Maria was diagnosed with OCD over Christmas 2008, when she was 24. Having been an inpatient at the Priory and on the receiving end of CBT at the Maudsley, she now fills her time getting better, blogging, and eating cheese. Oh, and always taking her tablets. You can follow Maria’s blog here: http://notyournormal.com/

My mother was out shopping, when she bumped into Lindsey, my friend-from-primary-school’s mum. Exchanging pleasantries, mum mentioned that I had OCD and was, because of such, still living at home. Lindsey smiled indulgently. “That’s hard,” she said, “but at least you’ll have a lovely tidy house.”

This is the current state of my room at the moment. And this is it looking better than it has done.

Maria's pic

I read a book called ‘Restoration’ at A-Level, and its first line is “I am, I discover, a very untidy man.” Despite not being a man, and already knowing this, it could well do as the first line of my autobiography – ‘I’m Messy and I Know It’ (work in progress). Clutter and I go hand-in-hand. Give me a clean, sterile room, and I’ll make my mark on it within minutes. Give me a friendly mess, and I’m as happy as a pig in – well, just a pig (I’ve always liked pigs. They seem happy). This, as well as the fact that I don’t wash my hands all the time, seems to exempt me from “having OCD”.

I wrote a blogpost (plug! Well worth a read! Plug! Plug!) about my OCD, which was well received by my friends. They were calling me brave for writing it, and they understood why I was incredibly awkward as a teenager. It was all good. Then one of my friends shared it on their Facebook page. Hooray! Self-destructingly narcissistic as always (I always read bad things about me), I followed the link and read the one and only comment underneath. “I wash my hands obsessively,” the person had sniffed. “This person does not speak for all those with OCD.”

Hold on one cotton-picking moment. When had I said “hi! Welcome to my blog – it’s the authority on OCD!”? Answer: I hadn’t. As I believe I mentioned, OCD is a complex, multi-faceted prism of disorder. Mine centres on bizarre and disturbing sexual behaviour. I never said obsessive hand washing wasn’t OCD; it is. If you are reading this as a hand washer, then I say amen sista! (Or brother!) We are one under the OCD umbrella!

 The fact is, I genuinely believed all this stuff was true as a teen. I believed I was a racist paedophile, who would get her “just desserts” when raped by dad. I once thought I had cursed the BeeGees. My mind was a troubled place. And if I had known that there was someone else who thought the same; that this was a disorder of the mind, and that I wasn’t unsafe all the time; that these were recognised symptoms of a recognised medical condition, then how different my teenage years would have been. I’m not saying that instead of miserably trudging to the beach and hiding under a towel for fear of showing dad my body in a bikini whilst praying that the weather would get cold or that he’d get it over and done with soon, I’d be frolicking on a nudist beach. I still would have felt the same. But I would have known I wasn’t alone. For it was being alone that drove many of my actions as a youngster (I say, as a sage 30 year old). The absolute isolation I felt was overwhelming. None of my friend’s dads fancied them, so why did mine?

If I had discovered my blog 10 years ago, I would have thought (plug! Plug!) a) it’s a cracking read – you should all get yourselves off to it; and b) I’m not the only one. Which would have probably saved a lot of misery and heartache. Again, to reiterate, my blog is not the be-all-and-end-all of OCD. But, if all people think of when they think of OCD is the hoover on repeat, then I will continue my mission in spreading the ‘pure O’ word, and removing the stigma.

In the meantime, ¡viva la pígsty!

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3 thoughts on “Maria: This is my OCD, tell me yours

  1. I agree it is hugely important to raise awareness of the many types of ocd. Also though, for people to realise that even ocd that focuses on contamination and cleaning can lead to a house that is chaotic, messy and dirty. Normal tidying or cleaning tasks become so complex and stressful that they can’t be faced. Things thought to be contaminated are disinfected even though they look clean, while many dirty surfaces whose dirt is not so feared are left filthy by an exhausted dysfunctional sufferer. On the other hand, a house that looked pristine to many could to me be covered in invisible viral risk.

    Like

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