’t letting it think my head was its home and i doubt my therapist would of let that happen either!

Next was another big challenge and this time i wasn’t allowed touch anything.My therapist wanted me to learn to trust my senses more and when i look at something and see its off i had to trust myself enough to not touch it just to double check. The test went better than expected as before i stopped myself going anywhere near the items. This time i was allowed to look. I still ended up checking the door but only did it once just by pressing it.

Another test was the prediction and outcomes test. Here i would take a fear for example; the toaster. My prediction would be that it would warm up and catch on fire even with the plug out. My test was i had to leave the plug in switched off. The outcome? well nothing happened did it.

After completing the test for a number of days i had to challenge myself even more. For example leaving the plug in with the switch on, just not the leaver down. I remember how id often try and have a sneaky look to check it definitely wasn’t setting the house on fire but id always have my therapist in the back of my head shouting stop checking!

Though my OCD was coming along so well i still remember how exhausted i was and my therapist was completely right.I had been doing my checking rituals for so long that part of me thought surely its just easier to do these things? I wasn’t even that tired doing them compared to trying to stop them. No matter if id stayed up till 2 in the morning i knew that at 2 id done everything i could to feel ‘okay’ and id sleep after. All that nonsense still seemed easier than trying to stop this dreaded OCD. Though i was so incredibly tired i felt it was a time i had to try and push through and not give up on.

After having that initial thought and sharing it with my therapist she also agreed it was a time i had to push through and push harder than before. She explained that it was the anxiety side of the OCD that was making me so tired.It lead us to talking about anxiety on the whole and she also taught me some coping methods to deal with it.

Though i was constantly flitting in and out of doubtfulness she was still determined that i could do it. We took time to go through my journal and look at where id come from as a reminder that the exhaustion was going to be completely worth it. Truly i was too tired to see all these things before and i think i was just trying to get to the end like i was in some sort of race. Looking through my journal it started to make sense why i was so tired and i agreed to push on.

THERAPY COMING TO AN END.

After pushing with all my might it was starting to show how worth it the whole journey had been.Slowly but surely my OCD was minimising and most importantly to a point of nonexistence. It was constantly about testing theory’s, learning about why i thought bad things were going to happen and then seeing that it wasn’t as i thought.

and then came my final day of therapy

The whole session was spent with a mixture of tears and clapping. Id done it. Id actually done it.I had full management of my OCD. My little fingers were not on one of those plugs, light switches or taps. I wasn’t doing a thing.

We went through everything. “How many times do you touch the tap” “I don’t” “Are you comfortable with your writing” “I am”. I think we were almost both in shock and my therapist definitely had that look of ‘Ive done it’ too.

Due to my therapist no matter what happens and if i was to have that thought of ‘Should i check that’ i now have the skills to push that thought away. I often wonder if i was put in a difficult situation would i start again and I try to ask myself am i frightened of that situation but i truly think I’m prepared for it.

Going back to the beginning you guys might remember me talking about my main abuser leaving the television on. Well that was a real glimpse into why i was doing all these things, responsibility. Due to my situation i felt like everything was my responsibility. Every routine was to do with making sure EVERYTHING was okay. Not even just for my sake but for everyone elses. To make sure that i didn’t cause a ruckus and most importantly, i wasn’t punished for it. All my rituals were to do with fear and responsibility;

I was scared that something would set on fire or flood hurting someone or being blamed and punished for it.

I was scared of peoples belongings being damaged and being blamed or causing someone to be upset.

I was scared flammable things would catch on fire causing damage and me being blamed or punished for it.

My writing had to be right. Did i know what ‘right’ was? no, did i heck but it still had to be it.There never was any ‘right’ during my childhood.

Id redo things over and over again and they still weren’t good enough in my abusers eyes so how did i ever know what right was. Still, i was always determined to reach that very righteous point no matter how much i had to redo things and i was determined to think that id finally reach a point where something i did was acceptable.

I just had to learn that perfection wasn’t a thing and how i was brought up wasn’t real. The person that taught me that they were perfect were in fact riddled with insecurities and damage. They only taught me to think that what i was doing wasn’t right so that they looked better and more superior and this young naive mind only thought that what i was taught was true.

IMPORTANT: My therapy process may not have been the common way to teach CBT.

My therapist specialised in many different things and flitted between to adjust to my needs. Many therapists do not and will not focus on the past situations. As my abuse was so tied to my actions we had to go back to look at some things.Though we went back i was also taught why those things aren’t important now.

My OCD was a long tiresome journey but i am so grateful for having the opportunity and experience i did with it.It lead me to learn so much about my life and only aid me in helping others with theirs.

Like the long OCD journey this post was just as long but i hope it served as some inspiration for your journey and recovery!

My biggest advice i can give is stick to therapy and believe in yourself.

I also cannot recommend enough, recording your journey and taking time to see your progress and work out where your hurdles are.

I hope you enjoyed this and a huge thank you to OCDuk for all they do and their support of my blog!





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