A little kid I was, shirt drenched in sweat, trying to adjust the latch just the right way. There was this thought going in my head sparing no other choice than repeating the act in a pre-decided pattern and frequency.
For you, it may be an absurd and irrational thought. But for a 7-year-old kid, these thoughts were harrowing enough to leave him with a disability. When every other kid was busy sucking the marrow out of life, I was busy saving lives.
As a kid, I always thought these thoughts were the reflection of who I am. I always thought why can’t I be as care-free and random as all of my friends. As a kid things were difficult. I had no clue what was happening to me.
How people around me reacted to my OCD?
It was March 24th 2011, India VS Australia Cricket World-Cup, Quarter-Final Match. Everyone was enjoying the match. I was in the other room ensuring the doors were locked, the way I wanted them to be. I was engaged in that act of mine for more than 4 hours. It was the first time my cousins had noticed me doing the compulsion.
My cousins started mocking me, calling out names. Firstly, they termed my thoughts and acts as “Phobias”. Things didn’t stop there; the bullying was getting started. Then, they nicknamed me a “Phobia”. Chanting Phobia, whenever they saw me was nothing less than a torture. I cried when I was alone, thinking they would mock me more if they saw me crying. The humiliation faced in early life ended all the possibilities of sharing my struggle with anyone else.
“There is a dark honesty in the next few paragraphs.”
I grew up with these obsessive thoughts, or I should say, intrusive thoughts. I believed they were the very definition of myself, as a person. But now I am sure, they are the very opposite, and they are who I am not.
I was uncomfortable my whole life sharing what was going on in my head. But now here I am, finally opening up the vault.
My thoughts have always been violent. From the young age of 6, I remember thinking about death. These thoughts are very proficient, because the voice they are spoken in sounds like your own; they are convincing, realistic (to you) and almost always very distressing.
OCD thoughts know everything about the sufferer. My brain knew very well that I wasn’t afraid of getting hurt, but I was terrified of anything happening to the people around me. The guilt that I could have averted anything unfortunate happening around me was slaying me. I started blaming myself about any infelicitous thing happening around me. These thoughts were rotting me from deep inside. I was always anxious and was extra careful about my repetitions.
I, at a very early age, recognised intrusions as thoughts I must not have. I wasn’t unaware of any way to communicate my intrusive thoughts to others. They could be so frightening, it almost felt like my own mind was blackmailing me. Then, obsessive thoughts stepped-in, making things even more worse.
Conscience took my compulsions and mixed them up with my obsessions. It reared its head in the voice that speaks, “If you stop anything at an odd number count, someone close to you will die.”, ” If you don’t pronounce a word correctly, none of your desire will get fulfilled ever again in your life.”, “If you don’t wash your hands 8 times in the 12 step process, your house will be robbed while you are in school.”
“I mostly hid my compulsions out of fear that I would be unveiled.”
Conscience is a master of blackmail. I let conscience seep into my conscious mind and let it tell me that I couldn’t speak to anyone, because if I did, I would be ridiculed. It linked my obsessions and compulsions seamlessly, it made me hide my compulsive behaviour out of fear that I would be unveiled.
So believing my intrusions and conscience, I had these thoughts for over 15 years. However, I grew tired of the distress they caused me in my mid-teens, and I began to accept them. I believed that I was an awful person who was responsible for every horrible event that happens and that I was living a double life. That no one knew who I really was. That I was the only person who must think like this. I felt so incredibly lonely.
My OCD compulsions may seem strange at times. I have a real issue with the books in my backpack. I later came to understand this as perfectionism. There were a few times where my perfectionism correcting compulsions were apparent to others. As a result, I faced constant bantering by the people around me.
“Enough is Enough; It is time for a change.”
It was fours years ago when I decided that this needs to stop. I became frustrated to such an extent that I tore all the books I could find in my room. Sweating and sobbing, I looked myself in the mirror and asked myself “Is this the life you want?”
I started hating the OCD victim-self of mine. I went straight to my mother and shared everything with her. I could see how helpless she felt knowing she had no clue her kid had been suffering for so long. The next day I was in a psychiatrist’s clinic and then started my life-changing journey.
“My journey of a thousand miles began with a single step.”
I began my journey with some psychotherapy sessions. The early sessions helped me very much. Learning CBT and many anxiety-relieving techniques,I started feeling the joy of life that I had never before. Yes, there were some episodes of OCD and anxiety attacks daily, but I was happy with my progress. Music which was my escape, sounded so different now; I was enjoying all the little things. My senses were enlightened by the beauty around me I couldn’t see before.
Life was such a beautiful journey; I could smell the flowers along the way.
“Slow progress started discouraging me.”
Now, I was in 12th standard; final exams were just months away. Another episode of OCD anxiety struck me. This wasn’t a normal anxiety attack, I was drenched in sweat from head to my toes. My resting heart rate was 165 b.p.m. My papa immediately took me to a cardiologist. There I was, back to the first checkpoint. All the progress was lost.
Disclaimer: Reader’s discretion is advised.
“Horror: I was on meds.”
After the cardiologist’s visit, I was off to the psychiatrist. Noting my condition, he suggested that we should try medicine for my OCD. I was prescribed Fluoxetine, Flunil 20 mg and was asked to meet him after every 20 days to monitor any side-effects.
To my horror, Flunil, 20 mg didn’t work for me. Then, we tried Flunil 40 mg and saw significant improvements. Then, after being on 40 mg for more than two years, my progress was again stagnant. I was then on Flunil 60 mg. Then, Sizodon 0.25 mg was also prescribed to me. The combination worked wonders for me. All of my anxiety and compulsive behaviour just vanished.
“Without change, progress is impossible. I had to change my mind-set.”
Now, I was loaded with all the tools to defeat EVOL. Wait, what is EVOL? LOVE is the most beautiful emotion in the world. And for me, OCD and anxiety is the worst enemy. So, I spelt L-O-V-E backwards, it became E-V-O-L. Hence, I had both the most beautiful and the worst emotion within myself. And my sole objective since then is, LOVE is stronger than EVOL. Both EVOL and LOVE can’t reside in a body. I am working hard to defeat EVOL, Spoiler: I am doing great.
I am off Sizodon 0.25 mg and will be off to Flunil 40 mg next week.
Things I learned during my OCD journey is, medicines are merely the tools in your fight. The main focus should be on CBT, well-balanced diet and most importantly, self-care.
“They are only thoughts until we give them meaning.”
It turns out, that OCD sufferers are the least likely people to actually cause harm to others, as they are so repulsed by their intrusions that they would never act upon them. This was the line from OCD UK that started my recovery. As it happens, I am not a violent murderer. They were just intrusive thoughts.
I’m also not going to get burgled if I close my blinds. I don’t have to check the conservatory door is locked multiple times. There’s no need to keep my books in a defined order. My parents won’t die if I don’t mention them in my thoughts before bed. I won’t jump in front of that bus. I’m not going to stab my sister in her sleep. And I really don’t want to kick your dog into the river.
I actually want to make sure none of these things ever happen.
Remember that they are only thoughts until we give them meaning. Don’t give them the pleasure of meaning. Let them pass.
Liked my article? Don’t forget to check another article on, Living With OCD: Parents, Son, Sibling, Lover and Friend As Warriors in the Battles of the One They Love.
P.S. I will be obliged to share my recovery methods and help you become the hero of your own OCD story.