Why we can all fight OCD, like Ninjas

June 1st 2017

Guest written by Jess

I have severe OCD. I want to highlight the desperate need for more awareness about the condition and treatment available across the country and beyond, and give hope to you OCD sufferers out there. You are all ninjas.

I have had OCD for around eight years which first started off with hand-washing, checking and routine rituals. With bullying and the social and strict exam culture imposed in school, I started to really struggle and to manage the anxiety the compulsions grew. I received A grades in my school exams, but after my SQA Higher exams I began to feel horrendous.

I read a teen flick novel on holiday, and the mother character in the story had an illness. Over the summer I began to have intrusive thoughts on the basis of them my fear about somebody getting ill because of my actions.

I finished my final year at school which was full of avoidance, washing, checking, fear and more compulsions. I began to avoid a range of things: certain foods/eating certain meals, wearing some of my favourite clothes, going to certain places and doing certain hobbies. The intrusive thoughts were the OCD telling me that there was danger and about my fear that someone would get ill if I did these particular things. And, to get the relief and ‘correct’ the thoughts, I would do the compulsions to keep other people safe.

I knew the thoughts were irrational, but I couldn’t help it. OCD doesn’t care; it tortures you over your fears and, it lies and lies and lies.

After leaving school, the next months were a living nightmare. I became ‘stuck’ for up to 12 hours and sometimes more. I began reciting spoken compulsions and phrases like ‘Never this’, ‘Never that’ and they began to get longer and longer, same with washing and checking. This would happen when I woke up in bed, in the shower/bathroom, sitting in the lounge or a kitchen chair, before eating and going to sleep. I was just living OCD.

My weight plummeted to six stone, and I became housebound, not being able to sleep or constantly not being able to move from one room to the other. My health deteriorated and my days and weeks revolved around compulsions which led my family to breaking point.

So, in January I was admitted to the Priory Hospital, Glasgow. I’ve had the best possible therapy in CBT as well as one to one therapy to carry out exposure work, relaxation and yoga. I’m very grateful for the help as I know that this intensity of treatment is just not available. Now my compulsions are around 1-2 hours spread out over a day of little moments of being stuck or avoiding. And I am starting a phased transition to get back home.

This experience has changed my life. I see the world in a much more different way. I wanted to share a wee bit about my story because I know how terrifying and alone you can feel living with it as a sufferer, and the strain it has on families. There is hope, exposure therapy and thought challenging are extremely useful as well as CBT.

My advice would be to try and get help as soon as possible before OCD overtakes everything. OCD is seen as a ‘neat-put your pencils in rainbow colour order-wash your hands-oh, so you clean a lot’ condition or more like an adjective, but it is so much worse.

It’s cruel. A big slimy liar. It makes you doubt everything and feels like something you want to scrub off.

I like to visualise it as a slug. Yes, a slug. And me as a kick-ass ninja, ready for it. I have realised that the more I separate OCD from me, it helps to make me feel a bit better about me as a person. I have

always found the guilt of the thoughts and a dislike to myself very tough to manage. However, I now look at helpful ways like separating the illness from me.

I just wish there was more affordable help because this condition can become so dangerous. I for one, would probably not be here today due to the damage I did to my body had I not been admitted to hospital. To feel trapped by your mind is terrifying. I plan to write a book about my experiences because writing helps me a lot. In all this, the good news is you can be your ninja! And with the right support, care and understanding from therapy and those around you, you can defeat the slug, so it becomes smaller and smaller and smaller.

So, my fellow wee ninjas,

Keep fighting.

Jess1

Me at Edinburgh Zoo a few weeks ago, with my favourite animals – flamingos!
There’s a story to why they are my fave…. When I was very unwell back in July I once stayed in a shower for almost 4 hours and I had to stand on one leg due to thoughts that feared someone would get ill if I didn’t. It was horrendous, (thanks very much OCD) and when i recounted this to a nurse in hospital I said ‘When I came oot, I looked like a burnt flamingo!’ She was in hysterics and now flamingos (very much in fashion now I should say!) have become a symbol of how humour and strength helps to overcome your struggle, especially with OCD.

Jess 2

During art therapy I made this poster of ‘Wonder Woman’ as a reminder to be a kick ass ninja against the OCD slug. As I’ve found out recently you have got to find reminders to inspire you and keep going! #WeAreOCDNinjas #KickAs

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One Response to Why we can all fight OCD, like Ninjas

Avatar of cattb33

Question from Subscriber.

This is just brilliant - I know this clever girl, she comes into my shop just down the road from the Priory. Jess is just a normal girl on the surface - to see & meet her, one wouldn't think anything lurks deeper beneath that lovely happy facade she has. But to read what she has and is suffering is incredible - keep up the great work tootsie; your a Ninja to me, i didn't even notice. See you afore ye go home for good. Cath, Southside Gallery XX

Posted on June 12th 2017 @ 12:38:18. [ MjEwMQ== ]

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