Recollection of OCD
I remember the first obsessive thing I did, I was about 11 years old, I’d to have to say a certain verse of a poem silently every day and when done, that would mean the day would be ok.
I had sight back in those days and wasn’t really bothered greatly by ocd for some years. I was always very risk averse and very superstitious about all manner of things, but none of these seemed disturbing at the time.
The more my sight started to go, the worse the ocd seemed to become. At this point I started to hallucinate and see things such as disturbing words and frightening images.
Later I discovered that I had Charles Bonnet syndrome, a condition in which blind areas of the visual field are replaced with phantom images, from the benign to the disturbing, in my case they are disturbing.
I became convinced that people from my past were out to get me and the devil was after me and that I was thoroughly evil.
This period of terror lasted for several years, with me reciting prayers and “good” words many hundreds of times a day. I did this to “cancel” out the bad thoughts, in an attempt to escape the terror, but I never did of course.
I thought I had to continue these mutterings in order to keep evil away and protect me and my family.
For years and years I was terrified and saw no escape from this situation, apart from possibly suicide.
Then one day, something happened and I started to see things differently.
My house was full of religious icons, to keep the evil away and I accidentally dropped a figurine of the Madonna and it broke.
I expected to go straight to hell, but nothing happened. It was in that moment that I realised there was something mentally wrong and not something evil, a small light had switched on.
I went to the doctor and poured out everything to him and he reacted in a very positive way.
He arranged an appointment with a psychiatrist and put me on an anti-depressant.
The improvement was very slow and even today in my darker moments, I can still fall prey to obsessive thinking.
I saw a succession of psychiatrists, therapists and doctors, with varying degrees of success, many of these people were well intentioned but weren’t very good at treating ocd.
At long last, I hit lucky with a psychiatrist and CBT therapist and my situation began to improve.
Looking back, the things that helped me the most were, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), including exposure and response prevention (ERP), a therapy in which you expose yourself to a difficult obsessive stimulus then try not to respond.
This helps to weaken the obsessive thought, also good drugs and possibly most importantly, my wife, who has proven the greatest support of all.
These things are the constants that keep me going.
Although everyday I have to mentally work hard, I mostly get by. When ocd gets bad, I still worry about the devil and certain people coming for me, I can still get down on myself and often continue to feel threatened and superstitious,
but I also now have resilience, knowledge, support and medication. I will always have OCD and must be ever vigilant, but together all these factors provide real evidence that my approach is working.