Trigger warning, please take care.
I suffer with physical and mental compulsions.
Compulsions are a way of coping with intrusive thoughts and other symptoms of OCD. You don’t make a conscious decision to perform a compulsion and they can be just as distressing as the initial OCD trigger.
I think my worst compulsion is to kill myself. Again, this isn’t the same as feeling suicidal and I don’t want to die. But when an horrendous thought or image pops onto my head or even if I read/see an awful/sad/injustice (etc) news story I can’t cope with the emotions it stirs in me and I need to stop it. If I was a robot and had a power button my finger would hover over it all the time, pressing it when I needed to stop thinking/existing.
That’s what it’s like for me; I don’t want to be dead, I don’t want to hurt myself but I get compulsive thoughts like “I can’t be alive with this [horror] in the world”.
This next compulsion affects my daily life so wanted to add it, but I’m not doing anything to combat it because I like looking after people…
Compulsive reassurance. I have to reassure people. If I think someone is hurt, stressed, angry, scared, beating themselves up etc I can’t bear it.
I literally cannot bear the thought of them being worried, upset, angry, stressed etc. I have to reassure them, find something positive, try and fix the situation or at least make them feel a bit better. It’s even worse if I think I’m reason the they’re feeling like that.
It will go round and round my head; panicking about the person and worrying about how they’re feeling. I have to try and make them feel better. It’s a compulsion and is very distressing if I can’t help the person.
It also means I have to put everyone else first all the time. We might both/all be feeling the same thing but I have to bottle my own feelings in order to look after the person/people. This ties in with the sense of responsibility I was talking about previously.
Another compulsion I have is probably actually a weird mix of obsession and compulsion. This is called Obsessional Slowness.
Sounds funny, right.
It affects things from showering to cleaning Totoro’s water fountain to stirring a pot of food – anything where I’m in control/charge and am trying to do something.
In the shower I have to keep rinsing the conditioner out of my hair. Over and over.
I have to repeatedly rinse my arms.
I’m not in distress or frantically scrubbing. I’m just repeating actions and it is so hard to be aware of the compulsive behaviour and stop it. If I stop too early I won’t feel “right”. I’ll think I’ve left tonnes of conditioner in my hair or my arms will have an unpleasant weird greasy, warm feeling.
There’s no awful consequence to not rinsing my hair or arms etc but it won’t feel “right” and I’ll feel uneasy, pissed off and, I guess, lacking control.
I’ll put Totoro’s fountain in the dishwasher, that’s clean, right? Well yes and no. It’s clean and sterilised but what if there’s residue from the dishwasher tablet on the fountain? I then have to rinse the already clean fountain and its parts at least 3 times or until I feel it’s “right”.
I don’t need to rinse it because I’m scared it’ll poison him, nothing’s as simple as that! Here’s where the GAD (Generalised Anxiety Disorder) comes into play. If I leave residue on the fountain it could make Totoro poorly or kill him. But more likely he just won’t drink from the fountain. He’ll get dehydrated and either die from thirst or have kidney failure or long term kidney damage. These kinds of fears spiral and all sorts of awful possibilities enter my head.
Totoro has a water fountain because I got obsessed with the thought of him getting kidney failure from not drinking. He was a kitten and was fine, but I read about it and had to pre-emptively act and avoid it happening 😕
If I’m cooking (rare, I hate it.), I will over cook things to make sure they’re not raw, I will have to keep on stirring the pot to make sure it is heating evenly and cooking all the way through. These compulsions can be upsetting because I’m scared I’ll make everyone ill and so have to keep on bloody stirring.
Simple actions take me such a long time.
Before I knew what this was I couldn’t understand why things took me so much longer than anyone else and I accepted the “lazy” tag given to me – although that deeply hurt because I knew it wasn’t right.
Another form of compulsion I have is repetitive thought. I’ll either repeat the alphabet forwards and backwards to stop bad thoughts entering my head or if I have a bad thought I have to have opposite thoughts to cancel it out.
For example, I might have an intrusive thought like “I want Mr Blunden to die“.
That is horrendous and so distressing.
My OCD tells me that because I’ve had this thought I want it to happen and it will happen because I’ve caused it. That in turn will then trigger my compulsive thought that I don’t want to exist.
So to try and cancel it out I will have to repeat “I want Mr Blunden to be safe and happy and healthy” at least 20 times or until it feels “right”.
This kind of thinking is called “magical thinking“. I wish it was a Unicorny as it sounds. It means the OCD causes you to believe that your thoughts have power over events and people, and causes great distress. See also my First Aid Kit disaster.
These reason I’m sharing my experiences with OCD is because I’ve had it all of my life, it didn’t used to cause me that much trouble and I could keep it under control (not the obsessional slowness though, I don’t think I’ll ever beat that!). But then something happened and it sent me reeling. I could not control the OCD with everything else that was going on and at that point I didn’t even consciously realise that I needed to or that it could escalate like this.
I had no idea the intrusive thoughts or compulsions I was suffering with was OCD. I’d never heard of these kinds of symptoms at that point and I suffered alone for a long time, not being able to talk about it.
Bottling it up and being afraid of it feeds the OCD and keeps you in the cycle.
I don’t want anyone to feel like that and so I’m sharing my experiences.
I don’t have anything to be ashamed of and neither does anyone else. I’m not weak, I’m pretty bloody strong actually and I fight this every single day. It’s exhausting.
Please talk to someone; a friend, family, Dr, helpline, me (obviously it would confidential), anyone. You don’t have to suffer alone and it doesn’t have to be like this. You’re not a bad person, haven’t done anything wrong and don’t deserve to feel like this xxx
My help and information page is here.