6000 Thoughts a Day living with OCD
This is part of the BE series looking to explore masculinities and mental wellbeing, breaking down stigma around helpseeking, encouraging collective wellbeing, and highlighting the ways social structures and culture influence each of our wellbeing.
The average person has up to 6200 thoughts a day according to research in 2020 by a team of psychology experts at Queen's University in Canada. Yet, people with OCD can experience some thoughts as intrusive and repetitive. Shaun Flores discusses his experience with OCD, mental health, and reaching out for help.
After a series of obsessive and intrusive thoughts I was finally diagnosed with Pure 0 OCD at the age of 27 years old, OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder).
“Pure 0 is a subtype of OCD that’s characterized by intrusive thoughts, images or urges without any visible physical compulsions. Pure OCD differs slightly from other types of OCD because its compulsions primarily take place in a person’s head rather than in actions.”
My diagnosis came as a relief as I was having intrusive and obsessive thoughts about my sexuality, hurting people and suicide. For a long while, I assumed these thoughts would leave. As time carried on and the thoughts felt more intrusive and screamed urgency I simply could not ignore them. I felt such cause for concern I sought out therapy, the therapy caused me to spiral further. I needed something else, but one day the thoughts became too much, and I was desperate for help anything to relieve the torment in my mind. I stumbled upon a therapist Emma Garrick.
I begged for her to please pick up the phone as I felt I was nearing the end of my tether with my mental and emotional state. Crying on the phone hysterically I opened up about all my thoughts and asked why I was having these thoughts yet I did not want to act on them. Emma told me it was OCD, and from that call, my life changed. I allowed time to eat me up, I had lost hope and everything that I once enjoyed. I thought I would never get my life back.
Since then I have slowly reclaimed my life in the hope to help others with OCD. OCD truly can take over people's lives and I made a promise to tell the story for those who are not able to. Many individuals with OCD feel ashamed and it's time we feel less shame!
According to Orchard OCD “Sixty per cent of OCD patients are also depressed and many are suicidal. The lifetime prevalence of OCD is 2-3 %. It affects all population groups regardless of gender and culture.”
The common narrative surrounding OCD in society is one associated with obsessive cleaning which illustrates that OCD requires more discussion across spaces. Where people use OCD as a personality trait or adjective. “I am so OCD, I have OCD”, referring to when they like things in order. It is not the same.
Not enough people with OCD speak up and I am trying to speak up more to help raise mental health awareness for those with OCD. Also being a man it is important to speak up.
According to the Mental Health Foundation, “Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 45., where approximately 1-in-8 men have a common mental health problem such as anxiety, stress, or depression. When left unattended, these problems can worsen and be detrimental to those affected. ”
If I did not reach out for help, I face the sobering reality I could have taken my own life, indefinitely hurting those who love and care for me. OCD has showed me that mental health needs to be a continued conversation and more men need to speak up! I hope this article helps other men out there with OCD to come forward and tell your story.
In addition those who know people suffering with OCD to seek help as many individuals are undiagnosed and OCD is more common than we realise. Through this commonality let us make mental health conversations more open.
He’s also delivered two TEDx Talks, TEDx 2022 about the straitjacket of masculinity & TEDx 2018 referring to the education system and how we can’t leave anyone behind. He now aims to deliver a third TEDx Talk to help raise awareness of OCD, so watch this space!