This Is Me. This Is OCD.

This is me. This is OCD. For it lies. It plants unwanted thoughts in your head. We all have these thoughts. Did I leave the oven on? Why do I need to touch that tap seven times? What would happen if I let go of the steering wheel? The list goes on. Here’s the good news. Such thoughts are perfectly normal. We all have them. And the majority of us shake our heads, think ‘don’t be so ridiculous’, and shoo the idea out of our head, never to return.

I don’t, for I have OCD. The thought doesn’t go away, rather it becomes that unwelcome house guest who turns up uninvited, kicks off their shoes, and asks what’s for dinner. They linger, they fester and they grow to such a monstrous size that they squeeze every other idea out of your head. It holds court, takes up residence and cheerily starts to dismantle every last shred of your former self. It changes you to the extent that you start to doubt who you are.

The power of the obsessive thoughts and images are hard to describe. But I’ll try. Imagine standing in the middle of a boxing ring against a dangerous and skilled opponent. Except your hands are tied, you’re rooted to the spot and blindfolded. Your opponent can land unlimited punches from any angle at any time. You cannot see them coming nor evade or deflect them in the slightest. That is OCD. A sensation of utter powerlessness against a relentless, unforgiving foe.

When a punch lands, you are utterly unprepared for it. You are sent spinning to the canvas, shocked and disoriented. That is OCD. Once the unwanted thought floats into your mind you have no way of removing it. OCD is a bloodless coup, a fait accompli. It storms your ramparts and before you know it, the white flag has been risen. It knows no mercy and gives no parley. It is the Ramsay Bolton of mental illness. It will flay you alive.

The harder you try not to think about the unwanted thought, the more you will. That is OCD. It isolates you from reality and ties you up in nonsensical knots which you cannot untangle, no matter how hard you try. It clouds rational thought and wreaks havoc amidst the foggy confusion. It is ridiculous but that is it’s strength. You are terrified to share your thoughts with another human being, for fear they think you insane.

You would rather hide your dirty, grubby secret than expose it to the light of day. The voice is insistent that if you share that unwanted thought with anyone, it will wreck your marriage, your family and your life. You will end up with nothing, a broken shell. So you keep it bottled up inside, and allow the disturbing, unwanted, graphic images to torment your every waking hour. It is your constant companion, the albatross around your neck.

It consumes the good in you, sucks the very marrow from your bones. You are left dry and broken. There is no tiredness comparable to an OCD loop. If the CIA could bottle OCD and release it as a nerve agent, then all wars would end. Bullets and bombs break bones, OCD breaks wills. It is the end of times, for when it drops its payload, then nothing will ever be the same again. How do you defeat an enemy you cannot see.

It calls you everything, and you believe. You are everything you despise. You are a deviant, a freak, a waste of skin and space and air. You are the devil and it is the detail. It scoops out everything you ever were and ever hoped to be. It is a dragon that you will chase but never catch. It is smoke and mirrors and you choke and cower. It is everywhere but it is nowhere. It destroys worlds. These words are my truth. For this is me. This is OCD.

48 thoughts on “This Is Me. This Is OCD.

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  1. Oh gosh,,, you are correct… Lots of people say they are ocd but don’t have a clue. I wish I could take it away from all. The best I can do is offer an ear to listen and a virtual hug. (((Hugs)))

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  2. “You would rather hide your dirty, grubby secret than expose it to the light of day.” Yes … I completely understand this. I understand it because I, like so many others are like you. I think that knowing that the thoughts are ‘irrational’ for want of a better word means I’m halfway there. I don’t discuss these thoughts with anyone at the moment as my Glaswegian neighbour is too far away as is the wonderful therapist up there. They are the only ones that I can speak to until I get my act together and find someone else who will listen, help, not judge and who understands and won’t run a mile when I reveal what my thoughts really are. I hope that you have someone (your wife?) who you can talk to?? K

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  3. This is a powerful description, Stephen. As someone who sufers with a.d.d. the symptoms for sure have some overlap. Since I learned to meditate I have an easier time seeing my thoughts as just thoughts, manufactured by my over-active brain, it has eased the suffering a bit. That doesn’t mean the thoughts leave me, but I guess they have less hold on me these days. I can truly relate to your description though. Thanks as always for your thoughtful writing.

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  4. As always you write inspiringly, articulating the horrors. You were the first ever person to like my blog post (thank you)and I’ve been reading yours from afar ever since but sometimes am too miserable to connect and even like or comment. But reading them is comforting because you are forging your way on through this human condition and really succeeding in projecting your voice and your experience into the stratosphere. On a very personal level this gives me hope. So thank you for having the strength to fight your demons and be you more strongly and for making me chuckle even when it hurts lol.

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  5. Great description and so accurate. There are a lot of undiagnosed people out there, and probably a lot who are borderline. Thank you for such honesty.

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  6. This was a really powerful thing that I needed to read this week. For various reasons, my family has been thinking about one of my relatives, who took her own life 18 years ago after struggling with OCD and other mental health and addiction issues for a lifetime. She was a beautiful woman who manipulated doctors into doing what she wanted them to do rather than what was best for her, so she never really got the help she needed. At the time of her passing, I thought of her as a selfish person who had been cruel to most of my family her life, which was externally all I saw. It’s taken me two decades to be able to see the lonely existence she was living inside of herself that caused her to act the way she did to others. This post has helped me understand a bit more what it must have felt like to be her. Thank you, thank you, thank you, for being willing to share that for those of us who don’t understand. And for explaining it with brutal clarity, vulnerability, and a little bit of humor. For my part, I will do my best to be a better ally for folks around me fighting such a brutal opponent!

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  7. I can’t begin to understand how draining and consuming this is, even with your amazing post. Sometimes I wonder at what exactly it is that makes our brains so on a loop. Your words make me want to try harder to understand others.

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  8. Thank you for sharing about OCD. AS a follower of your blog, I appreciate your honesty and openness with your struggles. It provides identification and hope for those who suffer quietly because of the stigma attached to mental illnesses. I have also chosen to be open about my struggles because I’ve learned that so many suffer in silence and isolation, Thank you for reminding us that the struggle is real.

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  9. You may suffer from OCD, but you are also gifted – so gifted! Thank you for sharing the challenges and reality of living life with such a handicap. Kudos to you for your courage in battling (and dare I say overcoming) such a foe. I am praying for your continued fortitude.

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  10. Thank you for sharing. I have Schizophrenia and it’s so important to bring it all out into the open so it doesn’t fester. Good luck with your journey. By writing about your OCD you’ve punched it back.

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  11. I’m so with you on this!!! Diagnosed with OCD as well – my obsessive thoughts almost took my life – it can take you to the darkest places. Always nice to know I’m not alone, though I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy.

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