What does OCD look like?
Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a chronic anxiety-related disorder dominated by compulsions and obsessions. Obsessions are thoughts, urges and mental images that are uncontrollable and repetitive. Compulsions are the behaviours that a person with OCD has to perform in response to their obsessive thought.
Olivia is a 21-year-old from London. She has a huge passion for marketing, social media and blogging. She has lived with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and anxiety for years. She writes a blog to share her journey and encourage others to open up and seek help if they are suffering.
Here, she gives a brief overview of OCDs and how it affects her daily life.
My type of OCD
I suffer from a few different types of obsessions and compulsions, although a type of OCD which isn’t commonly known is called tic disorder, which includes repetitive behaviours such as eye movements and blinking, shoulder shrugging, hand gestures, face gestures, etc. I always try to avoid situations where places and people will trigger these behaviours, as I have a fear that someone will see me.
I found over the years that alcohol really emphasised these behaviours and make them a lot worse and more visible. I knew they were occurring but the compulsions were a lot more intense under the influence of alcohol. There are multiple different options for you to seek help such as therapy, CBT sessions, prescribed pills, group therapy, books, online forums, so I wouldn’t recommend drinking to help cure your illness, as it’s only going to make it worse
Examples of obsessions can include:
- Fear of germs and contamination
- Unwanted and taboo thoughts including religion, self-harm or sexual thoughts
- Having to have symmetry in your life
- Aggressive thoughts towards yourself or others
Examples of compulsions can include:
- Compulsive counting
- Constant checking of things- doors, hair appliances, plug sockets, oven, etc.
- Systematically ordering and arranging things in a certain and precise order
- Excessive cleaning or hand-washing
A misunderstood mental illness
OCD can make you feel like you are responsible for preventing bad things from occurring. It has been the butt of jokes since I can remember and is one mental health illness that is usually misunderstood and has got a stigma attached to it. A lot of people associate OCD with being clean and organised, although there are multiple different types of OCD a person can suffer from – which in my case isn’t cleanliness and organisation.
According to psychologist Menije Boduryan-Turner there are four common behavioural categories of OCD:
- Acting compulsively – checking things, consecutive hand-washing, moving objects repeatedly, staring, having to have symmetry, etc.
- Seeking reassurance – repeating certain things until it feels right, checking online for answers, asking friends and family things until they respond with the right answer, etc.
- Avoiding triggers – social interactions, objects and places that trigger thoughts.
- Mental compulsions – repeating words, counting, mental checklists, visualisation, mental reviewing, overthinking, etc.
OCD can managed effectively with medication and psychotherapy. Additionally, exposure and responsive therapy and cognitive behavior therapy can help people with OCD manage their anxiety and control their compulsions. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and mindfulness are other effective treatment options for OCD, according to Dr. Boduryan-Turner. Mindfulness teaches you to observe your feelings and thoughts in an objective manner while CBT teaches you to identify, label, and reframe your thoughts.
Visit Olivia’s blog at thelittlepackofmindfulness.wordpress.com