As a child I was very “twitchy” and was never still for long. My family just assumed I’d grow out of it. Then about 18 months ago I became sick, but no-one could find out what was causing it. I started to worry that it was all in my mind and began to develop some mild compulsive behaviours, like washing my hands a lot to try and stop myself from getting any sicker. Eventually a food intolerance was diagnosed and physically I recovered very quickly and stopped being ill. Unfortunately, just as I thought things were getting better, I was rushed into hospital with a serious illness, which wasn’t related to the intolerance. I was sent home to recover and had a team of medical staff visitng me at home daily to make sure I was on the mend, and it was only then that I noticed how bad the hand washing had become. It took me over an hour to get ready to go anywhere because I had to go through so many washing and checking rituals before I felt safe. Going to bed at night had become a nightmare of hand washing, showering, making sure I always had clean clothes out. If any clothes fell on the floor I panicked and had to put them through the wash again before I could bring myself to wear them. Its humiliating to say it, but I would easily get through 2 loo rolls a day because I was terrified that I would somehow get ill again if I didn’t. I found it impossible to be affectionate towards my family and boyfriend because of the fear that by having any physical contact with them I would inadvertantly pass on some terrible disease.
When I was finally strong enough physically to go back to work, things came to a head because the obsessions and compulsions were preventing me from doing normal tasks, let alone the specialist work I was carrying out. I couldn’t tell my boss what was happening because he wasn’t the kind of person to listen (!). The crunch came when I collapsed out of exhaustion due to lack of sleep. I went to see my doctor who diagnosed obsessive compulsive disorder immediately. It was the most humiliating experience of my life, having to sit there and explain to someone what I was going through. He was fantastic – I really couldn’t have had a more supportive GP. He prescribed medication to help with the obsessions and urged me to discuss things with my family. Unfortunately, some members of my family didn’t want to listen and simply made fun of me and told me to snap out of it and that I was being ridiculous. I’ve lost count of the number of nights I sat in the bathroom crying in fear, frustration and disgust at myself.
After several months, the drugs weren’t helping and I’d had enough. Things are on the up now – I’ve started a new job and have just moved into my own house. My boyfriend has been wonderful – I can’t quite believe that he’s still with me after all we’ve ben throguh as a couple over the past year or two. We still have our moments when he really can’t undersatnd what I’m doing, but I’m trying hard. With the support of my local nurse, I’ve come off the medication and seem to be doing ok. The OCD is still there, and it probabally always will be part of who I am. I have relapses when I get upset or feel under too much pressure, but I seem to be more able to control it now. I read the story from the lady who was agrophobic and I know what she means when she says she just wants to be normal again, like she was before. There’s no time like the present, and that’s why as of today, I’m not going to call it a disorder or disease anymore. That way I’m not under pressure to get better. I’m just going to be me, and try to learn to love myself again.
Thanks for having this website – it helps to be able to put down everythig in writing! Sometimes, just being able to talk to people who are going through the same thing helps more than medication.