New year or something

As people seem to be posting reflective end of 2017 posts, and I sit on the sofa exhausted but unable to rest it occurs to me how much this feeling sums up the year for me – it doesn’t feel like we’ve stopped all year, we didn’t manage to get a proper break/holiday at all this year but we both did some personally amazing things.  Wendy chucked herself out of a perfectly good plane (and survived) and I ran (yes, seriously I did exercise….willingly!), leapt, swam and hauled myself around a 5k obsticle course.  I’ve changed day-jobs twice, completed my first full year volunteering with a new service and we’re still trying to fine-tune a home routine that works for both of us.  It’s been a relentless, exhausting, exhilarating, eye-opening year and I’m not sure I’d change any of it, given the opportunity.

For 2018 I hope that things proceed a little slower, with more time to rest.  I expect there will be plenty of opportunities to do more, new or personally important challenges.  There’s some important life event planned this coming year, and some time away from work has already been booked afterwards so although we will be at home we should both be able to have a proper break from work and stress.  I bought a treadmill to keep me fit over the winter, which is not being as effective as I had hoped (due to time and too much Christmas food & telly) but I’m still a lot fitter than when I entered 2017 and I hope to keep improving on this through 2018.  My biggest personal goal is to get my weight down to the “healthy” range and be able to run a sub-30-minute 5km.  My OCD is a lot better and I’ll continue to work hard on it, particularly when it tries to take over.

International OCD Awareness Week – 8th to 14th October 2017

This week (8th-14th October 2017) is International OCD Awareness Week, set up by the International OCD Foundation and championed in the UK by the national charities OCD UK and OCD Action.

Information on the week is available on the IOCDF website at
OCD UK’s website is at and OCD Action’s at .

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a mental health disorder that affects people of all ages and walks of life, and occurs when a person gets caught in a cycle of obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are unwanted, intrusive thoughts, images or urges that trigger intensely distressing feelings. Compulsions are behaviours an individual engages in to attempt to get rid of the obsessions and/or decrease his or her distress. More information is available on the IOCDF’s website at .

OCD is a much misunderstood and misrepresented condition and the popular image of it being simply a desire for cleanliness, tidiness and/or order is a long way from the reality of this distressing anxiety disorder. In fact, my own misconceptions of OCD based on these ideas made me think my GP was barking when she first suggested that I might be suffering from it!

It’s important to realise that, in the context of OCD, obsessions and compulsions are time consuming and get in the way of important activities the person values. This last part is extremely important to keep in mind as it, in part, determines whether someone has OCD — a psychological disorder — rather than an obsessive personality trait. Obsessions are typically accompanied by intense and uncomfortable feelings such as fear, disgust, doubt, or a feeling that things have to be done in a way that is “just right.” Compulsions are the second part of obsessive compulsive disorder. These are repetitive behaviours or thoughts that a person uses with the intention of neutralizing, counteracting, or making their obsessions go away. People with OCD realize this is only a temporary solution but without a better way to cope they rely on the compulsion as a temporary escape. Compulsions can also include avoiding situations that trigger obsessions.

The IOCDF have a blog post on separating fact from fiction when it comes to what is, and isn’t, OCD:


As some of my friends already know, I was diagnosed with OCD relatively recently. One of the things it has been suggested I should work on, aside from the obvious compulsions themselves, are my feelings of shame. So in that spririt I’m trying to bring myself to publically blog about it a bit.

Most, if not all, people experience times when they go to bed and cannot stop thinking about something(s). They are suffering, at that time, from anxiety – normal, everyday (in the sense of “common” – hopefully not daily!) stress/anxiety that is manifesting as “something on one’s mind”. If that anxiety persists one may decide that, rather than continue to try and forget about it for now (which is probably most people’s first “go to” response to the situation I describe – it’s certainly mine), they need to actually do something about it in order to put it to one side for now and relax enough to sleep. That could be a simple thing, like noting the thing down so you know it’ll be there to remind you in the morning, or checking something is done (e.g. if you can’t shake the feeling you didn’t lock the door before bed) or even spending 20 minutes doing some reasearch on whatever it is so you feel like you’ve done something and can pick it up in the morning. And after this, all being well, you will feel better about whatever it is and go back to bed, feel relaxed and able to allow your mind to drift freely and easily away from whatver it was that was bothering you, hopefully to sleep. This certainly works for me, most of the time, at least.

Now imagine that your mind drifts off and you’re feeling nice and relaxed, and then suddenly after only a few minutes that exact same thing, which was keeping your mind preoccupied earlier, pops back into your head. Now, you’ve already dealt with it, and you tell yourself that, but despite the absolute knowledge that the item in question is done with for tonight you can’t get it out of your head. So you end up, after trying unsuccessfully again to drift off, and again do something to put your mind at rest. Which it does, for a short while. Then it begins again. This is OCD, certain specific thoughts (“The fact these thoughts and their triggers are so specific is what makes this OCD, rather than something else”, to quote the Psychiatrist who made the diagnosis) doing this causing great torment, and this is also the reason I had no sleep last night. It is also bitterly disappointing after a very long spell of having my OCD symptoms largely under control, however life has been extraordinarially stressful for me over the last month or so (somethings that I hope will start resolving themselves in the coming weeks) – so I’m trying to focus my disappointment on the situation rather than myself.

This is the 4th post I’ve written so far, none of the others of which got as far as being published, trying to explain it using a variety of real-life examples (“difficulties”, if you’re a psychiatrist) of mine and analogies. And then today happened, my second (slight, compared to where I was a couple of years ago) relapse this year, and it seemed easier to just write about that.

Plus lack of sleep lowers inhibitions, apparently enough for me to just hit “publish” on this.