This Is Who I Am

A neighbour, who is currently reading the book, stopped to chat to me as I headed out to work this morning. I asked her how she was getting on with it, an entirely inappropriate question given she has a young daughter and another on the way. The poor woman has enough on her plate without wading through a 350 page tome about Napoleonic ghost soldiers with supernatural powers rampaging around modern day Belfast laying waste to anyone who happens to look at them the wrong way.

Thankfully rather than telling me where to go forth and multiply, she kindly responded that she was enjoying it, whenever she got a chance to sit down and pick it up. What pleased me most, though, was when she said it was educating her about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), the mental illness which has plagued Kirkwood Scott, the hero of our tale, since his childhood. Educating people about OCD was one of the reasons I started to write.

Despite being recognised by the World Health Organisation as one of the most common and debilitating mental illnesses, OCD is still viewed by many as a bit of a joke. I involuntarily grind my teeth any time I hear someone come out with the classic ‘I’m a little bit OCD’ phrase whenever describing they’re a bit of a ‘clean freak’ or washed their hands twice, as opposed to once after weeding the garden over the weekend.

You can’t be a ‘little bit OCD.’ It’s like saying ‘I’ve got a bit of cancer’. In the cheese laden words of Samuel L. Jackson, or was it Colin Farrell, you’re either SWAT or you’re not. OCD is the same. It’s not a weekend sniffle that you shrug off with a hot drink and a couple of paracetamol. OCD is a horrific, relentless, debilitating disorder. OCD kills. People take their own lives rather than endure another second of the endless intrusive thoughts and tortuous compulsions which accompany them.

It’s not ‘did I forget to turn the oven off’ or ‘that towel is the wrong colour, it doesn’t match the bath mat.’ It’s waking up thinking you’re a paedophile and you’re going to harm your own kids unless you perform mental gymnastics for the remainder of the day which preoccupy your every waking thought. Even though OCD sufferers are the least likely people to harm anyone because we care that much about our loved ones.

It’s straight people waking up convinced they’re gay and being bombarded with unwanted, extreme sexual images about their family, friends and that stranger they pass in the street on the way to work. Oh, and don’t worry gay people, you’re as likely to wake up feeling just the same about straight people. OCD doesn’t discriminate, I’ll give it that. Nobody is safe from it, yet we still know so little about its origins and how to treat it.

Some say it’s a chemical imbalance in our brains. Cognitive Behavioural Theraphy (CBT) and certain forms of medication can alleviate its symptoms. What works for me won’t necessarily work for you. It can lie dormant for months, years and then flare up announced as a result of the most inconspicuous comment or event. It’s always there, lurking, watching for its opportunity to bounce back into your life and turn all your best laid plans upside down.

My neighbour hasn’t been the first person to thank me for raising their awareness of the disorder. I’ve had similar comments from many quarters, from fellow sufferers and from those with zero knowledge of the illness. The message is getting through. Slowly, but surely. And if I never sell another copy of the book I can rest assured that I’m doing my bit to promote awareness and educate others about this most misunderstood mental health issue.

It’s not the best book ever penned about OCD. I could name half a dozen off the top of my head which are infinitely better researched and written. But this is my effort, my very best effort, and this is why I will keep writing and blogging about this difficult and emotive topic. I’m no longer embarrassed by it or willing to hide in the shadows. It’s time to shout it from the rooftops. This is me, this is who I am.

Published by Fractured Faith Blog

We are Stephen and Fionnuala and this is our story. We live in Northern Ireland, have been married for 15 years and have three kids - Adam, Hannah and Rebecca. We hope that our story will inspire and encourage others. We have walked a rocky road yet here we are today, together and stronger than ever. We are far from perfect and our faith has been battered and bruised. But an untested faith is a pointless faith. Just as a fractured faith is better than none at all. We hope you enjoy the blog.

38 thoughts on “This Is Who I Am

  1. I hear it all the time, “I am so OCD” as girls wipe the counter at work somehow missing the dirtiest parts. And you are correct when you say things wake you in the night, as I sit here woken at 3:02 am. My OCD was diagnosed as mild that is only because at the time I wasn’t stressed and in a quiet environment…and my doc was a quack. There’s nothing mild about mine either. I just wrote about my “ticks”, I so sweetly call them. They help me make it through social situations until I can return to my safe spot. Thanks for doing your part to bring awareness.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m thankful not to have it, for that sounds shit. I do go back to the car up to three times to check if it is locked and ask random strangers to remind me I’ve locked it as I walk away… This is only one thing I can think of that I do on a regular and have considered this as being “a bit OCD”. Seriously, what you describe sounds shit and very distressing. Bless you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A friend of mine has OCD. He has had moderate success with medication, but he says all the time that it is just a matter of time before the medication stops working and he starts all over again. Thank you for giving a voice to those that suffer from this illness.

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  4. This was such an informative read, thank you. I genuinely did not know any of the things you described. My son has ADHD, along with a tic disorder, and if I ever mention to another parent that he has ADHD, they almost always say, yeah mine is hyper, too. I am truly thankful to have read this post today and I will be interested to read more.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks for another great post and the insight to help me understand your book better. I got OCD part and like the D&D take, but I might have been a tad sleepy when he was suddenly in the presence of the Colonel. But at least it helped get the Waterloo intro a little better

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  6. This is a fantastic piece of writing. I’ve lived with O.C.D since I can remember. For me it’s touching and fixing things. I don’t tell people because they think it’s hilarious. I never even knew that it was recognised by the W.H.O.
    but this piece has meant so much to me this morning.
    Thank you so very much XxxxxX

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  7. Good afternoon, this blog post is powerful. Thank you for shedding light on OCD and for sharing these information on here. I felt your passion to rise awareness within this post. Therefore, I am willing to read more about it. I have seen some people on twitter use โ€œI am a little bit OCDโ€ as a joke & I wish this wasnโ€™t the case. I would like to thank you for liking my latest blog post โ€œThe Looming Shadow Pearl ๐Ÿ˜ฑ๐Ÿ‘ฅโ€. It meant so much to me. Have a lovely day. ๐ŸŒธ

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  8. Nice article. I enjoyed reading it.

    Words get people in so much trouble these days.

    Some people are a little OCD by the dictionary definition of the words, but not by the World Health Organization’s definition.

    I think you can be a “little bit obsessive” or a “little bit compulsive”, just like you can have a “little bit of cancer”.

    I don’t think people who say they “are so OCD” are coming from a hateful place, and in many cases they may actually be suffering from a mild form of something that complicates their lives. I know I am.

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  9. Thanks. These are my favorite kind of blogs. My mental health issues often pop up in the things I write too as they are a part of who I am. I don’t have OCD but I agree with you that many people don’t understand it properly. A good, albeit painful, portrayal was Jack Nicholson’s character in “As Good As it Gets.”

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