As Rose says she feels she can never be totally free from OCD but has learned to manage it.
Personal stories of OCD help to analyze why we develop this disorder and how we can overcome it.
Rose is a mental health advocate, Made of Millions cofounder, creative director, screenwriter, and the author of Pure, a memoir turned Channel 4 TV show. Her 2013 article titled Pure OCD: A Rude Awakening helped launch lesser-known manifestations of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder into the mainstream.
My OCD is germ contamination thatstarted 38 years ago but was diagnosed in1992.
In the beginning, I started to adopt unusual habits I did not understand what it was or why I was doing it other than I had to release the impulsive urge otherwise it would torment me. There was no internet back then so could not google it.
Looking back now my mother had similar traits but not as bad as me and some were a little different.
When I tried telling my mother in her later years she was in complete denial. My father was not happy because he did not know what OCD was and did not like me whipping out Dettol Surface Spray every five minutes and simply thought I had a screw loose.
What is OCD
OCD is a common debilitating condition affecting individuals from childhood through adult life. There is good evidence of genetic contribution to its etiology, but environmental risk factors also are likely to be involved. The condition probably has a complex pattern of inheritance. Molecular studies have identified several potentially relevant genes, but much additional research is needed to establish definitive causes of the condition. Genetics of OCD – PMC (nih.gov)
My mother had OCD, for example, when we came home from school my mother would make us stand in a small area in the kitchen to take our shoes off, we would then have to go upstairs immediately and stand on a newspaper to take our uniform off and get changed.
My mother had a habit of checking the soles of our shoes or even guest shoes as no one could come into the house without taking them off in the corridor. I reckon if anyone caught her doing what she did they would be mortified.
All grocery shopping would have to be washed with detergent before it could go in the cupboards. Obviously, some foods such as bakeries would have the outer packaging wiped with a dishcloth.
My mother had problems with newspapers and mail (just like me), she was careful how she opened them, everything had to be in a certain place and could not be touched unless it was in a certain area of the house and we would have to discard the outer envelopes and wash our hands.
My father’s jacket would always be inspected for dirt, especially on the hem and sleeves after he hung it up. I think her OCD put a strain on their marriage, although I think they had problems way before she developed the disorder which I believe was a direct consequence of how my father treated her.
Ongoing studies point to a genetic defect in the way the front area of the brain communicates with deeper areas. These deeper structures use serotonin, a chemical messenger. Images of the brain in some people with OCD show that these defective communication circuits work more normally with serotonin-based medications or cognitive behavior therapy. OCD Causes: Is OCD Genetic, Hereditary? | HealthyPlace
The start of my OCD symptoms.
I was 21 when I started to develop OCD traits, it was whilst I was in a relationship with someone who took advantage of his position in a Bank he worked in, and any attractive-looking female customers he would look for their names, addresses, and phone numbers up and phone them to ask them out for dates (obviously this would never be allowed to happen now because of GDPR but as I got more suspicious that he was playing away I phoned the numbers that he would leave lying around and the women would confirm that they went out with him. It is amazing no one reported him because he is now a regional bank manager thanks to me finding the job in a job center and applying on his behalf somewhat 38 years ago.
The straw that broke the camel’s back.
I think the straw that broke the camel’s back was when out of the blue with no notice at all he said it was over between us. To be honest I was madly in love with him (he looked like a young version of Tom Cruise a spitting image of Top Gun Movie 1 and now looks more like David Cameron MP (Yes I have looked him up and blocked him). I would have taken a bullet for him (my ex not the MP), regardless of what he did.
In my heart, I forgave him as long as we would stay together, but pressure from his parents especially his mother did not approve of me as the daughter of a working-class immigrant who wanted her precious son to have a more upper-class suitor. His sister was also never a fan because it was her boyfriend that arranged a blind date that got us together and at the last minute bailed only to ask her brother to take his place. I was not aware of how much grief this would cause, and I would have been pissed if the roles were reversed and it happened to me, so did not blame her for being angry. She ended up breaking up with her boyfriend after that.
I knew at heart of hearts there was something very seriously wrong in our relationship (with my ex) and that he was a player. I started to wash my hands and body in ‘Dettol Antiseptic Disinfectant’ liquid, which either would be undiluted on my hands or mixed in my shower gels and shampoos because I believed I wanted to wash the other women’s scent off me when he was intimate with me.
To this day I will only use Dettol Brand, I use it when I bathe and also when I wash my clothes. It cannot be any other brand other than Dettol.
I think what escalated my OCD was when I found out he was visiting brothels and he caught an STD, by that time we were not having sex but the thought of him having crabs grossed me out. It’s a long story about how I found out and it will be in my autobiography when I publish it.
I then started to be very vigilant about my surroundings, I started to have the shower curtain outside the bath, which would cause the floor to get wet and also get him angry, which in turn caused arguments. I could not stand the shower curtain clinging to me as I was showering and to this day I have not changed this habit. I now have a glass folding door fitted in my own bathroom.
After we broke up I think I must have had a nervous breakdown. I thought my life was over and I so desperately wanted him back, I realized why he no longer wanted to be with me because he met someone that worked at the bank (I believe everything happens for a reason, had I not found him that job, things would have maybe turned out differently) but looking at it now he did me a favor. I then decided to move away so that I would never bump into him again. I have since blocked him on all social media so if he was ever to look me up he would never have a hope in hell of ever speaking to me.
Coping with OCD over the years.
Over the years and depending on what was going on in my life I have good days and bad days but I learned to cope and adapt.
I did keep my OCD hidden for many years as I was very embarrassed to admit there was something wrong with me.
It was when people in public places bumped into me (busy towns) I started to have an issue with social connection. When using public transport I hated people sitting next to me. It got to the stage I would avoid buses altogether and it really rattled me when someone would push past me or if they bumped into me (say sorry) my argument would be if I was a car and there was a collision they would be doing more than apologizing.
I would find it hard to go to restaurants and cafes and have my own set of cutlery. I became vigilant about how the server served the drinks and how close to the rim of the glass their fingers would be. I ended up drinking from straws. I have been known to clean the seat before sitting down, this would get people to give me funny looks. Imagine sitting on a seat where the previous person has sat who may have tram lines in his or her undergarments.
My OCD is germ contamination. My impulse is not to touch unsanitized objects and my compulsion is to clean and disinfect whatever I am in contact with.
I have now opted out of socializing, it’s embarrassing to wear latex gloves in public. There is a stigma attached to people that behave differently from the rest of the batteries in the matrix. The chances of being judged or ridiculed are too much for me to bear.
I prefer to live behind a computer screen than interact with the outside world.
Don’t get me wrong I would venture out if I had to, but try to avoid it as much as possible. I would take extra precautionary measures and try to overcome my anxiety.
I have all my groceries, prescriptions and shopping delivered. There is nothing I cannot do but it all has to be done online. All statements and invoices are online.
I also have a problem with flies (fruit flies in particular) but flies in general that sits on dog poo and then sit on your surfaces really turn my stomach. In the summer months, I am armed with fly spray by the dozen.
My compulsions, I do try and fight as much as I can, say, for instance, if I have touched something by accident, I will go and change my clothes. However, there have been instances where I have not been able to sanitize expensive things and have had to through them away. I remember when my daughter was little and she stepped in dog poo, I ended up throwing out her shoes.
I cannot share my bath with anyone else other than my daughter. I cannot let anyone touch anything that belongs to me such as a laptop, books, or that kind of thing.
I cannot have someone sit next to me or touch me. Even my daughter’s cat knows not to jump on my seating area, although if he has brushed himself by accident against me I immediately have to take my leggings off to be washed.
I go through about 1000 pairs of gloves per month and use two bottles of 750 ml antiseptic disinfectant a week. I spent about £800 on this alone last year (I know this from doing my tax return).
The more stressed I am the worse my OCD gets. If people put pressure on me and cause me stress and anxiety the more it flares up.
Reminders of the trauma and grief I endured
My Personal Belonging Being Touched
Being Touched (Hugs)
Dog Poo (cat poo or bird poo is not so bad, it is dog poo that is a trigger for me)
Animal Hair (especially dog hair)
Shaking Hands (how many people actually wash their hands when they go to the toilet)
Sharing Plates of Food
Public Places that are not sanitized
Half-finished projects or errors that need correcting (I cannot leave an error for another day I have to correct it there and then)
Keeping grief hidden can be a survival strategy after suffering a bereavement. New research shows that the social disconnection caused by concealing feelings of loss can increase psychological distress.
Social Disconnection is not always about OCD it could relate to other psychological distress disorders.
Every person on this planet will endure grief at some point in their lives. It will depend on how they cope which will determine the final outcome.
I find that scripting in a journal helps (I do it online but you can do it in a book, it’s down to personal preference at the end of the day) to get whatever off my chest. I have also tried meditation and hypnosis and you need to stick to it and do it religiously for it to work.
I have tried psychotherapy and CBT therapy and it only works in the short term. Speaking to shrink every week having to talk about the things you would rather forget is counterproductive. As for CBT, it is a therapy to change your thought process and resist the urge of the compulsion, the only way this kind of therapy works is under hypnosis which the NHS does not provide, and if you try and do it yourself you have to religiously work at it (miracles do not happen overnight).
I have self-hypnotized myself successfully although it is short-lived because I have to do it every day or a few times a week, in which I do not have the time for, considering I am working all day I am too tired and just want to go to sleep.
I also take prescribed medication, not that it helps my OCD in fact all it does is help me fall asleep. I would not mind doing clinical trials of magic mushrooms (Psilocybin) which I have heard can help sufferers with OCD. It is illegal to harvest or use them, without medical supervision. They are considered Class A drugs.
I keep myself busy and I am constantly learning about my disease so that I can not only help myself but help others like me.
I try to resist my urges as much as I can.
I am very vigilant about germ awareness and cross-contamination.
Motivating & Empowering & Advocate of OCD
I am an advocate for people with OCD. This is one of the reasons why I built this site to help people not only with mental but physical disabilities.
My daughter has Multiple Sclerosisand there are certain things she finds difficult to do so I arrange her appointments and respond to her every whim at least five hours a day. I am her personal assistant and care for her needs. I support her not only as her mother but also as her carer. Just because I have OCD does not stop me from doing things inside my home, with PPE. I can help her with getting in and out of the bath, just like any nurse wearing PPE clothing, such as disposable gloves and disposable hygiene coats. I can also cook and clean for her and help with anything she needs. Because of her immunosuppression, it is an added bonus that I keep our home sanitized and germ-free.
She is the assistant editor of this site. She suffers from excruciating pain which is one of the symptoms of (MS). and she is on the highest dosage of medication possible to be prescribed on a monthly basis.
In fact, altered functional connectivity between the cerebellum and cerebral networks involved in cognitive-affective processing in patients with OCD provides further evidence for the involvement of the cerebellum in the pathophysiology of OCD & MS and is consistent with impairment in executive control and emotion.
My daughter has a problem with symmetry and even numbers.
Just because you have a disability you still can strive to follow your dream even though you may have limitations there is usually a solution to every problem and you can overcome obstacles. There is nothing you cannot do if you put your mind to it.
Many neurodevelopmental conditions can often co-exist together, although can be treated in different ways.
OCD rears its ugly head when you find it difficult to cope with life, OCD can be the onset of trauma and grief.
Stress, Anxiety, and everyday struggles can cause your OCD to get worse especially when people try to undermine, humiliate, and judge you. Try to not let anything get to you and if you want your own space to write your own personal story, just drop me a line below and I will create a landing page, free of charge. Whatever your disability may be mental or physical you can write to your heart’s content about yourself and your daily struggles. People love reading stories they can relate to.
Since coming out as an OCD sufferer I have been made to feel as if I am bonkers by Personal Independence Payments (PIP). They have made me feel like I have no authority to speak on disabilities even though I am the Editor of this website and have a Diploma in OCD hypnotherapy. I do not practice hypnotherapy and only took the course to help me. As I mentioned previously for hypnotherapy to work it is a process that has to be done religiously on a regular basis. You cannot just hypnotize yourself in one session and expect miracles.
Whilst practicing hypnosis I have got myself into a very relaxed state.
It has helped me to a certain degree to resist my compulsions but has not eradicated my germ contamination obsession problem.
Furthermore, another day comes with more added stress and anxiety and I feel all my hard work has been a waste of time whereby I have just gone back to square one. I really should practice hypnotherapy every day for it to make some difference, yet never seem to find the time. My business comes first, as that is what pays the bills and brings food to the table.
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