The relationship between sz and ocd has become a common feature in contemporary psychiatric literature. For one thing levels of co-morbidity of the two disorders are very high. Those of us diagnosed with both disorders are uniquely placed to judge how bad bad (in this case OCD) can be.
In my case I’ve mostly suffered from obsessional, “pure O” type of OCD. I remember that aged 10 I became briefly obsessed with the matter antimatter problem which I’d stumbled upon in a popular science book (by then I was using my mother’s library card so I could access books in the adult section). By By 12 I was already very ill. I spent an entire year trying to decide whether God existed or not. I literally spent hours every day mulling over the pros and cons until I was able to reach a conclusion (I’m providing no details so this doesn’t turn into a religious discussion). My levels of anxiety were massive.
Over the years I developed countless obsessions about numbers, colours, patterns and language. The world had become a canvas I was continously busy filling in.
In my teens two new developments brought me some partial relief: dissociation and maladaptive daydreaming. I distinctively remember the first time I failed to recognise myself in the mirror. I was ecstatic, the more I looked the less real I was. Maladaptive daydreaming was also OK. Before sz onset my daydreams could run for hours, extremely vivid and detailed and while they lasted it was the only reality I knew. I could get quite annoyed if someone woke me up.
Later for many years I’d see (or vividly imagine) blood everywhere, axes lodged in people’s heads, pools of brain detritus forming at my feet. It happened a few times that I’d be talking to a friend and suddenly burst out laughing because of the violent images that would pop into my head. I even came close to asking how come they couldn’t see the blood.
More recently I found myself internalising supernatural beings that I’d invoke to approve or disapprove of my every action, however trivial. It could get quite scary. Jesus face, for instance, could morph into the devil’s face so I’d realise that I’d been tricked and that I lacked Jesus’ approval. I could spend an entire day silently negotiating with these internal images, despite knowing they couldn’t be real - somehow this distinction didn’t matter at all, I always behaved as if they were real. My big fear if I didn’t obey? The ground cracking up and being immediately dragged down to hell. My ocd gave a whole new meaning to Pascal’s wager.
A happy ending : since sz onset my ocd almost completely melted away.
What are your OCD experiences?