Below is a story on what a typical morning is like for someone with severe ocd. In order to shorten this post there are two things you need to know as you continue reading this:
1. The initials “bt” stand for “bad thought” I use the initials because I say those words ALOT in this post, there’s really no way to avoid it.
2. In this case of ocd, the “bad thought” the sufferer gets is a loved one will die. More so, the bt is “your parents will die” or “your kids will all die”. The ocd sufferer then “repeats” whatever they were doing until that thought goes away or lessons. The “strong-ness” of the thoughts are hard to explain. Almost like an itch that goes un-scratched. Almost like that feeling in your gut that tells you to turn left instead of right. Almost, but not quite. Almost but stronger, heavier, scarier. But…. much much worse.
And now, enter the mind of someone with severe ocd…..
Time to wake up and start my day. I don’t want to get up, I rather sleep. I am not ready to start, just thinking about it is making me anxious. I say a prayer. As I pray a bt enters my mind. I stop my prayer and re-start it. I say the prayer again, again, and again. I say my prayer 4 times because the number 4 reminds me of God. 4 is good. 4 is my safe number.
I don’t know if I start my day off with a prayer because I want to or because I have to. I do know that each morning my prayer is exactly the same, it has become one of my morning rituals.
I start to walk into bathroom, as soon as my feet touch the bathroom floor, bt. I back out of the bathroom and walk back in again. I am lucky this time, I only had to walk in twice.
I grab my toothbrush, and then the toothpaste. I turn the water on and get my toothbrush wet. bt. I put the toothbrush back in its holder. I grab the toothbrush again. bt. I put it back, pick it up, this goes on 5 times. I don’t know why I am able to stop at 5. I usually don’t like this number.
I step into the shower and it happens, bt. I knew I wouldn’t be able to step in only once. Its never that easy. I step out of the shower, I step back in, bt, step out, step in, being extra careful to not slip. I do this 8 times, 4 plus 4 is 8. 8 is extra good because it is two 4s. Sound confusing? In my brain it makes sense.
In the shower I close my eyes. I see an image of a car. Bt. Why did I picture a car? Is something bad going to happen in a car? I close my eyes to picture something else. Car again, and again. I open and shut my eyes until I picture something else. I lost count how many times I opened and closed my eyes but I am finally ready to start my shower.
I wash my hair, bt. I try to replace that bad thought by telling myself nothing bad will happen. But the bt is getting worse and now its harder to ignore so I give in and wash my hair 2 more times. The bt is still there so I wash my hair again. I think I am now done and can move on and wash my body. I grab the soap. bt. I grab the soap once more. I am lucky, again, I only had to grab it 2 times. I finish my shower and step out. Sometimes I have to step back in the bathtub and step back out, but today I didn’t have to.
I start to get dressed. Bt. I take my clothes off and put them back on again. Bt keeps repeating itself so I have to keep repeating myself. 7 more times. I put my clothes on, and off, 8 times. Not just one item of clothing, all items of clothing must be taken off and put back on. 8 times. I am tired and I am starting to get hot. All this repeating is making me sweat.
I grab my brush, bt. I put it back on the counter and pick it up again. bt. I put the brush down and “tap” it 8 times. bt. Tap another 8 times, and another, and another, I add up the total amount of times I tapped the brush, its 33. 33 equals 6. I don’t like that number. 6 reminds me of the devil. 6 is bad. So I tap the brush 7 more times. That makes a total of 40. 4 is good, 40 has a 4 in it. 4 reminds me of God.
I brush my hair and put it in a ponytail. bt. I take the rubber band out of my hair and then put it back in. Bt. I take it back out, back in. Bt. This goes on for quite a while. I end up putting my hair in a ponytail 14 times. My arms are now sore. I’m even more tired, and I am still sweating.
I am now ready to leave the bathroom. I am hot, I am sweating, and my arms hurt. As I walk into my bedroom, I silently repeat to myself “nothing bad”. I say this hoping to drown out the bad thoughts. Sometimes it works, usually it doesn’t.
I grab my makeup bag and start applying my my makeup to my tired face. Bt. I repeat in my mind that nothing bad will happen. A thought is just a thought. I don’t want to reapply my makeup 4 times. That consists of going back into the bathroom and washing my face. The bt is so strong. It is getting to hard to resist. I am tired, I am hot, I am frustrated, and I am scared. I can’t ignore the bt because what if that bad thing happens? I know it won’t but, wait, what if it does? What if? Will my kids really die if I don’t wash my face and apply my makeup again?I know it sounds ridiculous. But, what if?
These thoughts are pounding on my brain. I can’t make it stop. These thoughts are stronger then the ones before. I’m getting confused. Are these thoughts my ocd or am I having some kind of premonition? Maybe something is warning me or giving me a chance to prevent this horrible thing from happening. The more I try and figure it out the more I’m unsure on what to do. Do I give in, or acknowledge that these thoughts are just my ocd trying to trick me and the only way to get better is to leave the thoughts there and move on with my day?
I give in to the ocd and walk back into the bathroom. With each step I begin to count. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, bt. I start over from where I started and walk back to the bathroom and begin counting again. Smaller steps this time. 1, 2, 3, 4…..4 is my good number, I am now ready to wash my face. again.
I start applying my makeup. The whole time the bt is still creeping in my mind. I close my eyes and pray. I pray. I pray. I think I should pray again because four times is good. 4 is my favorite number. I pray 4 times the exact same prayer, word for word. But this time 4 didn’t work. I pray some more until it feels right and I am able to move on to what I was doing before I started praying. What was I doing? I forgot. My mind won’t shut up it’s making me forgetful. I notice my makeup bag. Ohhh yea, I was putting makeup on.
Once I am dressed and ready for the day I make my bed. Everything is going fine. I’m almost done making my bed, just putting the pillows in place. I let go of the pillow, and it happens. Bt. I was almost done, and now I have to make the bed all over again. I remove the pillows, pull off the blankets, and then tear off the sheets. I have to pull every single item off the bed, until the mattress is showing. I reach down and grab the sheet, I place it on the bed. Bt. Take sheet off, put it on, take it off. I do this 14 times. 14 times and I finally have made my bed.
I’m tired. I’m hot. I am sweating again. As I wipe the sweat off my face I noticed I also wiped off some makeup. I don’t want to put my make-up on again.
It is only 8am. I have so much to do today. Even though I have been up for a couple of hours, I feel like going back to sleep. Even though I took a shower, I am feeling dirty because I am hot and sweating. I shouldn’t be so hot and sweaty at 8 in the morning. 8 am and my ocd has already made me exhausted.
This post was originally supposed to be what a typical day is like for someone with severe ocd. Soon as I finished writing what a typical morning is like I realized this post would be way to long if I added the rest of the day.
I am sharing this because I feel it is important to show people what ocd is. I want people to know what real severe ocd is like for some people. It’s not just about having a clean house. Its not just about being organized. This post is what ocd is. This post is what someone with severe ocd goes through on a daily basis. This post is written about a real person, me. This is my story. This is how bad I suffered.
This was me when I was at my worst. This was before medication and before therapy. This was before I asked for help.
Even though I still struggle, I am much better than I was. Those days were hard on me. I went through alot and nobody even knew. If you would of met me back then you would have had no clue that I had ocd. I hid it. Even people that were close to me had no idea.
If you are struggling with mental illness please ask for help. There is help out there. I am so glad I reached out and talked to someone.
The main reasons I am sharing such a personal detail of my life is to help others and bring awareness. Please ask for help if you are struggling. Please remember that you never know what someone is going through so please show kindness to those around you, they might have just had a morning like the one I described above. You never know.
Have a wonderful weekend