Getting diagnosed with a mental disorder is definitely not a good thing. But learning that I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder made my life much easier: it helped me see the light at the end of the tunnel.
After years of suffering, getting diagnosed with OCD gave me hope and it showed me that there’s a way out of the labyrinth of my intrusive thoughts.
How did my OCD start?
In some cases, OCD may start suddenly, but the onset of the symptoms is generally gradual: and to be honest I can not tell you when exactly my OCD started. I guess it’s been with me ever since I was a small child but it got out of control when I was a senior in high school. I was going through a pretty difficult period: I broke up with my partner and together with my relationship, my high school years were also gone. I did not know what to do with my life and I was worried about my future. So, it was a perfect time for my OCD to kick in.
And to make things worse: I was suffering from harm OCD – I was terribly scared of harming someone I love and before getting my OCD diagnosis, I used to think that I was going insane and I was terribly scared that if I told others about the intrusive thoughts that I had, I’d end up at a mental hospital.
And over the years, I had many disturbing thoughts that made my life a living hell, such as:
The call of the void
Pure O: Living In Endless Fear
OCD: afraid of blinding yourself
How did I get diagnosed?
It used to be extremely difficult for me to speak about my OCD – because I did not use to know that the condition I had was called OCD. But as I started looking worse and worse every single day and I was running away from my loved ones (I was afraid of staying at home because I was constantly worried about doing something terrible), one day, my Mum asked me what was wrong. That was the first time when I told someone about my feelings.
And telling my Mum about my feelings helped me a lot: it was the first time when I realized that I might not actually be a psychopath but there might be something else in the background. And that is when I decided that I should go to a therapist.
The First Counseling Session
Obviously, my therapist was not able to come up with a complete diagnosis by the end of our first meeting, but she helped me a lot: she told me that even though my thoughts were very disturbing, they were not as dangerous as I imagined them to be and that there were a lot of people out there who were suffering from similar intrusive thoughts and many of them were living a full life.
So I can tell you that life looked so much more beautiful after my first ever counseling session and I am still very grateful to my therapist who helped me a lot at the beginning of my OCD journey.
Why is it so hard to diagnose OCD?
I think OCD is a very difficult mental disorder to diagnose: and not because it is worse or more complicated than other conditions people are suffering from, but because there are so many misconceptions about it.
Lately, there’s been an increasing awareness of OCD, however, mainstream media still portrays it as a kind of cleaning obsession or as an obsession over symmetry and order. But it is not only about that: OCD is a very creative mental disorder and it has a lot of different types and faces.
So it’s almost impossible for OCD sufferers to realize that they have OCD: Hercule Poirot has OCD and there’s Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners on TV, but then I am afraid of jumping off a bridge, hitting someone with a car or harming someone I love – that sounds very different, doesn’t it?
Note: click here to read more about the different types of OCD.
And this is exactly one of the reasons why I started this blog: I really want to raise OCD awareness. It’s a personal matter for me. I do not want more teenage Marks to go through the terror I was going through.
How is OCD diagnosed?
I am planning to publish a more detailed post about diagnosing OCD, At the moment, I can share with you a very nice article about diagnosing OCD from BeyondOCD: http://beyondocd.org/information-for-individuals/clinical-definition-of-ocd
Should you tell others you have OCD?
I think it’s extremely important to tell your family and your close friends about your OCD. I know it can be very difficult, but having someone to help you is an amazing thing and it will help you a lot!
I used to be so afraid of telling others about the way I felt, because I thought they’d judge me or they’d think I was a lunatic, but believe me: most of the people I have talked to reacted very positively and they’ve been supporting me ever since the day they learnt about my OCD.
Things that help you fight the OCD monster!
Do not feel guilty for having OCD!
A lot of people feel guilty for suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. They feel that they have wasted too much time on their intrusive thoughts – which is probably true – but the feeling of guilt will worsen your OCD. Forget about the past and focus on the future!
Share your OCD stories!
As you know, there’s one thing that I enjoy more than sharing my experiences: reading about yours. So please feel free to share your personal OCD stories in the comment section!