If I don’t do my rituals in the ‘right’ way, then my children will die in the night
I was diagnosed with OCD aged just 11. It all started with me checking my bed wasn’t covered in lint, fluff and hairs before I got in at night. Even back then I was terrified that if I didn’t check and clean it correctly, my mum and I would die in the night.
My OCD went from annoying and confusing to intrusive to all consuming within a year. I couldn’t get dressed by myself, pick things up, turn a page in a book, click a pen on and off without obsessive thoughts entering my head.
I would wash my hands in burning hot water to rid them of the germs I perceived as being on them. I never dried them as touching a towel would just put germs back on me. So I’d have burnt hands, that I left to dry by themselves which led to my hands being severely cracked and bleeding, they were so so painful, but I didn’t really care, as that pain was much easier to cope with than the possibility of the germs.
I was scared of death, AIDS, accidents and generally the Magical Thinking in my head told me that any bad thing that happened to me, my family and the WHOLE. ENTIRE. HUMAN. RACE was my fault because I did not perform my rituals correctly. This often meant that simple tasks like taking a shower would take hours to complete. Getting ready for school meant my mum had to help me get dressed, because if I put my leg in my socks or trousers ‘wrong’ then disaster would strike.
My Mum got me help with a psychiatrist after battling our local Doctors’. The Doctors’ just thought I was being an annoying naughty child and was making this stuff up!
Age 14 after my Mum battled my corner for me, I was admitted to a young persons Psychiatric hospital called Leigh House. It was a real eye opener on the depth of the human psyche. Whilst learning to cope with my OCD, I also learnt how to self-harm, learnt the tricks of Anorexia and saved my friend from hanging herself. Traumatic is an understatement.
I left Leigh House aged 15, did my GCSE exams in 6 months then promptly ended up back there again aged 16. Many good friends were made. Many things were learnt, both good and bad. I’d get better for a time with constant help and support and then relapse again.
Turning 18 I left the child services and entered the scary world of Adult Mental Health. I don’t remember a lot of the next 2 years, just that I was drugged up on prescription meds and left to fester. I lost 2 beautiful friends to suicide in 1999.
Aged 21, my life seemed to change. Growing up, maturing and learning to live with OCD had enabled me to at last have a smidgen of a ‘normal life’. I went to bars, went dancing, made new friends and even met a boy! We married when I was 24 and I gave birth to my first child, my beautiful boy 9 months later.
My son is my Saviour.
Although I suffered from post natal depression and my OCD flared up again, he alone made me take stock of my life, what type of mother I wanted to be and because of him, I forged through the rituals. I found that the mess a child created was magical! I didn’t need to constantly tidy, if he wanted to get all his toys out he could. I would simply tidy up when he was in bed and not in an obsessive way. Just putting away toys. Knowing my son lived in a home where he could have fun and enjoy his childhood was enough to keep the OCD from rearing its ugly head.
In the summer of 2007 my husband left. No reason, no notice, no nothing. Just gone.
I was a single mum, to a devastated 3 year old. However, self harming thoughts did become apparent again. I could not and would not act on them. How could I explain to my child that Mummy had cut herself on purpose? Once again my son saved me from myself. What came instead was a ‘knowing’. I HAD to keep going forward, I had a son who needed me. There was no ‘just leaving’ for me. I sucked it up and did an Open University course in Understanding Children and Psychology.
I did suffer from anxiety and, to be honest if I hadn’t I don’t think I would have been me. I am an Empath, I see and feel others distress, that is who I am. I saw a counsellor once a fortnight, who helped me navigate this new world and I learned to love myself warts and all!
Two years by myself, being me, doing what I wanted. I rekindled my love of Art and began to create once more. In that second year I met my now fiancee. Time moved forward.
Around my 30th birthday, my new man and I decided we wanted a child together! I was very cautious, because of post natal depression and spoke a lot with both my man and my mum about how it might affect me. I have been extremely lucky to have so much support from my Mum and my fiancee, I couldn’t ask for more.
Just before my 31st birthday, I gave birth to my gorgeous daughter. I now have two Saviours!
With the birth of my daughter came another leap forward in consciousness. What did I want to do with my life now? What life did I want to create for my children? How could I let other people know there is life after and because of, O.C.D?
Believe it or not, when my daughter turned 2, I started my very own business!
I now use Art and my life experiences to create fun and whimsical work. I am also currently writing a self-help workbook, for other Mums with O.C.D and other Mental Health problems. I want everyone to know that O.C.D need not take the rest of your life, it will not take that fire that burns within you. If anything for fighting O.C.D you become a stronger, more resilient, beautifully rounded person….you know that right?
Note from the editor
You may also be interested to read Lizz’s blog OCD is not an adjective!
Categories: The Wall