Obsessive Compulsive Disorder – by someone with OCD

My first memory of OCD is of eight-year-old me consumed by the worry that I was going to catch nits. I worried about it all day every day, for weeks at a time. I wouldn’t want to go near other people, tried hard to stop my clothes from touching anyone else’s, and would spend excessive amounts of time looking through my hair. Of course, I had no idea that this was the start of my journey with OCD.

When I was fourteen, my worries had shifted to germs and contamination. By sixteen, worries of harming people took over. Then, aged nineteen, religious OCD and terrifying images of Hell consumed me.

OCD can shape-shift between themes, making it difficult to recognise. Because it changes themes, it’s almost like it can sneak into every part of your life in disguise, planting doubt, fear and worry. It tries to destroy everything good.


OCD has two main parts – obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are the unwanted, persistent and anxiety-provoking thoughts, urges or images. Compulsions are the repetitive behaviours the individual performs in hope of temporarily relieving the anxiety caused by the obsession.

People often assume that OCD is all about germs, but contamination OCD is just one type of OCD. It can latch on to literally anything. Other obsessions include intrusive thoughts of harming others, intrusive thoughts of a sexual nature, a need for symmetry or worrying that something bad will happen.

OCD is incredibly cruel. It grips on to the things you care about the most in the world – relationships, career, hobbies, family, and steals the joy from everything.

It thrives on shame, particularly shame that arises from thoughts or obsessions which disgust us. This shame stops us from opening up, because the thoughts are not reflective of who we are as a person or of our morals. That’s why OCD is so dangerous, because shame can silence.

It is not a joke or a quirk, and I am tired of people saying they are so OCD when they don’t have OCD, but just like things to be tidy. OCD is racing thoughts, sheer terror, debilitating anxiety and hours lost each day engaging in compulsions. It is not cool. OCD sufferer’s are tired of the stigma.

When my OCD thoughts try to sneak back in, I (do my best to) pause and thank my brain for trying to keep me safe. Then I tell it that I don’t need it to anymore. It doesn’t always work, but I find that accepting and thanking the thought is better than fighting it.

Find support for OCD here:

NHS website

OCD UK – national charity run by and for people with OCD

OCD Action – the UK’s largest OCD charity

Mind – useful contacts for OCD

Young Minds – for young people with OCD or their parents/carers

Anxiety UK – advice, support and self-help book

International OCD Foundation

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