• Henry Johnstone

The mistakes you’re making when talking about OCD

I think OCD is massively misunderstood.


It’s become go to slang for being orderly. In reality it’s very different.

It goes like this:


Horrible or anxiety driven and intrusive thoughts create obsessive behavioural patterns, these patterns control the person who has ocd.


It’s like being trapped in a prison, In the past I’d know that the patterns are obsessive but I’d be powerless to stop them. They would become tunnel vision.


In the past I wouldn’t be able to walk past a piece of rubbish on the street. If I did I would have huge anxiety that something horrible would happen to my family.


Very distressing intrusive thoughts and images would just become an inescapable cycle. I would back track and pick the rubbish up. Leading to hoarding of rubbish in my pockets and my room.


Going to get super honest here, I used to bite myself, unable to stop I’d would have holes in my skin, no amount of pain or blood would stop me.


I used to take scissors to my tongue and worse.


This would be my solution to stop the thoughts. In my head this would be the most logical solution to stopping the thoughts.


That’s pretty hard to hide, I became a slave to to the compulsion.

Only exhaustion would stop it.

Then it would start all over again.


In hindsight being an addict probably didn’t help this.


Nowadays I’ve got way more control over it. For anyone who is thinking holy shit! That sounds like me.


You can get to a point where you can recognise the feeling before it’s all about to kick off. I take it minute by minute sometimes second by second where I distract myself. And I check the facts! I challenge the anxiety. I challenge the absurd thoughts.


My medication doesn’t stop the thoughts but it makes them dimmer. Interestingly it’s anti epilepsy medication.


OCD manifests as obsessive behaviours and compulsive actions. You can be obsessed by something, say a song or a film but you are not obsessive about it. You probably don’t have to listen to it for a certain number of minutes before listening to it backwards then eat some paper then listen to the song for a few seconds, because if you don’t something terrible will happen.


And if the ritual is done wrong, the person experiencing untreated OCD has to do it again.


The person who is experiencing OCD gets these thoughts that absolutely will not stop and then feel a compulsion to act out a ritual as a solution to the horrible prison of endless thoughts.


If you look at the being orderly example or the cleaning example, someone who experiences OCD will feel a compulsive need to clean to order things over and over and over again. Unable to concentrate on anything else. Then the anxiety that if they don’t do this something terrible will happen something so so terrible that they are pushed into guilt and fear. Or they will put a cloth in place but then will have to go back time and time again to make sure it’s still there, that it feels right.


And that’s just some of the process.


Nowadays I have it down to kissing my dogs head a set number of times, or putting things back in their place 3 times. Little things.


Small rituals that are barely noticeable to others but I know that if I have these rituals I’ll

Keep the anxiety at a low.


Sometimes there’s a flare up and it gets pretty intense. That’s a bit like being in a blizzard of uncertainty on how my actions will affect the world. A bit like creating an absurd impossible Rube Goldberg contraption of cause and effect that always ends in something terrible happening.


On the most part it’s okay and I don’t think anyone notices.


This kind of education is super important, so that OCD is understood.

Because right now the label is misunderstood

And that devalues the condition.


For those who are really suffering right now. I can tell you categorically that nothing terrible has happened you are okay and the guilt the fear can be challenged, and small rituals can be integrated into your day to day life.


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© HENRY JOHNSTONE

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