“If you don’t pick up that rubbish that you just walked past and put it in the bin, your mum’s going to die!”
I stopped dead in my tracks, my heart beating fast and feeling slightly light-headed. I had somewhere to get to but I just couldn’t ignore what I had just been told. So I walked back to where I had seen that bit of rubbish, bent down pretending to fix something on my shoe, picked up the rubbish, and as discreetly as I could, walked to the nearest bin to throw away a total stranger’s rubbish.
No, it wasn’t a person who was holding a gun to my head telling me to do that. It was a voice in my own head. Not an audible voice, but a controlling, sinister feeling that was so real, it had me doing things like a puppet. It was frightening.
And this ‘voice’ wasn’t just telling me to pick up rubbish and throw it away. There were other things too. If I walked past a billboard in the street, I would be told to walk back and read the entire billboard or else!
I never told anyone about these soul-destroying episodes. It was hard enough opening up about the depression and panic attacks I was already going through, but to tell anyone about the bizarre illogical things I was doing? What would they think of me? Would they turn their back on the weird Chrissy? Would they tell someone about it? Would I be locked up? No, it was better to keep it to myself.
And I kept that secret for years. But thankfully, as I finally got help for my other mental health issues, as a natural consequence, I learned to stop doing what that voice was telling me to do, I started ignoring it or telling it to shut up, until it eventually faded away.
It was only recently when I was in a meeting for my TV show with my team, putting together a show about OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) that I realised that that’s what I was suffering from all those years ago.
We often hear people saying things like “I’m a little bit OCD about cleaning” meaning that they are a little bit over-the-top or obsessive about cleaning but few have any idea of what OCD truly is. So here is the NHS definition of it:
“…a mental health condition where the person has obsessive thoughts and compulsive activity…an unwanted and unpleasant thought, image or urge that enters a person’s mind, causing feelings or anxiety, disgust or unease. A compulsion is a repetitive behaviour or mental act that someone feels they need to carry out to try to temporarily relieve the unpleasant feeling brought on by the obsessive thought.”
Many keep quiet about their OCD because the thoughts can be really evil – like mothers having thoughts to harm their new-born babies. Now you see why it’s so hard to open up about these things.
But the only way to be free is to open up and ask for help. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is commonly used to treat OCD which a talking therapy that can help you manage your problems by changing the way you think and behave.
I learned to change the way I thought and behaved with the help of a charity that helped me get rid of ALL my mental health issues. And they are holding a special event coming up in September called ASK. Yep, there’s a powerful force behind asking. If you want to know more, check this out: https://www.uckg.org/ask/about.html
Whichever avenue you choose to get help, the important thing is to get help as soon as possible. The sooner you do, the sooner OCD won’t be able to ruin your life anymore.
If you would like to chat to me about OCD or any other issue, or want to know more about the ASK event, please do get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Remember, you were born to be happy.