Bird Therapy blog

Anxiety, OCD and Me

It’s difficult to describe what it’s like to live with chronic anxiety to anyone who hasn’t been exposed to it themselves in some way. My own anxiety manifests in a constant, nagging feeling that I’ve done something wrong or am about to do so. Invariably, I then begin to dwell upon the feeling and what may have caused it and so begins a cycle of negative thinking. I worry intensely about what other people think about me, I’m persistently paranoid and will repeat events and conversations over and over in my mind, convinced that I’ve said or done something bad.

This leaves me feeling constantly on edge and hyper-aware of how I interact with people - having a knock-on effect on my concentration and enjoyment of life in general; thus impacting on my overall mood. I sweat, I shake, I fret and I ache, but time has enabled me to learn what the warning signs are and calm myself enough to function, for example, in a supermarket or other public place. It follows me everywhere and sometimes it gets so intense that it hurts my head, gives me a headache and keeps me awake at night. My OCD is even harder to explain!

Obsession - Everything needs to be a certain way; arranged a certain way, done in a certain way – it’s all about order. Without order, bad things will happen, but I’m never really sure what those bad things are, I just know it will. I can’t really explain what the particular ‘way’ is either, it’s my methodologies that I believe are correct. It’s more to do with how they feel, certain ways of doing things feel safe, right and secure. Compulsion - I have plenty of compulsive behaviours, some rational and some ridiculous. The worst was a long-standing fear of urinating myself in public and therefore planning every aspect of my life around the availability of toiler facilities. It got so bad that I would go to the toilet for the sake of going, not because I actually needed to. Thankfully, over the last 3-4 years, I’ve managed to overcome this but there’s still a residual over-visiting of restrooms that lingers.

I combat anxieties with rituals that make me feel at ease. At the minute, I’m struggling with picking my fingers and with social media. I’ve always bit, scratched and picked for as long as I can remember. Unfortunately, my fingers and nails are a bit of a mess and the skin on my face isn’t great either. I like to make lists and plan every aspect of my life, something explored further in this book. I call this ‘mapping’. This quest for ideal circumstance and perfection is pithy – I know that I can’t prepare for every eventuality, but it certainly makes me feel better. Birdwatching has been a marvellous coping strategy, distraction and relaxation aid. As you read further into the book and I share more of my positive experiences relating to mental health and birdwatching, I hope you are able to recognise how it has helped me and how I hope it may help others too

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Four thoughts on “Anxiety, OCD and Me”

Natalie Kober

Thank you so much for sharing what you’re going through Chris. It is inspiring and comforting to know that someone with anxiety and OCD and autism, can be so successful in managing life, despite the difficulties presented by the world we live in. I shall show this to my son who is really struggling at the moment, to believe his life will get any better when so many misunderstand and criticise his way of doing things. You said you’ve managed to overcome certain compulsions - if you have any suggestions on how you achieved that, it would be much appreciated. Many thanks, Natalie :) PS thought you may like this quote - “When a flower doesn’t bloom you change the environment in which it grows, not the flower!” :)

Natalie Kober

I can agree that birdwatching is a most relaxing aid, having spent the last hour watching the birds in my garden, consisting at one point, of 2 wood pigeons, 2 collared doves, a pair of blackbirds, a magpie, a jay, a pair of thrushes, a robin, a wren, a chaffinch (I think) some sparrows and a family of coal tits, great tits and long tailed tits (i think) which are definitely my favourite as they are so adorably cute looking - oh and a squirrel! :) May have had something to do with the apples, nuts and seeds i put out for them. I couldn’t believe the variety! They were a joy to watch even if some of the littler ones were being blown away by the bigger ones flapping their wings to land! :)

Michelle Mcdonald

Your blog is fab! I have suffered anxiety all my life but over the past 2 years it has escalated. Especially the toilet issues, exactly the same as you!

Thanks to your posts and blog, I am rediscoveringy love for nature and how calming it can be.

Starlisa Black

I was very much interested in your comments on Twitter, and came to read your post which is very well done in my opinion. I deal with some anxiety that has gotten worse since menopause, ADD, PTSD, and I’m wondering now about autism