My obsessions repeat over and over in my mind #NoNormal
Lauren tells us how OCD affects her life, and shares her thoughts on using social media, and being united in our different mental health struggles.
I’m Lauren and I’m 18 years old. I run my own business called The Positive Page and design products aimed to support people who suffer with mental illness and low self esteem. I love design and photography; by running my own business I can combine the two.
We’re all a collection of different experiences
We all feel different ways, and I don’t think anyone needs to strive to be normal as a goal because it doesn’t exist!
OCD is difficult to understand
OCD is a type of anxiety disorder, where someone experiences obsessive thoughts/fears and compulsive behaviours. For me this comes in the form of obsessions such as intrusive thoughts (relationship and sexually intrusive thoughts), fear of causing harm to my loved ones, fear of physical contamination (worrying that I am contaminating people, or that others have contaminated me), and body focused obsessions mostly during the night.
My obsessions repeat over and over
These thoughts try and convince me something about myself is true, or that something I did really happened. These things are all negative, and untrue in reality, but they cause me to feel high levels of guilt, anxiety and disgust. My compulsions include trying to neutralise intrusive thoughts and checking my body for signs of contamination. I constantly seek reassurance for my obsessions, with rituals such as hand washing.
It’s hard to share my obsessional thoughts
They are so personal and affect the things I care most about. It can be difficult to understand OCD, and there should be better awareness about what it is actually like.
I play on my worst fears
It’s a daily battle just to leave the house or to function without engaging with compulsions that are unhealthy for me. My diagnosis affects me on a daily basis. I produce obsessions, and new or old intrusive thoughts which go around in my mind. These can be distressing, and cause a lot of anxiety, especially if they are particularly ‘loud’, it becomes overwhelming. Completing compulsions is mentally exhausting. It stops me from doing things I want to do or enjoy, out of fear that the obsessions will happen, or come true.
There are two sides to technology
The access to information can be empowering, and it’s so easy to get in touch with people. The negative is that people can feel pressure to conform to the state of someone else’s Instagram and feel like they’re missing out. People can feel lonely seeing others hanging out with friends, if they’re not doing the same. I find social media helpful as I follow things that I love and enjoy, and people who inspire me, and remind me that I’m valid. Take the pressure off yourself
Everyone struggles with mental health differently
We can build a united front, where we have lots of people with different experiences together battling for the same thing – to feel happier with their lives, and to manage their mental health effectively. When I first heard someone talk about OCD and raise awareness, I felt relieved that it wasn’t just me that has such horrible, scary thoughts. Being united means I can help others feel less alone.
I used to feel so alone and completely stuck
With the help of social media, mental health awareness and therapy, I now feel hopeful. Finding hope for the future, and something to motivate me to want to succeed for myself rather than other people has changed my outlook. It’s hard to challenge OCD and win, as opposed to it controlling my life.
There will be better days ahead
If anyone else is suffering from OCD, or has poor mental health, I would tell them to reach out. There are hundreds of people who are ready to listen; having social media can make it easier to talk to people. Try and get professional help from your GP.
Updated on 10-Oct-2018
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