Other Ramblings...

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

An Apology.

I have a mental illness.


And when I read about other people with mental illness - and I'm being really honest here - I feel frightened of them.  Like when you see a drunk person walking towards you in the street and you want to cross over to avoid them.  

And that is something I am really ashamed of.  Because, honestly, I am really no different to any of those people who I see on TV or read about in magazines.  For goodness sake, if anyone found me doing any of my compulsions, or I told them what was really going on in my head when they asked what I was thinking about, they'd think that I were actually crazy.

And I'm not.  Am I?

I'd like to think that I'm not, anyway.  As much as, when I stop and think about it rationally, I'm sure that the people who I'm 'frightened' of aren't any different to me either.  In fact, I wish that I could meet a lot of them, because I don't actually know anyone of my own age who has the same 'issues' as I do.  I wish that I did, because sometimes it'd be nice to talk to someone about what's happening inside my head.  It's very lonely being the only person in the world who can't flick mid-song in case it precipitates the end of the universe.  And who gets an anxious knot in her throat typing that in case it makes it 'come true'.

So I want to say that I'm sorry that I ever watched your Youtube video, or read your blog and thought you were weird.  Because you're not.  

Monday, 30 July 2012


I'd just like to say thankyou to everyone - anyone - who reads this.

It means a lot to see my 'read' counter go up!

Annoying Myself.

I think that quite a lot of people (well, not that many really, because not that many people know about my madness) think that I have OCD 'for fun'.  I think that this is also a fairly widely held view amongst the general public.

That we do weird things, probably for attention, and we'd stop if we wanted to.

I think that my own family, understanding and wonderful as they are, think - deep, deep down - that I could stop if I wanted to.

Any OCD sufferer, however, will tell you that it's really not like that.

Today, I have been annoying myself.  Some days, as with anything, I find it easier to cope with my obsessions/compulsions than others.  And today was not one of those days.  I suppose that the days when my compulsions are more random are more difficult.  Let me explain:

Some days, and these are the better days, I have my 'base compulsions', things that I do all the time.  For example, all mug handles must be pointing West and the milk tops must always point towards the front of the fridge.  That is by no means an exhaustive list, but they're things I build into my day.  Things I've come to expect and plan for.

Other days, and these are not so good days, I compulse about other things as well.  So I'll be walking down the street, and suddenly I won't be able to step on any of the darker areas of pavement; or I'll be trying to make a cup of tea and I'll have to pour the water in first.  On days like this, sometimes it takes me an age to get anything done at all and by the time I get to bed, my head is reeling from the constant struggle to balance 'fulfilling' my compulsions with getting anything done at all.

On really bad days, I compulse about everything.  From the moment I wake up, to the moment I go to bed, OCD fills my head.  I can't do anything without repeating it, or counting, or thinking about what will happen if I don't do it perfectly.  On these days, I want to shout, 'I can't be here.', and run away somewhere else, far away.  Preferably leaving the compulsions and the obsessions, and everything else that goes with it, behind.

Why do I do it?  I don't know.  I think that today it's because I'm going out for the day with some friends tomorrow and I'm anxious about doing something out of the routine.  I really want to have a nice day, but my OCD tells me that unless I complete a ridiculous number of compulsions, I won't be able to enjoy my day, or that really horrible things will happen.

Some days I can cope.  Some days I just want it all to go away.

Friday, 27 July 2012

The Witching Hour.

'If you don't finish that tea by midnight...', starts the voice in my head, 'I'll...'.

I probably would have enjoyed taking my time with my cup of tea, but I give in to OCD and finish it as the seconds tick on on my alarm clock.  Maybe in the morning, depending on what sort of day it were, I'd fight it.  Rationally, what could happen if I didn't finish my tea within the specified timescale?

Irrationally, so many things.  I'm usually quite tired - and probably more than a little fed up - by this time and so it's likely that I can't be bothered with setting consequences for any sluggish behaviour.  The feeling of anxiety is enough to spur me on, as is the thought of finally getting to bed.

Bedtime rituals are pretty common amongst people with OCD.  From the laymans (ie. my) point of view, this is possibly because my brain knows that I'm about to try and get it to turn off and tries to cram as many compulsions in before it is squashed back into its box and has to wait a whole seven and a half hours before it can start annoying me again.

Another theory, which has just struck me and so probably won't make the most sense, is this: if OCD is fed by anxiety, and OCD is, basically, a fear of a loss of control, and going to sleep in the ultimate loss of control, then bedtime is going to be a huge issue for most people with OCD.  So, I guess, it could be that my anxiety levels rise at bedtime, causing my brain to issue a flurry of 'compulsion orders' in order to try and regain some control.

I don't know.  Answers on a postcards (or in the comments box), please?!

Thursday, 26 July 2012

The Daily Mail Does It...

...Quite well actually!

If I Don't Stir My Tea Nine Times, I Believe My Husband Will Die is the Mail's take on OCD, which was bound to come after Jon Richardson's Tuesday night documentary on Channel 4.  After documentaries, newspapers generally jump on the bandwagon because public interest will have been raised, particularly after  such a high profile programme in which someone famous 'came out'.

The Daily Mail chooses to focus on three women who tell their 'OCD stories' and explain a little about the condition.  Although I'm disappointed that they've chosen three women, who are all of similar ages and all developed OCD after a traumatic incident, - although many of us say that there was no incident which triggered us initially; we were just 'born with the gene' - I think the paper deals with the article fairly well.

Sometimes, OCD is portrayed as a 'freak disease' and people with very bizarre and extreme compulsions are used as examples and this gives the message to the public in general that we are both weird and dangerous.  'Avoid these people at all costs', the article seems to be saying.

Very rarely are people with OCD dangerous - we mainly perform our compulsions in order to stop ourselves, or others, getting hurt - and any strange compulsions are making us feel mad and embarrassed as much as other people.  It's important to remember that OCD isn't an inhibition-lowering illness: we are aware of what our compulsions look like to others, we're just rather unable to stop doing it for fear that it will cause something terrible to happen.

So, yes, the Mail seems to have dealt with the subject in a fairly non-sensationalising way and also named Jemma and Jodie Kidd as famous sufferers.  I don't know why but, as a sufferer, it's always comforting to know that there are beautiful, successful people who have to touch the fruitbowl with their left hand first...

Wednesday, 25 July 2012


Most people with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder 'have' a number which most of their compulsions are based around.

When I was younger, and I went through a prayer-based phase, I didn't have a number.  I used to have to say 'please' until it felt 'right'.  Back then, I used to long for a number so that I didn't have to repeat things so many times because saying 'please' - even if it is in your head - a couple of hundred times before you can go to sleep is, to put it mildly, a bit of a trial.

It wasn't until quite recently, when I suddenly knew one day that I had to ring the bell on the bus three times that my number had arrived.  Now, everything is three.  I have to touch wood three times if I say something which might have implications on something else (for example, saying, 'Aren't these shoes comfortable?!' would probably result in me having to touch the nearest wooden object three times so that the shoes don't become incredibly painful and cripple me with blisters.  If there is no wood, I panic.) or I have to say something three times in my head.

Why the number three?  I was watching Jon Richardson's programme about OCD last night and most of the people who were featured use four a lot in their compulsions.  To me, the number three is 'rounder' and less intrusive than the number four.  Four is a messy pattern in my head whereas three forms something which is perfect in itself.  I was talking to another OCD-er recently and she agrees although, in her OCD, the number four took on a much stronger meaning; four was the 'anti-number', if you like, and something to be avoided at all costs.

Now that I've got 'my number', I'm not sure I like it (OCD and I have bargained on that: apparently I'm not allowed to write that, but I am allowed if I cross it out...don't ask!).  I guess that having OCD is such a prescriptive, ordered way to live that it was nice to have some unpredictability about it, but then at least I'm not stuck doing things until it's 'right' anymore.

Clouds and silver linings!

A Million Blog Posts

I've written a million blog posts about my insanity before today...and then usually deleted them a couple of months later.

For someone who's supposedly so accepting of mental illness, I don't tolerate my own very well.

For a start, I've told my friends lots of things about me - I talked to them before (and after) the first time I had sex, and we talk about periods and all sorts of internal women issues.  But never my mental health.

Am I embarrassed?  I don't know.  I want to tell them.  Sometimes I want them to know the one piece of information which will 'unlock' me to them.  I think I'm only complete if you know about my OCD.  Which is,  after all, one of the things which makes me who I am.

But it's like being naked in front of people.  Dropping away those knickers to reveal a lot of anxiety and compulsions and all sorts of messy intrusive thoughts.

I guess I don't want them to run away.  Rational Brain says, 'They won't run away.  Why would they run away?', but then I remember that Rational Brain has been living with my insanity for a number of years and has just got used to the whole business.  Friends might see it differently.

I don't know unless I tell them, but I can't tell them unless I know.  Like everything else in the world of mental health, it's difficult.

So, I want to tell them.  A quick Google reveals that it's better to choose one friend who you really, really trust and tell them first.  But then I'm not sure if this is a good idea: the friend who I'm closest to is also the one person I really wouldn't want to - couldn't bear to - lose.  Maybe if I told someone I didn't know so well?  But then could I trust them?

Oh, I don't know.

And so it remains: I am by myself on this one until I can grow some balls.

Yours ObviouslyCompletelyDerangedly x