Do i have OCD? Are my experiences typical?
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14 August 2021 at 02:23 #9552CorncobParticipant
Hello, i guess. This is my first time posting here. Forgive me for what will be a VERY long post, but i just feel like since im not officially diagnosed i kinda need to… justify posting here. I feel i must paint a full, proper image of the problem. I am also acutely aware that that feeling in of itself way be an OCD thing. Figures, huh?
I think ive suffered from OCD for a long time; while i dont remember exactly _why_, i remember mulling over the thought of having OCD when i was around 9 years old. I remember when i was stressed out i would neaten things, something i still do now, and i remember going through a period around then when i would obsessively go to the bathroom, over and over and over, although i dont remember why. I also remember a period when i would sorta scrap my bottom front teeth along the back of my top front teeth, over and over and over, to the point that they were sensitive and painful. I think i had a tooth infection that was stressing me out? Again, it was a long time ago and i dont have the best memory at the best of times. Later on, in highschool, there was a time when i thought i had something wrong with my heart, so i would constantly check the pulse in my neck to the point where the vein or nerve or whatever i was squishing was VERY sore to the touch. There was a period when i was obsessed with the idea that my mother was pregnant? She wasnt, but i was worried by the idea of another sibling so i had quite fully convinced myself that she was. I would attempt to sooth this anxiety by trying to surreptitiously poke her stomach (in retrospect, while it made me very anxious at the time, this one was funny). There is undoubtedly other obsessions and compulvise behaviours that i am forgetting.
Near the end of highschool is when things got slightly more confused. The workload of my classes was starting to get me down, and many of my friends either had left, were taking different classes, or just werent good friends. Suddenly one of my only good friends suffered a major medical event and had to leave school, and i was sorta dropped on my head alone. I dont know of i was depressed which made me anxious, or vis versa, but either way by the end of year i wasnt a happy camper. I would regularly worry about my health, convincing myself i was skin cancer or testicular cancer or bowel cancer or any other manner of diseases. While at the time i brushed this off as hypochondria, i now understand then to be obsessions (Maybe they were both? I will get back to this line of though). I used to occasionally worry that i might develop a self-harm habit, or an eating disorder, despite the thought if actually _doing_ these things never crossing my mind. By the time i ended highschool i was quite depressed, and i remember one night i had this single, shattering thought that has stuck with me, in one form or another, for years.
“You are a depressed, 18 year old white male. You might kill yourself if things get worse”.
This was a horrifying thought. I stayed up all night that night, writing a short letter confessing my depression to my mother because i just couldnt bring myself to _say_ it. I didnt mention the thought in the letter, because in my mind it was very clear that i catagorically _didnt_ want to do it. It was merely a dawning fear that it might happen, in a worst-case future. Then after that i was good for a while. I went to uni, made a bunch if new friends. I was happy. But eventually that fear came back. I would feel a little bad, and then worry that i was going to get worse – that i would spiral to a terrifying pit wherein id do something terrible to myself. Then, naturally, i would feel worse and the fear would be irrationally legitimised.
This fear of a far-off, or sometimes very near catastrophic mental health event – a mental health hypochondria if you will – has been my dominant obsession since then. Its changed over the years, expanding from a worry about suicide to generalised bad mental health things, like self harm, harming others, or just falling into good old fashioned madness, the main connective factor being that they represent a hypothetical disastrous endpoint.
This came to a head a few months ago i had a horrible moment while using a craft knife i understood this was a transient intrusive thought and not a true desire, but in that moment, when i was holding that knife, the anxiety was unbearably high. I had to leave the room, but that didnt help. That punch of anxiety had left its mark already. I thoughts ran wild – “This is terrible, your fear has finally come true youve lost it”. I was terrifying, i thought i was witnessing the start of a habit despite having not actually done anything. When i did have them, id get that sickening kick of anxiety again, which only served to confirm the fear.
This was a kind of turning point in my experience. This event left me with a fear that i couldnt trust myself, my own mind. I started obsessing over other things, like would i suddenly be compelled to hurt my dog. I dont _want_ to, but what if i couldnt control it? Again, when youre in that situation, looking at your dog, thinking that awful thought, the anxiety runs so high that you dont even know what youre thinking anymore, all you know is you feel terrible. You can instantly picture the action, almost feel the muscles in you body tense to move, and then the moment passes. You didnt do anything, but in that instantly you convinced yourself that you wanted to because why else would you feel so anxious? By this point id started reaching out for help. My mother suggested OCD, something id suspected before but never properly researched, and i found it fit the bill perfectly. I contacted my GP and they allowed me to try prozac, a medication that i used quite successfully during university (Im about a month and a half in now and frankly im not sure its kicked in yet). Talking helped more than i could imagine, and so has reading this forum, but ive had a dozen obsessions since then. A fear that i might hurt other people, like my family or strangers (interestingly, those anxieties centre almost exclusively around people that wouldnt be able to defend themselves). A fear of jumping off bridges or out of windows. The knowledge of what OCD is, and the fact that these are merely thoughts and not desires, has helped me greatly.
However, the thing ive been dealing with recently has been something i alluded to before – a fear of going mad. The anxiety will start with anything, like a rogue thought just as i fall asleep, or a misheard word, or an afterimage in my eye. Then it builds like a snowball. “Is that blobby after image i saw real or did i imagine it entirely? Was thought rogue thought truly, 100% mine? What would i do if was seeing things or hearing things? Please god say that isnt happening.”
Then i start doing something thats a little hard to describe. Its almost like, once the anxiety is high, i start anticipating something bad happening. I start anticipating seeing things, or hearing things. I react to every unexpected noise or visual with the same “is that real or did i make it up?”, and despite the fact that these stimulants are real virtually every single time part of me will be terrified that ive simply lost my mind, and once again the anxiety that i feel acts as a confirmation. It is a very simple, but a very damaging logical loop. Whats worse is that its hard to overcome this fear because people actually have psychotic breakdowns. People develop schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Its real, it happens, its often unpredictable, and thats terrifying to me.
I know, rationally, that im not mad. I dont hallucinate, and i dont hear voices. But the anxiety related to that thought is so high that my mind just feels scrambled and i dont know what to think. Its terrifying, and its exhausting to even think about, let alone experience.
Ive gotten to the end of this post and im not sure what the point of it was. I think mostly just getting things off my chest, and asking if i really sound like i have OCD. Im very curious if anyone else experienced the same fear of going mad. While i do rationally know it must not just be me, i would make me feel much better to have it confirmed to me. This has been an utterly surreal past few months for me, coming to terms with this condition and how it effects me. Im sure the medication will help me but im scared by the idea that it wont.
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