A long time ago ( 20 years or so), somebody asked me this question. ” What’s up with you? Are you mentally ill or something? The truth is, I still don’t know what this really means. I do know that I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. What I still don’t entirely understand is whether it’s a fault with my brain, a fault with my mind or a fault with both. I’ve spent many years, tapping objects in a certain order, counting relentlessly in my mind and under my breath, walking in and out of rooms, doing daily tasks in a militant order, only to start again if I’m interrupted. It is exhausting and adds hours per day to would be quick and simple tasks. I’ve always known I look strange to the outside world when doing some of these rituals, but being called on it by this person really hit home on how seriously I was affected, not to mention the burning humiliation I felt when this person infiltrated my bubble with his enquiring mind.

I would like to add that the person asking this question, clearly wasn’t concerned about my well-being in anyway, but was simply enjoying the amusement my symptoms gave him. Embarrassed at the time, by my need to touch the same bit of fence over and over in order to minimise my anxiety, I gave a sheepish response to this mocking enquiry of my mental state, and simply answered, ‘I like the way it feels’, Knowing this made me sound just as silly, but in my mind it was better than admitting I had OCD. I lived this way for years and it made my OCD twice as exhausting.

Some years later, call it an epiphany (maybe), I made a decision to stop excusing my condition and I feel a lot better for it, not cured, not by any stretch of the imagination, but better. Friends and family know what I’m doing, I’m open about my condition to work colleagues and because of my acceptance, the mental strain and exhaustion has lessened. All that I need now is to find a cure for the incessant worrying and compulsions, then I’m laughing! – So, in answer to that question, yes I have OCD, maybe that makes me mentally ill, and no I’m not ashamed. Good day, sir!


  • of the nature of an obsession


  • an idea or thought that continually preoccupies or intrudes on a person’s mind.


  • resulting from or relating to an irresistible urge

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder – Medical Definition

  • Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) affects people differently, but usually causes a particular pattern of thought and behaviour.

This pattern has four main steps


  • where an unwanted, intrusive and often distressing thought, image or urge repeatedly enters your mind


  • the obsession provokes a feeling of intense anxiety or distress


  • repetitive behaviours or mental acts that you feel driven to perform as a result of the anxiety and distress caused by the obsession

Temporary Relief

  • the compulsive behaviour brings temporary relief from anxiety, but the obsession and anxiety soon return, causing the cycle to begin again