For the past few weeks, I have been attending therapy on campus, every Friday at 14:00 after work with Winnie. I was very nervous before attending, as I have a fear that people won’t believe my mental illnesses, or take them seriously. I did what I usually do: obsessively research what to expect from your first therapy session every night until 3am, and talk aloud to myself for hours; planning what I am going to say.
I see this as being well-prepared, but others have pointed out that these actions are verging on the neurotic.
My first therapy session was better than I could ever had expected. Winnie is really nice, and asked me questions I had never even considered (which is probably good since I could not prepare, and so my answers were more spontaneous and authentic).
The sessions all compiled of mini breakthroughs, and Winnie pointing out several patterns in my thinking and behaviour. It’s nice to see that my mental health issues are not completely random, rather follow a common theme. It makes me feel less out of control and paranoid, and I can now better recognise when I may be in a situation where I may feel anxious.
The most interesting thing to come from my sessions is the alternative diagnosis that Winnie unofficially gave me.
Winnie thinks that I was misdiagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder (GAD), and instead suffer from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
I would be lying if I said that this diagnosis did not come as a surprise. I always thought of OCD suffers being people who are incessantly clean, particular, and washed their hands non-stop. My mum will be the first person to tell you that I have never been the tidiest person in the world; although I make a more conscious effort to keep things orderly.
It turns out that OCD is a little more complicated than hand-washing and turning the lights on and off 20 times.
DSM 5 classifies OCD as:
OCD is characterised by the presence of obsessions and/or compulsions. Obsessions are recurrent and persistent thoughts, urges, or images that are experienced as intrusive and unwanted, whereas compulsions are repetitive behaviors or mental acts that an individual feels driven to perform in response to an obsession or according to rules that must be applied rigidly.
The word “rule” sticks out to me because, as Winnie pointed out to me, I create my own bizarre rules. These rules give me comfort and a sense of order.
It would be hard to explain these rules to you, especially as a lot of them 1) barely make sense to me and 2) they work more in context. But a few include:
- assigning particular items to particular people (ie. when making tea for people, I mentally assign mugs to each person, and get agitated if they do not adhere to which one they have been set)
- clenching muscles equally on both sides of my body (if my right armpit twitches, I have to make my left armpit do the same or it feels uncomfortable)
- stressing myself out because I am convinced I have to do a task or I will get in trouble (despite no one ever telling me to do these things or threatening me)
As you can see, my compulsions are fairly small and easy to miss, so this is why I appreciate being able to take advantage of the free therapy services that my university offers.
I don’y know much about OCD, and as I learn more about the disorder and more about myself then I will update you!
Love from Evie x