OCD and Me

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is an anxiety disorder that is common but hugely misunderstood. I was diagnosed with OCD in 2011, at 18 years old, and I’m still learning about my disorder and installing effective coping strategies into my daily life. Before my diagnosis, I had a minimal understanding of what OCD was, although as I’ll explain, OCD is very misunderstood. The diagnosis can often… Read more »

by RachelMitchell 4 months ago

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is an anxiety disorder that is common but hugely misunderstood.

I was diagnosed with OCD in 2011, at 18 years old, and I’m still learning about my disorder and installing effective coping strategies into my daily life.

Before my diagnosis, I had a minimal understanding of what OCD was, although as I’ll explain, OCD is very misunderstood. The diagnosis can often be used as a throw-away remark in response to someone’s desire to have their house or self ‘neat and tidy’. This is one of the most common misconceptions, to the point where it can often be glamourised and be seen as a ‘cool problem’. It is also not possible to be ‘a little OCD’ and using remarks like this can be incredibly damaging and dismissive of individuals’ real experiences.

OCD can be extremely distressing and impact all areas of someone’s life.

 

Let’s have a look at what OCD is:

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder can be broken down into two main areas: obsessions and compulsions.

Obsessions describe unwanted and intrusive thoughts and images that someone may experience. These intrusions can cause a lot of distress to someone as they often appear without warning, for example, while someone is carrying out their normal daily activities and despite someone’s efforts, they can’t be ‘made’ to disappear.

Compulsions are behaviours that someone may carry out because of their intrusion. This may be an attempt to minimalist the impact of the thoughts or images or because they believe that if they do not carry out their compulsion, something terrible may happen to them or a loved one. Common compulsions include behaviours such as ‘checking’, ‘washing’ or saying a word or phrase a set amount of times. Compulsions are just not physical but can also be mental, such as counting.

What to do if you think you are experiencing OCD:

If you’re worried that you might be experiencing unwanted thoughts or images that might be associated with OCD then it’s a good idea to speak to a professional. In the first instance, you might want to consider speaking to your GP who may then refer you for a further assessment.

Treatment for OCD usually includes Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT). This talking therapy works by talking about your intrusions, challenging them and seeing if you can replace them with more helpful thoughts. CBT might also include looking at past trauma using tools such as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EDMR) therapy.

In some circumstances, medication may be used to help lessen the effects of OCD. There are also ways to explore CBT and self-help tools without engaging in a professional service. The following resources are my own recommendations based on my own experiences. It’s important to note that what may work for one person, may not be as effective for another.

There are a few apps that I switch between which offer mindfulness activities as well as journaling tools.

Self-Care: This is a CBT Self-Care Journal. ‘This app is designed to help you take better care of your emotional well-being with proven, easy-to-use, and self-guided CBT techniques’. When you log in to this app, you are given three options: Worry less; Improve mood; and Track mood. You are asked which of these are your main goal. Once you’ve selected an option, you then are asked how familiar you are with CBT. If you are not very confident with your understanding, you are introduced to the technique with an example and opportunity to check your learning. You are then able to select your current mood and journal the reasons for it. You are then able to free type journal e entries and track your mood over days and weeks.

Headspace: Offers Meditation and mindfulness for any mind, any mood, and goal. There are paid elements to this app however, there are discounts available if you look online and for students you can receive cheaper subscriptions with a valid NUS card or Unidays registration. I like that this app offers a range of mindfulness activities including yoga and meditation and addresses topics such as money, eating and injustice. The app also tailors a number of exercises for you to do through the day, so you can practice mindfulness from the moment you wake, until you go to bed.

In addition to apps, I have begun to explore Instagram accounts which raise awareness of OCD, particularly other individuals who talk about their own experiences. Accounts I recommend include;

@ocddoodles

@the_ocdproject

@obsessivelyeverafter

OCD can be very scary but there are people who can support you through your experiences. You can also find out more information at ocdaction.org.uk and ocduk.org