Friday, 15 May 2020
My Experiences with Pure OCD
TRIGGER WARNING: this post will discuss harm intrusive thoughts, OCD, anxiety and other potentially distressing content.
Where do I begin. I have wanted to do a post like this for a very long time. But, I never knew how to put what I was feeling into words. My intrusive thoughts told me that writing a post would simply be me craving attention, and so I shouldn't do it. But, more and more I have discovered that when you share your feelings, someone who might be going through the same thing may feel less alone. So this is me raising awareness about my mental illness: Pure OCD.
I knew I had anxiety for a while. For the past five years I have felt uncomfortable in social situations, nothing too severe, but enough for me to start therapy to just talk things out. This was about a year ago. My summer was awesome, and come the fall time, I was ready to start things fresh and and enter a new routine. And things were fine until after Christmas. In January of this year, I began experiencing "intrusive thoughts." These are basically obsessive, scary, disturbing thoughts that consume your mind and you can't shut them off. You know that you don't believe these thoughts, and you certainly know that you do not want to act upon them, but no matter what you do, they cannot go away.
My intrusive thoughts involved me hurting someone in my family. This caused me a lot of distress, because my biggest fear is turning into an evil person and I would never fathom hurting the ones I love. I googled my symptoms to see if anyone experienced the same thing. And that's when I came across Pure OCD and intrusive thoughts.
Pure OCD kinda goes hand in hand with intrusive thoughts. But the thing is, everyone experiences intrusive thoughts! Everyone has gotten a weird or anxious thought at least once in their life. It's part of what makes us human. But, when you latch onto the thoughts, you give yourself more anxiety, and thus, Pure OCD is born. You start completing compulsions to try and rid yourself of the thoughts. For me, this involves wishing on certain numbers for good luck, and praying every night that I will never turn evil, despite me not being that religious.
Soon I discovered a whole community of people who have the exact same experiences. We get flooded with anxiety-inducing images, end up having panic attacks, and at some point fear that we are one day going to go insane and have to be admitted to the hospital. Along with these thoughts, I got a lot of mental health anxiety. Fears of losing my personality, or losing empathy. I had to constantly seek reassurance from my therapist that I wasn't going to just snap one day.
In February, my mom moved in with me. I was afraid of being alone, and needed someone to talk to. Times with her got a little better. That is, until my doctor decided to put me on medication. I went on Lexapro, and my first week on it was the lowest I have ever been in my life. My intrusive thoughts were in full force, I was shaky and nauseous, and I felt so paranoid all the time. I got off of it, and spent about a month in relative peace. I finally felt normal again.
Then, social isolation happened. My family got back together, and we had to stay inside and not leave. The first few weeks were ok. But, slowly the intrusive thoughts were latching on again. I spent about a week in panic mode, feeling sick to my stomach all the time, but after a week I kinda got over it, and I spent a month being able to control the thoughts. Also, a big shout-out goes to Cee @ Dora Reads for majorly helping me through that week.
Last week, I got to the point where I decided I wanted to go back on medication. I talked with my doctor and we both agreed that I hadn't really give medication a full shot, and my body wasn't used to it yet. So, I went back on it. And, I finally felt like some good was happening. Until, I spiraled again. This morning, I started to believe that I would never get better, and that I would end up in a mental hospital because of my thoughts. It crippled me, but then I went on a walk with my dad, and shared all of the things I had pent-up in my head. It felt good to be free of that burden.
Which brings me to now. I'm still giving medication a go, but mostly I am tired of staying silent. I am tired of being ashamed of this illness, of keeping it inside because of embarrassment. This is a real disease that many people go through, but it is often looked at as simply "the germaphobe illness." Trust me when I say, I would much rather have some germaphobia than intrusive thoughts. I figured the only way to erase this stigma is to talk about it. To share my truthful experiences, and hope that others will either be educated, or find comfort in knowing that they are not alone in their own struggle. When my mother moved in with me, she told family members that I was just "feeling a little lonely." But, it was a lot deeper than that. I wish I could talk about this disease openly. I'm beginning to try.
I want to stress that I have good days and bad days. Most people do. Mornings are the worst for me, but normally I can get down from a panic attack come the afternoon. I have moments when I am cheerful, full of jokes, and free from thoughts. But being in isolation has made that a lot harder. My intrusive thoughts are harder to get rid of because I don't have as many distractions around me. But, I am slowly starting to open myself up to new hobbies, walking outside more, and just trying to stay a little less cooped up. There is nothing fun about staring at the same four walls all the time.
So, this is me. I am a sarcastic, Greek mythology-loving, reality tv-watching bookworm, and I have OCD. This does not make me a bad person, and reaching out is the first step to recovery. I am prepared to beat this disease, and never, ever take positive thoughts for granted. I am hoping that once this pandemic is over, I will appear stronger on the other side. I can do this, and you can do this. We're all in this together.
If you or someone you know is suffering from OCD, the following resources have helped me:
International OCD Foundation:
Support group for women with OCD/Intrusive Thoughts:
Made of Millions:
Not an OCD resource, but a Youtube channel that has helped me to bring more positivity in my life and conquer fear:
Emily @ Paperback Princess