OCD and anxiety have affected me for as long as I can remember. They are both linked and when anxious my OCD can get worse, and then my OCD makes me feel even more anxious, it is a vicious circle.
How OCD affects me
OCD wears me out both physically and mentally. It is exhausting having to redo the same things over and over till my brain tells me it is done to a satisfactory result. It affects my bed time routine, often making the time I actually get into bed and fall asleep very late. I can be ready for bed at a more reasonable time, but then I have to recheck things, sometimes making it as far as getting into bed, but then having to get out again. I can sometimes lie in bed and then notice I have not tided something away and then have to get up again to deal with it, despite the fact I know it could have waited untill the morning.
OCD can make me late for things by slowing me down. Having to redo things and double check stuff before I can leave the house means I have to factor in more time to get ready for things or I can be late. Also it often means I over sleep in the morning due to my awful bed time routine keeping me up late.
If I do not get the chance to do something till my brain tells me it is done satisfactorily I can feel uncomfortable. It will play on my mind that I did not complete my routine, sometimes rushing what I am supposed to be fully focusing on to get back to it.
I am aware that sometimes my OCD can make me come across as odd. My OCD is not as bad in public as it used to be, but it can flare up more when stressed. When I go to the toilet I know I can sometimes take longer than normal and do a perfectionist routine which has led to others giving me curious looks.
I have fallen out with people and argued due to my OCD before. I realise it must be almost as frustrating for others close to me to deal with as it is for me. When I lived with my parents I used to argue with them about things around the house that would ‘bother’ me. They would leave something where it did not normally go or rearrange things and I could freak out, getting angry with them over it. The trouble was I did not do this all the time and it could be hard to predict what would trigger me, making it tricky for people around me. I used to argue with my parents and my brother quite often over OCD things. (Since leaving home this has got a lot better as when I visit it is no longer my living space so I do not feel such a need to control it).
How anxiety affects me
Anxiety often makes me over think about things. If something does not go very well I may replay the incident in my mind and worry about what went wrong. Sometimes I only worry about it weeks after it happened, or months or some events still play on my mind from time to time years later.
I like to be in control and often over plan things in great detail. I imagine what will happen and picture the future event like a film in my mind. If it does not go to plan I can get upset and get very anxious, although often I can take smaller changes to plan, but the bigger things throw me. Not only do I plan big events in my mind, but everyday events are sometimes planned out in advance, what I will do that day and in what order.
During major change and stressful events I often feel very anxious. For example after signing the lease for my first flat on my own I felt very on edge most of the two weeks before the actual move. I felt physically unwell with stomach ache, which I often seem to get when I am nervous. I was more easily upset either crying or getting angry at those around me over silly little things. I had visions in my mind of things going wrong and felt like my world could come crashing down on me at any moment. I was unable to function totally alone and had to rely on those around me such as my parents and support staff to get me through this period. Part of me was excited to be moving into my own place and I knew that I would cope with my families help, but I still felt very anxious.
Like OCD, anxiety is mentally draining, I feel tired a lot of the time even if I have not done much physically that day. My mind never seems to stop thinking and it sometimes feels as if it is racing to get all the thoughts out. On my worst days this can give me a headache, but mostly it just makes me feel tired.
I find silence hard to deal with as I can then hear my own negative thoughts too much. I find distraction helpful, doing something that requires a lot of concentration such as crafting, or writing. I also find background noise helps from the radio or TV, although I do prefer a decent programme that can take my mind away from my thoughts, any noise is better than total silence. Although I do like silence when trying to go to sleep last thing at night.
In the past I have suffered with depression, which I am sure is brought on by my anxiety. I end up over thinking everything and feeling so negative that I think there is no point to trying anymore. Depression is the most tiring thing of all, I end up way over sleeping, not dressing, hardly moving except to the bathroom and maybe to sit in front of the TV watching rubbish this that requires very little brain power. My anxiety when at its worst is like a spiral dragging me down, feeding on itself with negative thoughts.
Things that help me
Being organised and tidy with my things helps me feel in control. Having my things in a set place where they live helps me. Also sorting and rearranging is something I enjoy.
Cleaning also helps me feel a sense of control and it is satisfying seeing something look better than it did before.
Writing lists or mind mapping can help me to organise my thoughts somewhat and not feel so overwhelmed when I have a lot to do. For example when I at university I found mind mapping helpful when the work load got heavier in my second year as it showed me how each little task led towards getting the bigger goal done.
Having certain loved ones around and friends helps to not only distract me, but sometimes helps me see the positive things in my life and feel better about myself.
OCD and anxiety are things I would much rather be without, but they do have a few benefits. I am more organised due to my OCD, having the things I need to hand more often than I might otherwise. I plan things out more thoroughly which can be helpful at times. It helps me to be tidy both in my living space, and in my personal appearance. The fact that cleaning is something I find satisfying helps keep me hygienic. I sometimes get things done faster and better thanks to my anxiety as it can play on mind that something needs doing, and I will do it quicker, but I am also anxious of doing a good job, so I am extra careful.
Please understand that I am not always so anxious or OCD and some days are better than others for me. I have learnt to deal with some situations a lot better now, especially in public. I am still trying hard to deal with my anxiety and OCD issues and find that I win the battle with my mind more often than I used to. I think that my life is more stable at the moment which is helping a lot. Also maturity has helped me; I understand myself better now and know more often when my OCD or anxiety is taking over, so can try to take steps to prevent it going too far. When something stressful or upsetting is going on in my life I can fail to stop my anxiety, but it always seems to pass in the end. I hope this blog post does not make others feel worried about doing or saying the right things in front of me. I understand that other people have issues and that sometimes I just have to learn to deal with them.
How OCD and anxiety affects sufferers varies a great deal. However I hope this blog post gives some insight into what it can be like to live with these issues.