Anxiety, depression and OCD | My Story


I have been pretty honest about my struggles with mental health in the past, particularly on this blog, however what I'm about to share is probably the most important but most difficult post I will ever write.

I never thought my current battle would be something I’d speak publicly about. This was originally supposed to be an academic style report for my eyes only, an exercise my therapist suggested I try, designed to aid my recovery and curb my compulsions (more on that later). But the more I thought about it, the more it made sense to share this part of my life. Because if I’d stumbled across a post like this on someone else’s blog, or an article online or even a tweet or Facebook post when I was at my worst, it may have been the light at the end of the tunnel I desperately needed. 

So, here it goes…

Hi, my name’s Suzy and I suffer from anxiety, depression and OCD.

Heavy stuff for a Tuesday night, right?

To some, especially the friends I’ve made over the past year or so, this may come as a complete surprise, to others it’s something we’ve learned to deal with for a while now. I say “we” because when you suffer from a mental illness, or three, it doesn’t just affect you. It affects the people closest to you just as much, and we have to learn how to cope with it together.

My OCD takes the form of intrusive thoughts, which is when you have involuntary obsessional thoughts that cause you severe anxiety and distress. Intrusive thoughts can cover a whole spectrum of subjects, the most popular being sexual thoughts, violent thoughts, relationship thoughts, magical thinking and religious beliefs. If you are interested, a more in-depth definition of intrusive thoughts, including examples of the sub-categories I've just listed, can be found here.

Before I was diagnosed, I was completely ignorant to what OCD actually was. Like most, I presumed it was when people repeatedly washed their hands and liked to have their belongings in a specific order. I had no idea about the world of intrusive thoughts and the debilitating effect OCD has on the suffer’s life.

I had to give up my budding career in PR as the strain of the job was one of the main contributions to the decline of my mental health. During my notice period, I was signed off work after visiting my GP to discuss my issues. In hindsight, I wasn’t 100% honest with him in terms of voicing exactly what I was going through, but said enough for him to offer me anti depressants and a referral to a mental health clinic. 

The time I took off work was horrendous. I spent the majority of my days in bed, or screaming into my pillow just so I could hear anything other than the repetitive thoughts in my head. I cried so much that I couldn't breath, let alone speak to anyone or eat anything, and the simple task of walking downstairs to get a cup of tea would drain the little energy I had left and set me back an hour’s nap. My thoughts were so loud and intense and rapid and there wasn't a second of the day my brain wasn't in overdrive. My mind was so consumed with distressing thoughts, I struggled to remember what it was like to think like a “normal person”. I was obsessively googling my symptoms and continuously fighting with my brain to try and “neutralise” my thoughts. It was relentless and exhausting and I couldn’t see a way out.

***

Suicide is a concept I never quite understood. I couldn't fathom how someone could be suffering so much, that the only way they saw to end their pain was to end their life.

Suicide is a concept I never quite understood until now. This was the first time in my life I could genuinely understand what could drive someone to commit suicide, because it was the first time in my life that I thought about doing it myself. 

***

The clinic had a four week waiting list, but I knew I couldn't wait that long. Fortunately I had the means to go private, and was lucky enough to get an appointment with a psychologist and CBT specialist within a day. This is hands down what saved me and changed my life for the better.

Finding out I had OCD was a relief. I wasn’t crazy - what was going on inside my head was a result of a mental illness. And although it cannot be completely cured, I am learning how to manage it so it doesn’t control me. The techniques I have learned in my CBT sessions have been invaluable to my recovery. There was once a time I couldn’t get out of bed in the morning, I could see no hope for my future and didn't want to be here. Now, I am in a much better place - living, instead of just existing. I take tablets to control my anxiety and I’m implementing techniques I’ve learned in therapy to help with my depression. A combination of cognitive restructuring and mindfulness is helping me tackle my OCD and I am finally in a place where my mental illness’ seem manageable - something I carry alongside me rather than something that has a hold on me. I've settled wonderfully into a new job and I finally feel like I'm getting my spark back. 

I will always have good days and bad days, but something that really helps is knowing I’m not alone. It is estimated that over 700,000 people are suffering from OCD in the UK and nearly a fifth of adults in the UK experience anxiety or depression.


To anyone reading this who may be suffering, I cannot urge you enough to seek help. The pain may be strong but so are you, and there isn’t a battle you can’t fight. You just gotta take it one day at a time…

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4 comments

  1. This was such a well written post. As someone who suffers with OCD, anxiety and depression I related so so much to your story. And that's what's great about blogging as sharing mental health stories is so therepeutic, don't you think? Well done for being brave. I know blogging about my struggles has helped me.

    Have a great evening,
    Liam :)

    liamjhavard.com

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    1. Thank you so much Liam, I'm glad you enjoyed the read and can relate. Absolutely, it's like a huge weight off my shoulders!

      Take care,
      Suzy x

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  2. Oh, love. What a brave and honest post. I'm so glad you were able to get the help you needed and it sounds like the change of pace has been a really smart call for getting your mental health going in the right direction.

    I really loved meeting you yesterday, you seem like an absolute doll and if I can help be a sounding board at any time just let me know.

    Lis / last year's girl x

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    1. Thank you so much Lisa - that's so kind!

      It was great to meet you too, and hopefully we'll see each other again soon x

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