Mental Health Awareness: My Story.

When most people think of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, commonly known as OCD, they often think of it as a trivial issue. Possibly think of Monica in Friends, a bit of a neat freak and someone who likes things in place. I place emphasis on the word, “like”, as any sufferer will know – all the repetitions, thoughts and  compulsions are the opposite of enjoyable. However, as someone who has suffered with this form of mental illness for at least ten years, you can see how I would find that offensive. 

Without going into details, in 2011 I basically suffered a Nervous Breakdown and had to leave Sixth Form, I self taught myself for the latter part of the first year but by the second I could no longer continue with education. I’ve always been a bit of an anxious person, maybe that’s just me, but after being off school for a week with the Flu, I began to suffer with Panic Attacks. I would try and solider on into school each day and I simply couldn’t stay, it was all too much and I can’t even count the amount of things that I missed out on. My life became so bad that I was on the verge of becoming agoraphobic, stepping outside of the house was a herculean task and I rarely did. It became so  bad that I didn’t want to be here anymore.

However, fast forward to 2016 and I’m proud of to say with support, therapy and medication I’ve came along way! I’m not afraid to be honest and talk about mental health anymore, I used to be ashamed and wish I could just be one of the, “normal” people. But when I think about it, what really is normal? 

I suffer with a particular form of OCD which is commonly known as Intrusive/Obsessive Thoughts, every single person in the world has these, however for some reason I attach importance to them and feel if I don’t “neutralize” the thought e.g. repeat it mentally then I hold responsibility for what happens. Sounds crazy right? I know, just typing it and even talking about it I realize how absurd it  seems. However, the power of the mind can be a pretty strong thing, the compulsions almost become a coping mechanism and years of repetition can mean it’s incredibly hard to just shake off.

Mental Illnesses can be incredibly exhausting, I feel tired most days and often have to have a nap. The mind of an OCD sufferer is always analyzing mentally or physically, wanting reassurance and neutralizing, there are many more coping mechanisms but ultimately none of them work, they just help to continue the problem.

Through suffering with Anxiety, Depression, OCD and PTSD – although I’m a lot better with the latter now, my life hasn’t gone the average way a 22 year olds would usually go. I’ve not had a professional job, I didn’t go to University or finish Sixth Form, I’m not very independent and have quite a lot of catching up to do with other people my age. However,  I’d much rather get myself better mentally then be successful academically, from speaking out and being open about my own issues I’ve met and even helped quite a few people which I still find hard to believe.

The irony is, with any form of Mental Health Issue, you feel so alone, there is so much stigma attached to an illness which people can’t see, if you’re feeling good one day you can even feel guilty for feeling happy! However, the statistics for Mental Health are sky high and without talking about it more people will suffer in silence and that can have massive consequences.
I just wanted to write this post because today I’ve had a bit of a down day, I’ve felt down on myself for falling back into some compulsions and listening to ,”The Mind Bully” which is what I call my OCD/Depression/Anxiety. I know if someone else was telling me what I’ve been through I wouldn’t treat them the way I treat myself, for some reason I’m very hard on myself and I don’t want to be anymore, I want to be kind to myself. Mental Health Disorders are not a choice, they are both genetic and/or environmental and the sufferer should be understood and supported towards the road to recovery.

I need to keep telling myself that an Intrusive Thought is simply that – just a thought and it has no relevance or substance to whatever the future may bring. My anxiety can be incredibly debilitating but with battling through each hard task I will realize that the only thing to fear is fear itself and Depression may feel like a endless black hole but there is always a light at the end of the tunnel and you don’t have to suffer in the dark. 

I hope this helps more people understand and support sufferers, at the end of the day we are just normal people who for whatever reason are going through a tough time. Please remember, just because a person may look okay – doesn’t mean they are okay.