smallest things

Smallest Things

July 23rd 2018

Guest Blog by Abigail: A personal story of living with OCD and the tips used to manage the thoughts

As a child I never knew I had anxiety, all I knew was that I had this horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach that wouldn’t go away. It would happen when the sky looked a certain way at sunset, or when I smelt something familiar.

I remember one of my first compulsions vividly, it was an Autumn night and my father stubbed a cigarette out on our driveway. Images flashed up in my mind of our house catching on fire; all our personal belongings going up in flames. With anxiousness I rushed inside our house to the coffee table and tapped the stained piece of wood 1, 2, 3 times. ‘Touch wood’, a superstition I’d heard as a child, and it stuck in my head. It attached itself to my brain so successfully that to this day, at least 16 years later, I still carry out these compulsions.


”For this piece, I was inspired by the amount of nonsense thoughts and feelings someone can have within the space of a breath, and it displays just how difficult one single moment can be when you’re battling these thoughts. Each second is a battle, and each breathe can be absolutely debilitating.”


At 14 years old, after barely suffering any compulsive behaviour for years, it rushed back in a single afternoon. I would describe it as moderate anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and I don’t remember what triggered it, but I remember how scared I felt and how it oddly felt like home. My mum took me to our GP and I got a referral to CAMHS, but I wouldn’t be diagnosed with OCD for another 5 years.

Between the ages of 14 and 19 I suffered great heartbreak and loss that contributed to my eventual mental breakdown aged 18. I have to admit that I’ve never written about these problems before, and it’s a very sensitive subject for me to bring up, but to properly tell my story I must explain the contributing factors.


When I was 15 years old (early December 2014) my parents divorced, and when I was 16 and 1 month into sixth form (October 2015), I found out that for my entire life my father had another partner and had two children with her, who were 1 and 2 years younger than me. My life felt like it was fading away, I was fragile and questioning reality. I quit sixth form (February 2016) and struggled to comprehend how someone so close to me could lie so well, and after being compared to him for the majority of my life, I struggled to grasp who I really was and if I was like him. Following on from this my father’s mother passed away and I was not allowed to attend the funeral, and I had to battle with my father to get any kind of answer for his actions.

In September 2016, I started at a new college, met new friends and completely abandoned my old life. I learnt how to drive and met a lovely man who I love dearly, but still something didn’t feel right. This guilty feeling and anxiousness ate away at me for over a year until finally in December 2017 I had my first mental breakdown.

I was anxious every single day from when I woke up, to when I eventually fell asleep. Images of child abuse and feelings of guilt plagued my mind day and night. I couldn’t be left alone and my mother had to care for me throughout the whole day, only getting time for herself when I became tired enough to sleep. I barely ate, the anxiety gnawing at my stomach making it impossible for me to swallow anything. The food I did manage to get down eventually came back up. I was pale, clammy and unkempt. I only started to recover when I found out why I was feeling this way. My sister sent me a link to an article on OCD, and how it can give you intense guilt and feeling the compulsion to confess.


“This piece it shows how people often feel stigma when discussing OCD. The black splashes show lies people tell as they feel ashamed, and the colours dripping from the mouth portray the true feelings and thoughts that people feel ashamed of but want to express. I drew this after feeling great shame over my intrusive thoughts and obsessions, and not wanting anyone to find out.”

It’s now July 2018, and I still get obsessive thoughts every day, but I’m dealing with this disorder and coping better.

OCD can spring itself upon someone over the smallest trigger and with everything I dealt with throughout the years of 2013-2017, I’m surprised this didn’t happen sooner. It’s taught me to practice self care more, and be mindful about the behaviours I exhibit and I would suggest I am a more positive person because of it.

Reflecting back upon my journey so far, I’d like to share the following points that I keep in mind, and that maybe they can help someone else going through a tough time.

Always take time to take care of yourself – there will be no you without self care, so be selfish and find time for yourself.

  1. Be easy on yourself, everyone makes mistakes.
  2. Talking about what you’re going through is okay, and it helps to reduce stigma that surrounds OCD and its lesser known themes.
  3. Finally be proud of your achievements, no matter how small.

 By Abigail


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