How To Be A Good Friend To Someone Suffering With Mental Illness

 

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As someone who has suffered with Depression, Anxiety and OCD, I feel like I can safely say this has led to some detachment, from my friends over the years. Especially when things were really tough for me. Getting ready to go out whilst suffering with depression, and feeling as if I had no energy for the smallest of things. Pair that with the added struggle of it taking me hours to get ready due to my OCD, it was just all too much. Too much to do the normal things and also too much to do the fun things, for example go out with friends like a normal teenager/ young adult would have. So what did I do? I just stopped. I stopped saying yes to things and I detached myself from people. Unfortunately at the age I was I felt not many people understood what I was going through, but that feeling is something everyone going through a hard time can experience at any age.

Can I really blame people for giving up on me when I’d said no to going out again and AGAIN. I understand how frustrating it must feel to constantly be trying with someone who doesn’t seem to want to do anything especially if they don’t explain and you don’t understand. At the same time that person needs someone more than ever even if they push you away and only want you from a far. So I thought I would try to write a list of a few things, that I think are good ideas to help you feel as if you are being a good friend to someone you may know is struggling.  You can feel so useless when its a matter of the mind, no plaster, tablet or trip to the doctors is going to fix it. That doesn’t mean there aren’t things that can be done to make that person feel loved and supported, it’s just a little trickier. This can also relate to family and partners to.

 ♥ Talk to them. Let them know that you are always there to talk to and you’re not just saying it. Check in on them if you’ve not heard from them or they’ve gone quiet and you know they’re going through some stuff. This will let them know that there not a burden and you really do care and want to listen. It sounds obvious but sometimes they won’t come to you, from fear that you won’t understand or you’ll be dragged down with their problems.

♥  Invite them places but don’t be too pushy. Don’t just give up on them after they’ve said no. Try to understand where they’re coming from, and even ask whats making them not want to go out. Ask if there is anything that they would be comfortable doing if it’s not the thing you’ve suggested. I know it may feel pointless but still inviting them out even if you are expecting a no shows you’re still here when they’re ready. Perhaps they don’t want to go to that party or group event but would prefer a smaller social setting with just you and them. Keep trying but give them space too, find the balance of caring but not making them feel forced.

 ♥  So they don’t want to go out? Suggest a cosy night in, in your favourite comfies with films, face masks and comfort food. That kind of evening doesn’t require much energy or preparation and is the perfect time for you both to vent to each other and have a laugh.

♥  Confide in them about your own personal struggles if you have any that relate. Just hearing someone around you has had similar struggles, thoughts and feelings can be such a comfort when you feel alone.

♥  Talk to them about getting help if they aren’t. If you think your friend is suffering with a mental health problem, and they’re not talking to anyone about it or receiving help, you should encourage them to. If you also think that person is in danger of hurting themselves or isn’t able to see they need it desperately, it’s best to confide in someone close to them like a parent or teacher.

♥  Let them know you’re thinking of them by popping round their house spontaneously, you could even take some flowers as a little pick me up. A lovely thing I recently came across is something called a buddy box, you can send them to someone who’s going through a rough time or even buy them for yourself. There full of little cute and comforting things, which they call a hug in a box. You can find out more about that here (https://www.blurtitout.org/). Sometimes when your feeling low and happiness seems a distant memory a little thing like that can mean so much. Even if it’s just for a moment, they will feel so grateful and happy to have you in their life.

♥  Send them a positive quote, I love a good quote and they’re everywhere on the internet. It sounds cheesy I know, but I could really relate to some of them when I was struggling. It can help you see things in a positive light for a change and give someone a different way of thinking about their situation.

At the end of the day you aren’t that persons carer and they don’t expect you to dedicate all your time and self to making them better. Only they can do that. I think some of these are a lovely way to make a gesture to show your there for them in that time of need.

 Keep smiling,

Anna

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If OCD Was A Person

If OCD Was A Person Blog Post

I have been struggling with my OCD recently, which means I have been talking to people around me about it and explaining how I feel a lot. Which is a positive thing to do, bottling up your feelings won’t do you any good. Sometimes however people don’t understand how something mental inside your head, can cause someone so much distress and control them so much. It was then I decided to explain what OCD would be like as a person. This gave me the idea for today’s blog post. I thought it might help people who don’t understand the mental struggles  we go through, or can’t quite see why we can’t just ignore it. Maybe putting it into a human form of what OCD is like to us, inside our heads will help them picture it. Of course OCD isn’t another being. It is apart of our brains but it can really feel like there’s an evil being in our heads controlling us. OCD can be so dark it can feel as if it couldn’t possibly be apart of your own brain. Which is why thinking of it as a being who is causing you to suffer, can help you and others see it for what it is. A bully.

OCD makes people believe they are in constant danger, and need to perform mental or physical compulsions, if they don’t something awful will happen. E.g ‘if I don’t do such and such, someone I love will die’. Eventually someones whole day can be filled with unwanted compulsions, because the thoughts that something will happen are so strong. It can also twist someones thoughts and emotions so much so, that they don’t even know who they are anymore. If they stop questioning the thoughts how will they ever know if they mean something about their core self, or if they are real thoughts they enjoy. E.g A gory image pops into their head, it terrifies them and makes them question what if I could do that said image to someone’. This fills them with such distress, they won’t stop analysing and running over the thoughts in their head for hours a day. They believe these thoughts that most people don’t even notice, mean there a murder or psychopath. They live in fear of themselves when they have always been a good person.

So what would OCD be like if it was a human….

Picture a tall, dark person, the kind of person or being that would intimidate even the strongest and bravest of people. At the start of meeting them it would almost be as if they are there to keep you safe, ‘If you do what I say, nothing bad will happen’. Why wouldn’t you listen to them when they tell you it’s for yours and everyone elses benefit, there, there to help you see danger. They are also really good at convincing you, that YOU are the bad person here, not them. You NEED them. They are so good at twisting things, and making you believe you truly are an awful human being or that you never really knew who you were without them.

After a while, you realise your being controlled and manipulated, the person is just trying to break you down and control your every being, it started out small and now you can’t do anything without them interfering. They are stripping you of your life, you’re their prisoner. They are so good at manipulating you and torturing you with vivid scenarios of what will happen if you don’t do what they say or if they leave your life, its impossible not to listen. Picture the evil kind of person who feeds of people’s distress and lives for the control they have over someone. When you try to go against them and leave, the manipulating gets worse, they are so good at guilt tripping you and the fear they make you feel is so strong. They have the power to make you feel so hopeless, worthless, alone, controlled, scared and depressed.

That’s OCD.

Happy New Year to you all,

Anna

 

 

 

 

It Might Not Be A Good Day, But Have A Day

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When suffering with depression getting through the day feels like running a marathon, it’s draining. You feel physically exhausted, let alone the mental battle you go through, the guilt of feeling like you’re just lazy, the feelings of wanting to totally give up, I could go on. If you’ve  made it through another day suffering with depression, OCD, anxiety or any mental illness, give yourself a pat on the back. Stop being so hard on yourself for not having the most productive day that you feel you SHOULD have had or everyone else is having or asking of you . Even if you’re not suffering with depression and you’re simply having an awful day,, where events have happened so you feel upset and unable to take on the day, this still applies to you.

You might have days where you feel better  and that’s amazing treasure those, but don’t let the bad days take those away from you. I love this quote so much at the start of my mental health journey the good days were few, and I was always being told by people ‘do this and do that, it will help you get better, it will be a positive thing’. When you have depression the simplest thing to a healthy happy person seem like such massive task. So as the quote says I won’t tell you to have a good day but please look after yourself as best as you can.

The first thing I’d say is,  if you think you or someone else is suffering with depression then get them or yourself help, that’s the biggest step to getting better. You need to find someone to speak to and someone who can advise you on the best ways to help yourself get better whether that’s medication, therapy,  or both. If you don’t think you have depression and you’re just feeling down because of a negative event, or your just not feeling yourself, make sure you find someone to talk to aswell, venting and getting advice of a loved ones is always a good idea.

Now you’ve done that the next most important thing is to feed and water yourself as obvious as that sounds. As I said above the simplest of things can become a huge effort when your suffering with a mental illness and some people neglect themselves of the most basic things. Your body needs food and plenty of water, so if there’s one thing I insist you do it’s that. I’m not asking you to be a chef and cook up amazing nutritious meals (although nutritious food is known to help a blue mood)  but you need to eat and drink whether you feel like it or not.

So you’ve gotten help, you know there’s a problem and you’ve acknowledge that, that’s a big step. You’re feeding yourself because that’s a basic human need whether you’re suffering or not, that’s another step, even if these are your first achievements you feel able to do currently then that’s great. No matter how small the steps or achievements they are still positive and thats all that matters. If you’ve done those above things the next thing to try to do is clean yourself,  I’d recommend running a hot bubble bath that you can just lay in and get clean then put some clean comfy clothes on, you’ll feel so much better for it once it’s done. It’s another positive basic human need to achieve when having ‘your day’. The final thing on your list of goals for the day is to survive and not give up. Keep fighting through those awful days like I did, it can get better.

“It doesn’t matter how slow you go, as long as you don’t stop – Confucius”

If you have a day where you get up shower, eat, go to therapy, go to work and get something productive done then amazing be really proud. If the next day all you do is feed yourself  because you’re having a bad day and your mental health is bad then that’s fine to, your mental health comes first, never beat yourself up for this. It doesn’t mean you’ve failed or taken a step back it means your surviving you’re doing what you have to, to get through the days. Recovery and getting better is not plain sailing, for a long time It felt as if I would never get better, and then just when I thought things seemed to be looking positive the next day it would all come crumbling down. Please don’t see this as failing everyday is a building block to recovery good or bad. I’m not saying settle for a life of doing the bare minimum always, I’m saying be proud of the little things you achieve when your suffering, that its ok and you don’t need to beat yourself up, but of course always strive to get better and don’t give up.  For some people with mild depression they may be able to function almost normally, for others it will feel almost impossible, everyone is different and it’s important not to make yourself feel bad for how you’re coping.

Please check out my other mental health blog posts for more self-help and information.

Need someone to talk to? Look in the contact me section, I’m all ears.

Hang in there,

Anna-Marie

Hope For OCD, Anxiety And Depression Sufferers

Calling all OCD, Anxiety and Depression sufferers, or anyone suffering with a mental illness, who feels as if they are at the end of their tether and there is no hope in them ever getting better. (Insert dramatic music) I am here to let you know why this is not true and I have bought PROOF…(myself).

So, I have some pretty big news, I have just got a job!

I haven’t held down a job since I left school and my last job was in 2011. I’d go into a job or college course and end up quitting because I couldn’t seem to hack it, my brain and body just didn’t seem to cope with normal life, that also goes for going out and having fun to. During school and since leaving school I have suffered with severe debilitating OCD, Anxiety and Depression, check out my OCD Story and Depression Story for a more indepth insight. OCD took over my life, I was suffering with terrifying intrusive thoughts and had lost all independence due to compulsions. I was at rock bottom. I remember thinking I would never get better, this was my life now, I didn’t see how I’d possibly become OCD free or even manage it to the point life was bearable.

I had various CBT therapy sessions during this time and also started medication (Sertraline) an antidepressant which I am still on now. It wasn’t until I found a therapy that worked for me in 2014 that I started to see hope for myself. You can also read about my therapy story to find out more on that. I started to fight OCD and my depression seemed to no longer be a constant black cloud over me. Since having therapy, I have started my blog and started to recover, but a job has been the biggest thing for me and my family, I still needed to achieve. Sometimes I thought I was ready and even had interviews, other times my OCD seemed to be creeping back in so I was focused on that. Since leaving school I haven’t had much of a social life which means my confidence is pretty low. Suffering with mental health problems can also send your self esteem to its lowest point, this also played a part in my fear of getting a job. I will admit I did get comfortable, I was in my comfort zone and I had got lazy. On top of that I was just terrified of working again and putting myself back out there, after the stress and hurt I went through of quitting and feeling like a failure after every job.

I can finally say I have a job after 4 years. I am terrified I won’t lie. I have thought about ringing up and saying that I change my mind about accepting the job, but I’m not going to. I will do it this time. I will be successful, it might not be easy and I’m sure there will be days where I struggle but I feel positive and happy, that this is the start of something for me. Which leads me back to there being hope for suffers like myself. I didn’t think I would get to this point whether it be getting a job, living with OCD but managing it or not being completely depressed and never wanting to do anything ever. I had such severe OCD It didn’t seem possible but it is. Am I completely anxiety and OCD free? No definitely not, but I’m not imprisoned by thoughts and compulsions like I was.  Which means you reading this or your friend or family member can also get to this point with the right help, support and patience. Please never give up because you can fight this to. I was in your position, I know how it feels. I know you feel like giving up but you can’t. There is hope and there can be freedom.

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I can’t tell you when you will recover and I won’t tell you it won’t be hard. You might relapse but that’s okay, because once you’ve got there, it will be worth it and you will see how strong you are.

Keep on fighting,

Anna

Update: Where Have I Been?

Why hello there my lovely readers, long time no blog post, its been far too long!

This blog post is simply going to be a little update of whats gone on since I last wrote and also explaining a little bit about whats going on with me and why I haven’t been around! Since my last blog post I turned 21, so its official  I am a legal adult in every country. I had a lovely Birthday where I felt extremely spoilt, loved and grateful to have such amazing family around me. I received so many amazing gifts and went for my first ever wagamama’s which I can confirm lived up to its hype. The famous katsu curry was delicious and the katsu banana with salted caramel ice-cream pudding was perfection to say the least. Not only that I then got taken out again, this time for afternoon tea for the first time, with my mum.

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So why haven’t I written a blog post in so long? I think that’s due to a number of things, let me try to explain the best I can without giving away too many personal details. I hadn’t realized until recently how disconnected I had become to everything around me and it’s hit me hard realizing what I’ve become like. I’ve become self-destructive, lazy, depressive and someone I don’t like very much, a tired, negative and depressed girl who stopped taking care of herself. I’ve been in my own little world and not a positive one. I became uninterested in blogging and most other things around me. Blogging has been one extremely positive thing I’ve kept going until recently and I miss it. I miss channeling my creative thoughts, communicating within the blogging community and doing something I enjoy, but temporarily forgot I did. I want to better myself now and return to reality as I feel like I’ve been running away from my problems, saying I’m trying, saying tomorrow or next week or next month I will try to sort my self out, when in reality for the last 5 years I’ve been saying the exact same thing.

Instead of my OCD being the problem or my anxiety, I had just become self-destructive in many areas of my life that I hadn’t noticed until recently when it’s all hit me and I’ve had some home truths from people around me. Even writing this post I can feel my eyes filling with tears because I feel like I’ve been so lost and still am but finally realizing this and taking steps to better myself. Its upsetting me realizing how vacant I’ve been, living a life that is mainly on my computer and slowly self-destructing and losing my self-worth on a downward spiral. Its like I stopped caring about looking after myself.

I suppose we all lose ourselves sometimes and until we realize we have, we can’t change. If you are feeling lost in life like me, please know that you are not alone and you can and will find yourself just like I will soon. No more negativity, I can and will find myself this time, as can you, you just have to believe. I’ve stopped brushing everything that’s wrong with my life under the carpet now, and if you know you’re struggling you have to as well. Just know that it may hurt and be hard to deal with thinking about, accepting and acknowledging these problems you’re facing and changes you need to make but once you’ve done that you can finally start to heal and take steps to change just as I am. If anyone is struggling and feeling lost always feel free to contact me via my Tumblr ask box – anonymous or not, my Facebook Page or my twitter, all links will be below. Your not alone, I am here for you and will support you.

I’m ready to start making changes now, are you?

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I’m back ready to blog, I don’t know if anyone actually noticed I was gone but I want to thank any of my followers and new followers who have stuck around even though I have failed to write recently.

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Stay strong,

Anna

What Not To Say To Someone Suffering With OCD, Anxiety & Depression And Why

When suffering with a mental illness it can sometimes feel very lonely as if no one understands what you’re going through. Added to that there’s still a slight stigma when it comes to mental health problems and a ton of misconceptions surrounding different mental illnesses. Being a sufferer of OCD, Anxiety and Depression there’s nothing more frustrating than knowing what suffering with one of these illnesses is like, then having people making jokes or comments regarding your mental illness, that are far from helpful or factual.

I thought for this blog post I’d share some of the worst things to say to someone suffering with OCD, Anxiety and Depression. I took to a OCD forum to ask for people’s examples to add to my own, of things they’ve had said to them and the comments came flooding in. A lot of the time due to misconceptions people don’t even realise what there saying is factually incorrect and offensive to a sufferer. Not only will this spread awareness on this subject, but I think a lot of people will relate to this and realise they’re not the only person who experience this. It’s not about treading on eggshells when it comes to someone suffering it’s about making sure that comment you don’t give a second thought is not only factually correct but helpful and not hurtful to someone.

‘You know it’s all in your head so just stop!!’

This is one that’s quite often said to OCD sufferers when struggling with OCD’s symptoms, such as when a sufferer is resisting to perform a certain compulsion, because they think something terrible will happen. No matter if you know what you’re experiencing is OCD or know it sounds silly, it’s not as simple as just stopping. People with OCD have vivid thoughts, questions, feelings and images followed by a great deal of fear and doubt. No one would ever suffer with mental illness if it was as simple as just stopping. Trust me if we could just stop, we would.

‘Oh you have OCD? I bet your house is tidy!!’

This is a very big misconception about OCD. Yes people with OCD can have really tidy houses, but many people with OCD have normal, untidy and disorganised houses. OCD is not just a cleaning disorder, there’s many symptoms and types.

‘But you’re so pretty/handsome and you have so much going for you and so much to live for, you shouldn’t be depressed!’

The thing is you don’t choose to be depressed, you can be the best looking, richest and most successful human being ever and depression can take a hold of you. It’s a chemical imbalance in the brain, being pretty or having so many great things going for you, doesn’t equal happiness unfortunately. Thanks to life events, lack of self-worth and brain chemistry, depression can grip anyone.

‘I think everyone has a little bit of OCD’

No, not everybody has a bit of OCD, OCD is a diagnosed disorder which you either have or don’t. People might be perfectionists, habitual or like to do things or have things in a certain way but this doesn’t mean someone has a little bit of OCD. Unless you have thoughts and feelings that make you feel the NEED to certain things to prevent something bad from happening, it’s probably not OCD.

 ‘I would never go on medication if I had depression, I’d just try to get better by myself’

Everyone is different and you may not need to go on medication and be able to recover from depression with counselling or therapy’s. A lot of people however medication helps a lot. Whether someone does or doesn’t take medication doesn’t make them any stronger or weaker, it also depends on the severity of the depression. If it helps you, then that’s all that matters. People are often afraid to admit they take medication in fear they will be seen as weak, comments like this reinforce this.

‘ Oh I know how you feel when it comes to feeling depressed, last week I was so depressed, I couldn’t stop crying about stuff’

Having a off week or a week where you feel down, low or cry a lot isn’t depression. If that mood persists for weeks and months, to the point your life is being significantly effected, that’s depression.

 ‘I’d love to be OCD then maybe I’d be more organised and my house would be tidy!’

 Trust me, you wouldn’t love OCD, it’s a serious debilitating illness that tears a lives apart. Again the cleaning misconception, there is more to OCD than cleaning. No one with OCD ever enjoys what they do or loves it.

Just get out more, have some fun, chill out then maybe you will feel better and less depressed’

 I know people say this to try be helpful but in all honestly it makes you feel worse. When your suffering with Depression you already don’t understand why you no longer feel like going out and having fun.  Asking yourself questions such as ‘what’s wrong with me?’ or ‘why am i like this?’ Unfortunately it’s not as simple as just getting out more, you feel like you mentally and physically can’t find the motivation to do the smallest things and having fun, no longer feels fun but an effort.

 ‘ All people who self harm are attention seekers’

 Many people who self harm live in silence and hide the fact that they do. It’s hard to understand, I get that. The thing is with self harm its a way of expressing what your feeling on the inside on the outside. There are many reasons people self harm and whether someone is doing it as a cry for help or doing it as a release and then hiding it, it should be taken seriously, the person is clearly in a lot of pain mentally, feels alone and needs help not judgement.

 ‘ You can’t just take days off work all the time, i couldn’t afford to do that!’ or ‘ You have to work, no one wants to but its something you have to do, so get a job’

The problem is when suffering with depression you literally feel as if you CANT find the energy or motivation to do the smallest things or the fun things in life, let alone go to work. If you have severe depression, needing money can’t change how you feel. A sufferer will already feel bad about not holding down a job, ashamed that they can’t and like they’re lazy or pathetic. Which is why saying these things wont help it simply confirms all the negative thoughts and feelings that person is having about themselves.

‘There is people a lot worse of than you and they still work and cope with life’

This sort of response when your suffering with a mental illness is really hard to hear. A lot of people suffering with mental illness already have very low self-worth and saying this sort of thing only makes it worse. They probably know there are people worse off, but it doesn’t make how they feel any less or better, it doesn’t make their problems go away. People  will already feel bad, ashamed and upset about how they feel, this is the last thing they wants to hear.

‘I just organised my DVDs in colour order, I’m so OCD’

Another classic comment when the word OCD is misused. Organising your DVDs in a certain order or whatever it may be, along with wanting to clean and do something a certain way, isn’t OCD. Unless the reason you done it was for things to ‘feel right’ or stop something bad from happening such as a thought coming true.

‘Just snap out of it’ or ‘You need a reality check’

You can tell someone with a mental illness to snap out of it or get a reality check as much as you like, because you care, want them to get better or want to shock them into getting better, but it won’t happen. You cannot snap out of a mental illness, if only you could! People with mental illness such as OCD, Depression and Anxiety are well aware that they’re lives are not like the average person. They are in touch with reality but have a mental illness preventing them to be exactly like the average person, they will be just as upset about it as you are.

I really could go on and on with examples and explanations as to why these comments can be annoying, unhelpful or are not factual. I hope this spreads awareness, and helps people who maybe didn’t understand or realise why it is so frustrating to hear these things be said over and over again.

What are you experiences with this subject?

Stay strong,

Anna

A Letter To Yourself For When You’re Struggling

A while ago now I wrote a blog post on if I could write a letter to my younger self what I would tell young me from what I’ve experienced so far, you can read that HERE. It lead me to this similar idea that may be helpful for when you struggling. You can write a letter when you’re happy for when you are next down in the dumps e.g depressions getting you down, anxiety bad or OCD is being a pain, whatever the reason as a reminder that these feelings can pass and it’s not as bad as it feels right now, to give you hope when you’re lacking it. Little tips of things you’ve learnt/ know how to deal with but in that moment find hard to remember and turn to.

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Dear Me,

I take it you’re having a tough time as you’re reading this letter. As you are writing this you are feeling quite positive, you’re OCD isn’t that bad and you have been dealing with it really well. You’ve been succeeding in not seeking reassurance so much and that’s a really big step for you. I know you’re probably feeling like crap but what you’re feeling will pass. I mean those feelings aren’t that bad for you right now as you type this which means they can pass again. Remember everything you learnt at therapy and remember no matter how scary OCD is being, it’s just the disorder and you know how to beat it.

♥ Remember anxiety and panic can’t hurt you, it feels awful but it’s just a chemical reaction in your body. Try to stay calm and If you can’t it will pass, you’re not losing control, your panicking.

♥ Remember Anna ‘the more you think, the deeper you sink’ – Sharon Davies from The OCD Treatment Centre. You can ruminate about that scary, uncomfortable OCD thought you just had but you’re only going to make yourself feel worse, feed OCD and never come to an answer on whether that’s your true self speaking or if it was just a random OCD thought. You cannot think yourself into inner peace, inner peace comes through living in the moment.

♥Remember to practice Mindfulness, to calm you down when the anxiety is too much.

♥Remember there is no such thing as the thought police, there is nothing wrong with the thoughts themselves, it’s the belief you have attached to the thoughts. E.g certain thoughts mean you’re a bad person, if you don’t do such and such something bad will happen.

♥ Any compulsion you feel compelled to do relating to your OCD’s topic, ignore, it WILL be OCD. No what if’s, buts or maybe’s it will be. Any thought that makes you feel anxious relating to your OCD topic, will also be OCD, no ‘what if this time it isn’t OCD’ that is OCD speaking. A thought, followed by anxiety, followed by feeling the need to do something a certain way, seek reassurance or ruminate WILL be OCD.

Remember everything you’ve been taught and try to teach everyone else,  you can get through this.

Love from,

Positive and  currently at peace, You.