I was inspired to write about some of my experiences with OCD for the first time in the hope that my account can offer some solace to others who experience OCD and provide an insight into the experience to those who do not. Five ways that OCD has affected me:
1. Stressful checking compulsions:
When I have a worry about something in my body, like my heartbeat, I get tricked by my OCD to check it over and over. It feels as though all the feelings of unease would dissipate if I just checked my heartbeat one more time and it was normal. In reality, all that the checking does is make me more anxious by increasing the time that I spend thinking about my heartbeat in the first place.
2. Keeping up with conversation:
The more anxious I feel, the more difficult it is for me to follow what is going on around me, even if I really want to. I worry about seeming aloof at times when I should and would want to be supportive of others, like when a friend is sharing something vulnerable with me.
3. Attending health services… appropriately.
Because I worry so much about my body, I find it difficult to know which of my worries are genuine medical concerns and how to seek medical help for them. When I developed an injury from playing the piano, I was too anxious to wait for it to heal and I started seeing another physiotherapist behind my first physiotherapist’s back. It was fully my intention to cancel with the first physiotherapist – I had started seeing the second physiotherapist because she specialised in musicians – but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it: Having those appointments had become a welcome respite from the constant feeling of dread.
4. Staying awake:
Most of the time I find that I need a nap to get through my day. Adding OCD on top of the daily stresses of life means that tackling a full day as two half-days is often the more manageable option for me.
5. Attending therapy (for a long time);
Unfortunately, I also put off getting help for my mental health problems until I was almost unable to get through the day. I was afraid of letting my GP know about my anxiety in case they would later dismiss me if I was to come in with a physical concern. I am happy to say that I am now attending therapy and communicating with my GP and these fears have not materialised – Instead I am much better for it all!