By Laura Vaughan
Recently I’ve seen a lot about ‘OCD’ on Facebook. Some of you are doing little quizzes – ‘How OCD are you?’ (Yes, I’m judging your ignorance and it isn’t bliss!). I know it might seem like harmless fun but please do not perpetuate the misconceptions about this debilitating mental illness.
Reality of OCD
OCD isn’t a personality trait or lifestyle choice. It isn’t a preference of being tidy and clean (I’m sure some wish this was the case!). Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a severe mental health condition and people have died due to suffering from it.
I’ve had OCD for most of my life (since I was 12) and it has taken many forms. It is exhausting, time-consuming, and painful. I suffer with intrusive thoughts (obsessions). I perform mental rituals to try to eliminate these ‘bad thoughts’ (compulsions). However, often, the intrusive thought(s) return before I’ve completed the mental ritual. Therefore, the cycle continues and I can’t ‘break free’.
Often the repetitive intrusive thoughts cause a great deal of stress and anxiety. I often end up crying and screaming (sometimes pulling my hair and scratching myself with anger). Sometimes this cycle lasts for hours and I can’t physically move off the sofa or floor. Sometimes it causes me feel dizzy and to be physically sick.
Shame & Stigma
I’ve been taking medications for years and I’m currently going through therapy. I did not seek help as a teenager due to shame and lack of awareness/support about mental health, as such my OCD is very deep-rooted. I ask my friends and colleagues to educate themselves about OCD and the seriousness of it. There are many misconceptions about OCD and I urge you to avoid being a part of it!
Make a positive change and more people will feel able to seek help for their mental health without the fear of being shamed or misunderstood. No young person/teenager should have to feel unable to get help because of society’s ignorance. I have hope, despite suffering with OCD and anxiety. I will survive it. I’m so proud of myself for getting through the tough days. Please help others to survive it too.