One of the main problems of having a mental illness is that they are hidden mental disorders. It’s even hidden from ourselves and at times is impossible to detect or understand. But once you are diagnosed, everything that happened in the past seems to be too obvious, and it becomes easy to understand.
My brother was diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder also known as OCD two years back. Till that point, all I thought about OCD is it’s a condition where the person wants everything neat and clean or wants to put the plates in a certain order. While these particular issues are somewhat, they don’t paint the complete picture.
“As years passed by, his compulsions started to take over his daily life, and he found it even harder now to talk about this to anyone”
One of the most noticeable traits in a person diagnosed with OCD is compulsions. This trait is divided into mental and physical compulsion. I saw my brother who suffered mostly from mental compulsion, where he would have dark thoughts about hurting little animals. Sometimes he would start thinking about what would happen if I threw stones at people? What will happen to them?
To compensate for these thoughts, he would do bizarre things such as having exactly ten bites from a biscuit or place five flowers in a row. It was like a voice in his head that was guiding him through all this and telling him to do some particular thing to compensate for his thoughts.
As years passed by, his compulsions started to take over his daily life, and he found it even harder now to talk about this to anyone. He didn’t want to be scolded or wanted people to think ill of him. He couldn’t trust his friends as he thought they would blackmail him.
As no one knew anything about my brother’s condition, we would unknowingly pull some triggers of his OCD by placing books in an uncategorized manner or just stuff cutlery items in a drawer. Over some time, my family member started to take notice of the difference in my brother’s behavior whenever he stepped into a disorganized room. These events served as a trigger for his panic attacks where sometimes he would just faint.
“He would often start focusing on the people around him or if he’s alone, then remember happy memories from the past”
It was at this moment a professional was consulted, and my brother was diagnosed with OCD. Throughout the therapy sessions, he was asked about his thoughts, his compulsions, the setting of the place where he would have panic attacks, how he liked things to be kept. All this information ultimately helped my brother and the therapist to determine the triggers that cause his mind to go haywire in the first place.
After learning about the triggers, the next step was controlling them. Whenever my brother realized that things could go wrong in this setting, he would often start focusing on the people around him or if he’s alone, then remember happy memories from the past. After managing the triggers, he then confronted the voice in his head, and for the first time in two years, he told the voice to just shut up, and it did.
Then all of a sudden, his compulsions became manageable, and he was able to enjoy a normal life. Unbothered by the fact whether the pencil is kept straight or if there are irregular dots in his notebook. It’s been a year now since he was diagnosed, but seeing him enjoy life and smile now is so pure.