When OCD Has A Friend…

August 6th 2018

... it can be hard to fight, but even harder when you have to manage another illness on top of it!

Often when you live with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), you find that the illness doesn’t travel alone.

When I was diagnosed with OCD at fifteen, I was also diagnosed with depression. It’s fairly obvious to me now why this was the case, but back then (11 years ago, where has the time gone?!) I found myself questioning the dual diagnosis. I knew I had some issues and the OCD label explained pretty much all of them, so I was left confused and frustrated to be lumped in with depression as well.

It’s only in the last few years where I’ve been able to reflect on my illness and the times where I’ve been incredibly vulnerable and stressed to realise that the depression and OCD triggered each other, playing a tormented game of ‘it’ (or tag, whatever you call it). It’s easy now, taking an outside view and looking back on how things were, but when I was in the middle of it all, the OCD seemed so overwhelming that I struggled to deal with any of the thoughts that depression sent my way.

Now, however, OCD is (thankfully) on the back-burner but this means that there’s room for depression to stretch out and take up space in my mind. Having a dual-diagnosis can be really difficult to manage, especially when one aspect of your mental health seems to be improving and yet the other drags you backwards (even though realistically, you just move sideways, but we’re conditioned to believe that every mini-breakdown is a step backwards). It’s so important to know that you’re not alone, and that in-fact, many people who have mental illnesses struggle with more than just one (even though having one on its own can be incredibly difficult to live with!).

There are various ways to manage and look after yourself and I’ve found that over the years, learning to be open with myself about how I’m feeling is a major contributing factor in my ability to maintain coping mechanisms. These range from simple things like speaking to trusted loved ones about my emotions, to getting ‘out of my head’ both physically and mentally, whether that’s running, exercise, binge-watching Netflix, reading a book or listening to music.

I know how difficult it is to live with OCD, so when you have to manage another mental illness on top of that it can be bloody hard, but it makes you appreciate the good times even more, and even though you might not think it, you will become more resilient over time. Please don’t beat yourself up if you need a time-out or a day spent relaxing, because you’re fighting the toughest battle any person has to face, and that is one with yourself.

Always have hope, and remember that we’re here to support you and help you if we can.

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