Opening up about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

I've blogged a bit about mental health on my blog but have never opened up fully. This is mainly down to the fact I am very aware that my family read this from time to time. I'm not sure why I feel the need to hide my experience with mental health issues. I come from a long line of loved ones who have suffered or do still suffer some form of mental health illness. Perhaps I am frightened of being questioned in person? I don't know, but what i do know is, is that if I don't speak up then I am another person not telling it how it is. Not telling the people who don't know, understand or who are ignorant or uneducated about the illnesses that are not visible to the naked eye. That's not until it's obvious the suffering has gone on too long.

I suffer from General and Social Anxiety Dosorder. It is often crippling and it has taken over most of my young adult life. Because of S.A.D I have never had a job, I have left college 3 times and I don't have many friends. It's incredibly hard to push through a mental health illness and I fear I will never come out the other side of my anxiety disorders.

One subject I wanted to bring up was OCD also known as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. OCD practically feeds off anxiety.
I am very noise sensitive and I will not stop until I find the source of the noise. I have a fear of loud music being played in houses or surrounding areas and I cannot sleep until it stops. I know where these completely irrational thoughts and behaviours come from.

Ever seen someone line up their belongings? Straighten everything out in their home that feels 'wrong'? That's me there! I do this when I'm highly anxious and am very particular about it. I am a woman possessed and refuse to let anyone tell me I'm being daft or stupid.

Obsessive, intrusive thoughts:
If you suffer from constant, simply awful thoughts then I really, truly sympathise with you. I've had so many graphic thoughts of my children falling down manhole covers that I am terrified of them and I get very anxious when out walking because I have to make sure my children don't walk on them.

My intrusive thoughts mostly involve death of those I hold closest. I have even thought about funerals. I cannot always control these thoughts but over recent months I have learnt that I can shake my head and try to create a happier thought. It really is an awful illness to have. I often have a sleepless night because of these thoughts but in general I know what they are, I know they're not real.

People often think OCD is funny. Seeing someone scrub a kitchen within an inch of its life makes some people chuckle and shake their heads but do you know what that person is feeling? I know I'm feeling intense anxiety. I'm scared. I'm out of control. It doesn't feel funny to me. Let me get on with it but don't laugh. I have no problem with being talked to about my mental health so if you would like to know more about my personal experience with OCD or anxiety, then I'm more than happy to talk with you.

I've written this post to help raise awareness during OCD Awareness Week. OCD rarely comes alone. You will find those who suffer anxiety, depression, eating disorders and many more conditions will also have OCD. To read more please see this link.

Thank you


Kim Carberry said...

Very brave of you to post! I admire you for it! x

Anonymous said...

You are so brave to speak up and I really feel for you Hannah. You should know that you have plenty of virtual friends who will all support you and lend an ear when you need it. Be proud of who you are despite your struggles xx

Bex Harding said...

Great blog post Honey, You've explained it so well. OCD can be such a difficult subject to explain but you've said it all perfectly. I have never had it diagnosed but if I'm in a really dirty or more messy room i just can't relax its so stressful for me & not many people understand...

P.S pop over to my blog i've got a surprise for you - Here - :) :)

Pepitas Sticheleien said...

Dear Hannah,
I've been following your blog for quite a while but never commented on anything. (Shame on me).
But this post really touched me.
I know how you feel.
I am also suffering from general anxiety. It started in June 2007 while I was in Portugal during my summer holidays. Everything could have been so wonderful. The weather was great, our little house in which we stayed was lovely.
One day we went to see a little village by the sea and and went looking for a place to eat. I didn't really like the village.. Everything looked so shabby and dirty and I didn't feel I could find the right place to eat. Finally we went to a chinese restaurant. The food was tasty but after I had finished my meal I felt this anxiety for the first time in my life. I was just scared, I couldn't tell what made me feel this way. I knew there was nothing to be scared of. Just one thought crossed my mind "What if this food was not good for me?" I had to get out of there as fast as I could so we paid and went outside. All I wanted was to go back to our house so we did. On our way I was sitting in the car on my hands shaking. It was a terrible feeling. I didn't know what was happening to me.
Back at the house it did not get better. I was constantly walking around. Couldn't bear to be inside, so I went outside. Then I couldn't bear being outside, back inside and so on.
After a while I asked to be brought to a hospital. Of course all they could was give me some tranquilizers.
The next day I went to see a GP, he checked all he could. More tranquilizers. I just wanted to get on the next plane and go home, which we did the next day.
Back home I suffered three more month. Always brooding about what was wrong with me.
After these three months I was finally unable to go to work. My body just refused to work. All I could do was lay on the sofa.
Then I decided to take anti depressants which helped me a little but made me tired all the time.
After six weeks I was able to go back to work, but I was not the happy person I used to be.
I could tell an even longer story, for this was just the beginning of it.

I am lucky though. In 2011 I finally have found the right medication for me. I have regained my fun in life and my power and the anxiety has gone, but only as long as I am on this medication.
I have gained about 30 pounds which I regret a lot, but I feel good.
My life is better now. I have found a way to deal with stress, but some things still make me nervous. E.g. when there are many people talking at the same time or when there are many people at one location.
I have learned to take my time and that is important for me (and my health) to do things I like. And that there are times when I need to be alone.
I don't think there is a cure for mental health issues, but there is a way to learn how to deal with it.
But it takes a lot of time to find this way for yourself.

Hannah, from your blog posts I know that you also like writing letters. I would really like to become one of your penpals because I also like writing letters the "old fashioned" way.
I would like to write about everyday life. This could also be interesting because we are from different countries. (I am from Germany).
So if you like, let me know.

Wishing you a good night.

Danielle Askins said...

I think it's really good of you to have blogged about this as it still is such a taboo subject when it really shouldn't be. I really think I may have a mild form of social anxiety, anxiety is the main reason I handed my resignation in recently-it's horrible isn't it, take care xxx

Claire Toplis said...

I've had/have mental health issues and I get very anxious as well

Claire said...

I think I have some of the symptoms of OCD. It started early when I was still in high school. I would line up my family members' slippers perfectly, or bottles etc. I'd even use my finger like a ruler to make sure they are in a straight line. I am in constant fear of bad things like fire and earthquake. Because of this I check the electric outlets several times before leaving the house. Sometimes if I have already locked the house I'd have to open it again just to check. I check the gas several times before going to sleep. I sometimes bring some photographs to work even though I don't need them just to be sure I have copies of pictures of my son when he was little. I pray to God several times a day to protect me and all my loved ones against bad things like earthquakes, floods, fires, terrorist attacks, etc.

Take care

Steph Curtis said...

Anxiety is so debilitating and it's so diifcult because no-one else can make it go away for you. I feel your pain, and hope you are seeing your GP to get more help x

Anonymous said...

well done for opening up about this hannah, i have mental health issues. I had really bad post natal depression after my first baby and again after the second but not as bad, antidepressants didnt help but thats a long story. I tried going back on them 3 years ago and they made me worse. i sometimes get panic attacks and i went to see a councilor who diagnosed me with social anxiety, i felt happy to put a name to how i felt and i started CBT at my local doctors, his solution= go to newquay and discuss it in a group full of strangers! seriously not practical for someone who doesnt like to go out! i quit the sessions. Im much better than i was but i still get very uncomfortable in some situations, i dont think any amount of therapy will 'cure' me. please consider me as a friend anyway, we live in the same town and i am probably close by if you ever need help with something or someone to chat with :)

MBags said...

Another brave post, Hannah. I am sure it will be helpful to someone who reads it. I mentioned my concern about my granddaughter and her social anxiety after one of your previous posts. Well, she is now seeing the councillor at school once a week and is going to have a 'teacher mentor' to help her in the essay writing which she finds so stressful. Once home from school, she is still refusing to leave the apartment so that will be the focus of my prayers now. Thank you for sharing!

Orli D said...

I think you should be very proud of yourself for writing this post. There is nothing funny about OCD. Nothing funny about the inability to stop cleaning, your house or your kids. Nothing funny about having to have everything done and organised in a particular way. Nothing funny about any of it.
Thank you for raising awareness and telling your story.

Holly Gilbert said...

I am so happy I found your blog!! I also have anxiety and OCD. I completely understand what you're going through--the fears, the racing thoughts, cleaning. I too have been afraid to share my experiences with people I care about, but I recently started a blog about it because I was tired of keeping it in. I've been working on it for awhile and I just wanted to share my experiences too. I wish you the best in your life and will continue to follow you on your blog :) Happy to have found it! Lots of love!

Hannah Brooker said...

Thank-you Holly for your comment. I think you're very brave also for speaking out. I shall look forward o reading your blog. I hope you are well and will also be wishing you the very best xx

Hannah Brooker said...

Thank-you lovely. It was very hard to write but as you said, it has to be spoken about because it isn't funn, not at all. x

Hannah Brooker said...

Thank you so much for me letting me know about your Granddaughter Margret I have been thinking of her since you last commented on my blog. I hope she does well with her new support system and i'm so pleased you helped her on her way to a happier life because it can be so crippling. xx

Hannah Brooker said...

Thank-you Steph, yes i have a good support system but I worry for those who do not. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment xx

Hannah Brooker said...

Claire that sounds awful, I really think you should try to get some help and support for your thoughts and worries, they sound horrible. It just seems there is so much to fear in this world it can be so overpowering. I hope you are okay and thanks for commenting and sharing. Do let me know how you get on x

Hannah Brooker said...

Thank-you that means a lot :-) CBT also helped me a lot too and i'm still on antidepressants to help with anxiety. The cbt group you did sounds awful! I'd have a panic attack!! I hope you're ok and ditto on the chat front ;-)

Hannah Brooker said...

Hi Bianca,
Thank-you so much for sharing (some of) your experience with me, i'm sure there's so much more (isn't there always?!) I'm pleased you have found yourself happier than those years before and are living a better quality of life. I agree, there probably is no 'cure' just management and support, someone to listen, somewhere to go. Blogging helps me sometimes.
I'd also love to be your penpal. i don't have an oversees one :) Do get in touch my email is on the contact page. i can't seem to find a way of mailing you x