Harry Winser

That OCD Blog

Some of you who know me in the real realm, may know that i suffer from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. And those of you who don't; well, now you do!

I guess i should do some level of explanation as to what OCD is, and how it effects me and my day to day life. Fyi, if you came here for a blog about games or tech, this one ain't gunna be that.

Anyway, what does it mean? A lot of people think OCD manifests a little bit like this;

Which is partially true. Richard O'hara suffers from OCD, and that's how it affects him; two gunshots means he has to stamp is left foot 4 times while counting. But why would one do that? And what does it mean?

I guess it's probably easier to explain from my own perspective.

My own OCD boils down into 2 main areas;

  • Disaster prevention
  • Negative / intrusive thoughts

The above two link together, and feed off each other. Lets start with Disaster prevention.

Each morning, before leaving the house, i'll count the hobs on the stove in a certain order. This order must be right, else i'm over powered with a sense of anxiety that is only sated when i complete this count correctly. The anxiety is caused by thoughts of that A: a family member might die, or the house will burn down, or something horrid will happen at work. And so on. This is where the negative / intrusive thoughts come into it.

But why would i think like this? I honestly don't know. This is not born out of logic. It's just how my mind works in this situation. It's sort of a ritual, a ward, against the day and bad things. Maybe a prayer?

The negative and intrusive thoughts are something that occur at almost any time, and they can be nasty. But actually, these are thoughts most people have. The difference lies in not simply bushing them off, but instead being scared and angry at yourself for having them. I beat myself up about having such thoughts. Not great.

Some of these thoughts skew risk analysis of a typical situation, such as thinking that if i shut this door someone might get trapped inside this building and there could be a fire and angry killer bees! Basically, if the outcome could result in something bad happening, not matter how unlikely it could be, it would result in a whole lot anxiety, and thus a whole lot of checking to make sure it's all ok, and this outcome can't occur.

Times are changing

I've tackled with the above most of my life. I remember being very young, and needing to wash my hands often as i was worried that i'd carry some form of bacteria that could kill someone. Since then, its manifested in a multitude of different ways throughout my life. Yay…

So, why suddenly am i now writing about this? Well, recently I started getting OCD training (therapy?). OOOOoooooo!

What this means is that once a week i have an hour session where I receive Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. This is basically a mix of looking at how my OCD manifests, and why. It also entails challenges such as leaving the house without checking things to show nothing bad will happen, or wishing ill on my therapist to prove that my negative thoughts have no effect on the outside world.

This has been rather challenging, and there have been times I've failed, but on the whole I'm slowly getting better. I'm learning tools to combat these thoughts and feelings, and ways to manage my anxiety, and deal with it's source.

The two main approaches that work for me are standing up to the thought, or abstracting myself away from it.

Standing up to your own mind is a little bit odd. Almost like two voices. One freaking out like a caged monkey, the other firmly stating that it's wrong, and shouldn't be worried about this. For example:
"OH DEAR GOD CHECK THE TAPS AGAIN YOUR HOUSE WILL FLOOD AND IT WILL COST SO MUCH MONEY"

"I've checked them. It's done. It doesn't matter. If the place does flood, i can solve that. It's not a problem"

"BUT NO! IT WILL BREAK EVERYTHING YOU OWN. YOUR HOUSEMATE WILL HATE YOU. YOU WILL SUFFER!!"

"My housemate wouldn't hate me. It would be an accident. I would forgive him for the same. I've checked it. It's fine."

The abstracting thought process is a tad different. It's more acknowledging the thought, and going "Yeah, that's fine. I'm allowed to have that thought. I'm not a bad person for it. It doesn't matter".

And so, over the last few weeks, I've slowly reduced the OCD tendencies that i have to do on a day to day bases. And it feels pretty good. Don't get me wrong, i'll never be 100% free of anxiety. It won't ever go. But i'm starting to feel far more in control. And i feel far more prepared for the future.

If you think you might suffer from OCD, then go ahead and talk to your GP. They should be able to refer you. Though it won't be an easy process doing CBT, it's worth it and you'll feel better in the long run!

Anyway, a slightly deeper blog post this time. Next one will probably be lighter.