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Sandra Dean – Registered Member

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For OCD awareness week 8 to 14 October 2012 – my symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder, past and present and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) really does work!

OCD Awareness week is here – 8th to 14th October 2012 – as noted in my article on the event (CLICK HERE TO VIEW IT – opens in a new window) I am writing even more about my experience and recovery from OCD. Here are my main symptoms of OCD – past and present. Quite a few overlap through my other disorders/illnesses which again will highlight the difficulty in diagnosis.  OCD can be debilitating and I hope that if you look closely at all the symptoms I had, that you will be able to see that whilst OCD can be an issue with cleaning too much, and it can be about checking we’ve locked the car door (things that most people associate with OCD), the symptoms are very often so much more …

(These are excerpts from my memoir ‘My Alien Self: My Journey Back to Me’ with updates)


1. Worry that I will do something that will end in me being put in prison or in trouble with the police – like harm Chris, boyfriend

2. Convinced I can’t do my job on my way to work

3. Worrying about having my niece or nephew in my care

4. Worrying about driving other peoples cars

5. Constantly needing reassurance about my thoughts and decisions

6. Obsession with my weight and addiction to exercise and obsession with a having a flat stomach

7. Obsessed about having control – controlling myself and controlling others and not being happy when people don’t do as I want or expect them to (this is why I felt let down by people, because they didn’t reach my expectations. didn’t want to control peoples whole lives, but certain things, like answering immediately to emails or texts I have sent, not arguing with me, not seeing certain people)

8. Making lists, living by lists, massive untidy lists, lists of things I cannot possibly achieve

9. Hoarding and keeping old lists, notes, emails, text messages, tickets of all kinds and lots of material objects

10. Sudden urges to admire and move things about and neaten towels and ornaments

11. Shaking my snow globes before leaving my bedroom for comfort and luck

12. Belief that the oven will turn on spontaneously while I am out – things could drop on the dials and turn it on and it will set fire (this is an electric hob!)

13. Getting addicted to working, forgetting to eat, failing to go out to get other things done, omitting to exercise, logging working hours and obsessing about not working enough

14. Deciding what to wear is sometimes a major problem. I try something on, then envisage myself in the restaurant or place and people looking at me and what they will think about what I am wearing – I think I look fat, things don’t fit properly or I look frumpy. These thoughts bug me so much that I can enter the bedroom happily getting ready to go out and come out fifteen minutes later in a complete state having decided that it’s all too much and I am now not going out at all. Chris and I both miss out and are bewildered at my rapid mood change over such a small thing even though it takes me some time to realise it.

15. Obsessive dreams; recurring ones about being chased and they are catching up, or I am paralysed but awake and hearing what’s going on around me, but I can’t wake up, all since I was a little girl.

16. Salute magpies and do not walk on three drains in a row, I have to do things three times for luck, like taking three lots of toilet paper, or touching things three times

17. I am afraid of fire – I think the sun will shine through a glass and catch the conservatory on fire: that it would burn down.

18. I use a hairdryer and straighteners nearly every day going to work and have to phone my mum to check that I haven’t left either of them on and the house would burn down and kill my parents

19. A perfectionist. I need everything done in a certain way and if it isn’t perfect I reject it, like the garage leaking in the flat, which meant I had to sell the flat.

20. Counting everything – my steps as I walk along, and pavement squares. That started when I was little and trying to keep up with my dad’s steps. He’d hold my hand walking along in town. We’d be alone, don’t know why. But the counting the steps continued for years even without my dad there. Counting other things too; words in my head, words I say over and over in my head

21. I have quite a thing about ‘fate’. Not for myself as much but negatively about others. If I make or cancel plans with any of my family, particularly my mum or dad, I am consumed by thoughts that something bad will happen to them as a consequence of my actions. For example, if I meet my mum for lunch and then she gets the bus home I feel very guilty that she might have an accident, the bus might crash or she might get mugged and it will be my fault for changing her day by making arrangements with her and changing her ‘fate’ as it were or not offering her a lift home in my car. But I also realise that my actions might do the opposite and save people from bad. This happens very often and is a big distraction

22. I have been obsessed with my book and my self therapy, but that’s positive, apart from the fact that going through my life was very hard

23. Obsessed with tasks and finishing things, so much so, that I cannot get on with the task in hand, for worrying about finishing it, or the next thing that I have to do

24. Statistically working everything out – where I am in a novel, ie if I am on page 50 of 300 then I am now one sixth through the book and have five sixths left. But doing this every few pages, so that the statistics of what I am doing is actually taking over the enjoyment of what I am doing. This wasn’t just books, it was writing my book and doing any kind of work, spreadsheets etc I love numbers and statistics, what can I say!

25. When flying in Chris’ (boyfriend) plane, I see death coming and panic when he turns sharply or there is the slightest bit of turbulence (this was not present when we first started flying together)


1. Conversations in my head (not hearing voices, but my own made up conversations… that’s different, isn’t it?) – conversations that I can’t stop, repeating the words and sentences over and over (this is hard because I sometimes believe a conversation has happened with someone when it hasn’t) – this happens hardly ever now and only when I am very stressed)

2. Tidy one minute, messy the next

3. I am now obsessed with my mental health campaign and social networking and have been on my laptop morning, noon and night and recently, when realising I was even doing social networking whilst out for dinner, and away for a weekend, I realised it must stop. And I am already tackling that by leaving my laptop behind when I go out.

4. I play with my hair and twiddle it endlessly with my fingers annoying everyone I know, including myself – and it makes my hair greasy!

5. Convinced that I cannot cope with responsibilities (only very occasionally now)

6. I am still worrying unnecessarily about things, but not to the degree I used to – I am able to get over adversities quickly now and have even let people go out of my life if they are detrimental to my wellbeing.

7. I still salute magpies, but lots of people do this too

8. I still like things done in a certain way, but that’s not bad as I like them done properly.

9. I still worry about getting future tasks done a bit, but I do at least get them done in better order now and I am recently back to my ‘living for today’ way of thinking which stops me worrying about the future as much – it really does work for me. I am happier in the morning and am doing many more enjoyable things with that frame of mind.

For me, what got me through and helped me to understand, my OCD symptoms, was Integrative Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT, which included person centred and psychodynamic approaches as well), strength and a lot of self help homework!  I do not advise anyone on what to do, I just share my own experiences, but I wholeheartedly believe in the power of CBT to overcome symptoms of OCD and also Depression.

Here’s a link to the ‘OCD Awareness Week’ website – CLICK HERE TO OPEN (in a new window)

These links below are all on my own website and should help you to gain a better understanding of OCD: How I used OCD to my advantage – CLICK HERE TO OPEN (in a new window)

All about OCD – symptoms and information – CLICK HERE TO OPEN (in a new window)

Skills to help with difficult emotions – CLICK HERE TO OPEN (in a new window)

OCD can often co-occur with other disorders such as depression and Borderline Personality disorder (BPD) –CLICK HERE TO OPEN (in a new window)

Writing about OCD, BPD, depression, my life and recover – how it helped me – CLICK HERE TO OPEN (in a new window)

My selected links for external websites – including OCD.  If you would like to recommend any others, please email me at: CLICK HERE (opens in a new window)

And finally, for those who are not sufferers, remember that the kindest thing you can do for anyone with mental illness is – be anti-stigma.  Try to understand the person’s illness.  Try to create empathy for that person.  It’s not about sympathy, it’s about empathy – really trying to understand things from the other’s point of view.  See my article BY CLICKING HERE on how you can help stop stigma (opens in a new window)

More articles on stigma on my site:





Take care and I hope this article helps!

Amanda :-)

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