A girl with too many thoughts...

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Anxiety & OCD: My Personal Experience

I thought I would make a post detailing a little more about my personal experience with anxiety, in particular, OCD. This condition has certainly dominated my life the most, especially more recently within the last few years where my symptoms seemed to intensify and became pretty severe. I'll try to keep this short and sweet, so to speak, because I think if I tried to explain all of my symptoms I'd be here all day!

So where do I start... at the age of 16 whilst I was studying for my AS levels in sixth form, my OCD ended up worse than it has ever been. I can't particularly pin-point a specific moment in my life when I realised it was getting bad (but that's the thing about mental health conditions, they have the tendency to creep up on you like that).

At this point, my main fear was around contamination and basically anything I might ingest that would be harmful and result in death (for me, everything revolved around a fear of death). This caused copious amounts of obsessions and compulsions that would basically take up my whole day, I don't think there was a part of my day where I wasn't being affected by my OCD in some way. It was extremely repetitive and I was exhausted. Being totally controlled by terrifying thoughts is not fun and it completely consumed me for many months.

Preparing food became impossible, my mum had to prepare all of my meals for me (she was the only person I trusted to do this) and I couldn't watch her do it, otherwise I'd always find a problem with the food. My diet became limited to a few specific foods. I was scared that eating anything else would cause a severe allergic reaction. As far as I know, I don't have any food allergies, but that's just OCD logic for you! (i.e. there is no logic to it)

I also followed daily rituals. When I got home from school, I would shower straight away. After that, I couldn't sit down stairs on the sofa because I was now 'clean' - so I would go to bed where I felt somewhat comfortable. The clothes that I wore had to be washed every day (especially since I could easily get through 10 pairs of socks in one evening.) I would wash my hands more times than I could count, leading to dry, cracked hands that would bleed all of the time.

Going outside proved difficult also, so I spent most of my time when I wasn't at school in the house. I remember summer being absolutely awful. The fear of contamination from bugs, plant pollen and basically everything that you associate with summer, was overwhelming. It meant that if I did go outside, I would feel the need to shower as soon as I got in. Because I didn't want to shower dozens of times a day, I just avoided this by not going out much. Even though a lot of these fears have eased now, I still associate summer with a feeling of dread and depression...

So hopefully that just gives you an idea of my experience with anxiety. For now (and hopefully forever) my OCD symptoms have calmed down a lot, I am much more in control with it all (thank goodness for CBT and medication!) I still experience many of these symptoms but just a lot less severely. My symptoms definitely get worse in times of stress (mental health conditions seem to feed off stress) but I am generally a lot better at dealing with everything!

Thanks for reading and I would love to hear about your own experiences!

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