the incredible suckiness of ocd

My mental health story

You know…I think it’s finally time to put this on the Internet. I want to talk about it, just to a) get it off my chest and b) hopefully help others….I don’t go into too much detail, but there might be some triggers…

Okay, so: I’d always had slight mental health problems, as far back as I can remember. One of my earliest memories is hearing about ‘devil worshippers’ on the radio news, and then later on it popping into my head that I was one, and that God would punish me. I was only nine or ten, and my family was quite religious then, and I was really scared. And I’ve always had trichotillomania, although it was never diagnosed (as far as I know). When I was little I had a bald patch from where I pulled out my hair, and even to this day I have this thing where I wind it around my finger and then pull it out. (I have sort-of conquered this now, by using a scarf and pulling out the tassles on the scarf instead.)

Anyway, I have a fear of a Thing (I won’t go into it, everyone has a different Thing anyway) and I do weird stuff to prevent this Thing happening. When I was in high school, the cafeteria sold these awesome hot cookies, but one day I was queuing up and a voice in my head said “If you buy and eat those delicious cookies, the Thing will happen.” So that was the end of the cookie-eating. I still can’t eat certain foods at certain times, although I am getting slightly better in that regard. Slightly.

Things really went downhill in the closing months of 2007, though. I think it was partly triggered by the suicide of one of my schoolfriends. My parents and her parents were friends too and it shook my dad up pretty bad. From about October 2007 to December 2007, I was a wreck, and I am amazed I didn’t get sectioned. I used to do things like go an entire uni day without water, because if I drank any the Thing would happen. I have vague memories of some guy trying to chat me up, offering to buy me a drink, and I thought he was the devil or something trying to tempt me. When I did eat or drink, it had to be in a specific order. The rest of the time I honestly just…sat there. I was too afraid to do anything in case it caused the Thing. When I say nothing, I mean…nothing. I didn’t watch TV or listen to music or anything. I just sat there.

And then there was the hoarding- I hoarded my hair. (I kept it on top of a chest of drawers) I didn’t clean up because I was afraid of throwing anything away. I didn’t clean the bathroom, even. You guys heard of Howard Hughes, and what happened when he had his breakdown? I went…kinda like that. I hoarded everything. And no, I didn’t cut my nails, either, or shave, even though I wanted to. I couldn’t.

This whole thing made university very difficult indeed. One of my worst memories ever is of some guys in my class stealing my pencilcase and finding hair inside it. (Any hair that fell out while I was out, I put in my pencilcase until I could take it back and put it with the rest). I’d give my right arm to go back in time and change that. I also remember scrambling about in a toilet looking for a hair that fell on the floor- on the toilet floor, I mean, come on. I remember thinking at that point, “What’s going on? What am I doing? This isn’t how anyone should live,” but by then I was too far gone to care.

There were so many uni problems. I’d be interested to go back and look at the creative writing work I handed in then. Because I did hand in all my work on time, but…oh god, uni for those few months was a nightmare. I actually met Louis de Bernières when he came to give a lecture and to this day I have no idea what I said to him.

I survived that time mostly because of the kindness of my boyfriend, who took me to a therapist and also to the cinema several times (the cinema memories are my only good memories of those few months). I did eventually start to come out of it. I met several very good therapists, and I started to get better. Obviously there was a lot to overcome. The hoarding started to go, but scrupulosity was another big one. For ages I was afraid of reading or even touching books that criticised religion, like The God Delusion and so on. And things like tarot cards and books about ghosts. Even Supernatural, I couldn’t touch! (I’m over that now, as fans of that show will probably be pleased to know). Maybe that’s related to my family’s earlier attitude to religion (when I was really little, I wasn’t allowed to say ‘oh my god’ because it was blasphemy), I dunno. That is mostly gone now, though.

So…yes. Other interesting stuff:

-I once spent an entire Wednesday morning thinking my cat was a demon. (This is the anecdote I usually use to break the ice whenever the topic of mental health comes up). It winked at me, and I didn’t like that, so I spent several hours avoiding it.

-I sometimes call myself ‘a mental’, but I’d never call it anyone else.

-I still have panic attacks over really stupid things, but that’s almost a good thing, because it means I can sort of analyse my emotions without there being any actual danger present

-I still do things to stop The Thing happening, but it’s (usually) much less painful and noticeable now

-I sometimes worry, when walking down the street or on the bus, that I’ve just shouted out something incredibly offensive out loud at someone. This used to be much worse (I used to worry about doing it during school assembly) but now I just make myself think ‘Well, no-one is yelling at me or punching me, so I must not have done it.’

-A lot of my OCD is focused around numbers, assigning different things to different numbers and so on. That’s why I have numbers in my screenname, they’re all numbers that mean something to me.

-I get nervous on Friday the 13th (like yesterday…which is why I wasn’t on Tumblr much yesterday) and I get really nervous typing the three-sixes number, you know the one. Fun fact: when that number cropped up in the Doctor Who episode ‘Midnight’ I thought I’d imagined it and got all nervous until watching Confidential proved it was actually said in the episode.

-I still get the voice that says ‘if you do this the Thing will happen’. It does stop me from doing things something. I don’t know if it will ever completely go away.

…Okay, that’s kind of it. My mental health history, or the important bits anyway. (Or all the important bits I can remember and am comfortable talking about). I hope it helps people in some way. If you have any questions, just ask. :)

in honour of my new tag

Having OCD is sort of weird because it’s like…I never know for certain what I’m really thinking. Take religion. I’m an agnostic, but I was brought up Christian…I went to a school with crucifixes in the classroom, said prayers before bedtime, that sort of thing. It was the nice kind of religion (no damning or ranting going on), and I don’t really know if my religious upbringing had anything to do with my future mental illnesses, but these days there’s a voice telling me to be careful not to offend God. Even though I don’t technically believe in him. It doesn’t really make sense, you see? Some days I don’t like to say “Oh my God,” in case it counts as blasphemy, and so on. Or touch…even just brush against…any books lying around that criticise religion.

Despite being not religious.

(Turns out there’s a name for this: Scrupulosity.)


Briony Tallis was always my favourite character in Atonement, both book and movie. Most people I watch the movie with don’t understand why, and don’t have any sympathy for her in the slightest.

I always had sympathy for her. She was cold and arrogant and selfish, but I always related to her. When I was in high school I had this really amazing English teacher. She went off on tangents a lot and one day she was talking about some man she used to know, and then stopped and said “I should have married him.” She was married already, and I thought once, nasty thoughts like this pop into my head all the time, OCD and all that, what if I saw her with her husband one day and said to him, “She wishes she’d married someone else!”

Obviously I never did it. Plus it’s probably not even me thinking, it’s the OCD. But still. That’s why I could never not sympathise with Briony.

(no subject)

Hey, y’all.

I haven’t really posted much the past few months, and this is mostly because I discovered I have OCD. This was triggered by various events, a few of which are mentioned in this journal, and came accompanied with a heavy dose of depression. At Christmas it was horrible, but thankfully now, with help from my lovely boyfriend, I’m starting to feel better. I’ve been on antidepressants, therapy and the like, and now that I feel better I’m freaking out that I might have neglected all my friends and made everyone think I’m a complete weirdo. Which I am. But still…that’s why I haven’t been around much. I will attempt to make it up soon, although I’m also going on holiday for a week on Saturday. So expect this journal to suddenly be a flurry of activity the week after that…

So yes. It’s been an interesting time. At my worst I was sitting on a bed doing literally nothing, and I’m seriously relieved I’m not doing that anymore.

*hugs to the flist, who helped keep me entertained when miserable*