Isabel - My OCD

Hello, my name is Isabel and I’ve recently joined the OCD-UK Young Ambassadors in the hope of sharing my OCD journey to support and, hopefully, encourage others.

My OCD first came about when I was 12 years old (just before I started Year 8) although, looking back on it now, there had been signs when I was younger. For example, I used to have to go around my bedroom making sure everything was closed and in the right place before I went to sleep. Thankfully, this has not been a compulsion for years. However, the summer where my OCD made its first real appearance was very difficult. I kept recalling things that I may have done wrong in the past and was constantly confessing to my Mum. This continued for quite a few months until I learnt to accept that I could not change these things, even if they had happened.

After this phase of the OCD had mostly passed, my worries turned to contamination and hygiene and this has been my life for the last two and a half years (I am now 16). I wouldn’t want to say that OCD dominates my life because that implies that I can’t do anything without becoming distressed and I realise that many people have it much worse. Still, it does have a huge impact on day-to-day life and often makes me feel quite down. It feels ridiculous that I should have to use specific toilets at school because the other ones are “all dirty” or feel the need to keep a 1 metre gap between me and a bin or have to pause to think whether I may have spat while I was talking.

Though I have had successes - for example I am now able to use public toilets which I was unable to do for a while out of fear of touching the toilet seat or the bin - it still affects me for a large part of every day. Obviously, the current situation has really had a bad effect on the progress I had been making. I realise the importance of following the government guidelines and am glad that people are mostly taking them seriously but being told to behave as I normally would because of my OCD only makes me feel that I should be raising my own standards.

As well as this, the uncertainty surrounding the future is not helping. I should be starting Sixth Form in September and I’m a big fan of a fresh start but, if social distancing is still being enforced, I worry about returning to school with the same compulsions that I have previously struggled with. I know it is unrealistic to believe that I could change these ideas completely, but I didn’t want to still be the one who has to sit a bit distanced from others looking so uncomfortable when eating. It’s hard to convince myself that I won’t take a huge back step in terms of my OCD. I am quite proud that last year I was able to start leaving school without using hand sanitizer but, now that this is more necessary, I’m concerned that this compulsion will come back. The reality is however, I can’t control how and when this pandemic will end, and I know that, as I have before, I can improve my OCD despite this setback.

The reality is however, I can’t control how and when this pandemic will end, and I know that, as I have before, I can improve my OCD despite this setback.Isabel

To anyone who is struggling in this time, I would say that you should recognise the achievements you make every day, however small they are. I have been doing the food shop for my Mum every week and, though to me this does not seem like a huge success given that I change my clothes as soon as I get home and don’t feel calm and comfortable until I have showered, others have said that this is really good and, gradually, I’m starting to become less stressed when in the supermarket.

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