Paige Bethany


Why "I'm so OCD" is becoming offensive.

There’s only so many times you can hear uneducated individuals who do NOT have the condition jokingly say “I’m so OCD” because they claim they don’t like one of their pens not being lined up properly.

This phrase starts to become offensive, particularly if you’ve heard it be used completely out of context and in a mocking way. I try not to be a snowflake about these things, but I think it’s time we learn a few things about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and why the phrase “ugh I’m so OCD” affects people who genuinely have the disorder who struggle to get out of bed with it. Of course, it's not your fault that you don't know much about it; which is why i'm here!

OCD or better known as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, is one of many mental health issues that has still not had much time in the spotlight or awareness shone on how it affects people.

Many people still believe that OCD is about being a “clean freak,” someone who likes to have everything lined up the right way or someone who hates a cluttered room. Whilst there are people with OCD out there who do have these particular OCD traits, the mental illness is so much more than that.

I often wonder where to start when it comes to writing or talking about mental health disorders, particularly when it comes to OCD as it’s something very personal to me and I know that it comes in so many different forms and variations depending on a person-to-person basis.

We’ll start with the facts to which unfortunately, people do and WILL continue to make a joke or mockery of because that’s the world that we live in. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a anxiety disorder where someone suffers huge anxiety that stems from having an intrusive or obsessive thought.

These obsessive thoughts can be mild to servers, affecting someone a couple of times a day, or up to 24 hours a day. Not always, but some people have “compulsions” or rituals that help eleviate the anxiety surrounded by their thoughts.

For example, A person may fear that a cooker Hob is likely to catch fire, and they may have a very visual intrusive thought that this fire will burn their house down or even the people they love, and so they may check that the Hob is off a number of times, or using their own specific and preferred way, to stop the probability of a “fire” from starting.

Many people with OCD may have rituals that are based around numbers or certain routines and orders.

When I first started suffering with OCD and checking behaviours, every single night before bed, I would check each and every plug socket in my room 5 times, all in the same order, to ensure that none of them were on. I would never go to bed or feel safe enough to close my eyes and sleep before I had done all of this properly. If someone had interrupted this routine of mine that had literally come out of nowhere, I would have gotten angry and would have forced myself to start it again.

OCD is very much about feeling like you need to have control, having doubts and not being able to trust yourself. It’s about having intrusive thoughts that literally feel like they are knocking on your front door (or in this instance, your brain), all of the time. Although it’s different for everybody,

OCD mainly consists of a routine or some sort of thinking behaviour that an individual feels is very hard to escape from or that they will not be safe if they don’t think about it/perform the rituals. OCD is the voice inside your head that tells you that something isn’t right or that you haven’t done something properly, even though you 100% have and have already checked it 10 times prior to this.

“With OCD, theres always a thought in the back of your mind. I know that nothing bad will happen if I don’t do my rituals, but I have to do them. - just in case.”

Within the disorder of Obsessive Compulsiveness, comes the “what ifs” and the “just in case” phrases that are usually increddibly prominent behind every sufferers phobia. “What is a fire does start?” “What if I do cause harm to my family?” “What if I don’t actually have OCD and I’m just crazy?”

The what ifs are more often than not, constant for an individual who suffers with OCD, which can be debilitating, making it hard to filter any other noise apart from the questions that they’re asking themselves in their head. Everybody experiences different forms of OCD which is why we shouldn’t ALWAYS focus on the sub-catorgories as it just makes everything a little more confusing. But I’ve listed some examples of OCD behaviour which are all too common within the community.

Comment themes of OCD include:

- Checking electrical appliances constantly

- Check doors are locked / windows are shut constantly

- Fearing that you’ll hurt yourself or somebody else without realising it

- Fear of germs and/or being contaminated with constant hand washing that can lead to skin irritation

- Counting the amount of times you do things

- Finding even numbers particularly pleasing, you feel like typical odd numbers are bad luck.

- Feeling like you just can’t stop thinking about something full stop, even when it’s time to go to bed.

I remember when I developed suicidal OCD which I’ll admit, was one of the scariest moments of my life. I wasn’t “suicidal,” but I found myself thinking about the ways I’d end my life if I ever “wanted to,” and I’d constantly question if I actually wanted to be alive or not. Of course I did want to be, and that was the answer within my heart, but the OCD within my brain was much louder than what was coming from my heart, and so I found myself thinking “I don’t know if I want to be alive, I really don’t know.” This then lead me to an even bigger cycle of “I must be suicidal if I don’t know if I want to be alive or not! What if this isn’t OCD? What if what I’m feeling is real?” My compulsions with this one was to immediately tell someone the thought I’d just had and I’d always seek re-assurance, more than a few times a day. I had this form of OCD for months, until one day it just decided to leave my head to which I was more than happy about, as you can imagine. But of course, if you have largely imacpted OCD like I did/do, you’re clever enough to know that the disorder doesn’t just leave you and never come back, because low and behold, it did come back, but this time, it latched itself onto the strong relationships I had with other people, causing friction between them and making me question even the GOOD relationships I had between the people that I loved. OCD is evil, and it attaches itself to the things that are important to you. I didn’t want to die, and OCD made sure of that, I didn’t want to loose the people I loved around me, and OCD made sure of that one too. I didn’t want their to be a fire that would burn down my house and kill my pets, and it made sure of that too. But it did so by presenting itself through obsessive thoughts and unwanted images 24 hours a day.

Everything that I’ve ever loved and that is important to me, OCD always came into the way of it, making me question absolutely everything. I’m still healing from it all, and it’ll never go away, but I’m getting there and have received support along the way. This, being one of the reasons why OCD is harder to deal with than what most people think.

I read a lot of blogs about this disorder, some of which really help to re-assure me that I’m not some bonkers lady who thinks there’s going to be a fire every 5 minutes.

With OCD, it’s important to remember that the thoughts you have do not define you. They leave you feeling uncertain, confused, fearful and even questioning your own life / existence, but it’s important to take into account that thoughts are just thoughts.

The thoughts are of course often debilitating and it’s almost like someone’s talking to you every hour of every day, your own personal reminder whispering in your ear about all your obsessions and fears which you can’t get away from even when you close your eyes. But you can come back from it. I did. And so have many others.

The disorder may never permanently leave you but it’s totally possible for the majority of your fears and intrusive thoughts to be gone.

Somebody with OCD can still live their life and are perfectly capable of living an even happier life after they have had treatment. You are not alone in this. I and many other people know how physically and mentally draining this disorder is and I’m so sorry that there aren’t many out there who are educated on it.

If you are suffering, please reach out and ask for help. Even if it’s a family member, tell someone about what you’re going through, because through experience, there will always be one person who listens and understands. Soon you’ll get better, because you have to.

Illustrations are by @ocddoodles on Instagram, she is amazing and uses her digital art skills to visualise the disorder very well!

Cerebral Palsy is more than what you think.

When you hear the words “Cerebral Palsy,” what springs to mind? Someone in a wheelchair? Unable to speak or feed themselves? Because that’s what people usually think. Sure, Cerebral Palsy is a disability that can have those types of affects on individuals, but I wanted to speak more about the broader spectrum of Cerebral Palsy and all of the other ways it can affect people.

I was born 3 months premature, with three holes in my heart and a bleed on the brain. To cut the “sob story,” (as many people have once called it) short, I was pretty poorly as a newborn and stayed in hospital for a number of months until I was first brought home. It wasn’t until a little later on in my life, around the ages of two to three years old, that a doctor took one look at my bent, inward facing feet, and told my mum something that she wasn’t expecting to hear. “She has Cerebral Palsy.”

cerebral who? Cerebral what? Where do I go from here? were all the questions I can picture my mum asking herself from this day forward, as like any other mum would be doing the same.

I don’t think my mum, dad and the entirety of my family really knew at to what extent that this “Cerebral what-ya-majig” affected me. All they knew about it was that it was a brain injury that occurred at birth, affecting my mobility and muscle strength. They didn’t know if my speech or general ability to look after myself was going to be affected or if the injury had occurred on a different part of the brain.

As I grew up, it was evident that my legs were primarily affected. I didn’t learn to walk until later on in life and was tormented by people who I thought were my friends throughout primary school because of it.

As I grew up, we noticed that there was no impairment to my speech, my ability to hear, to feed myself or to walk unaided. I struggled with a few things that many people would find easy however, such as doing up buttons, putting together puzzles, working out maths problems, walking long distances, being able to process certain information/sensory aspects and being able to balance on something without having someone there to hold on to.

If you have Cerebral Palsy, other simple tasks such as learning to ride a bike,  how to throw and catch a ball and how to tie a shoe lace can seem impossible.

I often experienced a lot of knee, hip and ankle pain and was constantly hurting my ankles because of the way I walked. Most people just put this down to me being clumsy because I was that type of child who fell over every 10 seconds.

This pain was of course hidden and not something that everyone could see from the outside, so it was hard for people to understand why I didn’t take part in PE or Sports Day at school, and I’d often be told that it was “just an excuse.” It then also became evident that I was potentially on the Autism Spectrum Disorder which we feel is partly down to the Cerebral Palsy. I was then later on in my life diagnosed with this as well as Generalised Anxiety Disorder which at times made it hard for me to leave my home and dyscalculia (the inability to process numbers or number patterns).

There’s a lot of chapters in my life, and this disability has a factor(s) in almost every single one of them, which is why I wish not to bore you with much more about how it affected me personally and instead wanted to focus on raising awareness about HOW this disability affects people differently.

Cerebral Palsy is a brain injury that is non-progressive. An individual cannot die from the disability, nor will it ever get worse. However, the disability does not go away and the struggles that the individual is born with are those that they will have for the rest of their life.

Cerebral Palsy can be diagnosed using a technical term depending on which part of the brain has been the most affected (confusing right?). For example, Somebody with Hemiplegia may only have Cerebral Palsy down one side of their body, whilst somebody with Diplegia Cerebral Palsy may only have it from their waist down.

Some common symptoms of Cerebral Palsy include:

- The inability to sit up without being aided (from a young age)

- Having floppy and/or bent arms

- Having co-ordination problems such as being unable to balance or always falling over

- Having speech, hearing or sight difficulties that do not improve

- Being late in overall childhood development such as learning to walk, learning to talk, loosing baby teeth, gaining new teeth etc.

Cerebral Palsy isn’t just about being confined to a wheelchair or having limited mobility, it’s about how it can make you feel on the inside; less component than others, embarrassed, stressed, fed up, and so much different from the rest. In the beginning, we all thought that Cerebral Palsy was just something that affected me physically, but as I grew older, it turned out to affect me mentally too. The disability can cause an individual to feel this way despite the severity of it. Somebody, like myself, may have it mildly compared to someone who is completely paralysed and may not even be able to speak. Regardless of to which extent an individual has the disability, we are all capable of feeling these emotions, even without the disability.

And I’d like to take this time to remind you that, even if an individual cannot speak, or may seem like they cannot hear you or that they are not “all there,” (as some of you refer to it as), they are. They 100% are. I remember being treated as dumb or stupid because of the way I walked and because of the way my brain processed puzzles/numbers differently to others. I was treated as if I was invisible or that I was so stupid that I didn’t understand anyone around me when they spoke to me. But I did. And at age 20, these words still resonate with me, as much as I know how childish they were and still are.

Cerebral Palsy can be a very painful, life limiting disability that I feel has not had much input or awareness. Not everybody with Cerebral Palsy is confined to a wheelchair. Many of us with the disability can walk, talk, and still hear you. Just because you may not see that somebody has a disability, doesn’t mean it’s not truly there. Cerebral Palsy has the ability to affect the way somebody’s heart pumps blood around their body from the way that they perceive the world. Different individuals with the condition may be able to receive at-home care or physiotherapy but of course, whilst still helpful, it does not “cure” the problem.

Those with a disability,  especially Cerebral Palsy, may find it hard to keep up with others as we tend to take up more energy when it comes to just walking alone compared to those without a disability. Our hearts work that little bit harder and we like to sleep, a lot, because we love sleep, and we're exhausted half the time. This gets mistaken as laziness, especially if I ask to sit down or take a break. Sometimes i just feel like wearing a "I have cerebral palsy i'm not trying to be lazy" tshirt just to spare the juedgement!

I had surgery back in 2013 to re-align my hips, knees and lower leg muscles which was successful and life changing for me. I had to learn to walk again but it was worthwhile. I am now able to walk better because of it and I am forever so grateful for the surgeon (Mr. Spence at Evelina Children’s Hospital), who turned my dream of being able to walk properly into a reality. Although the operation was helpful, it still doesn’t automatically mean I no longer have the disability, because I will always have it. It’s a incurabile BRAIN injury, not a muscle one!

I guess my message here, within this blog is: be kind. Don’t assume. Not all disabilites are visible and because of this, you must treat people equally and with respect. And spread awareness if you feel like there is not enough information out their regarding your own condition! This goes with other disabilities too, particularly if the stereotypical norm for your disability is that you *must* be in a wheelchair, unable to care for yourself! *enter sarcastic rolling eye emoji here.*

Those with a disability have different life experiences and know what it’s like to be hurt, pushed down and to be made to feel like that they don’t matter. It’s hard for us to try and get on with our day as easily as we possibly can without being tormented or told we can’t park in a disabled bay because we don’t “LOOK” disabled enough.

Not all disabilities are visible, and there’s often so much more behind someone’s disability than what you think there is. Whilst disabilities are more commonly physical, they can also come with their mental obstacles too. I think this is what many people fail to understand. 

Although the disability itself is hard to deal with, after you've gone through the rough stages of your life, you end up coming out of the other side of it with more supportive friends than you’ve ever had, a supportive and loving family, and more of a desire to be kinder to others because you know what it’s like when someone isn’t the same to you.

You are not your disability. You are what you love. You are your own personality who has a lot of potential and a lot of love to share. I let too many people define me by my disability and I do not want anybody else to do the same - everybody is capable of so many different things despite who they are or what their specific abilities are. I have been incredibly lucky in my life and I am so thankful to everybody who has helped me since the minute I was born. This by any means is not a “feel sorry for me” article, because sympathy is not what I want or what I need. What we all want and need is for everybody to be more disability aware and kinder to each other.

I appreciate this hasn’t been one of the “bubbliest” If “BubblyBlogs” that I’ve ever written but, some things are just meant to be shared. And I feel like the reason why I was given this disability was so that I could also help others with the same thing.