July 2nd – OCD

Hey folks,

As promised here is the themed post that was originally written for yesterday!

OCD

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is an anxiety-related condition, when a person experiences frequent and unwelcome obsessional thoughts, often followed by repetitive compulsions, impulses or urges.

It affects as many as 12 in 1000 people (1.2% of the population) from young children to adults, regardless of gender or social or cultural background.

It can be so debilitating and disabling that the World Health Organisation has ranked OCD in the top 10 of the most disabling illness of any kind, in terms of lost earnings and diminished quality of life.

It presents itself in many forms and goes way beyond the common perception that its just handwashing.  OCD sufferers experience obsessions which take the form of persistent and uncontrollable thoughts, images, impulses, worries, fears or doubts. They are often intrusive, unwanted, disturbing and significantly interfere with the ability to function on a day to day basis, as they are very difficult to ignore.

People with OCD often realise that the thoughts are irrational, but believe the only way to relieve the anxiety caused by them is to perform compulsive behaviours, often to prevent perceived harm happening to themselves or sometimes a loved one.

Compulsions are repetitive physical behaviours and actions or mental thought rituals that are performed over and over again. In extreme cases, the avoidance of places or situations to prevent triggering the thoughts is also considered a compulsion.

There are 4 main categories of OCD:
-Checking
-Contamination/mental contamination
-Hoarding
-Ruminations/Intrusive thoughts

It is diagnosed when the obsessions and compulsions consume excessive amounts of time (approx 1 hour or more); cause significant distress and anguish; and interfere with daily functioning. It can go undiagnosed for many years due partly to a lack of understanding.

Further information can be found on the OCDUK website.

My experience

My biggest compulsion is to wash my hands/use hand sanitising gels (very stereotypical I know!). But it does cause me significant distress if I’m having a particularly bad day with my anxiety. For example, if I go to the doctors or hospital, or even travel on a bus,  I have to use my hand gel as soon as I leave those places. My biggest fear is germs and getting sick. It links in with a phobia I have called Emetephobia (will explain that another time!) but to put it simply, its a fear of vomiting or being around anyone who vomits.

On particularly bad days, even opening the mail will trigger me and I will have to wash my hands afterwards. Other days I can manage it and almost block it out. The thought doesn’t go away, and I can only delay it, not prevent it. I inevitably end up using my gel or washing my hands, depending on circumstances. 

Tomorrow I’m off to stock up on hand gel ready for starting my new job. The fear of getting ill from the children is often overwhelming. However, I am determined not to let it control me and make this job a success for myself. Its what I’m qualified to do, and I know I can do it. I’ve got to try and have the “If I get sick, I get sick” kind of attitude, although that is often easier said than done! I can but try.

Anyway, that’s all from me for today, so until next time folks……..

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