Imagine you’re at home, alone in the dark, watching a horror movie. You get so scared you quickly turn off the TV, but all of a sudden the screen turns itself back on with the most horrible parts of the movie, and you can’t switch it off.
Even if you close your eyes, you can still hear all the sound effects… and it’s almost as vivid in your mind as when you are watching it. It plays over and over and over, for days on end. Eventually your mind forgets about it, because it has remembered another horror movie that you watched months ago, and the process starts over again.
That’s what living with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is for me, except the horror movies are real life fears and worries.
About 18 months ago (Jan, 2016) I was diagnosed with OCD and it was by far the biggest relief I’ve felt for a long time. OCD is an anxiety disorder, and something that I’ve always deep down known I’ve had, but I was more likely to joke about it rather than actually contemplate it. Because anxiety seems to be so common these days and very different for every person, I always believed that for me it was just the strict, highly-strung household that I grew up in (and probably a bit of my own control freak-ness), that gave birth to it.
It wasn’t until I met my husband James (in 2010), that I began to realise just how much it affected my life and consequently my relationships. I remember bringing James home to meet my family for the first time. We were driving to my parents house (an hour away) and were running late due to traffic.
My dad was ringing me flat out to see where we were, and because of my heightened anxiety and stress (and the horrible argument I would inevitably walk into for being late) I lied and told my parents we were 10 minutes away, instead of the actual 30 minutes.
To most people this might sound bizarre, but for me, the crippling fear of being late, yelled at, and ruining the whole evening, was all my fault. Of course because we were late, an argument broke out and my dad refused to eat with us (it was only 30 minutes late!), and I ended up in tears trying to explain to James how the anxiety was not just coming from me.