Real life, that’s what where talking about here not a definition in a book or website, I want to put across my thoughts and experiences to you, I’m not trained or an expert but I am someone who has lived in depth with OCD, my name is Matt, I myself have suffered to a degree from OCD, , But I have lived with two people who have suffered greatly from OCD, , this is why I feel that I can possibly help, even if its just enlightening you on certain facts or making you aware that your not alone out there. Just recently I posted a letter in an OCD, forum, talking about how I have lived with others with OCD, and how this is just as difficult as having OCD, yourself, and to my amazement I got over 20 replies straight to my personal E-mail, most of these replies where people who like myself have lived or is living with friends and loved ones who suffer from OCD, . I noticed a lot of desperation in those letters, like myself these people where at the wits end, not knowing what to do, where to turn or how to help there loved ones. I replied to each and every email personally, talking about there problems and suggesting ways to help, its easy to look on the internet and get a definition of OCD, , but in my opinion these aren’t real, they don’t really help and seem a little in-personal and even scary, this is why I though I would write this e-book and try to show that there are people like you out there, sufferers of OCD, and people who live with others who have OCD,
Lets start with a little about who I am and my past, as it seems the best place, my name is Matt Williams, I’m 27 years old and from England, as I grew up I was a quite shy lad, I suffered from terrible acne all through my teen years which I can say has affected me, but as I became an adult of around 20 this cleared up and I was able to take some control of my life. However, during these teen years I started to really suffer from self awareness, constantly looking in the mirror, constantly checking on my skin, avoiding other peoples gazes, I became obsessed with myself obsessed with cleaning my skin and got to the point where I was bunking of college and hiding away from people, almost like I was something to be ashamed of, well, this is what my brain told me, its amazing what your mind can do to you isn’t it. Well, this self loathing and obsession made me shy away from life, not participate and basically give up, but as the acne started to clear so did my mind, I still today have an obsession about how I look and how others perceive me, to the point were I carry a mirror in my pocket, not to gaze at myself in some self loving vain way but to look at myself and make sure I look ok, that I look acceptable, its strange, I ask myself why do I do this? When I look in the mirror I look the same as I looked when I left the house, but I still need to look and check, it’s something I don’t think I will ever really overcome. And this is it with OCD, , there are no miracle cures, you’re not going to change over night, but you can step by step learn to control it. ‘The fact is most people have OCD, to some small degree, how many times do you check your keys in your pocket? How many times do you make sure you have your rail cards in your coat, even though you know their there? How many times does a person check there change even though they’ve counted it two or three times? Everyone does that’s the answer, so everyone has it to a small degree, but some, like I had and people I know let it be there life, it stops been a little annoyance and ends up been your master and ruler. Does this sound familiar?’ A person who doesn’t really suffer from OCD, can easily walk through a door or wash there hands once, a person who does suffer from OCD, might have to walk through the door over an over again, they might have to wash there hands dozen and dozens of times and still feel dirty, this repetitive task is why its called Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
Well if you have OCD, I don’t really need to tell you what it is do I, but like myself you might live with someone who has OCD, or a friend might have it, so for you lets look at it not in text book detail but in real life situations. OCD has may forms but usually it is characterized by people having distressing thoughts or images that can affect them physically, usually by repetitive tasks and compulsions, its like when you get a silly song in your head and cant clear it, you keep on humming the song in your mind like a broken records, over and over again until it drives you mad, well this is like OCD, , you get thoughts and do actions over and over again, to the point where it becomes really distressing, you know its all in your mind but you just cant believe yourself and stop. ‘I knew a person who had to sit in front of the fire for an hour after they had turned it off, it became an obsession, every night she did this act by herself in the cold, once I asked her why she did this and her reply was ’I don’t really know’, she knew the fire was safe, but she couldn’t let it go. Like myself in the past, I know what its like to be stuck, in a cycle, it’s distressing and scary’. A sufferer of OCD, can feel that the task there performing over and over again is in some way important and critical to there life, like it’ll be the end of the world if they don’t perform it, some relief may be felt after the task but unfortunately this is all to short, and the urges soon reappear. ‘When I had the urges to keep cleaning my face over and over again it felt like this was the most important task in the world, it took up hours of my day, it took up all my energy and resources, it made me feel bad, even ill, its hard to reprogram your mind away from this but its not impossible’.Other signs of OCD, can be constantly rearranging objects, or an extremely distressing one which is called ‘counting’, here a person counts there footsteps, lets say they can only walk ten steps to there car any more or less is very distressing to the sufferer and usually means repeating the task over and over again, I’ve seen this form of OCD, in action myself, my ex-girlfriend had this problem, she would count every step and repeat it over and over again until she got it right, it became really distressing for her and for me, when we where in the street she would look onto the floor all the time, stepping over cracks, walking back to re-check objects on the floor to make sure there safe, I myself don’t have this problem but as a non-sufferer its all too easy to imagine doing this, if I walk down the street and start looking at the floor I can imagine myself stepping over the cracks, re-checking objects, counting my steps, it can be scary to allow yourself to get drawn into it. But all too easy to understand how it happens. Suffers don’t usually go to the doctor or even tell people of there problems, I think this is because there scared or embarrassed to tell others, I myself was. There is one really distressing form of OCD, that people will probably never tell anyone about but I have known someone who suffered from it and its extremely distressing for them and I feel it needs to be mentioned, this form is called ‘Cancelling Out’ or ‘Unwanted Sexual Thoughts’, the sufferer has images in there head that they’ve hurt a child or they have fears that there paedophile’s, an extremely distressing thought as you can imagine, my experience of this is of a friend, she had these distressing thoughts and images in her head for no reason what’s so ever, and she only ever told me about it, I told her these thoughts and images don’t make you evil or a paedophile at all!!! It’s just your mind playing tricks on you.Even though I reassured her over and over again she found it hard to accept this and had doubts about herself, I kept on and told her these images mean nothing, they will pass, so please reader don’t distress yourself if this has happened to you, your not alone, really. There are many other forms of OCD, but lets face it, you don’t really need to know right, and if you do I have provided links at the end to assist you, my real reason is to try and help you not scare you more, so lets continue and look at what its like living with someone who has OCD, a subject that’s all to often overlooked I think.
Most articles and forums are for people who suffer from OCD, , but I think it’s just as distressing to be the one who lives with the person with OCD, , so I’ve taken this chapter to write about it, and explain why it’s really difficult for the non-sufferer. I’m going to try and explain it from my own past and point of view; I think this will be more real and informative then just explaining why it’s hard, ill start by telling my story of living with someone with OCD, , but please remember, I’m explaining it in the way I felt at the time, and now I know the person didn’t mean anything she said to me. ‘My first experience of been around someone with OCD, started when I met my ex-girlfriend, lets call her Michelle, well, I was young of the tender age of 21, and as I’ve previously said only really getting over my traumatic teens, anyway, I met Michelle on a night out, through a friend of a friend, she was great, and I fall for her instantly, a week into seeing her, I noticed when I was at her house she used to disappear allot, and not really explain why, but I didn’t really think anything of it to be honest, but this came to a crunch a few days later when she told me she had a problem, and that she didn’t really want to tell me because I treated her so normal, which it seemed wasn’t something she was not used too, well she went on to tell me that she has something called OCD, , at the time I had no idea what it really was, but as she explained I realised that I had suffered from it to a degree in my teens. Well, I told her not too worry and we just carried on. Michelle and me fell for each other, and I mean hard, and is still today one of the loves of my life, even after what happened. Michelle lived in her own house so it meant I could stay there when I wanted, this ended up been five or six days out of seven, but I noticed things start to change, when I was at her house the first thing she said to me was to wash my hands, not once not twice but at least three times at a time, sometimes four or five times a day, this was as I entered the door, I always did this, she’d make me shower, wash my hair, even change my clothes, at this point I was starting to get distressed myself but I loved her, what could I do?. As time went on things got worse and worse, she’d scream at me if I didn’t do something correctly, such as feed her cat or put pots in the dishwasher machine right, every action I made I had to think ahead, like plan my actions because I knew if I did something slightly wrong she would go crazy at me, but I knew it wasn’t really her talking, I knew this and this kept me going, I’m not the sort of person to quit!!, But this all got to a head when I organised a trip for her birthday, this involved going horse riding and to a restaurant, I planned everything, and got my mum to drive us, my mistake was turning up to her house 20 minutes early, I walked in and instantly she started shout and screaming at me, saying ‘you’ve ruined my day, why do you always do this, I hate you’, as you can imagine this made me feel like s**t, real bad, and for the rest of the day she hardly spoke to me, or even smiled, this made me feel angry sad and embarrassed as the whole event was witnessed by my family, I thought to myself ‘How could she do this to me, what have I done to deserve this?’, At times she used to be a heap on the floor crying her eyes out, with me sat there feeling so stressed not knowing what to say or do to help her, I thought I could somehow miraculously cure her and everything would be ok, but lets face it reader this only really happens in the movies. I myself used to break down in tears, I’ll admit it, I was under so much stress, my health suffered, I lost weight, I stopped sleeping, I felt ill all the time, I was a real mess. The problem was I loved her so much I didn’t want to leave her, but I felt at the time that she was growing to resent me, as I caused her problems, and disturbed her routinend life. Anyway, we did break up in the end, I was young and had no real understanding of what she was suffering from, at the time I was angry towards her, thinking ‘Why did she treat me this way, Why was she always shouting at me’ Now I realise the issues she was going through and know she didn’t mean anything she said, but you must understand reader that at the time I guess I was trying my best, I did only what I knew at the time, and now I put to you reader that people who live with others who have OCD, suffer greatly as well, You need to realise that the person living with you isn’t you , doesn’t have the same thoughts as you, it wouldn’t occur to your loved one to wash there hands three or four times or to obsessively straighten objects in your home. Its hard to live in someone else’s world, especially one who suffers from OCD, , your loved one cares for you and would do anything for you but don’t punishing them if they do something that distresses you, to you the action might be disturbing and wrong but to your loved one it would seem normal, everyday, an action everybody does, please remember they are trying to live in your world, and its not easy. I recently got an email from a young man, and it sounded like he was in the same position I was, he said that his girlfriend suffered greatly from OCD, , she screamed and self hurt, and he was in tears every day, It made me really sad to read it, as I know he loves her and would do anything for her, I gave him some advice from experience, and I hope it helped. This letter made me realise more then ever that there’s two people in the relationship and this point of view from the loved one or friend has to be made aware off.
The way through the maze of OCD, starts with you, you have to help yourself and make the first steps, but what you shouldn’t do is numb yourself, taking drugs antidepressants or alcohol in my humble opinion only numbs your feelings or actions like a mask, not getting to the root of the issues. There’s a great saying, ‘From the root to the fruit!!!’ and this statements so true with a person and OCD, , to help deal with OCD, and manage your life, you start with the root the underlining causes, and starting here could be a simple action of taking a chance or talking to someone. Keep a diary as this can be used to monitor yourself, some people with OCD, worry that they have done something to someone, keeping a diary of your day to day life would enable you to look back and see that its just your mind playing tricks on you. Counselling is a great way to help cope with OCD, , there seems to be a stigma that if you go and see a therapist your crazy or you’ve failed, this is completely not true, this can be one of the most effective ways of dealing with OCD, , you may not want to go, or a loved one may even refuse to go, but please consider this, go with a friend or a partner if your nervous, this can help and even bring you closer. A friend of mine saw a councillor once a week and felt that it really helped, seeing a person who talks to you and doesn’t judge may be just what you need, a person with real training at dealing with what you’re going through. Recently OCD, seems to have finally come into the limelight and to the medias attention, which is about time, this attention we only benefit those with OCD, , new treatment and more research, however, at present there is some medication that you can but like taking alcohol this too me is only a way to mask your problems, so we need to get really to the depth of the issue, a direct way to help you face OCD, and manage it. There is one type of therapy that I do highly recommend, this is called ‘Cognitive Behaviour Therapy’ so I’m going to dedicate a whole chapter to this treatment.