‘My house is not immaculately tidy and I only wash my hands a few times a day; my clothes are crammed into drawers and the baked beans are never in the same place in my kitchen cupboard. Is this why I lived with the nightmare that is obsessive compulsive disorder for several years before a diagnosis was finally made? Is it because I do not match the stereotypical ideas of how an OCD sufferer behaves? I have OCD, and yet I do not carry out external rituals that draw attention to my disorder: everything takes place in my head, where the ‘voice’ of this mentally incapacitating illness cannot be heard by others, and where rituals cannot be seen.
OCD manifests itself in many different ways; my symptoms are not uncommon and yet even members of the medical profession failed to recognise them during those early years. They call OCD the ‘secret illness’, and a lack of diagnosis is common to many people. In my opinion, the reason for this is shared between gaps in understanding and the shame felt by people, who are too afraid to reveal the extent of their symptoms. The unwanted thoughts and rituals associated with this disorder are often accompanied by feelings of guilt, whereby those afflicted will blame and punish themselves for its existence. When I look back at my childhood it is apparent that the traits were already there; my father, a very strict clergyman who died when I was sixteen, encouraged them, although not deliberately. He provided the content with his sermons about the consequences of sin, and everything in our lives had a time and a place; we lived in a world where spontaneity was discouraged and perfection was actively sought. My personal belief is that I was born with an inherent predisposition to OCD, with life experiences providing the catalyst. By the time my first child was born I believed that God would take her away from me because I was so full of sin. This is where the main part of my OCD story begins…’
From Rachel’s Story in Coping with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
by Professor Kevin Gournay, Rachel Piper and Professor Paul Rogers
Published by Sheldon Press
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is thought to affect up to one million people in the UK, and an estimated three million in the USA. Listed among the top 10 most debilitating illnesses by the World Health Organisation, OCD can have a devastating effect on work, social life and personal relationships. Professional treatment can be hard to access, and in addition many people are too ashamed of their problem to seek help. Coping with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder offers expert advice and a thorough self-help programme based on solid scientific evidence.
All Royalties will be donated to the charity, OCD Action.