From the outside I was your average male enjoyed sports, socialising and was doing well in work. On the inside, I was going through inner turmoil for many years, probably from the age of 18 or before this. I’m now 36.
My condition, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) was one which tore me apart, at its worst causing severe anxiety and depression, to one which stopped any progression in life when I was managing it. No matter how much I thought I had it under control it was always there shaping every decision I made for the worst.
The condition seemed to develop over time. As a child I worried a lot and was quite nervous. As time went on I felt a sense of nervousness about things that may happen. This nervousness turned into worry and anxiety which ultimately led onto irrational, intrusive, compulsive and obsessive thoughts.
I spent my time fighting my mind trying to dampen out the torrent of irrational and obsessive thoughts. Thoughts and fears I ultimately knew weren’t real but which were dark, deeply upsetting and unrelenting at times. My rational mind was awash with questions which I didn’t have the answers to.
I was unable to develop romantic relationships, develop life plans or do everything which I felt was important to me. I felt constantly in the shadow of my condition struggling to try and hide it day to day from friends, family and colleagues and come to terms with it at the same time – alone.
I say alone as for years I could not even comprehend articulating to another person the thoughts, fears and irrational nature of my turbulent mind. Countless inner dialogues, trying to understand why this was happening to me and what it actually was. Waking up every day and realising “Oh yes there you are again”.
Sleep was my greatest ally and friend.
At stages I could not see a future. Truly, at times the only thing keeping me on this earth was not wanting to let my family down and the upset and questions I’d leave behind.
I found to help I would bury myself in a routine, shut down and become a person who hoped to go day to day trying to control an inner voice, a voice whose main aim was to destroy my life. A life I wanted to lead.
At stages, I tried to talk to family. When I had reached a limit of trying to manage it I would break down, hoping this would start the dialogue and the recovery process. Through the years, I visited my GP hoping I would get some words out to start any kind of process to get to a better place. I could never manage it and often came away feeling even worse than when I went in. Wondering when the next time would be when I’d try again.
At the end of 2016 after a tough period I decided enough was enough. I had read some other people’s real life experiences through media coverage and I had started to realise maybe I was not alone afterall.
I talked to a friend who referred me to a colleague and after maybe 2 months of procrastinating I made an appointment with a clinical psychologist. That appointment was made in a matter of hours one day after my sister sent me an article which gave me hope and also at the same time deeply upset me. I read the article through teary eyes on a few occasions. It resonated deeply with me. The article was – Bryony Gordon: How I walked my way back to sanity.
My first session with my psychologist, I came out of it exhausted but with a massive weight lifted off my shoulders. This person actually understands what I’m going through; is not judging me and identifies it as a condition and has a plan to deal with it! This is amazing; can it be true, I am normal afterall?!
At present, I’m early on in the process but at the moment I am a very different person to the person who first made the appointment with the psychologist.
I’ve started to develop an understanding of my condition, its triggers, started a life plan whereby this condition is not controlling my every decision. I’m challenging it, giving it an identity. I’ve started to take it from a massive barrier or brick wall in front of me to a recognised hurdle which I can understand and can leap over when it comes my way.
The main message I would like to get across is….
No matter how bad you think things are, the worst thing you can do is to keep it inside and not talk.
Trust me, I did it for nearly 20 years. If I hadn’t started to talk and see a psychologist I would still be stuck in a life where I couldn’t understand a condition which was shaping my life and continuing to wreak havoc.
I wish I had read this article over 15 years ago.
If I were myself reading this article when I was alone, confused and unable to understand what was going on in my mind, I would hope reading this piece would help me to realise that this condition does not have to define me, I am not alone and I need to talk.
I’ve often heard stories of suicide and thought to myself that person could have been experiencing the same condition as I have and could not see a way out or could not comprehend articulating what was going on in their mind.
If my story resonates and you are experiencing similar experiences please talk to your family or trusted friends and start the journey whereby you can realise that there is hope and you are a person who deserves the life you want to lead.
My main aim of writing down my story is to highlight the importance of talking.
Please talk. You are not alone.
If you need help please talk to friends, family, a GP, therapist or one of the free confidential helpline services. For a full list of national mental health services see yourmentalhealth.ie.
- Samaritans 116 123 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Pieta House National Suicide Helpline 1800 247 247 or email email@example.com – (suicide prevention, self-harm, bereavement) or text HELP to 51444 (standard message rates apply)
- Aware 1800 80 48 48 (depression, anxiety)
If living in Ireland you can find accredited therapists in your area here: