Monday, 25 June 2012

Serious Lucy revelation number 1.

I have OCD.

Not the kind of OCD that everyone says they have when they feel uncomfortable leaving lights on or doors ajar.

Not superstitious and moderate ritualistic behaviour.

I have full blown, severe, diagnosed and medicated OCD.

I have seen psychotherapists, psychiatrists and doctors for almost 12 years, now and I have been medicated for almost as long.

Writing this blog is a kind of therapy, I think. I'm not secretive about it, but banging on to someone at a party when you're trying to have a beer is boring. I don't talk about it often at all, really.

I met my friend's girlfriend, (now wife), for the first time a few years ago and it was the first time in my life I'd met someone with OCD as severe as mine. I get really sick of people saying 'Oh and me...' when I mention having OCD, and complaining that sometimes they can't go to bed without putting their picture frames straight or washing their hands thoroughly. Everyone has a ritual, its really, really normal - but this lovely girl actually really did have the anxiety disorder as it is medically defined.

So do I.

The other reason that I don't often talk about it, aside from it being a mood killer, is because talking about it really sets my crazy behaviours off. I get a bit more twitchy and ritualish when it comes up in conversation, which it does from time to time. I took my mum out for a cup of coffee today and she was telling me this story about some guy on the telly that had OCD and I immediately felt my heart speed up and my breath get a little fluttery.

I can rationalise everything. The best psycho doc that I ever saw was amazed at how rational and reasonable I was when I talk about it. In short, it stems from the fact that at a very early age I was sensitive and quite forward thinking. I was aware of the problems in the world before I was aware of who the Mister Men were.

I also learned very quickly that anything can happen at any time and  we're not necessarily prepared for it. This lesson is common to everyone in life and is normally learned at a nice pace, through conversation, mistakes, experience and instinct. I kinda followed that formula, but with a series of traumas that happened in really quick succession and shocked me. My brain and it's chemicals got all out of sync and imbalanced. I felt out of control. I felt that I couldn't control anything that happened in the world and I couldn't ever stop the bad things happening even if I wished and hoped until my head popped.

The only thing in my life that I could control was my movements, my behaviours and my rituals. Therefore my crazy brain overcompensates for the feeling of being out of control by uber controlling my lifestyle behaviours, movements and thoughts. Make sense?

The other added bonus is that there's a piece of our brains in the very front of our heads in the centre. It's small and looks like a sausage. Mine is slightly twisted, which causes a lot of these thought processes to happen.

I've got a twisted sausage.

One of the biggest mistakes I have made in my reaction to my mental health issues is to minimise or internalise my rituals. A lot of people with severe OCD have really obvious behaviours, but I didn't want to look like I had a mental health problem, so all my rituals are basically hidden. They do, however, dominate my life just as much as if my rituals were extravagent and big.

I can't tell you how exhausting that is.

Every breath is counted. Every word is carefully chosen. Every movement of my tongue when I talk, of my eyes from the minute I'm awake, of my fingers and my toes - is considered and controlled. What I touch, how I read, how I type, what I say, how I eat and drink, how I walk - everything, everything has a correct way.

If I do it wrong, I'm f**king screwed. That means I have to repeat the wrong way and the right way alternately 8 times until it feels ok.

Hannah noticed a few years ago that my fingers move funny. She also wondered why I pause a lot when I talk. I didn't think those were noticeable things. Anyway, she knows why now and she absolutely takes the p**s out of me. Which is amazing. That's the best, best, bestest way to deal with it.

I am trying exposure therapy at the moment. Riding high with anxiety by not adhering to ritual until the heart rate has no choice but to come down. It works for the most part, but when I'm stressed, tired or a bit out of sorts it doesn't really do the trick.

But I'm totally learning and coping and happy. Although it might seem hard to believe after this blog, I'm a perfectly normal, functioning human being.

Albeit with a twisted sausage.



  1. Oh....that was (Five Six, Seven, Eight)....So cute (five six seven eight)....and emotional (five six eight seven)....and I'm allowed to take the piss out (seven, five eight, six) of you because you said you (eight one four twelve) liked it. I love you so much twinny pops.

  2. hi Lucy~ its Shanelle. Just stopped by your blog for the first time~ I never knew you had OCD.... while we were in Mongolia. did you have it then too? Last year when I first moved to Korea and didn't have a job and things were kinda screwed up living with my bf I suddenly felt like I didn't have any control over my life and started obsessively cleaning my studio...I didn't realize what I was doing until it started controlling my life and I couldn't sleep unless everything was absolutely clean and in order (like the exact angle and placement of everything had to be right). and any kind of light from electrical appliances had to be turned off or covered really well or else I couldn't sleep. I hated it and i was so full of anxiety and insomnia it was a really tough time in my life. Now that my life is much better and Ive regained control (almost) the ocd-ish behavior is going away slowly. I hope it will go away completely one day (but whenever I'm stressed it comes back full blown so not sure...).i must have twisted my sausage a bit. its just hard to get that obsessive mental state in control. I guess it will always be there to some extent...but you can minimize it if you regain control of your life or try to work on the origin of the problem. Im happy that you are so honest on your blog, will come back again! miss you~

  3. Ah Shanelle! I miss you, girl- I think about you so often. I had developed OCD before we were in Mongolia but it's actually pretty good when I travel. I still suffer a little but there is so much to soak up and learn in a new culture that it's easier for me to deal with and not get so hooked on familiarity and ritual. A lot of people might not be aware of it in me because so much of it is internal and hidden away.

    I hope you're ok now? It's really not nice and can be so tiring. And not many people understand It when it's severe. Anyway, I understand it so if you need me, holla!

    Lots of love xx

  4. Hi Lucy
    I definitely think you should keep advertising your blog, even if it isn't something you've been through it helps you understand and also it can strike a chord with other things and stops people feeling quite so alone. I wish I could write so honestly and I really admire people like you who really can write from e heart - please keep it up! Bex, x x

  5. Yo lulu! Love u looooong time. And you aint alone, no siree xxxxxxx