I think I have OCD...

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Anonymous #1
#1
Report Thread starter 4 years ago
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I'm fifteen years old and I have anxiety but for a while I've been wondering if I have also have OCD. I go through phases- which are more like an obsession in nature- where I'm unable to do things. At the moment for example, I absolutely hate using words beginning with "c" whenever I'm writing unless it's absolutely necessary. I will say them, it's just I hate writing them and it makes me uncomfortable. I've also developed another obsession with touching wood every time I say something mentioning death (this looks as weird as it sounds- at school last week I ducked down to the floor to touch the wooden floorboards after I mentioned something about death and everyone have me weird looks).

I wouldn't say I have obsessive thoughts necessarily, although at times I do have weird thoughts I'm not able to stop which make me super uncomfortable although that doesn't happen as often as my aforementioned habits do. I already go to therapy for anxiety but haven't yet mentioned these symptoms to my therapists. What's the diagnosis process for OCD and what treatments are available (if I was diagnosed?) Please help! It's getting to me and since I'm in Y11 and doing my GCSEs I'd liked to stop the problem before it gets worse, if you get my drift... Thanks
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Sisterhood1
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Hi, mental health nursing student here! OCD is a complex illness that can manifest in any number of ways. To really understand it (and therefore understand whether you might have it) you have to deconstruct it a little.

The first element of the condition is the obsessive element. This tends to occur when an intrusive thought is interpreted as holding more significance than it does. Everybody (except psychopaths interestingly) has intrusive thoughts from time to time; it's a by-product of the brain's ability to be creative. Essentially, your brain is constantly churning out thoughts and ideas, some of which are ego-syntonic (in line with your own wants, needs, morals, beliefs and ideas about yourself) and some of which are ego-dystonic (in contradiction with those things). The ego-dystonic thoughts are what we call intrusive thoughts. An example of an intrusive thought might be "I could stab my partner with this knife I'm holding" or "I might have left the oven on" or "I could get HIV". Like I said, everybody has thoughts like this from time to time, but most people recognise them as a normal part of the human condition and let them come and go without dwelling on them. Someone who suffers with obsessional thoughts, however, finds this more difficult. Generally, they give the thought more significance than it should have. So someone who thinks "I could stab my partner with this knife" will start to question why they would think that. They might start to question their relationship and even though they know on the one hand that they would never stab their partner, the fact that they had the thought starts to mean that maybe they could and that perhaps there is a monster inside them that wants to stab their partner. Somebody who thinks that they could have left the oven on might start to think about what would happen if the oven had been left on - maybe there will be a fire and their family will die and it will be all their fault. The important thing though is that even though they remember turning the oven off, the thought persists, because the person is giving it more significance than they need to. Try not to think about a pink elephant. The more you try not to, the more it pops up, and it's the same mechanism with obsessional thoughts.

The second component is the compulsion. This is an action which is performed specifically to alleviate the anxiety caused by the obsessive thought, and they often correspond to the kind of thought that it is. So the person who is afraid they might stab their partner might start to avoid touching knives. When they do this, they are reassured by the fact that it seems to have prevented them from stabbing their partner, and so the irrational belief that if they did touch a knife, they would stab their partner is strengthened. The longer they avoid knives, the more entrenched the belief becomes, and perhaps it begins to spread to other objects too, such as things made of glass or china, and before long you can't walk down the street with your partner in case you push them into oncoming traffic and then you can't even be in the same room in case you strangle them with your bare hands.

This leads me on to the final element - the disorder. In the example I used, it's pretty obvious that the obsessions and compulsions are taking over the person's world and really affecting their quality of life. The person who obsesses over the oven being on may compulsively check that it is switched off, may start to avoid using the oven or even cooking at all, may become obsessed with anything that could cause a house fire and stop using electrical devices altogether and compulsively check that a house fire has not somehow occurred anyway. Maybe they can't leave the house for more than 5 minutes in case there's a fire, making it impossible to keep a job and difficult to socialise. Maybe they would like to have children but they can't get the image of the child dying in a house fire out of their head and so they avoid it.

Those are quite severe examples, and of course mental health is on a scale, but many people have obsessions, compulsions or both; they are not a disorder unless your quality of life is negatively affected.

With all of that in mind, it sounds like you're experiencing compulsive like behaviours, but they don't seem to be linked to obsessions and it doesn't sound like it's stopping you from living your life normally (though of course all I know is what you've written so I could be completely wrong). You've said that you feel uncomfortable if you don't complete the action - my wholehearted advice is to stop completing the action, because the more you give in to it, the more you reinforce in your mind that the action is necessary. After a while the uncomfortable feeling will fade. By all means discuss this with your therapist - they should be able to assess you more thoroughly and diagnose you if appropriate. Treatment for OCD is with a branch of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy called Graded Exposure. Essentially, you gradually reduce and eliminate the compulsions and in the process the obsessions lose their significance and power and the anxiety is reduced.
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OceanCat
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Don't complete the action -like touching wood. At first you will find this hard but eventually you will manage.
It's the way to stop it before it spirals out of control.
Why not bring this up in therapy?
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Kindred
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(Original post by Anonymous)
I'm fifteen years old and I have anxiety but for a while I've been wondering if I have also have OCD. I go through phases- which are more like an obsession in nature- where I'm unable to do things. At the moment for example, I absolutely hate using words beginning with "c" whenever I'm writing unless it's absolutely necessary. I will say them, it's just I hate writing them and it makes me uncomfortable. I've also developed another obsession with touching wood every time I say something mentioning death (this looks as weird as it sounds- at school last week I ducked down to the floor to touch the wooden floorboards after I mentioned something about death and everyone have me weird looks).

I wouldn't say I have obsessive thoughts necessarily, although at times I do have weird thoughts I'm not able to stop which make me super uncomfortable although that doesn't happen as often as my aforementioned habits do. I already go to therapy for anxiety but haven't yet mentioned these symptoms to my therapists. What's the diagnosis process for OCD and what treatments are available (if I was diagnosed?) Please help! It's getting to me and since I'm in Y11 and doing my GCSEs I'd liked to stop the problem before it gets worse, if you get my drift... Thanks
OCD can vary a lot from person to person and is pretty difficult to work out in some cases. If you think you may have it there is clearly something up, be it OCD or something different like anxiety manifesting itself in an odd way. OCD is an anxiety disorder so it isn't uncommon to have anxiety with hint of OCD even if you don't have full blown OCD.

Anyway, whatever it ends up being you need to see a doctor. They can refer you to a mh service (in your case probably CAMHS) and they can sort out a diagnosis and more importantly treatment.
You can check out mind.org and sane.org for info and advice in the meantime and talk to your school if it's causing you any difficulty there.

Since you are under 16 your parents will likely need to be involved with a referral, but since you already have therapy i'm sure that won't be a problem. If it's already CAMHS you see you can talk to them about it and skip the doctor stage.

You can also ask for a referral to a psychiatrist if you want. OCD is pretty complicated so it can help to have the added expertise of a specialist.

I don't want to make some long detailed explanation or anything cos there is just soo much to cover, but you can ask me any questions if you like. I was diagnosed with OCD, but mine is also somewhat different from the type you tend to hear about.
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