Other Ramblings...

Friday, 28 September 2012

Things Which Are Wrong [Or] Today I Hate Myself.

I want to skip the track on iTunes.  Really badly.  That's the problem with having it on Shuffle; when I get to a track I don't like, I still have to listen to it in its entirety because OCD won't let me change it until it's finished.  It drives me mad.  What's going to happen if I do change the song prematurely?

Well, either nothing or my sister will be horrifically homesick at University; I won't have any friends next year; I'll make horrible mistakes at work and get fired...the list seems endless today.

Today, I guess, has been a bad day.  But that is because I am a jealous person, so I probably don't deserve to have a better day than that, anyway.

My sister is settling down at University, and today she has had a nice day, for probably the first time.  She is doing things by herself and has made new friends.  And I'm stuck here at home.  I wouldn't ever, ever, ever want her to have anything but an amazing time, because I love her to bits and more, but I wish, just sometimes, that it could be me going off to live in a new place and do new adventurous things.

I wish.

I don't want to go back to University.  I don't think I can do it.  It took me so long to get settled and make friends and I'm not sure I can do it again.  I know that I've been so incredibly lucky that there were people who were prepared to put up with me last year; I'm more grateful to them than they realise, I really am.

In case my sister ever happens upon this blog, it's not your fault and it's nothing to do with the way rational brain feels about you - I love you both very much and it makes me feel very happy that I have both of you in my life - I'm just sad that I am me sometimes.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012


Evening! Sorry to post so soon after the last blog entry, but I didn't plan the last one - I just felt fairly compelled to write about it...

First of all, thankyou, thankyou, thankyou for actually giving me questions to answer - I know I'm not as popular as the other OCD blogs I follow, simply because I haven't been posting for that long, and I don't really want to share the blog with people in my real life, most of whom are oblivious to my OCD and so I'm so grateful that people have read my post and asked me questions!

1. 71ยบ & Sunny: When did you first discover you had OCD?

I've had OCD, I think, for as long as I can remember: I've always had a sort of 'magical cause and effect' way of thinking about things (for example, I remember performing mental rituals when I was about six years old because I thought it would mean that my next door neighbours sold the horrible van they'd bought...!), but the first time I had any really distressing symptoms, I was ten.

After that, despite years of health obsessions, body checking rituals and fairly severe anxiety, I wasn't diagnosed formally until I was having problems with my school work when I was seventeen, and I 'confessed' to my Mum, who arranged for my to see the doctor.  He was very reluctant to diagnose me and told me that 'he had friends who did things like me' but, by then, I just wanted to start getting better and pushed for a diagnosis.

2. Elizabeth: What types of OCD bother you the most?

This is one I've had to think about long and hard...I guess the type of OCD which bothers me the most is the one which makes me do compulsions which are completely unrelated to anything else.  When I was going through my Health Anxiety OCD phase, checking my body for signs of illness made total sense, as did the avoidance of speaking the names of illnesses.  But avoiding stepping on kerb stones and repeatedly touching wood or repeating phrases three times over makes no sense whatsoever and takes up so much time in my day when I could be doing other, infinitely more productive, things.  

Another contender for top spot is worrying myself sick about things that will never happen, and not having any sense of perspective.  Like getting ridiculous levels of anxiety that my Mum's clothes are contaminated and are going to make my family ill, but not being 'allowed' to tell her so.  I know, rationally, it's ridiculous but it's so difficult to convince my OCD of that.

3. Tina at Bringing Along OCD: What would you like people without OCD to know about the disorder?

Firstly, and this is a wish which I think everyone with OCD has, that Obsessive Compulsive Disorder - for a lot of people - is not about continuous hand washing, or tidying up.  And it's not always a fear of germs or disorder which precipitates either of these actions.  I think increasing numbers of people believe that it's something which can be turned on or off on a whim.  If I hear one more person say that they 'wish they had OCD' because they have such a dirty house, I may actually have to hire the Fifth Plinth in Trafalgar Square and tell people exactly what it's really like. 

Another think I think everyone should know is that I'm not mad.  The things I do might look crazy, and sometimes I definitely feel like I've lost the plot, but I am in control of what I'm doing, and I'm definitely not going to hurt anyone.

This seems to have turned into a wordy one; I'm obviously feeling verbose tonight.

For anyone who's made it this far: well done!

My challenge, should you wish to accept it, is to answer the question 'What would you like people without OCD to know about the disorder?' as a blog post.  Tina's made me really curious to hear people's answers!  If you do that, please post a link to your blog in the comments, because I'd love to read them :) 


Something in my head has clicked.

And that makes me feel more 'normal' than I've felt for a long time.  For those of you who can't see the programme - or those of you who have better things to do in your lives than sit around watching Channel 4 documentaries - it's about people who claim to have a Complete Autobiographical Memory, ie. they don't forget things.  Or rather, they do forget things, they just remember a heck of a lot of stuff as well.

I don't have a complete autobiographical memory, but I do have a good memory.  I can often tell people where I was on a certain day or what happened in a certain month in a certain year, or where I was when important world events happened.

For example, during the programme, the interviewer asked Aurelien, The Boy Who Can't Forget, where he was on the 7th July, 2008.  As quickly as he can recall the events which happened to him on that day, I can tell you that it was a Monday: I went swimming and then went into my school to give a birthday card to a girl in my form.  I saw my form teacher and she told me that it was nice to see me, and that she thought it was lovely that I'd remembered the girl's birthday, and then I had lots of worried phonecalls from my Dad, who'd heard me talking about going swimming but hadn't actually thought I'd 'go through with it'.

And, just like all the subjects of the film, I don't know how I do it: it's just there.  

I've always scored sort of averagely on memory tests - my memory of the order of a pack of cards, for example, isn't any better than anyone else's and, although I'm good at remembering phone numbers, I can't remember a series of digits of particularly impressive length, either.  

This hasn't particularly to do with OCD, I don't think, although there is a theory that having an extraordinary Autobiographical Memory is simply an 'OCD-type' obsession with your own life, but I guess it comes under the heading of 'Kate's Mental Health', and I wanted to write something about it, because watching the programme made something suddenly click, and I think I've learnt something about myself tonight.

I've had a quick scout around the internet for online tests, and I wish there was some way of meeting people who had this ability, or finding out whether there is any sort of testing I could undergo, just because it's something I'm really interested in, and it's difficult to test yourself (when trying to conjure up random dates, I simply think of ones which I associate events with...).

Have any of my readers with OCD (or without OCD!) got advanced Autobiographical (or any other sort of- ) Memories?

Friday, 21 September 2012


Tina, who is lovely and supportive and writes very proficiently over on her blog Bringing Along OCD (and is also one of the very first American people who live in America I've ever properly 'spoken' to, I think) recently posted an entry in which she asked her readers to ask her questions about anything.

I don't know how many readers I'm getting, but I think I'd like to do the same.

Post your questions and I'll answer them - I'm open to anything here, being [fairly] anonymous, so just set your comment identity tag to anonymous if you want to ask something mental health related, or more personal.

I look forward to reading your questions!

Monday, 17 September 2012

Ch-ch-ch-changes: Part II.

Dear Sister,

                                Talking to you on Facebook tonight was strange.  It was almost as though I’d never really met you properly; as though we were casual acquaintances.  I think that that was my fault much more than it was yours – these things usually are – but it was the oddest thing.  Not what I’d expected at all.
               What I want to do right now, what I’d give anything to have the chance to do, is to give you a hug.  I can feel your tiny little waist in your jogging bottoms and your Year 11, and then your Year 13, Leavers’ Hoodie in my arms still.  I would give anything, more than anything, for you to be here tonight.  I want to play Evil Baby and swaying so that we can see our reflections in the mirror with you.  I want it to be you and me and me and you.

                I’m listening to a playlist I’ve made for you.  It’s got One Day Like This by Elbow on it.  That’s the first time I’ve bought a piece of music and you’ve really loved it.  I’d forgotten that, but it made me feel proud that something that I liked and that I’d found first was something that you liked too. 
               I thought that when you moved away, I was going to be OK.  I kept telling people that I was going to be really sad and that you are my best friend in all the world ever, but I thought it’d be like that thing where you think you’re going to cry at the end of a sad book, or a sad film, and then the moment comes and you miss it. 
              I’ve got Panda now.  I thought he might smell like you, but he doesn’t although, to be fair, I can’t actually smell anything because I’ve got an attractive blocked nose.  He’s not cuddly like you either. 
             The Military Wives has just come on.  I don’t think you even liked it all that much.  I don’t think you even ever nicked it from me, and you nicked most things which had been released in the last decade!  It reminds me of you being in Year Thirteen though, and watching Gareth on the TV and it being the four of us.  And the lyrics remind me of you. 
           I just wish you’d come home.  I don’t want you to hate University at all.  I want you to love it and be good at it and have lots of friends and look forward to going back after the holidays and put off coming home during termtime because you’re going out with the people in your flat.  But I wish it was the beginning of Year 13 again and you were always at home when I came home and you had work to do and sometimes you were grumpy with me.  I’d give anything to curl up in the armchair and know that you were there on the sofa because you kept squealing.  I’d give anything for you to get really cross with me for staring in public.
          It’s the Jubilee song now.  Sing.  I know it’s your very favourite ever.  I can barely even listen to it because it reminds me so much of everything about you.  Of how royalist you were and how completely unexpected it was.  I’m repeating it for a third time now, as though it might summon you up, bring you home.  I’m in bed now and it makes me cry so hard that I can’t sit still: it forces me into a curled up shape.  I remember you telling me that there is no music which gets close to how much you love this song.  I wish you’d come back and then we’d play it on repeat constantly for as long as you wanted.  It reminds me of your A Levels and how hard you worked and how you made yourself ill because you wanted to do well so badly.  I miss you.
      Parade.  We saw them at the Clothes Show.  I don’t know whether you liked the song because you liked the song, or because it reminded you of the day, but it reminds me of your eighteenth birthday and of that day.

                And Payphone.  Maroon 5.  It was probably the last song we listened to together before you went away.  We were on the way back from Granny’s because we’d been on an adventure and we had the radio on.  I didn’t know you loved it as much as you did.  It reminds me of Jersey this year as well, and being together, just me and you, for a whole week.  I miss it.  I wish, wish, wish that I could turn back time and we could do the whole thing again.  I wish we could do the whole summer again, to be fair.  So badly that it hurts.  It’s been amazing, this summer.  Yeah, there have been bits that I regret, or that I’d rather not do again (and, of course – of course – I would never wish you ill) but it’s been one of the best that I can remember. 
                And now Happy Birthday.  You silly girl!  It was only last week.  I felt as though I was losing you then, but at least I still had your physical presence to hold onto.  I do miss cuddles.  And your advice.  And laughing with you.  All of it, really.  I’m  so, so glad you’ve got Eva because I couldn’t bear to think of you being miserable.  When you rang earlier and said you were going to sit on your bed and eat your salad, it almost broke my heart.  I don’t want you to be by yourself, or being miserable.  I want you to have a cake with me.  I’d happily eat a million calories a day if you were here eating them with me.  I’m sorry for that as well.  So sorry.  I really am.

But here we are.  That’s it. 

Lots of love,

Me xxx


I do not like change.

My OCD does not like change.

Yesterday, my sister left for University.  Unlike me, who chose to live at home whilst studying, but that's an entirely different blog entry, she has moved out of our house and gone to live miles away; perhaps an hour and a half by train.

I've had a year to prepare for this eventuality.  I've even known where she's been headed for about six months.  I've had plenty of time to prepare myself for the goodbyes and spending days without her.  So why is it so difficult to accept that she's gone?

I've not had a brilliant day.  My poor friend has sprained her ankle, and I must have nearly knocked her off her crutches about three times so that I didn't have to walk on the darker blue strips at the sides of the corridors in the hospital.  It's at times like that that I wish I was normal!

I have, however, not cried since this morning.  So I guess that's a start?

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

9/11. The Beginning.

Where was I when JFK was assassinated?

Where was I when Elvis Presley was pronounced dead?

Where was I when man first landed on the moon?

I wasn't born.

And so, when, on the 11th September 2001, the caretaker rushed into our classroom to tell all members of staff to go and watch the TV which had been set up in the Library, my world was completely, utterly and absolutely shattered.  Nothing of such importance had happened in my short life.  Nowhere had I been exposed to such pure hatred; such misery.  Although I knew of war, and that sometimes countries 'didn't agree', I had no idea of the magnitude of such events.

I've never been so good at showing my feelings.  I've written before about how easy it is to show the feelings other people want me to feel; to reflect the general mood, but that day I didn't show how devastated I was by the news until my Mother watched me go terribly, terribly pale and asked me whether I was going to faint, at which point I promptly burst into tears.

I remained in a state of anxiety, higher than it had ever been before, for a long, long time.  I remember developing avoidance strategies so that I didn't have to be reminded of how the world was falling apart on the news and I remember saying long, complicated prayers so that my headteacher didn't announce all-out World War whenever he came into my classroom.  I remember feeling safe in the swimming baths because I thought that nobody could break such terrible news in such a noisy place - and, anyway, I could put my head underwater so I didn't have to hear - and I remember wondering whether it was wise to go and play on the street, in case Osama Bin Laden came to blow me to pieces.

This, I think, was my introduction into the world of proper, all encompassing, anxiety.  Although I'd previously experienced it to some extent, never before had it coloured everything I did and everything I knew.

And so my heart goes out to all those families who were touched by the 11th September 2001.  My world was changed only a fraction as much as yours.  And if it's still hurting me now, then I'm pretty sure it's one thousand times worse for you.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

The Holiday.

It didn't start well.  Surely no-one should spend the morning before a holiday they're supposedly 'excited' about sobbing into their Mother's shoulder?  And definitely surely not when they're twenty?

Well, there I am; defying the norm again.

However, I'm proud to report it wasn't quite the wall-to-wall cry-fest I'd expected.  I'm back and I'm still in one piece. I can also think of at least three occasions where I was genuinely happy and the voice in my head which tells me that I definitely need to be at home now had shut up for a while.  This, in my head at least, is a success.

1. When we played a game called 'Buzzed Out' where you have to describe a word of phrase to other members of your team before the buzzer goes off.  I like words.  I like this game.

2. When we went swimming and the adrenaline was really running and my friends were all there and we were all having a really good time together.

3. When my Mum texted to ask me how I was and she was expecting a reply, I think, telling her how miserable I was and how I couldn't cope and please could she come and fetch me now? and I could reply saying that I wasn't having too bad a time.

I'm not saying I was ecstatic all week, but it was definitely an improvement on the last time I went away, during which I thought of nothing but counting down the days, hours, minutes and seconds until I could go home.  And I'm too experienced to expect perfect straight away!

Monday, 10 September 2012

I'm Home.

Just a quick post to say thankyou for all the messages of support and advice - it made my holiday more bearable, and there were definitely parts of it where I could say I was enjoying myself, which must be an improvement!

I'll post a longer update when I'm not so tired...

Sunday, 2 September 2012

The opposite of flying.

Time flies when you're having fun.

So what happens when you're not having fun?

It drags like nothing before.  Days turn into weeks and weeks into months.  I'm pretty sure it's actually possible for the clock to tick more slowly if you're miserable.

I'm going on holiday this week.  Obviously, in the heads of normal people, this would not inspire anything other than delight and excited anticipation.  If this blog has taught us anything, it's that I'm far from normal.  And so, predictably, I'm dreading it.

The main problem is that I hate being away from home.  I miss my bed, and I miss my family and I miss my house.  I miss my tidy, predictable compulsions and I miss my 'safe', age-old obsessions.  If worrying that your hair hasn't been cleaned thoroughly enough, or that you might not have made your bed 'right' enough is your biggest intrusive thought then it's plain sailing, yes?

And so here I am, in bed, hoping that - miraculously - in the next twelve hours, I develop a sickness bug (you'll never read that on another OCD blog!) or the whole holiday park is closed or something else happens to prevent me from having to go on holiday.  At this point I'd like to share with you the fact that I am only going on holiday for five days; I come back on Friday, and I will be sharing the week with my closest school friends - people who I've known for years and years.

I know that the trick is to keep busy all the time but, when you're in a house with five other people who like their sleep far too much and demand afternoon naps, this is difficult.  I'd sleep, but it's impossible when there's so much going on in your head.  I've got podcasts on my iPod for when I'm trying to get to sleep and I'm taking my puzzle books, reading books, knitting, sewing and my laptop.  I'm also hoping that my friends will want to go swimming and on other activities a fair amount.

So, I'll see you on Friday evening.  Wish me luck!

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Making Sense. As If.

On Monday, I have to go on holiday with five of my friends.

A normal reaction to this would be excitement.  I know because I'm having to pretend this is how I feel.  Emotionally, I'm not good at much, but I can produce quite a convincing 'I'm excited' conversation...  

Of course, for those of you who've read before, it's quite evident that my reaction is going to be anything but normal.

I am terrified.  And I am not exaggerating.  I would rather go out for a day without being able to make my bed properly, or eat a whole tub of butter than go on holiday on Monday.

This is the part of my OCD that I find most isolating; most embarrassing; most frustrating.  When I go on holiday, I miss my house and I miss my routine and I miss my Mum.  Everyone else I know goes away for the week and doesn't think about any of that stuff, or whether they turned off all the sockets in their room, or whether they've left any incriminating evidence around their room.  When I go on holiday with my family, I find it difficult, but at least they understand and are willing to accommodate my 'quirks'.  It just wouldn't be fair to expect the same from my friends.

Does it ever get easier?