What it's really like to live with OCD

OCD; Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a disorder that causes intrusive thoughts and compulsions. Both terrifying, completely untrue yet the sufferer cannot stop them or at times deal with them. The term OCD is used everyday by people who don’t suffer with the disorder and that has created a stigma. Today I’m going to talk about what it’s really like to live with OCD and address the misconceptions.

what it’s like to live with ocd. OCD advice and help

OCD has been with me for twenty years. It’s a strange thought to live with because I’m only twenty-five and you do think that is something you would say when your old and grey. I guess I’m old-ish but not grey (well I wouldn’t know with the dye I use). All I can say to the fact it’s been with me for twenty years is it’s been a nightmare and I’m not over-exaggerating in the slightest, I think I’m being a little too fair. When your a child you don’t know the world like you do when you hit maybe 16, so for me when I was just five my OCD was more vanilla, terrifying but vanilla. It was mostly about keeping people I loved safe and the thoughts that would flood my brain about people dying, leaving or awful things happening would be there all day and the only way I could deal with them was acting out on the compulsions that OCD told me to do. I would find myself having to pick up piles of leaves and shove them into my pockets. Most of the time they would be wet and thus I would be wet for the rest of the day but that was okay because people would be safe. I had to draw images for my mum as soon as I got into school because this image would keep her safe for the rest of the day. I would tap things over and over until it felt right or I would walk 100 steps and if I was interrupted I would have to start over again. As I got older the OCD got worse because I knew more about the world. I had become obsessed with the fact I always had head aches and because I had watched a documentary about brain tumours late one night in bed I had one. Yes I had a TV in my room, I wasn’t lucky as you will find out when you read on. Anyway, this documentary was full on and it went over everything including symptoms, what treatment you have to have and of course death and I just sat there socking this all up and as soon as it finished Mr OCD told me I had one and that I was going to die very soon. That was it and I went to my mum and said “I have a brain tumour” and I was met with the normal “Don’t be silly” but I wouldn’t have it and I went back to bed obsessed with the thought I had this thing in my head. I also started obsessing about books at school and that I needed them all in my room to prevent people and myself from dying so I started stealing books. Everyday I would fill my bag up with a few books, not too many or I couldn’t carry them, and I would lug them home and hide them under the bed.

The years passed and the obsessions kept coming. There hasn’t been a moment in time since I was five where I haven’t been obsessed about something. The truth is I have been living with obsessions everyday and some are so small they are over in hours and others have haunted me for months on end. I have worried about everything you can think of and I have been at the lowest points all because of OCD and I wanted to end it all at times because it was just so constant, bulling me and making me think I was a bad person. At this moment in time I have around 5 on and off obsessions that cause me bad anxiety but I’m fighting them by just letting it be because that’s the only way to deal with them and it’s hard.

OCD is constant and it’s a bully. It knows your worst fears and it latches onto them and makes you obsess and do things to prevent it happening. Of course people who have OCD know the things they do won’t stop it, because it’s not real, but they can’t risk it. Living with OCD is hard and scary and it can take years of therapy to be able to manage the thoughts and not act on them and for many even going to therapy is out of the question because of their OCD. It’s a lonely thing, OCD, and it’s scary. You might be thinking “how can your own thoughts be scary” but they are with OCD and you can’t switch off from them, it’s constant. This is why so many people who have OCD get annoyed with the flippant “I’m so OCD” or “That’s my OCD” because it’s not that simple and an easy fact is, if you use that term, you don’t have OCD. This disorder can really make you feel alone because half the time you don’t want to tell people what you are thinking in case they think your’re crazy or mean - both are not the case but it makes you feel that way.


OCD is cunning and smart and but it has it’s two concepts; obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions being the thoughts going round and round your head. Compulsions are the things you do to rid the thoughts and it’s what the OCD has said to do. OCD can be about anything and everything but there are many misconceptions to what it is.


Most of the time people think OCD is about being clean and tidy. Like cleaning your home from top to bottom and making sure it’s neat. This is far from the truth. Most of the time people with OCD couldn’t care less as they are obsessed about other things. Yes people with OCD may have compulsions to clean but that’s most of the time lead by the obsession of someone dying, someone will be ill. They do it because of the obsession, which could be about anything.


Germs and OCD are often liked because many people with OCD do fear germs but OCD is not having a fear of germs. Most of the time people with OCD become obsessed by germs because their obsessions have made them think if there are germs they or someone else will die or get ill and it will be there fault. Again not everyone with OCD will worry about this and most of the time they have done in the past but OCD moves on and they don’t need to worry anymore.

Everyone is a little OCD;

You can’t be a little Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, doesn’t sound right, does it? The term here is anal. Everyone has their own ways and like things done in a particular way but this doesn’t mean they are OCD. The fact is simple and that is people who really have OCD don’t want it and they hate it and it’s not this little quirk that’s cute and them - it’s a hated disorder. The amount of times people use the term “I’m so OCD” in the wrong context.

OCD is where you hear voices;

OCD is your own mind and your own thoughts, no voices here. This is why OCD is so hard to deal with because you know it’s a load of bull but you can’t trust it because, what if? It’s your own head working so hard against you and making you feel such awful anxiety which leads to depression and suicidal thoughts.

OCD is a hard disorder to live with but there is always hope. OCD Action has a lot of advice and support on their site and your GP can be a great help. Don’t suffer in silence, even if it’s telling you to.

Stacey Barber