Anonymous, 49, Sydney, Australia

I can’t turn the page of my book until there is absolutely no distraction

anonymous7-no-textSuch totally irrational, catastrophising thoughts are debilitating yet trivialised in sit-coms and movies, lending further credence to the secret status of OCD in my life. I used to have an even nastier thought when reading, which was that I had to make sure I did not click my neck when turning the page as it could result in decapitation. I would really love to enjoy a good read without having to go over words, sentences, paragraphs, due to some niggling but painful thought.

I used to hate writing letters as the act of writing had to be so perfect. The introduction of email was a great saviour for me as any mistakes could be fixed so quickly. However, I still retype whole words when I have got the spelling wrong and detest autocorrect as I am already in autocorrect mode and must autocorrect the words myself. I hate that blue rectangle that comes up to say I originally got the word wrong. I always override it by making sure the word is correct so the blue rectangle disappears when I hover over the word again. I compensate by being a fast typist so nobody notices these little quirks – must keep them secret because I would be branded, seen as crazy or silly, otherwise.

The movies have it stereotyped so that all people with OCD are obsessed with cleanliness. I have the opposite: I hoard because I cannot throw things out easily. Horrible thoughts intrude over and over and over again, stopping things from getting into the bin. The tiniest thing that distracts will result in them being taken out of the bin and the whole process starting again. At one stage, when my illness was really bad, I had multiple empty containers in my fridge as it was easier to leave them there than to face the agony of trying to throw them out. I was treated with disdain due to my messy place. Checking is another nasty facet of this illness. Checking the time, checking that the gas rings are turned off, checking that the writing is correct. Checking, checking, checking.

Medication has improved things and with that I have the constant self-reminders (ironic, really) that the thoughts mean nothing. The cognitive behavioural approach and medication only work to some extent. I believe that OCD is both anger and a need to control turned inwards on the self, stemming in my case from both heredity and a catalytic event in childhood. I think it gets worse when under duress. I suspect that true healing would need to involve a letting go of control; not easy for anyone, just look at how most people drive!

Categories: The Wall

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