A Beautiful Mind: What It’s Really Like Living With Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

'Most of the time, the intrusive thoughts you get are shameful and go against all your beliefs and morals'

I was formally diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) last year. Before that, I had thought I just suffered from anxiety.

I had many rituals as a child. I’d have to go out and wish on a star every night. It had to be the first star I saw and I’d have to wish for everyone to be safe. If I didn’t do it, I would be convinced everyone was in danger.

I’d also make a funny noise in my throat when I was going to sleep. I was sure I wasn’t breathing – the noise was my way of checking. It made me feel safe, but it used to drive my friends crazy when we had sleepovers.

Being a perfectionist, or liking things in a certain order, does not make you OCD. OCD is a mental obsession filled with doubt and fear. You experience intrusive, obsessive thoughts that you have no control over and literally can’t stop thinking. Then come the compulsions – actions you perform to try to stop the obsessions. My compulsions are designed to help me avoid my own thoughts (I often count continuously in my head so I don’t think) or the things that trigger me.

Most of the time, the intrusive thoughts you get are shameful and go against all your beliefs and morals. One of the awful things about OCD is that it attacks the things you love the most. For some people, that may be religion or a relationship. In my case, it’s being a mother.

I remember hearing about a man who had raped a baby on the news. I thought, “Who would do something like that?” But, from there, I had the intrusive thought, “What would happen if I did something like that?” Even though I knew it was something I’d never do, the OCD “what ifs” just wouldn’t go away. I was tor- mented by them and it made me fearful of myself. I began to avoid my eight-year-old son and all other children just in case I was some sort of deviant person.

If I’m having a very bad episode it can take days, sometimes weeks, to get a handle on it. It completely impacts my day because it takes precedence over everything. I am stuck in a living hell I can’t escape – a hell other people can’t see. When I’m having a good day, I’m able to catch the obsession before it starts spiralling.

People with OCD are some of the kindest humans there are. We’re more worried about harming other people than any- thing else, and that overtakes our lives. We do not have any self-confidence because it’s hard to separate yourself from your thoughts. But understanding that you are not your thoughts, and you cannot control them, is the first step to recovery.

For more information on Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) click here.

If you or someone you know needs help, contact Lifeline for 24/7 support on 13 11 14 or visit the website at If it’s an emergency, call 000.


This article originally appeared in the June issue of marie claire  

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