Wednesday 28 September 2016

Counselled to Counsellor: A Postgraduate student with OCD

Beth ( shares her personal mental health journey, and how she is managing her illness alongside embarking on a postgraduate course.
-Beth Hopkins

So, my name is Beth. 

On paper, I’m a 22 year old Psychology Graduate with a lovely boyfriend and a supportive family. I spend about 90% of the time in fleecy PJ bottoms, have very high maintenance eyebrows and am an absolute cake addict. However, what many people don’t know about me is that I face a daily battle with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and anxiety. 

For those of you who don’t know, OCD is an anxiety disorder made up of obsessional thoughts. These obsessional thoughts cause the individual to carry out compulsions in an attempt to reduce the uneasy feeling. For example, with myself, I have a constant dread something awful is going to happen. When this unwelcome and, quite frankly, terrifying thought pops into my head, I find it far too difficult to just ignore. My brain tricks me into thinking if I don’t want this awful thing to happen, I must complete a routine to prevent it. It seems irrational even writing this down but the OCD makes it seem so real. 

In my final year of university, the anxiety became too much for me to cope with. It spiralled into depression and I faced a really difficult few months. I find it fascinating when people can recall their experiences with depression through blog posts and autobiographies etc because I really cannot reflect nor can I vividly remember my own. When I look back on this period of my life, I see an empty, dark tunnel where time crept by slowly. Until, I eventually did find the exit. 

It is my recovery from depression that I can remember. My family were the ones who encouraged me to seek help which I am so grateful for. At a time I wasn’t present myself, they were there to recognise this. I ended up being prescribed medication (sertraline) and received regular counselling, both of which helped me immensely. However, I do still have good and bad days. I don’t think my OCD will ever completely go, it’s something that will forever accompany me through life. But I’m still pushing on and I will not let it stop me. So take that. 

It feels that now is the right time for me to begin to share my experiences about how I have dealt with mental health being such a massive part of my life. The help I have received for both depression and OCD has driven me to help others who are also struggling and I hope that I will be able to do that through continuing to share and write about my experiences. Alongside this, I have recently been accepted onto a Counselling Psychology masters which has started this week (eek!). 

I hope to use my own personal blog, as well as my writing in general to share my journey of being an individual who has, and still does, receive help for their mental health difficulties to becoming a qualified Counsellor myself. I want to share my experience in the hope that other students also beginning an academic journey of sorts, who also have their own mental health problems, can relate and feel less alone. 

1 comment:

  1. Hi Beth I am the parent of an 11 year old girl with severe OCD, so I know how very hard it is to get out from under it and lead a normal life. Keep fighting back!