My OCD made me think I was a murderer, suicidal and had AIDS
ROSE Stokes, 31, says OCD made her think she was a murderer and told her to jump in front of a moving train.
Here, the event director details her ‘breaking point’ which made her book an emergency appointment to see a psychiatrist to receive help.
“Raking my fingers through my hair I tried to steady my breathing, but it seemed impossible to calm the anxiety building inside me. As the thought that I had killed someone thundered around my head, I felt consumed with fear. It didn’t matter that I couldn’t remember anything about it – I was just sure I was a murderer.
“I hadn’t always harboured such thoughts. It was triggered by an emotionally abusive two-year relationship, during which my boyfriend would gaslight me into thinking I’d imagined his bad behaviour and that I was in the wrong, making me question my own sanity. Convinced I was causing the relationship to fail, I broke up with him in November 2016, as I thought he deserved better.
“From there my self-doubt accelerated, and with it came obsessive thoughts. As my ex had convinced me I was a bad person, I couldn’t help but question what else I had done – or was capable of doing – without realising.
“The first time it really hit me was in January 2017. I was standing on a platform waiting for a train and a voice in my head quietly told me to jump. I tried to ignore it, but it just got louder and I inched closer to the platform edge, even though I’d never had a suicidal thought in my life. Thankfully, the train sped past before I could do anything, but the experience left me so rattled I ran home.
“I reasoned I must be suicidal, I just couldn’t fathom why. Yes, I’d experienced a horrible break-up, but I had great friends and family, a job I loved and felt happy with life. Yet from then on I began obsessing about suicide and searching for reasons why I’d want to kill myself. Sometimes the thoughts would intrude so much, if I saw a bus approaching, I’d think about jumping in front of it.
“Over the next 12 months, things went into overdrive. If I had a headache, it must have been incurable brain cancer. If I felt unwell I was sure I had AIDS. I’d spend hours Googling symptoms and treatments.
“One night, the thought that I fancied my friend suddenly popped into my head. Within minutes I became convinced I was gay – even though I’m not – and I blurted it out to my friend. At first she thought I was joking, but I was so adamant she didn’t know what to say by the end of the evening.
“Dealing with such intrusive and obsessive thoughts all day was exhausting. I’d hold it together at work and in front of friends and family, but inside I was an utter mess.
“By September 2017, I’d reached breaking point. I was convinced I’d killed someone, despite being unable to recall any details. I’d grown so petrified that the police were about to turn up at my door to arrest me, I even considered going to the police station myself.
“Plagued by insomnia and anxiety, and worried I might harm myself – or that I’d already hurt someone else – I made an emergency appointment to see a psychiatrist.
“Within minutes of arriving in her office and describing my thoughts, she diagnosed me with having Pure OCD, also known as Pure O (Purely Obsessional). She explained it was an obsessive compulsive disorder in the form of thoughts rather than behaviours. I felt relief – I wasn’t a murderer with memory loss, I had a disorder. It all made sense as the psychiatrist explained years of self-doubt had made me question my thoughts and feelings.
“I spent that first session crying as I was so relieved to find out I wasn’t an awful person. Then my psychiatrist prescribed antidepressants to help with the intrusive thoughts.
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“There had been moments when I’d wondered if I had OCD, but as I had no issues with germs, tidiness or the repetitive compulsions usually associated with the condition, I didn’t think it applied to me.
“I slowly worked through how to deal with my condition thanks to therapy and support from my friend Maddie and others. Whenever an intrusive thought enters my mind now, I’ve learned to recognise it’s just a thought, not a fact.
“I also tell people about my OCD to show it can affect anyone, and when I go on dates I’m upfront about it. If it puts the guy off, then he’s not right for me. I still sometimes worry obsessively that something horrible is going to happen, but I work hard to bat those thoughts away. I’m now much more in control of my life as I know I’m not a bad person – I just have Pure O.”
- It is estimated that 630,000 people in the UK have Pure O.
- Celebs including Daniel Radcliffe, Charlize Theron and Leonardo DiCaprio have all spoken publicly about living with OCD.
Follow Rose: @RoseStokes