If I leave the house, I will probably die.

My brain has a lot of rules. Some are quite helpful, like ‘don’t touch that fire’ or ‘remove your hand from that drawer before shutting it’, although it has to be said they don’t work all the time. But some of its rules are not so helpful, like the ones that tell me that leaving the house today will result in my untimely demise or entering that building will result in airborne disease and I will spend the rest of my life being violently ill, or if I let my boyfriend do the washing up we will both succumb to food poisoning. For reasons I will never fully understand these rules are far more convincing than the sensible, helpful ones and therefore I abide by them very strictly, because I am so completely convinced of the outcome.

A lot of people are familiar with obsessive-compulsive disorder, but very few would associate those characteristics with that illness. I know I wouldn’t have a year ago. I showed signs of OCD for fifteen years before I was informed of it. It came up in a few different forms over that time, it started with avoidance of people who had been sick and having to know every little detail of every time my best friend Danielle was ill at ‘little people school’. It changed quite suddenly into a complete avoidance of the subject; I stopped talking to Danielle altogether, and still haven’t to this day. My family weren’t allowed to use the word “sick” to avoid my panic reaction. The strangest reaction was the one that followed; a fascination with disease developed.

This fascination stayed with me for a decade. I kept my distance from ill people still, but I studied disease extensively. I am the holder of a degree in biomedical science, which itself is described as “a study of the human body in health and disease” and trains specifically to work in a diagnostics laboratory of a hospital. I kept my enemy closer than any friend had ever been, and aspired to something that terrified me.

…and then I wondered why I broke down.

I pushed myself way too far in my attempts to conquer my fear and ran screaming straight off the edge of the world – my life very literally changed overnight. My brain re-wrote the rules for me to live by and made so many loopholes and catches and clauses in fine print that I could barely keep up and my world got a little bit smaller every day.

Eight months of therapy and countless self-help books later I am once more just about capable of a normal day, but if you recall the first paragraph then you will see some of the rules that are still firmly in place, still draining energy I can’t afford to waste into a sinkhole of worry.

So, yeah. I don’t really do things anymore. And I think that this blog is going to be a story of coping with my limitations and trying to outwit them.

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