Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
I never knew I suffered from OCD until I lost my Mum suddenly in 1999. She was diagnosed with cancer in the February – 6 short weeks later, we had lost her.
The day she died still feels like yesterday.
I can still remember my first thoughts being for my Dad.
He had left the hospice to pop home for a quick shower, while he was gone my Mum passed away.
To say he tormented himself for not being there was an under-statement. I like to think that my Mum waited until he had gone to save him the extra pain of being there and watching her slip away.
He was losing the love of his life. His wife. His companion. His friend.
My brother and sister needed time to grieve the loss of our beautiful mother. To let out all of their pain and frustration of no longer having a Mum to turn too.
I just wanted to protect them all. To try to make everything better.
In my mind, I had no time to grieve, so I set about turning myself into Superwoman…
It felt great being in control.
I turned into the bossy Manager/Wife/Mother/Daughter/Sister/Friend.
Everyone’s lives became my focus, my rituals.
Which meant I had no time for me. I filled everyday from dawn to dusk and beyond.
Organisation and rituals were my thing. Why? Because it stopped me thinking.
As did the loud music in the car. Fast aggressive driving became another bad, but needy habit – Yes, I had road-rage…I took far too many risks and pushed too many boundaries.
I also cleaned and scrubbed until my hands were raw. Everything had to be done exactly 7 times.
Check the front door was locked…1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 before walking away.
Once in the car, if I let a seed of doubt enter my head about the door being locked (even though I knew I had checked it 7 times) I had to go through the whole ritual again.
It was completely exhausting.
But it made me stop thinking about my Mum. About how much I felt I still needed her guiding me.
In the end, my OCD got so bad I was just existing, it had me caught up in a never ending spiral.
Something had to give.
Until my Mum died, I thought my little OCD rituals were just quirks in my personality. Things I did, just because.
I believed they were normal. Surely, everyone did the same as me – they just didn’t talk about it.
Thank goodness, a seriously fabulous GP in the UK recognised my symptoms and answered my poor families distress call.
Let’s just say, I can now acknowledge, I must have been pretty darn difficult to live with. A nightmare even.
Everything had to be done a certain way or I believed something bad would happen.
This wonderful words were posted on IG by the lovely Vicki from Style On V – this quote made me feel ok about sharing .
Because OCD can be all-consuming,
In case you don’t know exactly what it is:
Obsessions are uncontrollable thoughts – such as:
If someone you love doesn’t pick up the phone when you call, instead of thinking they are busy, your mind goes into overdrive and you immediately picture something bad has happened to them / they are in danger / had a car accident / died. You start panicking, you become anxious which slowly gets worse until you know they are safe.
Compulsions are behaviours or rituals – such as:
Washing your hands. Checking the door several times. Counting. These are just a few of the physical things you might do – but just like an obsession, if you don’t complete it, you fear something bad will happen.
My recovery was all down to Tracey (my very talented therapist) who dedicated her precious time to me, every single week for two years.
She taught me to acknowledged the signals that made me worse and then set about breaking the habits of a lifetime.
Tracey also helped me deal with my grief and the loss of my beautiful Mother.
So why talk about this today? Why now?
Well, yesterday on IG I noticed a hashtag that popped up on my feed.
The hashtag #truthbomb – stopped me in my tracks and got me thinking:
I asked myself:
- are the rituals sneaking back?
- did I really start lining up the tins in the cupboard yesterday?
- has the obsession to wash my hands continually, really gone away?
- am I starting to panic that I’ve locked the door/turned off the straighteners again?
If so, what could be the trigger be?
My girl possibly?
My girl has always been a trigger for me. In fact, I know my OCD started around the time she was born at (28 weeks) – keeping her alive was totally out of my control.
This morning she felt slightly under the weather and I felt myself start to panic…so I baked. Yes, baked.
I baked even when I had no time to bake. Because baking calms me down.
Maybe I’m a little anxious about needing to be brave enough to encourage her to throw caution to the wind when it comes to the next chapter in her life.
To stop worrying about the what-ifs that I have no control over, and instead concentrate on enjoying the here-and-now’s.
I recently wrote this post about how sentimental I am, about my girl and all the people I adore in my life.
Or maybe it’s something as simply as recognising OCD traits in others – I noticed a woman going through a hand-washing ritual the other day when I dashed to the bathroom at work. I could see she was totally enjoying the control.
Whatever it is, I’m glad it’s happened.
It’s reminded me of one ritual that I love, that I am in control of…and I say it to all the people I adore.
It can be a simple, I Love You when I end a call or say goodbye on Skype or in person.
Or if you are Mr. IM and Ms. May – it goes something like this:
- Love you.
- Take care on the roads.
- Drive carefully.
- Let me know when you get there.
- Have a good day!
It’s the one ritual that makes me smile.
Are you like me? Do you have to say certain things before you leave loved ones?
Has OCD ever affected you or someone you love?