Lucy, 40, Bristol, UK

Awake in a nightmare I couldn’t wake up from.

lucy-no-textI have always been anxious. I remember my first panic attack at infant school – I’d run to school in the cold and couldn’t catch my breath. Mum had to come and take me home because I was in a dreadful state, and since then I’ve had bouts of intense anxiety over the years. But it all changed about five years ago after I developed OCD and panic disorder.

I hadn’t been very well with what I now know to be trigeminal neuralgia after a bout of sinusitis. I had seen various doctors, none of whom knew what was wrong with me. After several courses of antibiotics I was desperate, so I googled my symptoms and convinced myself that I had cancer/a face-eating bug and was going to die.

I spent at least a month almost paralysed with fear, visiting the doctor’s numerous times in a panic. One doctor was concerned about my mental health, and it was then I sought help. I went to see a hypnotist at a local clinic, hoping to cure my fears, but that made me worse. When I got home, my family were watching Return to Oz, and I had to leave the room. I was so terrified of the witch that I couldn’t watch it. I then became so scared that I was going to harm someone – I couldn’t use the cutlery draw in case I stabbed one of my family; I couldn’t cook; I couldn’t even repair my son’s trousers because I thought I was going to stab myself in the eye with the needle. My husband took two weeks off work because I was paralysed with fear.

At my lowest point, it was like being awake in a nightmare that I couldn’t wake up from. It seemed to me that my subconscious mind had taken over and was goading me, shouting at me, telling me I was a bad person and I would do these terrible things. I went to the doctor convinced she would get me sectioned because I felt like I was going mad. Instead, she diagnosed OCD.

I have Pure-O, contamination and the checking versions of this illness. I was put on antidepressants, and since then it’s been a long, slow process, but with time and help from others I am managing my condition and now live a mostly normal life. However, I will always have the monster that is OCD.

A phrase that helped me a lot in my dark times came from a dear friend who also struggles with OCD. She told me: don’t be scared that you are going mad, because you are not – people that are going mad aren’t aware of it. It made sense to me as I struggled to hang on in there.

I really hope that by speaking out about OCD it will help others like me who are struggling daily with this awful illness.

Categories: The Wall

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