Baz? Yep that’s me – a happy go-lucky bloke (on the inside), lives in London, has lived in Scotland, holds a degree in Psychology, works in social research, and dreams of being a writer.
Problem? Well, I’ve had Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) since about the age of 15. Known that’s what it is since I was 22 years old, after it had gotten so bad over the prior two years that I thought either I was going mad entirely, or that it was all real – this mess and horror in my head were right, real, that the thoughts intruding into my ‘normal’ mind were exactly who and what I was, and that was the way it would always be until, well, I killed myself. This situation had led me to successive doctors appointments (I was actually hoping that they were going to find a blood clot or tumor or something in my brain and have to cut it out) and eventually to a psychiatrist. I explained, with a sense of exhausted hopelessness, the weird, abstract thoughts reducing my conscious existence into a devastated war zone, believing that he’d never get what I’m going on about… Then was taken aback with a stunned relief I cannot nearly explain when he told me ‘oh yes – we know what this is. We can get this sorted out’!
To hear that a professional doctor finally understood what I was experiencing, that it was an actual thing; that something could be done, I could be helped, treated, made to feel better, have my normal thoughts back and be ME again – just that revelation in itself made such a difference before even getting started.
Through frequent psychiatrist appointments and medication, my initial recovery was rapid. In the 20 or so years since then I’ve had a see-saw relationship with this screaming OCD bastard (I’ve heard some fellow sufferers call it the devil; my current CBT therapist and I recently christened it ‘Donald Trump’!) On the whole, I’ve managed it well. Most of the time I’ve felt ok – clean in my mind – able to manage this thing when it lurks in the background. But it has returned, it does return. Usually in what I myself describe as ‘discrete episodes’ that last anything from a couple of weeks to three or four months at a time. These periods are the worst in my life. My mind is no longer clean, but an irradiated, contaminated mess, the screaming thoughts dominating my existence. Through various changes in medication, consultation, counselling, one brief stay in a psychiatric facility, and learned management, these periods pass. Then I feel ecstatic, and can happily return to the normal stresses of everyday life! In the past decade major ‘episodes’ have become fewer, with bigger gaps between – 2, 3 years even.
Well, that’s a great story Baz, thanks for sharing, but… oh, wait, sorry – not finished yet? Going to start a whole blog about all this? Why’s that then? Well, stay tuned for the next thrilling installment to find out – why, in fact I never wanted to write a blog about my mental health, and why, I feel, writing a blog about my mental health is actually quite important.