OCD – The Silent Killer

I have OCD and I’m not in control. There, I’ve said it, that wasn’t so hard was it? Even a few years ago, I would have veered clear of ‘outing’ myself and identifying with the mental illness. It was embarrassing, shameful and humiliating. But the longer I’ve walked this path, I’ve realised I have a responsibility to talk about OCD and share my experiences of this horrific, yet so misunderstood, disorder. It’s a curse but one I can help battle through the gift of writing.

Many people still associate OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) with being a ‘clean freak,’ someone who is fixated with cleanliness and germs. Yes, this is an aspect of the illness which affects some but it’s like saying you can only get cancer in your lungs. It’s a shallow, lazy interpretation of a multi-headed beast which can be as easy to label as herding cats. How can you be expected to explain to others what you can barely explain yourself?

Take my OCD. It doesn’t involve washing hands or scrubbing floors. Fionnuala would probably be delighted if the latter was the case. There is no outward manifestation to it. Instead it lurks within, polluting my mind. Imagine dropping a thimble full of black ink into a swimming pool. Watching it spread throughout the water, colouring and distorting it. That’s an obsessive thought entering the mind. It spreads, occupies and contaminates until it possesses your every waking thought.

That thought can be anything. The more disgusting and outrageous the better. It’s entire purpose is to nibble and niggle at your conscience, tricking you into believing that you are a truly horrible human being. It will grow and breed until you can think about nothing else, you are sidetracked and derailed. On the surface all might appear calm, but beneath the waters you are kicking and screaming, drowning in the obsession. The only escape is to indulge the compulsive act.

With me this usually involved a complicated mental routine that I would perform in my head a pre-determined number of times. If I did not perform it perfectly then I would have to start all over again. I would have to drop everything else and focus all my attention on this draining and distressing act, often hiding from the outside world until I was satisfied I had perfected the routine and therefore rid my mind of the obsessive thought. Until it re-emerged again moments later, bigger and badder than ever.

Now, tell me, where is the control in that? Imagine having your day all planned out when such a thought enters your mind, convincing you that you’re a disgusting, disturbed deviant. The only way to alleviate the anguish is to shut yourself off from the outside world and wage an internal war against the slippiest of foes. A brutal, toe-to-toe conflict against an enemy with limitless time and resources. While your outside existence slips down the drain.

You don’t control the OCD, the OCD controls you. It has you in a chokehold from which there is no escape. The compulsive act offers only temporary release and in fact feeds and facilitates the next wave of obsessive thoughts. It is a false ally, a smiling assassin, promising relief while actually dragging you deeper into its pit of despair. You are tossed about like a paper boat on a storm lashed ocean. There is no control, the life of an OCD sufferer is at the whim and fancy of its demonic master.

So the next time you laugh at an ‘OCD meme’ or make that ‘Oh, I’m so OCD’ comment while playfully rolling your eyes, think on. It is a silent killer, the third most prevalent mental disorder in the world according to the World Health Organisation. It debilitates and destroys lives. Would you say ‘Oh I’ve a bit of cancer?’ No, I thought not. You’re either OCD or you’re not. For your sake, I pray it’s the latter.

Published by Fractured Faith Blog

We are Stephen and Fionnuala and this is our story. We live in Northern Ireland, have been married for 17 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.

40 thoughts on “OCD – The Silent Killer

  1. Thank you for sharing your honest experience with OCD. You’re right in saying OCD is not only about being a clean freak. I thought I was a horrible human being for being consumed with thoughts that were uncontrollable. In talking with a psychiatrist, I realized that it’s an illness and not a personal flaw. Mental illness is so stigmatized and saying you have it is a big shameful thing.
    I really enjoyed reading your post!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It must be a living nightmare for those suffering from this horrendous condition.
    It’s good that you’re helping people to try to understand the full implications of it.

    Like

  3. One of my pet peeves are when people say: “I’m so OCD” as they straighten a picture frame and go on with their incredibly normal life. I have recommended your book “Skully’s Square” to quite a few of people who’ve done that. It sure opened my eyes to the horrors one must battle with everyday.

    I’m glad that your writing has been so healing for you, and that you’re using it to be a voice for those who face this monster daily.

    Like

  4. Here in America, we can stream old episodes of the Belgian TV crime show, “Professor T.” on public television. Until I began following your blog a couple of years ago, I knew next to nothing about OCD. Not to blur the lines between the pain of your actual life and a television show with an OCD character, however, I believe I was able to understand that show on a whole other level because I had learned so much about OCD from you and your blog. I was thinking about you the whole time I was streaming it.

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  5. Thank you for sharing your experiences. I know little about OCD so thank you, this will help me be more informed of how it can affect people, to better help me know things that may help. For the better part of fifteen years I’ve struggled with depression. I liken my experience to being in a hole with no way to climb out. No ladders, no ramp up. Through consistent support of family, friends, and God I’ve been working on it and still am.

    Kia kaha to you. (Stay strong.) 🙂

    Like

  6. Such a powerful and eye-opening post, Stephen. I learn some new things from this because I didn’t realize just how deep OCD runs. I also didn’t realize that negative self-talk was a characteristic of it. Thank you so much!

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  7. Unfortunately for me, I was Dx’d w/OCD at 19. Probably had it way earlier than that. Mine extends far beyond just fears of contamination. I have intrusive thoughts, fears of acting out reprehensible behaviors I’d never do, it’s crazy. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone….

    Like

  8. Thank you for this very candid post. I know people who struggle and when it is an ‘invisible’ disability, people tend to think there is nothing going on, and the people who are suffering don’t know others are fighting the same battle. Mental health is so fragile.

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    1. Hi Kat, sorry I can’t stop myself from replying. If this is the case then you must re-read and get used to the point… you cannot ‘be’ OCD, a little bit, moderately, or massively. You may have a mild case of our mental illness which is called OCD.
      Once you get your head around it, you’ll be correcting people too! I promise you 🙏

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Stephen, this is a great informative article. Not only well written but beautifully conveyed. The darkness even churned ‘my’ stomach, and I’ve been in the battle for many years. Loving the imagery. Blessings to you 🙏

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  10. I love this!! So accurate! A trainer I once worked with explained OCD this way to make us understand. If you like to vacuum your carpet a certain way and have no lines, you are persnickety. If you can’t leave your house because the lines aren’t all facing the same way and you are convinced that if you don’t fix it, your cat is going to die, that is OCD.

    Like

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