The illogical thoughts involved in OCD
(NB: I don’t actually take meth…)
My two main purposes for writing this blog are to help OCDers feel less alone, and to shed some light on the taboo side of OCD, which is rarely discussed in casual settings. I’m going to keep this post relatively short and sweet – I just want to outline a single symptom of OCD that is often overlooked within mainstream culture. As I’ve mentioned before, many people assume that having OCD means we just like things to be neat, tidy and clean. In actual fact, for me personally, OCD has at times convinced me that I was losing my sanity entirely and that I should commit myself to a psychiatric ward. It has made me doubt myself in ways I’d never imagined, and soon my quadruple-checks of locked doors and light switches became perhaps even more illogical.
Let me set the scene for you. I’m on my morning commute to cheltenham. It’s 2016. The air is crisp and fresh and it feels like it should be a carefree, easygoing autumn day. A small child laughs carelessly at the front of the bus. A golden retriever winks at me jovially from the pavement. Queen’s “Don’t stop me now” is lightly bouncing itself around my skull.
“SHE’S FAR TOO HAPPY”, spits my self-sabotaging brain, and stifles my happiness within the space of a millisecond with a sharp, nauseating fear: “What if I’ve left meth on my bed?????”
Now, I just want to unequivocally clear this up; I do not, and have never taken crystal methamphetamine. I’m more of a whiskey and Diet Coke on a friday / tea on the weekdays kinda gal. My brain had just lied to me… literally sabotaged my positive mood to ensure that I plummeted into fight or flight mode on busy public transport. Seriously, my head conjured up the worry that, by some crazy circumstance, I had left crystal meth upon the place that I rest my head at night, and that my unsuspecting family might find it. WHAT METH? WHAT METH COULD POSSIBLY BE ON MY BED IF I’VE NEVER EVEN LAYED EYES ON ANY?
This, my friends, has arguably been one of the worst parts of OCD for me. My brain was fabricating situations that had simply not happened, and no amount of reassurance or “logical thinking” was easing the anxiety that this caused. The hardest part about situations like this, is the fact that it’s impossible to explain to someone who doesn’t have OCD. People understandably can’t comprehend how you can feel as though your brain and you are two separate entities and that your brain is turning against you. (Think Voldemort in the back of Quirrell’s head in the first Harry Potter book… hell yeah I just compared OCD to Voldemort.)
Luckily, OCD hasn’t implanted false memories or worries into my head for a while now, partly because of the CBT I discussed in my last post and partly because of the medication I’m on (I’ll discuss medication in a separate blog post). I thank my lucky stars for this, every single morning, and every single night.
I will be discussing false memories in great depth in future blog posts in terms of specific experiences but for now, I just wanted to introduce this particular symptom, and to gently remind people that OCD runs much deeper than what many people think it does. If you know somebody who has been diagnosed with OCD, perhaps gently show interest in the deeper side of it. Show that you care. Show them that you’re there for them, that they’re not alone, and that you want to help stop the stigma.