Living with OCD

by Stacey Barber
Woman looks into the distance in front of a brick wall

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or OCD, as most know it as, has been with me for 19 years. It all started when I was five at school. I had to pick up leaves in order to keep my mum safe and it’s grown out of control from there. Living with OCD is hard, it’s something that is always there and ready to attack.

Mornings are the worst for me. After having my head shut off for seven hours I always wake up hoping that it’s gone but it never is. Thoughts start that have been there for a few months now, telling me to do things or something will happen. Blocking them out or ignoring them isn’t an option as the anxiety they cause attach to all parts of your body. Instantly my stomach starts hurting and I’ll feel lightheaded.

Simple tasks in the morning are a struggle. I’ll be getting dressed and picking an outfit and then “If you wear that something bad will happen” enters my head. I put back what I choose and pick something else, in aid to make the thought stop. If I’m going out that day I will have to wear a Harry Potter sock on my right foot, without a fail! It makes me feel safe and balanced. Of course on the days where those socks might be in the wash. I’m left with intrusive thoughts that I might have caused someone’s death, or something bad could happen like a fire or a break in.

Throughout the day I get thoughts and urges that I have to do things such as tap the side of the table four times, or sing a song in my head. I don’t question them as it makes my anxiety much worse, I just do it.

Leaving the house for me is always a military mission. I have to check everything is off over three times and then again just to be safe. Then I walk around the flat making sure that all the plugs are out and the switches are off. I check the windows are shut by pushing against them over and over until it feels right. Checking my hair straighteners has always been a problem for me. I unplug them, turn off the switch on the wall then place them on the side with the plug in sight. I then go back into the room over and over to make sure I did unplug them.

The thing with OCD is it makes me doubt myself. I know they are off but the thoughts are along the lines of, “are you sure you turned them off?” or “you didn’t unplug them!”. When I leave the house, I make sure the door is shut by pushing on it, and I always end up running back to be sure.

Stacey Barber, OCD sufferer, sipping on a milkshake.

Stacey sipping on a milkshake

I do most things every day because of my thoughts.

I eat my food in a certain way, depending on what my thoughts think will help me save the day. Holding things in a certain way makes me feel safe and less anxious. I do most things every day because of my thoughts. The conversations with people are about certain things because my OCD has told me to do so.  At times is very embarrassing and odd. Thoughts with OCD can be about anything and even the smallest of things can be a trigger. Most of the time it is because I’m tired but other times I’m just terrified of something bad happening!

With OCD there is no off switch.  Most of the time it’s a massive argument between you and it. I know that my thoughts are not going to change the future, I know my tapping isn’t going to save a life but, and this is a big but, I can’t not do it out of fear.

Some days are worse than others and sometimes I feel in control but it’s always there. Having had OCD for so long it feels like a friend to me yet it’s a friend I don’t like. OCD is a control freak that feeds into your worst nightmares and fears. It makes you believe that you are a saviour that can prevent things from happening or that you are a bad person. I know this isn’t true, yet I have to give in, just in case.

If you think you or someone you know has OCD reach out and ask for help. The GP is a good start and also OCD Action, who can offer support and advice.

To read more about Stacey’s journey with OCD, check her blog out here.

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