OCD: Fighting a battle on two fronts

March 13th 2017

Written by guest writer Marc

Disclaimer: This article contains language that some readers may find offensive.

I’m a Dutch lad, I’m 25 years old and I’m an Arts & Culture student. I also suffer with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and to be frank, it changed my life and made my life a hell sometimes. I’ve accepted that I have OCD, but sometimes it really feels like fighting a war. A total war. A war on two fronts and that’s quite exhausting, I can tell you. Let me explain you why. I was diagnosed with OCD in the summer of 2016, although I’ve felt like it for more than a year. I was told my OCD was a consequence of not dealing with my Generalised Anxiety Disorder in the right way and that’s how OCD manifested in my brain and body. For me, at the time it sounded like utter codswallop. I didn’t know a thing about OCD and to me OCD wasn’t what I had, because I knew people with OCD who suffered a lot more than me.

My OCD focuses or concentrates on checking, touching, tapping, counting and some really disturbing intrusive thoughts. At first these were weird habits and some weird thoughts, I never thought it was something I was compelled to do every single moment of the day. But it grew worse and it was then that I realised it took over my life. It made my life a living hell. OCD is like an unwelcome friend in my life, staying way too long and make you do things. You have to do those things or bad things will happen. OCD is not about cleaning, just wanting everything to be symmetrical or only eating the brown M&M’s. It’s much more than that, it’s about life debilitating fears, obsessions and compulsions. It’s about me fearing for my loved one’s health, it’s fears about life. It’s about checking my bags, doors, bed, alarm, clothes, washing, shower, kitchen, bathroom. 8 times every single time. It’s about counting my life, touching certain objects till it feels right. Every day I have do certain rituals to get me through the day. For me it’s got to do with the number 8. When I wake up, I have to open my eyes 8 times. I have to touch everything 8 times. Take a shower for 8 minutes. Touch my watch 8 times. Say 8 prayers. Walk down the stair in 8 second. Everything revolves around the number 8. This can be touching, tapping or counting. Whereas the checking is something that become worse when my anxiety is high, this is present every day and I can’t seem to do anything about it.

It’s about having uncontrollable thoughts about people pop into your mind. It’s about not wanting to be around people, because you are afraid you might act on the intrusive thoughts in your brain. It’s about thinking you are a bad person for thinking so, it’s feeling guilty till you can’t take it anymore. It’s a war in your brain and you have no idea if you are winning or losing. Having a mental illness is hard, it’s bloody hard. It makes your life so much harder, more difficult and sometimes you think of life’s worth because of your OCD. OCD makes me struggle with relationships a lot. Romance, family and friendships. They can be become so hard to maintain and take care of, when my OCD gets really bad. One of my favourite songs is Love will tear us apart from Joy Division, but in reality I feel like OCD will tear us apart.

I’ve been talking about a war on two fronts and I just spoke about the war in my brain, the war with myself. But here’s another war I have to fight every day it seems: OCD in the media. OCD. It’s not something you can become after watching a TV show or doing a Facebook quiz “How OCD are you?!” – Mental illnesses have been a taboo topic to talk about for ages and still feels like this. Where many mental illnesses are not talked about, OCD is talked about. But in doing so, it’s being done wrongly. It’s used as being a quirky character flaw of people and the stigma is only growing at times I feel.

The result and/or consequence of this is that OCD is seen as something that’s not an illness. It means that we, who do struggle with it, are perceived as overreacting, making things up and being just a bit special. We also are fighting this horrible stigma as well as our own demons, and that my dear people is incredibly exhausting to everyone. As a young adult, it’s even tougher I feel. Often are our struggles described as growing up or being hormonal or being an adolescent. We are not taken seriously a lot of time, and that really pisses me off. That extra stigma of age shouldn’t be there and people should listen to what young people have to say. They know their body and mind as well as older people.

Fighting these battles make it so hard, because they cost so much energy. But I will keep fighting my own demons and fighting against the stigma. I will not stop trying to educate people, raising awareness and reducing that stigma. Mental illnesses are real and ruin people’s lives. It’s time the whole world recognised that and offered the support, understand and love we need. I got this, we got this and together we are going to get through this.

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