by Catriona Gall
This story is part of our blog series called “Stories from the OCD Community.” Stories from the community are submitted and edited by Toni Palombi. If you are interested in sharing your story you can view submission details at www.iocdf.org/ocd-stories.
Living with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) requires learning to live with uncertainty.
For a long time, I believed there was something wrong with me. OCD sets your mind disappearing down a thousand different rabbit holes: What if I’m a nymphomaniac? What if I want to murder my mother, my father, my sister, my dog? If you’re not careful you can lose your life to ruminations.
I was diagnosed with OCD at the age of 16 by a doctor. For 25 years though, I couldn’t accept or admit the diagnosis: not to myself or others.
I don’t have serious compulsions although I occasionally have the urge to straighten up the furniture. My OCD is hidden and, for the most part, goes unnoticed by the outside world. It became so bad at one point that I attempted suicide. I was unable to show myself compassion or give myself a break.
I often ask myself the unanswerable question: Who would I be if I didn’t have OCD? It’s impossible to untangle though, as my OCD is part of me, and my life wouldn’t be the same without it.
For many years, I’ve been writing a diary – it has been a mechanism for coping with OCD. I call it The Diary of Clare Green. As Anne Frank wrote, “Paper has more patience than people.”
But I have finally started testing the patience of people and finding help and hope amongst my friends and family. I’ve opened up about my OCD and in doing so I’ve found my biggest fears to be unfounded. People don’t treat me any differently because I have OCD. Why did I ever think they would? My friends are still my friends. And my family is still my family.
I am trying to live each day at a time, moment to moment and experience life in all its glorious uncertainty. I am being treated by a qualified psychologist and have found cognitive behavioral therapy to be very helpful. While I still struggle with depression and self-criticism, I am now more capable of living with uncertainty and through writing, I can navigate my journey. I can only hope my words are of some benefit to others.
Catriona Gall lives in rural Scotland. For work, she advises on offshore wind farm development. For play, she enjoys hill-walking and making stained glass.