Everyone who knows me will know that there is a long running joke about me and OCD. My best man made reference to it in his speech at my wedding. I like my things being straight, tidy, in order etc. and this has made me the target for many a joke with my friends in the past. Unfortunately it is no joke for me. What seems like the perfect condition to have is in fact horrendous to live with.
For me, it all started at the age of 9. I lost my grandad and didn’t realise how hard this had hit me until later on in life. Obviously I was very upset as anyone would but this triggered my OCD into action. Without knowing I started picking up little traits. Making sure my bedroom was tidy, putting my CD’s in order and making sure the digital clock in my room was on a certain time before I could allow myself to go to sleep.
When I left school I became a carpenter like my Dad and just like my Dad I was a complete perfectionist with the job I did. This was great in some ways as the standard of my work was always very high but bad in other ways as I was never happy with what I had done. I always felt that things were never quite right in my eyes. There would be more and more little rituals that would sneak their way into my daily routine from making sure the petrol pump landed on a favorable number (so much so that I ended up spilling petrol all over the forecourt on more than one occasion when I missed that ‘perfect’ number and had to keep going to the next) to making sure all of the money in my wallet was in order and facing the right way around.
Since having children my OCD has got progressively worse. I was convinced that if I didn’t do all of my rituals then something really bad will happen to my family or friends. This had got so bad that it had consumed my life. So much so that one evening when I was putting my 7 year old son to bed he asked me if he could turn the landing light out and make sure that both switches we facing up! When I asked “why” he replied “because you do it Daddy”…! It was at that point I realised that I needed to get help.
I was diagnosed in April 2017. I found out that my OCD was extremely high! My score was 121. This meant nothing to me until they told me that anything over 40 on the scale is diagnosed as OCD. I was shocked. Deep down I had always though that I had OCD but I hadn’t realised that it was that bad. The problem was that I had waited for so long before I got help that it had slowly chipped away at me over the years. I found that even the simplest of tasks proved to be a challenge. I had lost all motivation. I used to love running, going to the gym but over time I cancelled my membership and gave up running. This was hard for me as I’d run 7 marathons in the 5 years before and it was something I loved doing but I had just completely lost all motivation. At first I thought I’d just lost my love for running due to the fact that I’d done too much but it turns out that I had anxiety and depression which was linked to the OCD.
I have just completed my course of treatment in March this year which has helped me gain control of my life again. The treatment was tough and I nearly quit twice in the early stages. It was a real rollercoaster with good and bad weeks but I stuck with it. I am so thankful that I did. My OCD score is now closer to the 40 point threshold, my anxiety and depression have also decreased along with this. All in all I feel like a different person. I still do get my OCD tendencies but now I know I have the tools to cope with them.
My motivation has since returned and that coupled with a new positive, clearer way of thinking has meant that I have started running again. I started off with a 2 mile run on New Year’s Day and since then I have gone from strength to strength. So much so that I am now training for a back to back marathon across the South Downs in June. Bearing in mind that I couldn’t get my head around running 5k last year I am now booked to do 52 miles of trail running and I can’t wait.
If I can offer one bit of advice from my experience then it would be to TALK to someone about your problems. Sooner rather than later. No matter how insignificant you may think it is. It will really help. We are so lucky to have so much help available.