Member Interview: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

obsessive compulsive disorder

For this member interview, we are talking to an anonymous member about living with obsessive compulsive disorder.

Hi there! Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?

Well my name is [Henry]. I'm 25 (on May the 1st) an I have OCD and ADHD. I currently live in place where i have my own room and bathroom, but share everything else with 10 other people who are also mentally ill. There's always professional people here to help us with all our problems. I just started cognitive therapy for my OCD and hope it will help me alot.

My interests are computers, especially technical stuff, but also like gaming and tv series/ youtube shows.

Oh and I have a cat called Alfrodo. He's turning 3 next month.

Can you tell me a little bit about what obsessive compulsive disorder is?

OCD is a mental disorder where people feel the need to check things repeatedly, perform certain routines repeatedly (called "rituals"), or have certain thoughts repeatedly (called "obsessions").

People are unable to control either the thoughts or the activities for more than a short period of time. Common activities include hand washing, counting of things, and checking to see if a door is locked. Some may have difficulty throwing things out. These activities occur to such a degree that the person's daily life is negatively affected. This often takes up more than an hour a day.

Most adults realize that the behaviors do not make sense. The condition is associated with tics, anxiety disorder, and an increased risk of suicide.

What does obsessive compulsive disorder look like in your personal life?

For me it's mostly about me avoiding getting "dirty" from stuff I deem unclean. I excessively wash my hands. The things I find dirty is usually stuff that has been in contact with things that have been in a bathroom, or around peoples genitals.

Cross contamination is a big thing for me, for example I can't touch stuff that's been on a floor, because people walk on those floors, with the same shoes they've walked on the bathroom floor with.

I also can't touch door handles because I never know who else have touched them, and what they touched before they touched the door handles.

Toilet visits are the hardest part for met. I only use one hand there, and i cover it by a rubber glove. But then after I have to wash it a lot. A couple months ago it took me one hour to wash my hands, and then it still didn't feel clean enough. I had to wear a wool glove on it.

Nowadays I get the personelle here to help me whenever i need to get my hand washed, so I only clean it for like 10 mins. They tell me to stop, and after that i then wear 2 wool gloves on the dirty hand, because it still doesn't feel clean and i don't want to contaminate other stuff with my dirty hand.

I also have a hard time eating in our shared kitchen, where food gets prepared for us. Every time I see someone doing something "unclean" it adds to my fear. I have to clean all my utensils before I use them and I also have to clean the table I'm eating at. I'm not afraid that I'm gonna get sick or die from becoming dirty, it’s just a weird feeling. 

I can physically feel a part of me being dirty and I can’t focus on anything else but that feeling until I’ve dealt with it and done my rituals to get it clean again.

I also have to check if my door is locked multiple times before going to bed because I'm afraid my cat will run away. The hard part is that I'm not able to go away from my house for long periods of time. I'm not able to go to places that don’t have bathrooms for even shorter time periods because I will get anxiety about having to use the bathroom and not be able to.

What misconceptions about obsessive compulsive disorder do you feel that a lot of people have?

I think, at least in my country, people are generally beginning to understand OCD very well.

The biggest thing that a lot of OCD people are afraid of, is intrusive thoughts. When you have OCD, you can also get intrusive thoughts, which can be really nasty horrible thoughts, that just randomly pops into your head. 

For example i saw this mother, who was deadly afraid of cutting/hurting her own child. She knew she would never do that because she loved her child, but it really scared her to have these thoughts.

The misconception people often have there, is that these thoughts are secret urges that people have. In reality people would never ever do or have any desire, to do the stuff that just randomly pops into their head like that. It's just a fucked up part of OCD, that can really scare people.

What led up to you being diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder?

It started with my mom starting to notice stuff when I was 9, like I did extra handwashing, and I started noticing other symptoms myself. For example: walking specific routes at home, touching things equally. I couldn’t touch parts of my body even with clothes on, or areas surrounding those body parts by air. Thinking others were dirty.

I couldn't have others touching my stuff. I had strict routines for when I used the bathroom. I sometimes thought some names of bad people were dirty so I had to say a list of good peoples names, whenever i thought about the bad ones. Being afraid of cross contaminate stuff and some other minor stuff.

My mom had me go to a psychiatric hospital where i got diagnosed with OCD and ADHD.

What are some treatments or things you've done that you feel have helped your obsessive compulsive disorder?

I tried all the different SSRI meds they could give me, but none of them helped.

The only real thing that helped was when i did hypnotherapy. That helped a lot it got rid of a lot of my symptoms. I started to be able to touch clothed parts of my body, like my legs, and use my pockets.

I also stopped touching stuff equally, and walking the same routes. I didn’t have name lists anymore.

The only thing that was really left after that, was my hand washing after using the toilet.

I just started in cognitive behavioral therapy, which is known as the only form of therapy to really help against OCD, so I'm very hopeful that it will help me to a life free of OCD.

How have your friends and/or family reacted to your diagnosis?

Mostly very supportive. I've always been very open about it, and answered peoples questions, so I think that helps a lot. There will always be douchebags that don't understand, but it's easy for me to stay way from those types of people.

What advice do you have for someone who loves a person living with OCD?

Be understanding, and give them the extra time they need to do their stuff. Stressing them to finish something will only make it take even longer time.

Ask questions. It's always better to ask for extra time than to trigger someone's OCD.

Tell them about cognitive behavioral therapy or hypnotherapy, because OCD is like being a slave to your own mind. If they can even get a little break from that, then the therapy will be worth it.

Thank you so much for your time and insight into the world of living with obsessive compulsive disorder.

For more support with OCD, visit the House of Misfits Discord server.