An invisible illness

An invisible illness

If you asked my friends and family, they’d probably tell you I was a little bit quirky, I say things that others possibly wouldn’t and I spend longer than is required, washing my hands. If I was to think back to a time this began, I’d say I was around 10.

It was just part of me, a big ball of something, that came along with me everywhere I went. I had no name for it, to be honest I thought everyone carried this ball of something. It would tell me I couldn’t touch certain things or make me think horrible thoughts and to get control of this, I had to touch things a specific number or times or turn a switch on and off whilst counting.

Seven years ago, my big ball of something exploded. It wasn’t just mine anymore. My trigger was an event where I got stuck in a warehouse lift. I panic to have severe panic attacks and couldn’t leave the house without it causing me distress.

My big ball of something was finally given a name. OCD, or to use it’s full title, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I was given some leaflets about my condition and refered for CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy). Due to shortages, I wasn’t able to have one on one CBT.

I attended group meetings at my local hospital, where people from all walks of life joined me in a cream walled room, to discuss their big balls of something. The first day I attended a meeting, I took a look around the room. Regular faces looked back at me. People I could walk past in the street and never know that inside they were fighting the urge to carry out some compulsive behaviour to help dilute the irrational thoughts they were having. All we had in common was our diagnosis of our invisible illness.

When people I knew started to ask why I was off work, they began to share little tails of their own “OCD”. They questioned if they could carry on with their day-to-day business, why couldn’t I. Thankfully due to my CBT, I had learnt that everyone had irrational thoughts, it’s how you dealt with them. How I dealt with them lead to my diagnosis. My invisible illness was here to stay, it wasn’t something I could switch off.

Several weeks after my group CBT, my OCD reached a unmanagible level. Each hour of the day was a challenge. My thoughts became much bigger and began to consume me. I feared I was going mad. Yet on the outside, I was still just this somewhat quirky person.

I met Clara whilst I was at my worst. She thankfully accepted me for who I was. Big ball of something was just a part of me that she learned to love too. I know that living with me is difficult, so I have so much respect for how she puts up with me.

After some more one on one CBT and a lot of learning about my condition, I have learnt how to control my OCD on my own. I know my triggers and I can manage them very well.

An_invisible_illness

When I share with people that I have OCD, many are suprised. I am happy to talk about my OCD and paint it’s picture. It may be invisible, but it shouldn’t be kept in the shadows. I believe taboos surrounding mental health, should be smashed. Mental health can effect anyone. Someone you love could be silently suffering.

The stigma attached to mental health can only be removed if people begin to understand that carrying this invisible illness doesn’t make you any less of a person.

Has mental health or OCD affected your life? I would love you to share your story.

 

 

 

  • MummyBarrow

    My son has a big ball of something too that he has to take everywhere with him. People make what they think are jokes “ooh are all his shoes in a nice line?” “Are the tins all facing the front in your cupboards?”.

    There is so much mis understanding of conditions such as OCD that only by talking about it will we ever truly understand it.

    Here’s to smashing those taboos.

    BIg hugs lovely lady (and a hug to your wife too) I think you two rock.

    • http://mytwomums.com/ My Two Mums

      Thank you. I agree that so many misunderstand mental health issues. I hope to open some doors and share my experiences :)

  • Lauren_W

    I love this post Kirsty, because I love your honesty. It’s so hard sharing information like this, especially when people won’t understand it or when people will say “if I can do it then why can’t you?” (as you said).

    I’ve mostly seen jokey reactions to OCD in the past. People joking that “your cupboards must be tidy then” or “wow, I bet your house is clean”, they don’t seem to understand what that actually means for the person suffering.
    I’ve certainly learnt a lot more about it from talking to you and from the things you have said to me and hopefully others will too.

    • http://mytwomums.com/ My Two Mums

      Thanks Lauren. I wanted to share my story to encourage others to share theirs and also to open doors towards understanding :)

  • sabrina montagnoli

    Thank you for sharing your story.

  • WifeMumStudentBum

    Thanks for sharing, really honest post :)

  • Super Busy Mum

    Beautifully written Kirsty, thanks for sharing. I’ve never suffered from anything like OCD but good for you for handling it and controlling it on your own. I can imagine that being a MASSIVE step forward. Go you! ;) x

    • http://mytwomums.com/ My Two Mums

      Thank you very much.

  • http://www.mrsteepot.co.uk Mrs TeePot

    A great, honest post that gives an insight into the reality of OCD. The term OCD is too often thrown about by those who don’t understand it, “oh yea, I have to double check the doors are locked, it’s my OCD” and such, the reality of it is so rarely seen that it’s very important more people share their experiences of it.
    Luckily I have never had any experience with OCD but I do have other mental illnesses so I can understand to a certain extent the battle that goes on in your own head. It’s so important that we all share our stories so that the stigma is reduced and people see that we’re just people with an illness, it’s just ours is invisible.

    • http://mytwomums.com/ My Two Mums

      I couldn’t agree more. I think it’s important to share until we smash those barriers.

  • http://emmysmummy.blogspot.com Clare Nicholas

    What a great post. Thanks for being open and honest and for sharing

    • http://mytwomums.com/ My Two Mums

      Thank you

  • TheBrickCastle

    Very honest and very concise. I really like how you point out that having the irrational thoughts isn’t the OCD, it’s what comes next. It’s all too easy to dismiss so much mental illness as being normal stuff badly managed, when in fact the whole point is that there is no chance or option for managing the situation effectively and coping.

    • http://mytwomums.com/ My Two Mums

      Thank you for your comment. I wanted to write this post in a way that didn’t sensationalise OCD but more keep it real.

  • http://www.stephstwogirls.blogspot.co.uk/ Stephs Two Girls

    Being honest and open is such a great way to help anybody with invisible illnesses. Didn’t our mums always used to say ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’?! I love your post, and I’m glad to hear you are managing to control it. Mental health is such an important issue, and the more we share the more we understand I feel. Great post x

    • http://mytwomums.com/ My Two Mums

      Thank you very much. I feel I have a reason to share. I want to smash taboos and open doors (with my sleeves ;) ) hehehe.

  • Becky Goddard-Hill

    Great post. Brave and honest. Big hugs to you today and to the members of my family and my friends who have a tough time with their mental health xx

    • http://mytwomums.com/ My Two Mums

      Thank you very much Becky

  • chantelle hazelden

    what a brave, honest amazing post!!! I hope you inspire others to be more open xx

    • http://mytwomums.com/ My Two Mums

      Thank you :)

  • Sarah MumofThree World

    What a great post, it’s good that you are able to share it to help people understand the condition. The term ‘OCD’ is over-used these days for anyone who likes being a bit neat, but it’s clearly far more serious than that. So pleased that you have been able to overcome the worst of it and you’ve had such great support from C.
    I don’t have OCD, but I am a little bit too obsessed with hygiene and it’s rubbing off on my kids. I will never touch a door handle with my finger tips – I use my elbow, my sleeve, the heel of my hand… I need to be sure the germs can’t make it into my mouth. I see my daughter does all of this now – I watch her carefully hook her elbow around a door handle rather than just push it. On the plus side, I think I’m right because I don’t ever get ill!

    • Emma Day (Crazy with Twins)

      This reminded me of something I did in secondary school – I used to walk up to a door and stop, and someone else would always open it for me!

    • http://mytwomums.com/ My Two Mums

      Thank you. I think the term is flipped around too much, that people brush off those with severe OCD. I get ill lots lol so not sure my ways of germ prevention are too effective

  • mummydaddyme

    I missed this post Kirsty as I am working back through my reader- I think it was a very brave and honest thing to write. I don’t have OCD as such but I suffer from anxiety, mainly related to my family. I constantly worry about them, I have got better, but it all hit a point when Mads was a week old and she stopped breathing. I would constantly look at internet forums and websites that were clearly not good for me, and I was so scared I was going to lose her. In the end my Mum took me to the doctors and they referred me to a counsellor, but I ended up not going to the appointment because I realised I needed to stop looking at these things. I am still quite bad, and if Mr E or Mads are late back from anything I ring their phones constantly till they answer, but I try to think in my head that I can’t control these things. I am a real worrier though and I don’t think that will ever change. I have friends with serious OCD and I think it was very brave to write about it. x

    • http://mytwomums.com/ My Two Mums

      Thank you for sharing your experiences. I think more people than most realise suffer with some form of anxiety. Some levels are beneficial as they show we have regular concern for our family some levels can be quite destructive to day to day activities. I hope yours doesn’t effect you too much.

  • Emma Day (Crazy with Twins)

    I had OCD as a child – I was just told I was a bit weird, when I displayed the behaviours publicly, but I found most of it was kept within myself. I never had the extreme cleanliness habits, or even a specific number in mind, but everything had to be equal. If I banged my knee on the coffee table, I’d have to bang the other one so it hurt the same amount. Sometimes I’d repeat sounds until they sounded the same or blink until my eyes felt the same. If I stared at a point on the pavement, I’d have to reach it before the next car. I’d have arguements in my head about different behaviors – things I had to do, to make things equal. If I didn’t do these things, I felt something bad would happen to me or someone in my family. If I had a bad day, I’d have nightmares about horrible things happening to my mum. There was no diagnosis or treatment, and luckily, after many years, I began to control those emotions. I learnt that they were irrational, and not something that happened to everyone.

    A member of my family was diagnosed a few years back. He had a number he had to stick to and he also had issues with sounds having to be equal, or repeated until they were equal. He ended up not leaving the house and it affected his confidence. He was treated with medication and years later, he too, learnt to control it.

    I think control is the relevant word though. OCD never really goes away, and even now – those same thoughts creep back in sometimes.

    What really annoys me is people claiming they have OCD just because they have a tidy house – Not all OCD sufferers have on obsession with cleanliness – it comes out in so many forms. You can have a cleaning obsession – without it being a complusive disorder. It really bugs me when people stereotype it like that, and it probably prevents others from being diagnosed too.

    Well done on sharing such a personal post on a very important topic. xx

    • http://mytwomums.com/ My Two Mums

      Thanks. I agree that OCD never goes away, we just learn to suppress or cope. Thanks for sharing your story.

  • LesBeMums

    Thanks for sharing. You are definitely not alone.

    As someone with OCD (everything has it’s place and it must be there or put away unless being used, is one the main issues I have) I can understand how the comments from those who do not understand, or who just think I’m being “anal”, feel.

    I am very lucky that S understands this and just lets me be without moaning when I redo the cushions or bedding, for example.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • http://mytwomums.com/ My Two Mums

      I hope by sharing, I am opening the doors to understanding. I too am very lucky I have an amazing lady who understands as best she can.

  • http://mytwomums.com/ My Two Mums

    Thank you for sharing your story :)

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