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OCD The Invisible Battle

Updated: Mar 21

I am Shaun Flores; I have been on a mission to increase my understanding of the harsh reality of living with OCD. It is often misunderstood and portrayed as a quirky or enjoyable trait, but those who experience OCD know that it is far from enjoyable.

OCD has shown me the light in life, but also the darkness that exists. At my lowest and most depressed I was unaware it was OCD and I don’t want anybody else to feel as isolated and scared as I did.

People hide in the darkness with OCD when they deserve to live in the light. That is why I am so passionate about raising awareness – OCD is serious, you can recover from it and those who may have OCD can understand what symptoms to look out for and to get the right support

Before, when my OCD was at its worst, I wouldn't have dared to talk about the thoughts I was having. I wasn't aware that intrusive thoughts are a common experience and the fear of acting them out consumed me. Now, I can discuss it without being burdened by shame, guilt or embarrassment because I realize the thoughts aren't my fault.

My Story

Dealing with OCD has been a challenging and unpredictable experience.

in 2022, at twenty-seven years old, I had a breakdown due to my OCD symptoms. OCD first came into my life through fears of suddenly becoming gay, then it moved to Harm thoughts and then suicidal thoughts.

It was one day when I was out with my friend, I had a suicidal thought pop into my head. I was struck with anxiety, fear, panic, and depression. I called all my friends to my house and told them I was suicidal and no longer wanted to be alive. They were shocked and couldn’t fathom what was happening. They stayed with me for the next couple of days to support me and keep me safe.

Although they had to return to their regular routines, my life was anything, but normal because of incessant inner narration and intrusive thoughts that seemed to spin around like a hamster on a wheel.

Harmful thoughts took over my entire world. I became depressed overnight, and I wanted out of my life, with that depression, the darkness, and isolation that ensued was chaos my mind was running all the time to suicidal thoughts.

On Saturday 4th June 2022, I couldn't take it anymore I was in internal turmoil and saw no way out. I called the NHS desperately pleading for treatment as I had been on their waiting list for two years. They were unable to help me instead, they suggested the book Break Free From OCD. I was not in the headspace to digest a whole book, so I scoured the internet and messaged people and therapists desperately to see if they could help me. Nothing, I could not afford anything as OCD has brought me to the ruins of my life.

Instagram was my last hope. I stumbled upon an anxiety psychotherapist called Emma Garrick and I begged her for a conversation. I don't know what would have happened if she didn't pick up. When she called me I cried my eyes out. It was a flooding of pain coming out all in one. I was scared of losing control and becoming all of the thoughts I was having.

There and then she knew what it was. OCD “We will begin therapy on Monday.”

Monday couldn’t come soon enough. I needed help. I didn't want to lose hope and become hopeless.

We started a course of CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) with ERP (Exposure Response Prevention) and ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy). Both were extremely hard yet the sessions were the only place I could truly live. I exited from therapy session to therapy session. My Life Now

Now I am here. I am alive, some days OCD comes in, and some days I have spikes. Some days I lose hope, I am reinforcing the tools I have learned. Writing has been incredibly helpful in my recovery process. It has allowed me to release my emotions in a constructive way, and the support I received from the OCD community has been crucial to my progress. Knowing that I am not alone in my struggles has been a huge inspiration. I am grateful for the opportunity to share my story and remind everyone that we are all in this together.

I now work in advocacy and activism dedicating my time to help others and the messages I get help push me further and further.

I plan to complete my peer support qualification to run peer support groups for those with OCD, and my goal is to utilize my personal experiences with OCD, both those related to and outside of the condition, to guide others in their own life journeys. Ultimately, my aim is to become an OCD therapist. This career path brings me immense purpose, passion, and peace, as I strongly believe that my lived experience with OCD can be a valuable asset in aiding others' recovery. We also need more male therapists.

It is much harder to work with someone who just reads about OCD from a textbook. That lived experience can be the finishing touch and it made a profound difference to me. My therapist has recovered from OCD herself and she showed me that I could lead a normal life alongside OCD. The countless others who have also recovered are a huge inspiration to us currently living with OCD.

Since I started living with OCD, I have learned to cherish the small moments and be grateful for them every day. It was difficult for me to appreciate anything before. Now I practice the skill of happiness.

OCD was the worst thing I had ever experienced, but it did get better. If you are reading this, please know that OCD is not the end. You can emerge stronger and better.

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