Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a mental health difference which can affect any child or adult. It usually starts in early adulthood but can happen during puberty (as it did for me).
People with OCD usually experience frequent obsessive thoughts, which are unpleasant and cause feelings of anxiety, disgust or shame. These thoughts can include deep concerns around home safety, germs and relationships. They can be violent and scary, and they can be difficult to talk about because they do not follow our ethos and we may be worried about what others think about us because of these thoughts. I work with children and young people, so I don’t share about my harmful obsessive OCD as I don’t want anyone to feel unsafe around me.
A compulsion is usually a repetitive behaviour that you feel you need to do to temporarily relieve the unpleasant feelings brought on by the obsessive thought – mine are based around how I move in space – up and down stairs, through doorways and over thresholds, as well as many others. So, if you see me moving it strange ways it is likely that I am not stimming rather engaging in compulsive behaviours.
There are many different subtypes of OCD (too many to mention in one post) but I wanted to share some of the more common ones this #MentalHealthMonth :
- Just right – Everything needs to be ‘just so’, there can be extreme distress around changes or things being out of line, or not in its place.
- Contamination – Fear of germs and getting sick, so they over wash hands and use lots of cleaning agents to keep their house, themselves, their children and / or pets clean.
- Pure O – Pure Obsessional: Obsessive but very little (or no) compulsions.
- Harm obsession – Obsessive thoughts about harming yourself or others. Or that you or others may come to harm from certain activities, crossing the road, eating certain foods etc.
- Existential – Obsessively questioning life with compulsions which ‘test’ theories. This can put a person at very real risk of harm as they test the barriers of reality.
- Hoarding – The fear of letting things go, there is also a mental inability to ‘let go’ of passed events.
- False memory – Obsession around certain memories. Shaping and reshaping memories so that they become false. A vicious cycle where you feel stuck trying to play the memory back accurately, to the point where you may create a “false memory.”
- Sexual obsessions – Obsessive thoughts around sex and objects of your sexual affection (this can be linked to relationships obsessions in which a person is exceedingly concerned around the person they are romantically involved with).
You can have one or many of these subtypes and they can change over time, as too can the obsessions and compulsions which come with them.
OCD can be incredibly debilitating, anxiety inducing and depressive making. Even when OCD is at its ebb it is still awful to live with and should not be taken lightly by others.
[ID: a spider diagram with a soft pastel palette. Black text at the centre says OCD subtypes, black arrows from the centre point to circles around in a misshapen circle (from left to right): just right, contamination, pure o, harm obsession, existential, hoarding, false memories, sexual obsessions. These circles have the same information as given above]