Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Managing My OCD at a Festival

I’d like to preface this post by saying that one of my biggest pet hates in life is people, who don’t suffer with OCD, saying "Oh I'm a bit OCD" or just casually referring to their 'OCD' like it's nothing. It's not nothing and it fucks me off like nothing else. Liking things to be a certain way does not mean you have OCD, maybe you have OCPD (Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder) but casually referring to a real illness as though it's no big deal, or something to be laughed at really sends my blood boiling. It's the only area of my life where I have no sense of humour, because it's not fucking funny.

Anyway, now that's out of the way, let me tell you a bit about my back story. I've struggled with OCD since I was 18. My compulsive behaviours are hand washing and intrusive thoughts. I was officially diagnosed in 2015, when it was at its absolute worst. In the 2 and a bit years since I was diagnosed I've tried CBT, anti-depressants and one-to-one counselling with varying degrees of success, but I think the thing that's probably been most helpful to me has been coming to terms with it. At the moment I am in a good place with OCD because I know how it works, I know that it tends to be worse when I'm feeling particularly anxious, or if I'm unhappy or scared, and I know that when I'm a situation that can be potentially triggering, like a festival, then there are somethings I can do that help me cope.

1. Prepare

The key thing is preparation. I find going to festivals hard because I can't wash my hands whenever I want, it makes me feel disgusting and grimy and portaloos are HELL. But I don't let that stop me going, because I love festivals. I always have, and I'd hate to miss out, so I prepare. That means I carry a ton of hand sanitiser with me, and antibac wipes and tissues, so I can clean my hands whenever I want and use a portaloo if I absolutely have too. It's a small thing to do but it puts my mind at ease.

2. Breathe

I hate myself for saying this because it's the most useless, basic bitch piece of advice ever. It's fucking useless, but it does work. Reminding myself to breathe, and take deep breathes when I'm feeling anxious, which I can be around large groups of people, forces me to calm down. And once I'm calm I cope better. It's science.

3. Get a good night's sleep the night before

This should probably have gone under preparation, oh well, it doesn't really matter. Honestly, I just cope with everything better if I'm not tired. Sleep also lowers stress levels, so I'm naturally calmer, which means I'm less like to be triggered.

These things are hardly revolutionary, its more that they're things that help me to do stuff in spite of having of OCD, rather than allowing it to dictate my entire life. But I do hope it helps. Although it's definitely worth noting, disclaimer alert, that I'm not an expert on OCD. I just know what helps me. Please seek professional help if you need it!


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