What is obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)? SANE Australia spoke to Tim Hillier about his experience of OCD, the symptoms he encounters and his advice for others diagnosed with the disorder.
I've had obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) since I was about seven or eight years old.
I've had a lot of different symptoms throughout the years and I've read a lot about it.
People don't really see the seriousness and the impact that it has, I suppose it's seen as more of a quirk or a temporary behaviour.
What is often misunderstood about OCD?
The symptoms of checking and cleaning are the main symptoms that often get used as examples, and they're just two symptoms of an endless list. And also the way OCD works, in terms of the seriousness of it and the fact that it's fairly ongoing for most people.
For me OCD is more of a permanent thought and a permanent anxiety, rather than just something temporary. I think people don't tend to quantify it that well and they don't tend to understand those different severities and people don't fully undertand what someone is disclosing when they say they have OCD.
For me it's always been excessive thoughts that pop-up, and from here it could be a number of different things. It could be a behaviour, a compulsion, or it could be thinking about something a little bit more, trying to analyse something, it could be a mental routine, it could be avoiding something.
It's important to understand the [varying] ways OCD can come about. Over the years I might have been worrying about the sun damaging my eyes, so I've worn sunglasses or avoided the sun. I might have worried about clothes not fitting, so I might have swapped clothes. Things like that.
There's things that can be done, there's treatments that be quite effective these days. So I remind people that there is options.
I really [try to] empathise with them and understand what they're going through and talk them through it. And then remind them that there have been developments, there are good treatments available and there is a lot of people who suffer from OCD, a lot more than you would think. There's a lot of people out there, so remember that, and there is a lot of support and people you can talk to.
For more information about OCD, try SANE Australia's Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Factsheet.