This week is ‘OCD Awareness Week’. I have written previously about my struggles with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Here are some lesser-known facts about OCD:
1. It is one of the most debilitating illnesses
The World Health Organisation ranks OCD as one of the top ten most disabling illnesses in terms of lost earnings and diminished quality of life.
2.It does not matter if you are male or female
OCD is prevalent in both males and females. Interestingly younger boys are more likely to suffer than girls. I have had OCD for as long as I can remember. I did not think my thoughts and resulting compulsions were abnormal as a child.
3. There are other disorders associated with OCD
A quarter of people with OCD also have Compulsive Skin Picking (CSP) including me. This is picking at blemishes, dry skin or other imperfections on the skin. The skin bleeds and becomes infected causing the sufferer embarrassment. This cycle is difficult to break; my hands are a testament to this, but I will keep trying to stop.
4. Lesser known obsessions
I have written about the more commonly known compulsions such as the fear of contamination or getting ill. Obsessions written about less (most likely due to how disturbing they are) include doubts about whether or not you love your partner, intrusive thoughts about sexual violence, fears of acting out your aggressive urges in public and doubts over your sexuality.
5. Compulsions are not always obvious
‘Pure O’ is a name given to a form of OCD when there are no physical compulsions (such as counting or hand washing). The compulsion is an inward mental ritual and often the sufferer avoids situations that may cause anxiety or they seek reassurance from those close to them. My compulsions are mostly mental rituals as I have learned to hide them from others for fear of being branded as ‘odd’.
6. Funding for mental health is very low
Illnesses related to depression and anxiety (including OCD) account for a third of all disability, however only 2% of National Health Service expenditure is spent in this area.
7. OCD is a long-term disorder
Focus for sufferers should be day-to-day management of the disorder, rather than a final cure. I feel I have made a lot of progress with my issues and I hope to continue to do so.