If I don’t control my thoughts, I will cause the death of people around me.
One of the biggest barriers to my recovery has been the deeply ingrained misconceptions that surround OCD – initially my own and now other people’s. This is mainly an issue because, like many others, my obsessions and compulsions don’t centre on cleanliness or order.
Had I recognised my agonising intrusive thoughts as part of a known disorder, I may have sought help when they first began. Instead, I assumed I was alone with this problem and that no one could possibly understand why this was happening to me. Prior to my diagnosis, OCD simply conjured up images of hand sanitiser and colour-coordinated wardrobes. I had no idea that such a commonly used ‘adjective’ was such a serious mental health issue, let alone that it was the reason for my constant state of fear and guilt.
Whilst I have broken down my previous misconceptions and accepted my diagnosis, I am acutely aware that the majority of people still view OCD as nothing more than a personality quirk. This is one of the reasons I find it difficult to discuss OCD with people, be it friends and family or employers and health professionals. I worry that as soon as I tell them I have obsessive compulsive disorder they will take one look at my appearance or surroundings and decide that I am not clean or neat enough to have OCD. On a good day, I may be able to tell myself that this is simply not true – that people couldn’t possibly question whether I have a mental illness based on my lifestyle. Of course, my optimism is quickly shut down by the memory of a recent conversation, in which a friend unwittingly exclaimed, “Surely your OCD can’t be that bad – you keep rats as pets!”
This is why projects like this are so important. Trivialising mental illnesses not only brings down the people suffering with them – it stops people accessing the help and support that they need.
Categories: The Wall