Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder. People who have an OCD often have thoughts that can be obsessive and behaviour that is compulsive. There isn’t a definite reason as to why OCD occurs but it has been found that there are factors that can contribute to triggering the behaviour. These factors include genes, life events, high levels of serotonin and personality.
In general I am very controlled in what I do. I live for routine. I like to park in the same spot when I go westfields. I can eat the same breakfast and lunch everyday for years. Literally every day the same thing.I even like having the exact same hairstyle everyday in a bun for work, out on weekends. I can be very predictable at times. This could be seen more to do with personality.
I lost my routine when I moved back to my mums house in 2014. This is when I started to display symptoms of anxiety for example lack of sleep or over sleeping, constant over thinking, irrational thoughts and being constantly irritated. I thought nothing of it.
In April 2016 I moved back out of my mums house. By this point I started having intrusive thoughts and images that were troubling and alarming to my brain, I felt on edge constantly. I tried my best to get back to normal and stuck to my routine everyday to try and feel calm.
My typical routine would be:
Mondays (day off) which were allocated for gym and therapy. Tuesday to Friday was a strict routine. Saturday was a chill out day and Sunday was cleaning day.
>Wake up 5.30,
>Leave the house for 5.50
>Make the 6.08 bus
>Get to work for 7.15
>Sit down with tea, start at 7.30
>work finished 18.30
>Home by 20.30
If for some reason I would miss the 6.08 bus I’d become very anxious. The whole day would end up feeling disastrous. I have always said to my colleagues I would rather call in sick than turn up late to work. I despised bad attendance so that just wasn’t an option for me until I was unable to physically walk.
Being on the train or bus I’d feel so dirty that I’d scratch, scratch and scratch until I was able to get home and have a shower. If I couldn’t have a shower I’d become so uncomfortable, itchy and irrational. I wouldn’t prepare dinner in the evening as this would mean cleaning the kitchen then cooking. The kitchen wasn’t dirty or messy but I had trained myself to clean before preparing meals.
I noticed my OCD behaviour became worse when I started wearing gloves at work. I was just so troubled and the thought and look of everything made me feel uncomfortable. I felt as if everything was dirty. Which it was as I worked in a nursery, but my mind became so irrational and I didn’t feel comfortable unless I had these gloves on.
The constant immense feeling of needing my body to feel clean really affected my behaviour. Before entering a new environment I would always scan a room, scan where I’m sitting, scan what I’m touching.
Sometimes friends would get into my car and leave bits of mud, sticks and crunches of leaves on the floor from their shoes.This would drive me absolutely insane. I’d have to avoid my car for days until I felt calm enough to take it to the car wash. Otherwise I’d sit in the car and attack my skin because I’d feel dirty and itchy. The car wash definitely got a fair bit of my earnings that year.
The majority of 2016 I had lost control. The lack of sleep didn’t help. But once being bedbound I had zero control of my routine. Which in the beginning was stressful. But having 4 months in bed surrounded by the same 4 boring walls allowed me to think about my behaviour. I realised it is ok to be a little bit flexible.
It’s important to understand how your anxiety affects you as it all affects everybody differently. For me it physically manifests inside the body causing discomfort, worry and a very irritable itching sensation within. This is what causes me to want to rip off my skin. It can often get to the point where I just cry for an hour and stop.
In order to stop these feelings I tend to avoid doing things. So I might hide in bed for weeks, avoid the kitchen, people and going outside.Not because I want to but to avoid feeling so disturbed by my surroundings.
Once again It is important to figure out how your anxiety affects you so you are aware of your behaviour. Once you are aware you can choose to get help. For me I attend weekly sessions with a therapist which is helping but I’m still finding things difficult. I also practice deep breathing which sometimes helps depending on how far my thoughts have gone. I also take medication which is supposed to reduce the symptoms of anxiety.