Living with O.C.D.

These past few days and living with O.C.D., I have taken to counting anything that is static that I happened to pass by mostly as I walked and often as I drove in my car. These past few days, I have had my senses drawn to check patterns and these past few days I have felt comfort around anything with the colour blue imbedded in it. These past few days I have had intrusive and unwanted thoughts, images and urges that would have once caused me distress and anxiety. These past few days have also left me feeling drained and a little stressed. Today, I intend to reset and take control.

In 2008 at the age of 37 I was clinically diagnosed with a severe condition of Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).  What I have experienced these past few days living with O.C.D. affects millions of people from all walks of life.  I am not alone and neither are you. Compulsions are behaviours that the person feels compelled to perform in order to ease their distress or anxiety or suppress the thoughts. Some of my behaviours are visible actions like counting on my fingers or a repetitive clicking sound that comes from my vocal cords, almost as if I am humming out loud.  While most of my behaviours are mental and are private to me, my visible behaviours tend to annoy people who sit close to me. I have learned how to check and control these visible behaviours, mostly through deep breathing and finding  a silent space for the briefest of moments just so I can reset my visuals and place myself firmly in the present again.

Many people living with O.C.D. recognize that their obsessions and compulsions are not rational. Nevertheless, they still feel a strong need to perform the repetitive behaviour or mental compulsions. They may spend several hours every day focusing on their obsessions, performing seemingly senseless rituals. If left untreated, OCD can be chronic and can interfere with a person’s normal routine, schoolwork, job, family, or social activities. Proper treatment can help sufferers regain control over the illness and feel relief from the symptoms.

Living with O.C.D.It is common and normal for everyone to present certain obsessions and compulsions. However, once these obsessions and compulsions interfere in your everyday life it can be diagnosed as OCD. When untreated, OCD is a chronic illness and its level of severity varies depending on the presence of several obsessions and compulsions and the control the person has over them.
In order to know how severe the disorder is it is necessary to be clinically diagnosed.

On diagnosis I committed to therapy and have not looked back since. I acquired a certain set of skills to help deal with the illness. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) taught me how to cope with my compulsions and left me with a certain set of skills that I can use to reduce compulsive and obsessive urgings. Where once I feared my thoughts, I now accept them and understand that they are in no way detrimental to me living a full and active life. I have moved on with my life because I now understand the illness and have learnt to accept it as part of my life.

Right now, I feel free and liberated as I write this personal story of how I overcame living with O.C.D. I see it as having survived from a battle where I was set as the underdog all through those lost years of anguish and sorrow. I survived and can now tell my story and there is a great joy attached to the realisation that my words may help someone, someday, somewhere, find the courage to talk about their OCD experiences and find the necessary help that will provide multiple coping mechanisms to carry along with them as they set out on an exciting and new chapter in their lives.

OCD need never control your life again once you learn how to control it. Become the CEO of your own life and allow the felt feelings of others into your heart and before you know it, you will rediscover, the beautiful in you again.

Eamonn Boland & Valerie Kilkenny

Bath Avenue Counselling