Obsessive-compulsive disorder: A Personal Perspective

The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.
Samuel Johnson
Since the age of three I have lived under the tyranny of OCD. I have lived a life of fear compelled to waste my precious existence, forced by powerful obsessions and compulsions to carry out time consuming and embarrassing rituals. The life that I should have lived and the person I should have been became consumed by this soul-destroying illness. It is an illness that for me personally had no respite and has no foreseeable end, an illness that has consumed my existence, my mind, and my soul. It has absorbed my personality, the part of your person that makes you, you, the essence of ones very being. Who would I have been had I not had OCD? Who knows? Certainly not me, I have lived my life under the shadow of this debilitating illness: since the age of three my mind has been besieged by unwanted thoughts of a morbid nature, intrusive thoughts of death and disaster have beleaguered my mind and over the years have threatened my sanity. Since early adulthood when the disease became full blown I have had no peace of mind, no real joy or contentment, just gnawing anxiety and outright fear. I have collapsed on the floor hysterical, fearing impending death, my mind beset by thoughts of my imminent demise.

In the throes of severe religious OCD I have practiced asceticism in order to placate and ward of death for those I love and myself. I have been traumatised by intrusive blasphemous thoughts along with fearful imaginings that my very thinking could harm a loved one, a friend, a stranger, and even another creature.

Since my contamination OCD presented itself I have constantly been tormented with terrifying thoughts, obsessions concerning contamination by germs and chemicals and as a consequence my life has been taken away by time consuming cleaning compulsions. Than doubting obsessions came crowding my mind: Have I locked the door? Have I left the cooker on? Will the house burn down? Such thoughts came again and again tormenting me with ever changing frightening scenarios along with the consequent checking compulsions in order to avoid such disasters arising. And in addition my mind became increasingly overwhelmed crowded by superstitious obsessions and compulsions all intermingling forming a complex web of misery, so fearful, so incapacitating.

OCD is a lonely illness, few understand which is why I wish to share my story in order to promote a greater understanding of this chronic and incapacitating malady. In the early nineties I decided to write my memoirs concerning my experiences as a sufferer of OCD with the intention of alleviating the feelings of loneliness for sufferers and to inform carers, professionals and anyone in society concerning the nature of this life shattering illness.

My Book.
Demons of the Mind: A Memoir of An Obsessive-Compulsive by Christine Marriott. Click here to down load book

I began to write my memoirs twelve years ago having got the idea after writing a short autobiographical account for a phobic group that now no longer exists.

It has been an exhaustive endeavour. I have no experience as a writer. Indeed I have no academic qualifications save two O levels one of which is English language, both of which were obtained in my early thirties. I have never been able to master the ability to spell and without the word processor this account would not be possible. Moreover my attempts to write about my experiences have been hampered as a natural consequence of having OCD. Checking obsessions concerning compulsive checking of all written documents for fear of making mistakes or writing something harmful have delayed my progress. My progress has been hindered further by the arrival of chronic daily headaches CDH and migraine. All in all it has taken over twelve years to complete this account, or at least finish it as far as is possible for a sufferer of OCD, for you see I am never satisfied and could in theory continue indefinitely checking and ruminating about grammar, spelling, construction anything and everything, such is the nature of OCD.

When anyone tells me to be patient I invariably reply:’ life is too short to be patient’. If you feel this way and want to cut to the chase or skip to the nitty gritty as we say here in the UK go to chapter seven which describes the beginnings of the full-blown manifestation of my OCD. The six preceding chapters concern the slow development of the disorder.

However in view of my continuing failure in this regard I have therefore decided to publish it free of charge on the net. It is my hope that my account may be of benefit to sufferers, carers, students, professionals and anyone with an interest in mental illness. My intention is to try and alleviate the loneliness felt by many OCD sufferers by sharing the entirety of my experiences without out either embellishment or omissions. It can be so tempting to miss out this or that for feelings of fear, ridicule and embarrassment concerning some of the more bizarre obsessions and compulsions but I wanted to reflect precisely what life is like for anyone afflicted with this disorder. My condition is severe and has been even more severe in the past but there are others who suffer even more than I with difficult and crippling symptoms. Sadly my story does not have a happy end and I continue to suffer greatly with OCD and all the other maladies mentioned in my autobiography. Most people expect such accounts to have a happy ending, however to remain factual this is not possible, nevertheless despite this negativity perhaps sufferers can derive something positive from my experiences, namely an increased awareness concerning the many pitfalls along the way which they may than avoid. Notwithstanding its negative ending my memoir may provide sufferers with an increased awareness concerning the subtle nature of OCD and how it can manifest itself insidiously into our lives in ways that we least expect. Furthermore everyone’s situation is different and modern medicine and treatment and the latest research gives hope for improvement for suffers both now and in the future.