What Living With OCD Looks Like For Me
When I took these photographs last week in front of the glorious log stacks that have appeared again I didn’t exactly have a post in mind. But when looking through my archives I realised the last time I shared images in front of log stacks it was when I finally felt brave enough to open up about my long battle with OCD. And this year has probably been one of my best in terms of how I’ve been coping so I thought I’d share a little update today. As always please be mindful this is just my journey and I have no right to speak for anyone who also struggles with OCD, what has worked for me might not work for somebody else.
MAKING ROOM FOR IT IN MY LIFE BUT NOT LETTING IT RULE IT
If you’ve ever struggled with anything to do with mental health then you will know how easy it is for every single thing in your life to become ruled by it. And at my worst my OCD did rule everything but I struggled to admit it to myself let alone anybody else. Deep down I always knew I had OCD, but in my mind, if I didn’t admit it even to just myself then it would disappear and I’d suddenly get better. Feeling ashamed and embarrassed is something I think a lot of people struggle with as even though MH awareness has come a long way it’s still hard to talk about. Although I didn’t find therapy terribly effective for me something that it did teach me is that you have to make room for your mind in your life. And it's been the best advice I've ever received. Something that I truly believe is that mental illness never leaves you completely and it's something that you have to be aware of throughout your entire life. Even though I’ve made a huge amount of progress I still have to be aware of what my triggers and be kinder to myself when I can feel things slipping and without doing that I'd still be where I was 3 years ago.
KEEPING BUSY & HAVING A GOOD ROUTINE
Something that I’ve learned that is really important for me, in general, is that I need to be a positive level of busy and keep my routine somewhat solid. When I don’t have either of those things for a long period of time my mind instantly starts churning and I start slipping instantly into my OCD rituals. This isn’t to say when you have a good routine that mental illness just magically disappears because it doesn’t. But it helps and I need structure in my day to keep me on track, not only mentally but also to keep me productive as working from home means it’s all too easy to slip into bad habits. Stress is also a huge factor for me and even though stress is unavoidable if there is any way I can minimise a situation then I need to before it creeps in and manifests making my OCD unbearable. It's the really small things that I find help me stay on track like having my coffee in a morning and then walking the dogs, they make a big difference.
sharing with the right people
Like I said mental health and the awareness around is something that is far better than it ever has been before, which is incredible. However, we have a long way to go in broadening the topics that we discuss within the mental health space. For me, whenever I’m feeling like I’m really struggling then telling either my best friend or my boyfriend is key as I know they’ll be there without judgement. If you read my original post about OCD then you will know one of the stems of the illness that I struggle with the most is intrusive thoughts and more often than not I can’t catch them in time and find it hard to talk myself out of those thoughts so having somebody close by to help me is key. Finding the people that you can trust to be there without judgement is hard, there is no denying that but once you do it makes the battle somewhat easier.
not letting a bad day ruin my progress
This year has most definitely been the best year that I’ve had in a long time. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t an odd day or even weeks at a time where I will still struggle which is normal. Mental health isn’t something that is all or nothing and there are constant ebb and flows as well as highs and lows. Particularly when I’ve had a good spell and I’ve felt like I’ve made a lot of progress when something does happen and I slip into my old rituals they feel even harder to deal with. But having those ebb and flows is so normal and doesn't take away from the progress that has been made. All too often recovery is discussed like it’s a simple journey and there aren’t bumps in the road but that’s not true. As well as discussing our struggles talking about the difficult journey that comes along with healing is so important. Not only for us but for other people that are struggling too and need a comforting, judgement free conversation.
everything that helps my mental health in general
As of right now I don’t take medication or have any type of therapy so everything I do I have to be proactive about making sure I regularly do, here are a few things that I've found to really help;
Prioritise sleep, as soon as I’m tired it has an instant knock on effect on my mind.
Exercise when I can and if I want to. I find in the AM is when it has the best effect on my mind.
Get outside every day with Josie and Edie, I always try and stay of social media during this time.
Talk to others as well as myself [mentally].
Learning about mental illness and other peoples experiences.