I did not notice my worsening mental health, and got hit hard by OCD (a tale of caution)
Have you seen “Aviator”, a movie with Leonardo DiCaprio about Howard Hughes? Then you might recall what an OCD is.
Obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental disorder in which a person has certain thoughts ”repeatedly (called "obsessions") or feels the need to perform certain routines repeatedly (called ”compulsions") to an extent which generates distress or impairs general functioning
I have a mild form of OCD. Had it since teenage years. It rarely bothered me, and I mainly did not care about it much. It manifested itself maybe few times per year, where I would have to re-check if the door is locked few times, for example (which does not seem like a huge burden).
And so, I felt great in autumn and in the first half of December. Everything was fine, I have a job that I love, great family, and hobbies that I enjoy.
Then, this winter came, and It got worse. I live in a northern country (Estonia), daylight time is very short, and although I don’t suffer from SAD too much usually, it might have been a factor. And I usually try to get some vacation in warmer countries, but this year did not do it because of COVID. I also started to work from home, and it probably added to the feeling of isolation and brought me down more.
All in all, I don’t know what were that main factors, but probably the whole combination was just a bit too much. Occasional obsessions and compulsions started to show up more, but I mainly just shrugged them off. Then, closer to the new year, it stared to get even worse.
And now it’s at a point where I need professional help, It's hard to work, I lost lots of weight, have bad anxiety all the time, and all the obsessions make my behaviour erratic at times. And yet another problem — its actually hard to find professional help quickly! It can be weeks or months until finding a therapist. Thakfully, I was able to secure an appointment within a weel, but not all people are as lucky.
My main mistake was not looking for warning signs of illness. It was “today it’s fine, then all will be fine” attitude, which is a big mistake.
Yes, my case is slightly exotic, but it relates to all other mental health issues: depression, anxiety, panic attacks, etc… Nearly 20% of people have some form of mental illness, and some of the issues might not seem like a big deal until they hit hard.
As a tale of caution, I have some advice, which I will follow religiously in future. This is relatively obvious and simple, but let my example be a bit of a motivation to take it more seriously.
- Maintain mood logging, and journal regularly. It would help to notice any anomalies and problems before they become serious. Don’t shrug off warning signs!
- Find mental health checklists, like https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/anxiety-and-depression-checklist-k10, check yourself time from time,
- Therapy is important, especially in this times. I never did therapy, and now regret it.
- Fitness, meditation, good diet and all kinds of self care — in this time of increased isolation it’s not just some random good habits, treating this seriously is a very important part of well-being.