Where Is My Mind?

Well I’ve finally done it. Set up a blogging site and started to write my first post. I was beginning to think I’d never see the day – I am a terrible procrastinator. It’s difficult to figure out where to start and what to put in a post like this. So I thought a potted history of me and a blueprint for where I’m going would be good. Here goes…

I was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder at the age of 27, having already spent many years living with the anxiety disorder and managing it (for the most part) most of that time. I’ve had the hallmarks of the condition for as long as I can remember; obsessive thoughts which cause me great anxiety, followed by the compulsive behaviours I carry out to bring some temporary relief. For much of my teenage years it had been there, but I didn’t know it was an actual known disorder; that I was pretty much textbook. I think the first I heard of the condition was by watching the American TV show β€˜Monk’ about a private detective with OCD. It was a joke amongst friends that I was on Monk’s wavelength, sharing some of his quirks. In my university accommodation, I was known for unplugging the kettle when it wasn’t in use, much to the amusement/rage of flat mates (dependent on how caffeine deprived they were at any given moment). Friends would watch in fascination as I attempted to chop raw chicken wearing kitchen gloves, whilst wielding tongs and a knife. These things were seen as a bit OTT, but more like personality quirks rather than a full-blown mental health condition requiring therapy and/or medication. I brushed it off as something of a joke, until one day I had to leave work almost the very moment I’d arrived, in order to make the 20 minute bus journey back home to check I’d locked the front door. I knew then that it wasn’t funny and I couldn’t play it off as a joke.


Around the same time, I experienced my first bout of depression. I attended counselling and the doctor offered me medication, which I refused as I was fearful it would turn me in to some kind of zombie. I was determined to pull myself out of what I thought was just a rut of feeling sorry for myself (in denial of a possible chemical imbalance in my brain, playing havoc with my serotonin levels). I tried to forget the feelings of helplessness and despair. That has never really worked. Throughout my twenties I lived with the same thought and behaviour patterns, but still never really believed I had what my favourite TV detective had. Because I wasn’t on the same scale. I could manage through day-to-day. And I could not solve multiple crimes with my photographic memory. It’s a blessing and a curse.

But then suddenly I couldn’t manage day-to-day. Ironically, I found this out as I trained to be a mental health nurse. Turns out it wasn’t the ideal job for me – the stress and worry of being responsible for the wellbeing of so many was too much for me. I dropped out of my course and went to the doctor with my symptoms. At the time, I was so bad I couldn’t go shopping for fear of having put items in my bag without realising it, and I couldn’t drive for fear of having knocked someone over without noticing. I’d have to repeat my journey so I’d know I hadn’t hit anyone and left them for dead. I was exhausted, tearful, and terrified most of the time. Luckily I had an excellent GP who diagnosed me for the very first time as having OCD. She said it very gently. The relief of having a doctor confirm my diagnosis was overwhelming. I cried because I finally felt someone understood that I wasn’t playing, this wasn’t a game or a joke. I wasn’t ‘a bit OCD’ in hilarious hipster fashion, I was proper OCD and in need of medical help for it. I signed up for medication and cognitive behavioural therapy. I was blessed to have the love and support of the family and friends I felt ready to tell. I was on the road to recovery.

So the last few years have been a trial & error experiment in how to live well with it. I’ve had set backs and relapses. I am constantly battling to dominate that part of my brain which thinks it’s ok to count to 5 checking the door (5 times), then turn around halfway down the drive (or across town) and check it a further 5 times for good measure. But the funny thing is, most people have no idea I draw these battle lines daily. For many of my friends and family, the first they’ll know of it is this blog. OCD can be a very secretive illness, and I admit I have tended to keep it to myself. But no more. I am OCD and unashamed. I am no longer going to feel embarrassed of it, because if I can’t say I have OCD out loud, then how on earth do I expect to feel normal about it? And more importantly, how am I going to WIN it?! And this is where my little blog comes in. I’m going to use it to talk about how I’m doing OCD-wise, depression-wise, anxiety-wise, and what I’m doing about those slippery little suckers. I hope other people will tell me how they are getting on and what tricks they use to keep the clouds at bay. Ok, I’ll start (but feel free to join in at the comments section below). Just now I’m taking medication daily and trying to use some small exposure therapy techniques to help some of my OCD thought patterns. I’m planning on taking some light exercise, in the form of training for next year’s London marathon. I am looking at how I can eat better to improve my physical and mental wellbeing. And I’m giving myself a good talking to about getting more early nights (she says, typing this at 10.10pm on a school night). I’m doing all these things because I want to be a strong mum for The Munchkin, so he will look up to me and be proud of me. And I want him to know that these battles can, and will, be overcome. In the next post, I’ll talk about how my mental health was affected postnatally and how this has eventually resulted in this here blog. So until the next time…


7 thoughts on “Where Is My Mind?

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  1. This was a very inspiring read! While I don’t suffer with OCD (just anxiety and depression as far as I am aware) it was to read that one of your favourite characters has the same issues you do – the media often gets a lot of flack for portraying mental illness in a bad light so I am pleased to hear how it actually played a part in helping you get your diagnosis.

    As a first post you show a lot of promise as a writer. Your brutal honesty, combined with your refusal to be ashamed of your illness is both admirable and refreshing. Dealing with any mental illness can be a debilitating experience, so it is good to see that you have risen above those feelings to tackle your problem head on

    I hope you enjoy your writing and your time here. You’ll find that this community is a compassionate and friendly one who are always willing to help where they can. I look forward to your next post! πŸ™‚


    1. Thank you so much for your comment depressionistheenemy. I worry (naturally!) about my writing style and how honest to be, so it is great to hear you enjoyed reading this post. I am hoping to keep motivated and posting, it has been a good first experience of blogging and I’m really keen to continue. Thanks again for your support 😊


  2. This is a really inspiring read. I think there is an element of liberation in saying openly I have this challenge and part of my management strategy is to be open – that way there is one less thing to get tied up about. I was diagnosed with severe clinical depression in 2008 and I am certain that I can attribute much of my reconciliation and acceptance of my illness to being able to say ‘I am very ill and my illness is part of who I am.’ I am way better but live with the knowledge that I must be mindful in its true sense. So well done, this is brave. My daughter Gill Brown flagged up your blog and I wanted you to know how much I admire your courage.
    Kate Brown


    1. Hi Kate, thank you so much for reading and for your kind words. I totally agree with you about the liberation that openness brings, and it is great to hear that it is something which is helping you stay well now too. Never has a truer word been spoken, than your comment about the ongoing necessity of mindfulness. I hadn’t thought about my blog in that sense, but I suppose that is exactly what I’m doing without really realising it. So hopefully I can keep it up! Gill was in touch too, and I really appreciate the support from you both. Thank you, and I hope you’ll keep reading 😊


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