Insight into Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

OCD, we all know what that is, it’s the one where you want everything arranged, so you line your pencils up on your table in colour order right?! Um, no actually. It’s sad how many people seem to think that that is what OCD is.

Firstly, let’s just introduce what OCD is. OCD stands for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and as defined by Wikipedia, is “an anxiety disorder characterized by intrusive thoughts that produce uneasiness, apprehension, fear or worry (obsessions), repetitive behaviors aimed at reducing the associated anxiety (compulsions), or a combination of such obsessions and compulsions“.

As you can see from this definition, OCD is a mental condition and not just people being tidy. I know plenty of neat and organised people, but that doesn’t mean that they have OCD.

OCD is characterised by the intense anxiety and sense of foreboding if they do not do certain rituals, or do not do or organise certain things.

What many people don’t realise is that OCD can manifest itself in so many ways, some more unusual than others. Someone who appears very messy could still suffer from OCD, as OCD is different things to different people.

A common OCD area is hygiene. In this case people often wash their hands excessively (often causing bleeding), will wash excessively, and have a phobia of girls and anything dirty. If they don’t do these things (such as washing hands), they feel intensely anxious and sometimes terrified that something bad will happen.

Although that example seems to make sense, many OCD habits aren’t.

For me, my OCD is very strange and select.
There are many things I have to do before bedtime for example, including washing my feet, moving my pillow right up against the wall, switching off my phone and putting it face down on the bedside table, making sure my hair dryer is unplugged etc.
I also have OCD when it comes to school work. All notes a teacher goes through must be written down, neatly too. I cannot ‘leave a gap’ in my workings or in a test to fill out later, which caused a 34% test mark when I couldn’t do the first few questions but also couldn’t move on to ones I knew. (Now I have my tests all as booklets which I fill out to avoid this, and since then my score has gone up to 86%, thank goodness). I must do homework every day, and complete at least one, no matter how busy I am.

Rules. Rules, rules, rules.

You never get a break from them.

Imagine having your mum constantly nagging in your ear 24/7. Now imagine that amplified to an unbearable level. That is what OCD is like.

People are quick to say ‘get a grip’, but of course it isn’t that simple! I try to break OCD habits but it just makes me extremely nervous and on edge, I cannot sit still if I know I haven’t followed one of the ‘rules’.

Another problem with OCD is that it grows and evolves.
It might start out as something really small, a little habit, but before you know it it’s turned into a huge thing, that often leaves you feeling like you can’t function properly. One thing can lead to another, so one habit can multiply to ten before you realise it was an issue.

I used to have only 1 or 2 things I struggled with, such as sitting in the same seat for dinner, but now there are more than I care to count.

So next time someone says “I’m a little bit OCD about my desk”, just ask them this question “do you feel crippling guilt if you don’t do that? Does your mind feel busy and you can’t sit still, do you feel anxious and sick? Does it scare you if you don’t do that? No. Then no, you do not have OCD.”
[obviously some people will have OCD about desks and the suchlike, I am just talking about people who use it as an adjective rather than the potentially serious mental illness it is]

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I hope this helped give some insight into Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and some stereotypes involved. Please feel free to leave any feedback, I love to know if I’ve helped or if something was useful or not so that I can continue raising awareness of mental health in the best way possible.

Thanks for reading.

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Why evolution/ human nature is no reason not to accept transgenders

I read an article earlier today about how we should not be accepting transgender, but instead ‘help’ them as it is a ‘mental disorder’.
I, however, do not agree.

The article stated that transgender was a mutation and made no sense/ was not naturally human in other words. However they accepted gay/ lesbian relationships.

Let’s get things straight, none of transgender, gay, lesbian, bio sexual, asexual etc. is problem or thing that needs fixing.

Humans have been around for thousands of years, of course we are going to be different. It is likely almost all of us have mutations of one form or another; in fact mutations that are beneficial or not a problem often become part of who we are as humans. We are a species, and like any other we are developing.

Now I understand that originally the key purpose of human (and most animal) life is to reproduce, and therefore being attracted to the same sex is illogical fitting that theory.
BUT as humans have evolved to be a highly intelligent and thriving race, we no longer have this instinctive need to reproduce, or at least not as strong as perhaps it once was. Therefore it cannot possibly be a problem or issue that needs revolving, as relationships are no longer purely based on the idea of having children. Many couples, opposite sex or same, have no wishes for children at all. And if a same sex couple wants to have children, there are ways they can such as adoption.

Transgender is no different. It may not have made sense when humans first evolved, but in today’s modern society there are many factors that could effect this, and at the end of the day it is their life and their choice, the least we can do is accept it.
Their choices in life are none of our business and as long as they are happy and feel that they belong in their bodies, then that should never be an issue to us or anyone else.

Whether you agree with transgender or other sexual preferences or not, the least you can do is accept other people for who they are; not everyone is the same as you and we are all entitled to our own views.

I hope this made sense and I’d really appreciate any feedback.

The link to the referenced post is here, but please be respectful because although I disagree, they are entitled to their own views and should not get penalised for that.

Hope you enjoyed this post. Feel free to click read more to read the original article at the end of this post.

Thanks for reading.

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Small things can have a big impact

I don’t know about anyone else, but I, personally, am an emotional wreck.

When something really small happens, it can have such a huge impact on me it’s ridiculous. Especially when it’s something that links to my key areas of insecurity..

A few days ago one of my teachers got really angry at me and another girl for a joke (evidently not a funny one) hiding under a desk, and as a result I was crying for hours. The bad thing is I’m not even exaggerating; it triggered suicidal thoughts, never eating again, self harm.. You get the picture. And for what? One teacher getting annoyed at me? Ridiculous right?

Well the truth is that one of my main issues is that all I want to do is make others happy, even if it is at the expense of myself. I’ve had a really hard time with friendships from the age of around 6, where I had a friend who wouldn’t let me join any clubs or talk to anyone else, and used to dig her nails into the back of my neck and arms. I couldn’t stand up to her so felt useless even from the age of 6. I was so young, I should have been enjoying myself but instead I was worrying about being a bad person.

Anyway, I digress. Essentially, if I upset someone it seems like the end of the world, because if that is the one thing that really matters to me and I can’t even get that right, then surely I can’t do anything right? And if I’m only making others miserable then I’m just being selfish being here. That’s what I think.

I don’t know who I am so I don’t know who to act. All I know is that I am deeply insecure and hate myself and all the mistakes I’ve made.. And I guess that’s why pleasing people is so important; because I know that’s something I care about, it is me, even when I’m not sure who ‘me’ is.

I apologise for the randomness of this post, I guess it was more me clearing my head more than anything else really.. But I decided to post it because I think it’s really important that people understand how others think.

If we understood each other better maybe we’d all be more open and confident in ourselves?

I don’t know, it’s a nice thought though.

Thanks for reading.

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Mental Health Awareness Day 2014

Today is Mental Health Awareness Day 2014. It is so, so important to raise awareness, because with awareness comes understanding. With more understanding maybe we’d all be better equity to combat these issues, and beat mental health illnesses once and for all.

Today I thought I’d do a post outlining some key areas people misunderstand about mental health illnesses, to help raise awareness of key misinterpretations and try to inform people what it’s really like.

I hope you find this post informative and helpful; please do like or comment below to let me know what you thought.

There is no such thing as ‘attention seeking’ when it comes to mental health. Surely if you’re ‘making a fuss’ and being ‘attention seeking’ there’s something wrong anyway? Most people in a stable mental state would not feel the need to do that, so instead of it being annoying and ridiculous, isn’t that a form of suffering in itself?

People don’t chose to suffer from mental illnesses, and it is no one’s ‘fault’ if they’re suffering from one. When I first got diagnosed (originally with anorexia nervosa, but later depression, anxiety and OCD), I couldn’t stop blaming myself for what had happened. “I have a wonderful family, and I’m not that unhappy at school. So why am I like this? I’m pathetic” sort of thing. As you can imagine, this only makes you feel worse and more depressed, which isn’t helping anyone.
The truth is, mental health illnesses can come about for a whole range of reasons, and it’s nobody’s fault; not the person suffering or anyone else’s.
No one would ever wish a mental illness upon themselves, so please never think that it is someone’s choice.

Mental health illnesses don’t discriminate against class, gender, sexual orientation, or anything else.
Mental state is individual to you, and even people with the same diagnosis could suffer from almost completely different issues.
E.g. Anorexia for some people is about the intense fear of food, which results in losing weight; whereas other’s is not about the food itself, but about your body and weight.
Therefore please be open minded, and don’t think “well she hasn’t done X or Y so it isn’t a problem or a mental health illness”. Unfortunately it doesn’t work like that; mental health illnesses can be hard to categorise, but that does not mean that they aren’t an issue.

People who suffer with things such as anxiety are not ‘pathetic’. Imagine your worst fear, then imagine having to face it every single day, with everyone else going about their normal day to day business. It would be hard wouldn’t it? You’d want to give up. Well for many, that is how anxiety feels. Don’t be quick to judge others on their fears, they are all equally as real and valid as yours.

Lastly, mental health illnesses are really hard to combat and beat. I myself have been in recovery since May 2013, and over a year later I am still very much struggling and trying to overcome my demons. Yes, in some aspects I am better, but it many I am not. I have a long way to go and it’s going to take a while. Recovery isn’t a straight line, some days will be better than others, and some people take longer to recover than others. And that’s ok. The most important thing to bear in mind is that as long as the sufferer is trying their hardest, that is the most you could ever ask for. Please be patient with those struggling, and please, please don’t give up on them. When I was at my worst I have up on myself, and if it weren’t for others faith in me I might not be here today.

I hope this article was thought provoking and raises awareness.

Thanks for reading.

Why we mustn’t ignore difficult memories

The past, the present and the future can all be demons that sit waiting to attack. The present may seem awful, the future hopeless, but personally it is the past I find hardest to come to terms with.

Our brains are funny things. We have different systems of storing memories even within our short term and long term memories (I’m lucky enough to study Psychology A-level so I know even more details on this topic). This means that memories are not pure; often they will have been re-coded into more processable material by the brain, and can be revisited and changed depending on our thoughts around that memory (also known as interruption).

Ok, so we know that the memory is a complicated thing.. Why does that matter?

Because our brains are so vast in capacity and our memory system is so complicated and wonderful, it also unfortunately means that our long term memory potentially lasts forever.

Memories, both bad and good, can stay with you all your life.
That is why it is so important we face our past and let ourselves calmly reflect on it, so that in due time we will think of it less, even if it is still stored deep in our long term memory somewhere.
If we don’t, it will only make the memory more prominent and demanding to be thought about and revisited.

Essentially, although memories can be pushed down and forgotten about for some period of time (also known as repressing memories), one way or another the memory will submerge, often exaggerated by your thoughts and feelings around that memory.

I’m not saying that allowing yourself to think of difficult times isn’t difficult, because it most certainly is; but I think it is important for people to know why it is that some memories just won’t leave no matter how long we ignore them.

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Hope this made sense, and please do comment if this post was helpful, and/or if you’d like me to do more psychology-based posts.