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My Brain and Me
Posted by mikey10
10th Jan 2019

I thought Iíd write this little piece to support anyone whoís struggling with their mental health. Please realise youíre not alone, weíre all over the place, there are literally millions of us.

When I was about nine-years-old I had a strange thought develop in my head, it was the first of many and it terrified me. For some reason, my familyís lives now depended on me carrying out a simple ritual. On the stairs, the low ceiling was covered with polystyrene tiles. I had to put a fingerprint in the tiles every day or my family would die. I donít know why, I donít know how and I donít know where the thought came from, but it was real.

So over the next few months, I made a mark every day. This began to cause trouble at home, of course, it did. There were three suspects, my two brothers and me. I felt bad, but it was for their own good, so I always denied any knowledge.

I remember one day at school being panic-stricken because I hadnít performed the ritual. I expect my mother to be dead and unable to pick me up. This was the start of the intrusive thoughts which carry on to this day.

A later occurrence happened when I was nineteen and we were on holiday. I chased my young son around, playing, then we lay on the grass. Another holidaymaker had a radio playing, it was the hourly news report. The bulletin mentioned a court case where a father killed his young son. I thought about how horrible it was. Then like a wave it came over me, I began to sweat my heart beat increased and I felt the hair on the back of my neck bristle. I thought, what if that happened to me? I had a full blown panic attack and just ran and ran.

When I was going through this period of my life I remember feeling pride in myself when I went a week without crying. I wept while taking the dog for a walk or in the bath with the taps running so nobody could hear me. I was just so scared, but I still didnít ask anyone for help.

I eventually went to see my GP, but I didnít really open up because he was a stiff upper lip type. So he gave me a verbal kick up the backside. He said I was a fit young man with all my life before me and to get on with it. He gave me Valium to help, but it didnít and neither did he.

Most of the time the usual treatments donít really work for me, the OCD is too powerful. It crushes everything before it.

CBT, all prescribed drugs, everything really, are like pea shooters trying to halt a tank.

I have five states of mind. An anxiety stage, a depressed stage, a period when I feel okay, a period where I flit between the other stages and last, but not least, what I call the Black Death stage.

During this period I am so so depressed and anxious, suicidal some of the time. The strange part is when I am in this frame of mind I canít see any way out, even though Iíve been through it hundreds of times. It is too powerful, nothing helps. Iím in a dark pit with no ladder. I have to spend much of it alone or wing it when in contact with others. Iíve become a very good actor over the years.

When Iím in a better frame of mind, going through a positive stage I will feel fairly normal. Then Iíll go to the bathroom when I get up. The OCD will kind of tap me on the shoulder and say, "Hello have you missed me? Iím back".

Apart from the obvious effect, this has had on my life it has made general aspects very difficult. Relationships are impossible. Iíve only ever had two steady girlfriends and a multitude of short term ones. Theyíre easier. Sometimes I donít want to be around anyone, not even someone who loves me.

Work has been spasmodic at times. During other times Iíve had periods of success, albeit with great difficulty. I found temping the best option for me. Sometimes I canít really hold a job down though and work is very difficult during the Black Death stage. Iíve left really good jobs, walked out during this period. No notice, no contact, just gone.

I was once summoned by the DWP for a health assessment after claiming ESA for a while. My worst fears were realised when the Assessor turned out to be a young lady, young enough to be my daughter. I felt ashamed, a bit pathetic and weak. Iím a rough and ready bloke from a council estate am I really going to sit there and open my heart to a girl? Of course not, I couldnít.

A strange thing happened during the assessment. She welled up, she almost cried. Maybe she felt the same, maybe she knew someone like me or just maybe she knew I wasnít being honest. Perhaps she was trying her best to tick the right boxes for me, but couldnít because my answers were too guarded. When the assessment ended we just both nodded at each other, both a little choked. I failed the assessment and was deemed fit for work.

There is light at the end of the tunnel though. After years of wondering whatís wrong with me, I now know I have OCD after an assessment by MIND. They also introduced me to other people, through group therapy, who suffer the same curse.

Unfortunately, I come for a generation where men were men and all that emotional stuff wasnít talked about, the cat is out of the bag now though. Itís been tough, but Iíve survived and I always will.

The fight goes on!

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