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OCD Awareness Week Blog

Blog written by 'MillwallAnt', 15th October 2013.

Ok, before we start, lets have a look at this snippet from OCD-UK.

OCD-UK website comment

In particular about the term ‘I’m a little bit OCD.’ It’s a fact, people just don’t understand what the illness is about so now I’m on a mission to educate. Please, if you like the podcasts, or the other things I’ve written, continue reading this. It would mean a lot to me.

I posted a photo yesterday of myself holding the OCD Awareness Week placard.

Ant Meads supporting OCD Awareness Week

Here is a selection of the comments I got. ‘The sign isn’t straight.’ ‘You’re obsessed.’ ‘How many goes did it take to get the photo right?’ ‘Shouldn’t it say CDO?’

Now imagine for a moment It was Breast Cancer Awareness Week and I posted a picture of myself wearing a pink ribbon in support. How many comments would I have received that said ‘How many double mastectomy patients does it take to change a lightbulb?’ or ‘A Priest, a Rabbi and a cancer suffer walk into a bar….;

Now before I go any further, these comments were left by friends. Friends who know about my condition. I hold no ill will to them for their comments except using them to prove a point. Why is OCD so belittled it’s ok to make jokes about this?

I should also point out that in the interest of fairness, I make bad taste jokes on a quite regular basis, I use humour as a coping mechanism to deal with the terrible things in this world that cause me emotional distress. I’ve even made the odd OCD joke, again as a coping mechanism, because if I don’t try and laugh I’ll breakdown and cry.

People reading this will be thinking the comparison with cancer is ridiculous. Cancer kills people, OCD just gives people tidy houses. I know they will, it’s a stereotype I experience every single time I discuss my OCD with someone for the first time. So now time for another image that I hope will stick with people reading this.

Calm Charity

‘Suicide is the biggest killer of young men in the UK.’

Seriously, bigger than cancer, bigger than traffic accidents, bigger than anything else. SUICIDE. Mental health is arguably the biggest challenge this country has to face in coming years. The treatment of it needs serious work. The funding for it is desperate. But for me, perhaps most importantly, public perception needs to change. The biggest killer of young men in this country is suicide yet when someone jumps at a train station people take to twitter to complain they will be late home from work. Or, ‘couldn’t it at least have happened on the way into work, selfish twat!’ It’s a world where even my closest friends can see me try to raise awareness for my condition and make a joke about it. There is no malice there, my mates will almost certainly read this and apologise but it’s just a tiny part of a much bigger problem. It’s socially acceptable to mock OCD, to laugh at people with mental illness. And it doesn’t come from a perspective of hate. It comes from ignorance. People just don’t understand mental illness. It still makes them uncomfortable.

To end this blog I’d like to tell you a bit about how my OCD affects my life. Apologies if you’ve heard this before but I hope this blog will reach some new people.

Firstly, my house is a mess. I don’t need it tidy, I just need everything where it feels right. Ah, ‘feels right,’ that’s a big phrase in my life and one I don’t think people fully understand. I can have piles of magazines stacked up on the floor, but God forbid someone puts a cup next to it. The anxiety sets in, pure blind panic. I feel physically sick, I shake, the cup has to be moved. I can’t explain how it feels, I just know something terrible will happen unless the cup is moved.

At night, when I was married, I’d lay next to my wife and I’d panic she was going to die. I’d check her breathing every few minutes and woe betide her if her breathing wasn’t obvious enough to me because I’d prod her and wake her up so I knew for sure she was alive. In my downtime, between those constant checks, I’d be planning her funeral, I’d panic about who to invite, what songs she’d like, what flowers. I’d panic because I have never organised a funeral before, I don’t even know who you speak to first. What if I can’t do it? What if even in death I let her down? and then it’s time to check she’s still alive again. At my worst I’d operate on 2 hours of broken sleep a night for weeks at a time. And with more tiredness come sore panic, more anxiety and less ability to cope with my condition.

I worked in a concrete yard once. I had to wear gloves. People took the piss out of me every day as I couldn’t have my hands dirty. I was 18, I didn’t understand my condition, I couldn’t articulate to anyone why I had to do it. I just knew my hands had to stay clean. I was bullied every day because I was ‘the little tart who needed gloves on so he didn’t get his dainty hands dirty.’ In the end I just stopped going to work, I couldn’t face it anymore. I fell behind on my mortgage payments, I had to sell my house due to the debt I was in and move back in with my parents. I was 18 and for the first time in my life I considered suicide.

I have considered suicide a lot since then. I’ve even attempted it once. Around that first time I went to see my GP to explain how scared I felt. My GP listened for the allotted 5 minutes and told me I was quirky. ‘lots of people have habits’ she said. So I went on my way, with no help and thinking this was normal. This was what everyone dealt with every day. So I bottled it all up. I tried to ‘man up’ and just deal with it. Which as we now know, led to a life filled with fear and anxiety. A constant panic that a loved one will die unless I keep my hands clean or lock the door just the right number of times.

The last thing I want to tell you is something I haven’t mentioned before but it’s OCD Awareness Week and if I want people’s attitudes to change then I have to try to contribute to that change.

Sometimes I think about murdering someone.

The list below details just some examples of commonly occurring obsessions that affect people with OCD:


  • Worrying that you or something/someone/somewhere is contaminated.

  • Worrying about catching HIV/AIDS or other media publicised illnesses such as Bird Flu or Swine Flu.

  • Worrying that everything needs to be arranged symmetrically or at perpendicular angles so everything is  ‘just right’.

  • Worrying about causing physical or sexual harm to yourself or others.

  • Unwanted or unpleasant sexual thoughts and feelings, including those about sexuality or fear of acting inappropriately towards children.

  • Intrusive violent thoughts.

  • Worrying that something terrible will happen unless you check repeatedly.

  • Worrying that you have caused an accident whilst driving.

  • Having the unpleasant feeling that you are about to shout out obscenities in public.

I genuinely have moments, perhaps at a train station, where I think I could push someone under a train. The thought is repellent to me. Here’s another quote from the OCD UK website

The obsessional thoughts that plague somebody affected with OCD are repetitive and intrusive by nature, and most importantly they are not voluntarily produced.   The affected person recognises that these often horrific and repugnant thoughts are their own and not controlled by some outer force or other person.

You need to understand I don’t actually want to kill someone. I promise you. But the thought appears, as if from nowhere. And I get so scared, I often run home, I wash my hands, I lock myself away for my safety and for others. I do all I can to try and keep everyone in my life safe. I’ve never admitted that to anyone, and regular readers of this blog will know I’ve admitted nearly everything else. So there you go, one massive revelation in the hope it makes people think twice before telling me ‘the sign isn’t straight’ in my profile picture.

You can read more about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder over at

http://www.ocduk.org/

and visit CALM for information on mens mental health issues

http://www.thecalmzone.net/

and as always, if you just think you need to talk, ring Samaritans 08457 90 90 90

There is no shame in asking for some help and I’d like to think that one day we can remove the stigma from mental illness completely so it can be treated the same way as any other major illness.

Peace out

x

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