It happened once or twice before, but I shrugged it off, put it down to tiredness, maybe I was exhausted?
Little did I know, it was more than that, worse than I can ever imagine, perhaps the most frightening experience that has ever happened and hopefully the last. A terrifying battle inside my mind, unseen from the naked eye and always disguised by an enlightening smile.
I am ready to share the first part of my story, my first encounter with OCD. After over a year, keeping much of it, if not all, completely hidden, it is time the world knows about the secret world of OCD, another side of this mental illness that many of us, including myself, are or was once blinded too. It is time to remove the taboo surrounding not just OCD but all mental illnesses that occur. It is a nightmare that desperately needs to be highlighted to help those suffering in silence. You are not alone.
Most specifically, I remember is was a Sunday, in May 2015. That day started just like any other, it was a calm, casual day and I myself was to calm, happy, the usual me. I was doing ok. I was 18 years old and I was perched forwards on the front seat of my Mothers car, my Mother was in the drivers seat beside me and my sister behind me. The local radio news began and I remember leaning forward to curiously turn it up to get a better hearing of it.
“A small boy has gone missing while on holiday with his parents.” The news reporter tenderly spoke.
At that exact moment, the battle had begun. It was as if I was standing in a boxing ring, the opponent was my mind and the bell had just been rung twice. It was the beginning.
It’s a moment that with however amount of detail, it is the most baffling and complex situation to explain. It was if my brain had switched, an unknown trigger was activated and from that moment, it felt like it wasn’t my brain anymore. Nearly immediately after them spoken words from the news reporter, my brain uncontrollably and suddenly interrupted,
“I hope he’s dead.” Followed by laughter.
I froze. Out of terror, out of confusion. My face dropped and my eyes bulged with fear. I nervously looked at my Mother to see if she had heard it too, my stomach sank as I realised it was only me, that ‘voice’ was coming from my own head.
No words can ever describe how I felt. Imagine it to your home getting burgled, a stranger entering your property, invading your space, your personal belongings… a piece of you. Your home is trashed, precious, meaningful items have been stolen. You got to the Police to report this and they doubt you, almost insisting that your lying and they tell you must be crazy. You’re suddenly trapped. A nightmare right?
I lay back into my seat, of course, that mini experience just couldn’t leave my mind but again, I tried to shrugged it off, maybe I’m tired? Unknown to my knowledge this was just my start to my battle. The journey home from that moment is a blur, I do remember though I was trying to make it as many reasonable excuses as I could to try and find a understandable reason for this, the deep truth was in fact, I had no explanation. When I arrived home, I raced into my bathroom and bolted the door, I needed quiet time and a time to reflect and make sense of what had just happened. Though nothing could have prepared me for what would happen next…
Out of the blue, it was as if 100 ‘voices’ started shouting at me, in my own head, there was that many, some were very difficult to make out with what they were saying, but what I do know, is that they were shouting all kinds of explicit things, the most twisted, evilest things you can imagine, about the people and things I love the most. I held my head in my hands, pulling on my hair through panic, through pure fright. I began to whisper over and over, “Stop” so harshly and repeatedly. I do not even have a word that describes my fright, I genuinely thought I was going insane, this is how it begins.
After about 10 minutes, my mind turned to silence, I took my hands away and starred at my blotchy, red skin and bloodshot eyes.
What the hell just happened? Should I tell someone right away? Should I ask for help that I knew I desperately needed?
No. I decided not too. I was scared. Scared of being judged and most of all, scared to face the truth about what was really happening. I just kept thinking, “How do I tell someone that I’m hearing ‘voices’?”
The rest of that night is a blur, I cant even remember how I felt. The next morning however, the house was quiet, I was the only one in. I remember as I was getting ready, my movements were very stiff and small. I was to scared to make harsh quick movements in case I triggered the ‘voices again’, I also constantly kept sound on in the background when I was in the house because I felt that if it was quiet my mind would wonder, I considered that dangerous because that meant I wasn’t in control for them few seconds. Showering was another battle on its own. I was nervous to shower, I was frightened about spending to long in there, again, in case my mind began to wonder and I would lose control again, I was activate that nightmare from the night before.
After that day, I never got ‘100 voices’ all at once, great news yes, but on the downside, it downgraded to one. I now had one ‘voice’ in my head that would be there, from the moment I woke up until the moment I fell asleep. It would comment on everything, on objects, people etc. The things it says are so explicit that I feel extremely uncomfortable to even type them, but they are sick, twisted and evil. No other words can express how utterly disgusting they are. I looked forward to bedtime, it was the only time when the ‘voice’ was gone was when I was asleep. For every minute or everyday, it was there, like something sitting on my shoulder commenting of every detail of my every day life.
I kept this to myself for 2 months, until the day came, where I could no longer cope.
I was upstairs at my Fathers house on my own. I cant remember exactly what I was doing but I think I removed a piece of clothing to one side of the room to another when the ‘voice’ suddenly made a sick comment. I broke down, I burst into tears upstairs. I was exhausted from fighting my mind every minute of every day, I was simply tired. Being a person to dislike crying in front of others, I crept downstairs, making small sniffles to hide the fact I had been crying and keeping my head down to disguise my the red, puffiness of my eyes. I crept to the laundry basket where I flung my clothes into, when suddenly, my Father asked me a question from the room next door. I couldn’t ignore him so I tried to answer him in he most ‘normal’ voice as possible without it shaking or becoming quaky.
“What’s the matter with you?” My Father asked.
I kept saying ‘nothing,’ but the more I was saying nothing, the more my Father asked what was the matter with me. It was too late to turn back now, he had entered the same room as me and had now seen the crying state of my face. There was no other way to say it, so I took a deep breath and just managed the shakily answer;
“I don’t know. There’s a voice in my head and its saying and telling me to do horrible, evil things.” That’s what I said.
As I a writing that sentence, I feel myself getting emotional, it was so difficult just telling someone that, but it was most defiantly, without a doubt, worth it.
As soon as I blurted that out, the room fell silent for a few seconds. I had never EVER seen my Father look so scared than when I told him that. His eyes widened and he just stared at me. He then hugged me and I cried even harder, I remember finally whispering again;
“I cant make it stop. I just want it to go away.”
That part will forever stick in my mind. No doubt about it. It felt like I was standing in that boxing ring and I could faintly hear the first bell ring, it was my first step in winning.
Finally telling someone my issue was such a relief I cannot even explain how free I felt for that moment. The first step in recovery is to tell someone, ANYONE. Please, do not have a fear of being judged, think about yourself, your mental health is way more important. In sharing the first part of my experience, I just hope, anyone with a similar situation to please have the courage to seek help. Your mental illness does not define you. It is just like having a broken bone, you wouldn’t leave that would you? No matter what issues have arose on your mind, the first important step is to tell someone close to you. If you feel like that is impossible, I have attached a few helplines that will give you the right information you need. I beg of those who are sitting in the dark, confused and frightened, please do not be because you are not alone, you are not strange, you are not weird. You are a human being on the step to recovery so please seek for help. You can win this war.
Look out for;
The Unspoken: My First Battle with OCD – Part 2
Thank you all very much. For help and support, please visit the links below.
‘voice’ = unwanted thoughts that entered my head without my control. At the time, that’s the only way I knew how to describe them.
If you are dealing with similar symptoms as Laura then please seek professional medical advice or visit your GP. If you feel you would like to speak to someone or you are concerned about a friend or family member then you can check out some helpful links below.
The Samaritans – you can email, write or call to speak to someone about any mental health problems you may be experiencing. This number is free to call 116 123
OCDUK.org – Supporting children and adults affected by Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Intrusivethoughts.org – Aaron Harvey’s fantastic resource for people experiencing OCD
Rethink Mental Illness – You can call the Rethink advice and information line Monday to Friday, 10am-2pm for practical advice on:
different types of therapy and medication
benefits, debt, money issues
police, courts, prison
your rights under the Mental Health Act.