When you don’t think you can work any harder…keep going. I work 17/18 hour days and don’t take a day off. I am also in my second year at university and have most recently been accepted for an internship. Did I mention I am also self-employed and run my own business? That, and I have been diagnosed with anxiety and OCD.
My OCD began on my commute, I would over analyse a situation if I believed someone to be suspicious. My worry slowly developed into panic attacks and I starting refusing to travel into London and wouldn’t even be able to get out of bed.
Small things can actually be symptoms
My OCD rears itself with “checking.” Many think that OCD is just the need for someone to clean constantly, however this is a very big misinterpretation of the disorder. My OCD consists of constantly “checking” where my family members are and what their plans are so I can feel happy. I end up checking…double checking…triple checking. I always make sure my house windows are secure for instance. I even start to re-read words and pages purely out of fear of not quite taking information in.
There isn’t a cure
After taking three courses of CBT and two runs of counselling, my life is getting slightly easier. Yet, I still hit bumps in the road. Sometimes, I can really start to struggle with my anxiety. Last year so much so that I had to taking anti-depressants. After speaking to my parents and my partner, we collectively decided that for me it would be a good option. My doctor also put me on the waiting list for psychotherapy sessions. Everyone has different journeys. Know that one of my aids might not be right for you.
OCD can be physical too
Whenever I feel tired or stressed, my tonsils and glands swell and I clam up. OCD is the fourth most common mental illness. In the UK, approximately 741,504 people are living with OCD. I have learned that sufferers are likely to feel uncomfortable sensations in the skin, muscles or other body parts, like an itch or burning sensation when worrying.
It could be your history
My psychotherapist made me realise that more frequently than not, OCD can be a result of a traumatic or stressful experience. When I was 15-years-old, my dad went missing when my sister and I were at his for the weekend. He was found by police, and taken to hospital to be diagnosed with severe depression. The psychotherapist explained that this could be a clear reason for my OCD and why I “check” things.
I hope opening up helps to shed light on some specificities of mental illnesses. Don’t ever assume or prejudge someone without getting to know them and their circumstances first. Give yourself time and space. Things will get better, you just need to believe that they will.
If you or someone you know is suffering from OCD then please call the UK’s leading mental illness charity Mind: 0300 123 3393.
Author: Phoebe Shergold-Willis
Phoebe Shergold-Willis is director and founder of St Albans School of Acting. When not studying for her degree in theatre and dramatic arts, she can be found eating dinner out or spending time with her family.