So called because it’s solely mental, OCD is a mental illness and this is it in it’s simplest, mental form. There is some debate in the mental health community as to whether we should still call it Pure ‘O’, because it suggests those that suffer are superior to the other forms of OCD. I can tell you now, we do not feel superior.
Pure ‘O’ is the name given to Rumination OCD, in it’s simplest form sufferers like me argue, debate, play games, disprove and wrestle with our thoughts. I remember vividly the first thought that would lead me to being diagnosed, I was 21, had not long completed my degree and I was sat at a family friends. We were chatting away and I looked at my then 12 year old sister, she was wearing a simple vest and as people do I looked her up and down. One word, ‘paedophile’ entered my head, that was it, one word would lead to years of mental torture, alcohol abuse, sleeping tablet abuse, anti-depressants, therapy, depression and anxiety.
My head was agog, why was I looking at my sister and calling myself a paedophile? What did that mean? Was I one? I started to panic, fret, that’s the first time I mentally checked for signs of arousal, my body reacted, my mind interpreted, evidence, match point paedophile. That’s also the first night I lay awake all night looking for distraction, I read, watched TV, talked, I couldn’t make sense of it, I Googled, every interaction I could think of with children I analysed, had I done anything inappropriate? Could I be sure? Could I be certain?
Certain is a word I would become very familiar with.
The hours dripped into days, agony, I began to play numbers games, would lay in front of the TV distracted, most achingly, I’d avoid my sister. I loved her so much, we’re so similar, the same stupid sense of humour, she was my background, my passwords. Now she was a trigger to be avoided, I would avoid being alone with her, if we went anywhere alone I would go the ‘safe’ routes, didn’t want to go the dangerous ways, I would put her at risk of me losing control. If I was around any children, I would ensure I wasn’t alone, wouldn’t touch them, I needed to keep them safe from me, my mind convincing me I was a monster. I would avoid intimacy, I didn’t want to think of children during those times, I became a shell, hidden. As on the outside I looked and sounded the same, all of the avoidance and behaviour disguised.
It was nearly a year before I went to the doctors, I’d only spoke to my then boyfriend about my thoughts, they were coded, I kept the true detail quiet.
I was lucky at the time, the doctor was wonderful, understanding and told me immediately that it sounded like OCD.
Confused, OCD is just being a perfectionist surely? Those people that like everything a certain way, Doctor must not know what she’s talking about, but thankfully she did. I completed my first questionnaire, I would complete many of these, they ask you to rate things. How frequently in the last day, week, have you felt distressed by thoughts you could not control, how often have you checked something, how often have you had thoughts that you might harm someone? The ratings give you a score for certain types of OCD, I scored highly for neutralising, obsessions and doubting. I had OCD. I was referred to a therapist and started on medication and so began my journey, or I thought it had just begun then.