Yesterday it felt as if my world suddenly stopped as I was putting some washing on. I mean my mind is always full of little anxiety attacks of “Don’t do that or (blank) will happen” “Do this or (blank) will happen” but I’ve learnt to shrug them off. This felt different, this felt HUGE, it felt so real I can’t even begin to explain, it felt so certain. “If you put this washing on, you won’t be safe” the OCD part of my brain whispered. I thought to myself “I know this isn’t real, its OCD Anna, don’t listen” I went to put some more washing into the washing machine. OCD whispered louder this time “What if its real, what if this terrible thing really will happen Anna?” I stopped, my heart pumping harder now, OCD took over my brain and filled it with terrifying images of what felt like was my fate if I didn’t listen to it. It happens so fast its uncontrollable, it’s like I’m looking into a crystal ball of my future. I felt as if my whole body and mind were consumed with fear. I was frozen to the spot. I started to barter with my rational self and my OCD “Shall I listen or shall I not?” “NO ANNA, STOP IT, THIS IS OCD” my own conscious self shouted within my brain. “How can washing possibly make something bad happen, it can’t, you know it can’t” I carried on thinking to myself, “but what if” OCD would reply.
OCD wasn’t letting up it felt as if it was to forcing waves of anxiety over me every time I tried to rationalize my thoughts. I managed to switch the washing machine on and for a little bit I almost felt like I’d made the right choice but OCD was about to give me an ultimatum. It was going to try barter with me now, I hadn’t abided by it and lets just say OCD gets really angry when I don’t. More anxiety flooded over me, more images and more thoughts about this terrible thing happening. I was in panic mode. “Re wash your clothes and maybe you’ll be safe” OCD said as if it was doing me a favour.I sat down where I was stood in the kitchen, I needed to sit down and try to work out what to do, try to sort through all the thoughts rushing around my brain. “Shall I re wash the washing?” “What if the thoughts come true?” “No Anna this is OCD, don’t give in it only makes it worse!!”. All these thoughts bumping into to each other one after the other in my head. The thing is with OCD it wants you to suffer really, it makes out it wants to keep you safe but really it wants to make us prisoners in our own minds, it wants us to live in fear.
It was about to corner me so there was nowhere to run or hide, I was going to be stuck. “If you re-wash the clothes, something bad will happen to someone else, if you don’t it will happen to you'” I began to cry, there was no way out of this. Either way I turned filled me with anxiety if I left the clothes I felt terrified for myself, If I re washed them I felt terrified for a loved one. My heart sank as I felt tears rolling down my cheeks, still sitting on the kitchen floor. I felt so scared and frustrated but also complete and utter hate towards my own brain. I kept reminding myself I was being stupid that nothing could happen because I didn’t partake in a compulsion but all I’d do is doubt that statement. I sat for a couple of hours in the same spot running over the events in my mind, trying to work out whether to re-wash some clothes or leave them. “How can something so insignificant create so much pain, I’m so pathetic” I thought, my heart sank even further, so far it felt as if it was in my stomach.
“Do what you’d do if you didn’t have OCD Anna, you wouldn’t re wash the clothes, you’d wash them once and not even give it a second thought” I tried to reassure myself, but the anxiety wasn’t letting up I thought about the consequences of not re washing it. “Maybe I should just re wash them, what’s the harm if it makes you feel better” my mind turned to the other consequences of my loved ones. I felt as if anything I done at this point until I’d decided about the clothes would also be bad, I didn’t want to take a shower because if I decided to re wash the clothes, I’d also have to take another shower, some how this felt right in my head. I knew it wasn’t logical or didn’t make any sense if I was to say it out loud or try to explain. I was now in OCD’s bubble, prisoned in my own brain, thinking over and over and over about what to do for best but also trying so hard to rationalize the fear and thoughts I was experiencing.
I managed to get up and take a bath crying as I did because it felt so wrong not having made a decision about the clothes, but I had to get ready to go to my dads. I was dressed, I had my make-up on this had sort of taken me out of the bubble and more into reality. Messaging someone on my phone and being in another environment (my dads house) also seemed be taking my mind off it a little, I could feel the fear and thoughts lurking in the back of my mind but I didn’t feel so distressed. I debated throughout the evening whether to text my mum asking her to put my clothes on for a re-wash. Every time I typed it out, I deleted it again as anxiety would stop me and thoughts about me being selfish for re washing the clothes when the consequences would be directed towards my family. I flitted back and forth “Do I, don’t I?”. It had been almost 7 hours and I was still thinking about it all and I was still scared.
I arrived home and I had the idea in my head that I’d leave the decision until the morning, maybe then my mind would be clearer or maybe I would wake up and the anxiety would have decreased. Even though I’d sort of made this decision I still did’t stop thinking about if I should or shouldn’t re-wash the clothes, OCD wasn’t about to let up just because I’d decided to wait until the morning. I was right, OCD wasn’t going to stop there, it decided to throw another curve ball to torture me some more ‘You HAVE to make you decision before tomorrow, after that re-washing the clothes wouldn’t even count’. OCD always tries to match your intelligence, it will always find a way to catch your rational mind out, just when you think you’ve found an answer to the problem, it comes and creates a new problem.
I went into the utility room and sat down by the washing machine and cried. “A whole day ruined by putting some washing on, you’re stupid Anna, you’re pathetic” I told myself. My mum came in and tried to reason with me and help me, she’s seen me this way many of times. It wasn’t working, by this point rationalizing with me wasn’t going to work, I was terrified and frantically trying to work out what to do in my head. I was well and truly in OCD’s bubble. “Come on Anna, go to bed and figure it out in morning, you can’t sit down here all night or at least relax in bed whilst trying to work out what to do” My mum said comfortingly. I responded angrily, I was so stuck in my brain that there was going to be no getting through to me.
I was alone now and it was 11 pm, sitting by a washing machine crying like a crazy person. I had to do something, I had to. I grabbed the washed and dried clothes and stuffed them into the washing machine, I poured out the washing powder and shut the washing machine door. I felt sick, “Is this the right thing to do” I questioned myself. I stopped. OCD whispered “What if it’s a test, what if you selfishly re-wash your clothes to feel less scared for yourself, which will put your loved ones in danger, but doing this will cause you to be at harm for being selfish and looking after yourself”. I broke down in more floods of tears. “Your selfish Anna” I thought to myself. I couldn’t do it I couldn’t re wash the clothes no matter how scared I was. Although I had made my decision the fear didn’t go away and neither did the thoughts.
Its 8.30 pm the next day and I’m here writing this still in fear of yesterdays decision. I’ve had moments of clarity where I feel ok and moments where I’m crying, but I am still fighting even though I am mentally exhausted and if you have OCD, you have to as well, we can’t let OCD win, your not alone in what your facing.
This is what its like to suffer with OCD.
Disclaimer: This is all real events told exactly when and how it was. Not all OCD sufferers face the same symptoms and types but this gives you an insight to the thought process and how distressing OCD can be.