Tuesday, 23 August 2011

"You have OCD? That's SO cute."

There are few things in life that are responsible for my anger. Put simply, I'm just not a very angry person. I feel guilt terribly easy and if something goes wrong in my life, I am the first to blame myself. Whilst I'm not particularly tolerant of stupidity, very rarely am I filled with rage. However, every time I hear a comment such as this, I really do want to punch someone right in the face.

Let's get something clear. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is NOT cute. And whilst it is the fourth common mental illness in the world, there is, statistically speaking, no way that every 15 year old girl in the world has OCD. Just because you cleaned your bedroom for five minutes or enjoy bubble baths, does not mean that you have OCD. It is a serious condition that is constantly degraded and talked down by society, turning it into something that is weak, quirky, and worse still, 'cute'.

Despite the rant I am currently typing, I must make it apparent that I do recognise the slightly funny side to OCD. I mean, as serious and as destructive as it is, it is kind of odd and strange. We all look at our weird compulsions and thoughts and giggle at ourselves and at how silly it is to think in this way. Sometimes you just have to laugh, so that you don't cry.

The thing that does bug me about the stigma associated with OCD, is that it is seen as a nothing disorder. According to society, it just means that you're a bit of a perfectionist or like straight piles and clean things. Your usual OCD character within a movie, book or TV series is typically made fun of for being a neat freak. The part that the media conveniently 'forget' to include is how graphic and terrifying the thoughts can be, as well as how time consuming the compulsions are. The stereotypes surrounding it just make me want to stand on top of a mountain and scream my lungs out. At school, I regularly get the "Gosh, you're so OCD!" and, honestly, it hurts that people don't understand how much that statement is actually true.

People often try to shake my hand or touch my face as a joke, just because they know it bothers me. Females in my grade are big on the whole hugging thing, and so it's just assumed that I too would naturally wish to engage in such unhygienic and unnecessary tasks. I'm ridiculed for my constant usage of hand sanitiser and for refusing to use the computers at school because of how many other people have touched the keyboards. School is hell for us OCD people, and I don't think I'll ever forget it.

This has got me thinking though, about how naive we as human beings can be. We make jokes at the expense of others, not even stopping to consider that we could be hurting someone close to us. Our words can be such a powerful weapon, and we need to take that into account when thinking about the way we use them. I feel that the best way to handle having people make sly comments about OCD is to remember that whilst people are continuously crossing the line, they don't realise it. Nobody can see the line except you, the one who drew it. And yes, some only put a toe over the line, whilst others prefer to take a run up and dive right over it, but it helps to remember that people aren't intentionally out to make your life hell or to destroy your self esteem. They don't understand, just as I don't understand them and their social interactions.

So, my goal for this week is to try and be genuinely nice and caring to the people around me. If they don't understand what I'm going through, what makes me think that I can understand them in their entirety. There's always more to people than what meets the eye.


Friday, 19 August 2011

Don't be worried, I still exist.

It's been a while.

I feel as though I only just started writing this blog and already I'm falling behind in keeping you up to date on my life and its events.

Lots of things have happened over the past week and as I sit here and write, I'm still trying to think about the best place to start.

I guess the most significant thing to happen to me over the past few weeks is that I've been started on some medication. Last Tuesday, I returned to my psychiatrist, only to tell her that I hadn't had much progress in fighting my OCD over the past two weeks. I believe I had succeeded in leaving my wardrobe door open once, but had still showered three times every night and was still washing my hands three times every time I used the bathroom, as well as using hand sanitiser compulsively throughout the day.

So, it was decided, after much conversing, that I would be started on anti-depressants. This isn't because I'm depressed, though my OCD has resulted in much social isolation as I find myself constantly over thinking when I'm with people. This sometimes results in sadness, because it's just so hard for me. I struggle to understand social situations, gestures as well as often not understanding sarcasm. As a result, I like being alone... a lot. I thrive on it in fact. I've explained all of this to my close friends, about not getting sarcasm and struggling with social rules. I also have a physical sign that occurs when I'm not understanding something people related, which is quite often, that being that my left eye twitches. This is because I am thinking so hard that my head actually starts to hurt, and I guess it just comes out in a twitch. It's kind of helpful though. My close friends know when I'm not understanding something, and they help me to find a joke funny or to explain social situations literally or with numbers, the best ways for me to understand things.

Anywho, the point is, I'm now on medication. I was told that side effects that may occur include headaches, nausea, general sickness, sleep deprivation etc. I've found that I've been experiencing fairly intense headaches and some general sickness, but I've also been sleeping better than what I have been in the past. I don't expect to see a mood change until I've been on them for approximately three weeks, but I am legitimately excited by the prospect that things are going to start changing in my life. The decision to go on medication was an easy one for me. If there is a chance, no matter how small, that something is going to make my OCD back off, I'm willing to take it, no matter the cost. I look forward to seeing things happen in my thoughts, obsessions, and compulsions. I'll keep you all posted.


Wednesday, 10 August 2011

So, I'm sick.

I don't even know how this can possibly happen.

I use hand sanitiser once every half hour, I use my jumper sleeve whenever I touch door handles or other contaminated surfaces, I refuse to borrow pens, I shower frequently, I don't share food, I never touch anyone or let anyone touch me and I run as far away as possible from anyone who dares to do so much as whisper, "man, I feel sick".

If you think about it, it's basically impossible.

But, that's not my point. My point is that if there is one aspect of my OCD that is bothering me the most at the moment, it is my fear of contamination, and so, being sick is kind of... terrifying?

Currently, my psychiatrist and I are working towards using cognitive behaviour therapy to try and control some of my OCD habits. These include: shutting doors three times, shutting my wardrobe door three times, turning of taps three times, taking three sips of water, washing parts of my body three times whilst showering... You get it, for some reason, my brain likes threes. I'm also trying to fight my fear of contamination. The first step for doing this, for me, was to try and stay put when I am around one of my friends at school that happens to be sick. Normally, I would somehow figure out a socially acceptable way to leave the conversation as quickly as possible and then retreat to the bathrooms, to the comfort of my hand sanitiser and my own solitude. This time, however, when the time came where the dreaded phrase, "I think I'm getting sick" was spoken, I put my foot down. Ignoring all of the flashing images of sickness and death that came inside my mind, I got over the dirty feeling and wave of anxiety that had came over me, put on a fake smile and said, "aw, that's no good."

At the time, it was an incredible achievement. Now, however, as I sit here with tissues strewn all around my bedroom floor, I see that this particular experience didn't allow me to progress in my battle with OCD, rather it set me back. It showed me that my fears of contamination were not irrational, and that I am totally in my right mind to run away from sickness, rather than just dealing with being around it.

You win some, you lose some, but this particular 'some' wasn't in my best interests.

Monday, 8 August 2011

In the beginning.

"Normality is boring," they all say. "Be different", "live life on the edge", "take risks". Everyone seems to have this universal view that the more different or out there you are, the more you enjoy life, or the easier it is to live. It seems a little bit silly, don't you think? That people, by trying to stand out from the crowd, are actually only trying to gain approval, or to fit in. Not me.

To any casual observer, usual onlooker or innocent bystander, I drip with normality. On the surface, I may appear just like any other teenager, only thinking about boys, fashion and celebrities. Truth be told, I crave mediocrity. I'd give up everything possible to be anonymous, to be unnoticed, to be normal. There's one thing that makes me different. It's my dirty little secret, my private torment, my daily obsession. 

I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. 

I don't have a quirky little habit or a mere love of organisation. I have a disabling condition, a mind that controls me, a chemical malfunction, a misunderstood disorder.

In case you are reading this blog with no prior knowledge of what OCD is, I feel I should give you a brief run down. An article that I found on a website titled "Hungry Beast" describes it well. It reads, "When someone is a perfectionist, or just very particular about something, we often jokingly say they have OCD. But Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, an anxiety based mental illness, is a lot more complicated than just being a neat freak. OCD is made up of two things: the obsessions, which are unwanted repetitive thoughts, and compulsions, which are the rituals people use to alleviate the anxiety of the obsession.OCD sufferers are everyday people, controlled by a condition that makes them behave in irrational ways that they themselves see as unreasonable but feel they can't do anything about."

This blog will tell my story, under the anonymous name of 'Magenta'. Nobody needs to know my name. For who is only the function of what, and what I am is a young girl trying to help, inform and educate others in her own journey as she tries to fight the monster that lurks deep inside of her, that is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.