I’m back! I should really stop introducing each blog post with an apology for not being active on here recently and giving an explanation. So, instead, I’ll just say hello again! How have you been? Good, I hope!
Today (tonight – late evening inspiration time) I wanted to talk about my OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). I’ve talked about it here before, but I wanted to discuss it in more depth, focusing on the things that trigger my OCD.
OCD is a misunderstood illness, and a lot of stigma surrounds it. Like I’ve said (ranted about) before, people who get their understanding of OCD from the media probably view OCD as compulsive hand washing or people alphabetising their DVD’s. OCD can include these traits but there is also SO much more to it.
I’ve often felt weird or guilty about the things that trigger my OCD, but I am going to share some of them here with the aim of showing people who read this that there are NO triggers they should be ashamed of.
My curtains. Fun fact – I haven’t had curtains in my bedroom for about two years now! I got to the point where I would spend ages every night arranging the curtains until I got them in a position where I was comfortable. If the curtains weren’t in EXACTLY the right position, I couldn’t even think about sleeping. In the end, I was spending what was probably an unhealthy amount of time obsessing over them, so I took them down once and for all. I never even closed my curtains, so it’s not like I had a great need for them. One less thing to worry about. Besides, it’s quite fun trying to determine when it is safe to change in my room without risking the neighbours looking in!
My phone. When my OCD was at its worst, the most time consuming of my compulsions was probably checking my phone before bed. I would check that my alarm clock was set, that the volume was on the correct number, and more. I couldn’t bear the thought of these things being ‘wrong’. On my worst days, this could take anything from 30-60 minutes, for something most people probably do in 1 or 2. To reduce this time, I started using a separate alarm clock, which I find much less stressful. Even now that I find this much easier, I regularly check that my alarm clock is set 25-50 times each night. Maybe even more if I have something planned for early the next morning that I am scared of oversleeping for. But I can cope with that.
My rucksack. God, this one was a nightmare. I don’t use this particularly upsetting rucksack any more, but it was a pain a couple of years ago. I would hang it up on my bedroom door on a hook – no problem. The OCD crept in when I started to obsess over the pockets not being shut, for some reason. Why should I worry about the pockets being open? It’s not logical. But OCD isn’t often logical. There were four pockets, fastened by poppers, on the front of the bag. I would check each one goodness knows how many times. Probably hundreds. Every single night before I would even consider getting into bed. Not fun, I can tell you.
The kitchen hobs. Over my whole OCD ‘journey’, THIS is the thing I am most proud of – going from checking the hobs for up to and sometimes over 30 minutes each night, to not checking them AT ALL. I used to check that they were off SO much. Thrown this in with checking light switches and the front door, it would take such a long time before I could even get upstairs to start my bedroom OCD routines. Now, I check that the door is locked and that the light switches are in the correct positions, but I don’t even glance at the hobs. It’s a sort of ‘what I don’t know can’t hurt me’ mentality. I trust myself enough now to know that the hobs are off, and if I don’t look at them, I don’t even need to entertain the idea in my mind that they might not be off. Does that even make sense? In my mind it does, at least.
Depression. Over the years , I’ve noticed a correlation between my mood and the severity of my OCD. The more depressed I am, the more anxious I get, and the worse my OCD flares up. So, over time, as my mood fluctuates, so does my OCD. Pretty self explanatory. This is a general ‘rule’, but of course, life isn’t always that easy! I can be reasonably happy and content and still struggle a lot with my OCD. But it’s always a good thing to keep in mind.
I hope this has given a bit more of an insight into some of my more ‘unusual’ triggers that I have dealt with in the past. Some of these are things that I have spent a lot of time feeling embarrassed or ashamed of. But now I know that they are not things I should hide. OCD can affect people in many ways, and these are just some ways it affects me. I can’t help having OCD – it is an illness. The ways in which it manifests in my life are not things I can easily control. But I am getting better at it. And that’s what matters!