The hidden side of OCD – I felt like I was possessed and even feared I’d hurt my friends baby – The Sun

HOLDING her friend's baby for the first time, Shauna-Leigh Davies was overcome with emotion.

But instead of a gush of love, the then 16-year-old thought about stabbing the infant.

It was the first time Shauna, from Pontypridd, South Wales, had experienced a disturbing thought of that nature – but it wouldn't be the last.

Now 19, Shauna says she has suffered traumatic and intrusive thoughts since that day in May 2016.

They got so bad that she feared she would turn into a killer and find herself in prison.

Instead, she made her house her own jail and at one point barricaded herself inside for four months to avoid interacting with people.

Shauna started researching her symptoms and believes she has a condition known by the nickname "Pure OCD", or "Pure O".

"Pure OCD", though not a medical term, is one which some sufferers use to describe their condition, which can cause hidden compulsions – rather than just physical ones, like hand washing.

Shauna said: “I suffer from violent or sexual thoughts of family, friends, children or random people. I also think of random things, people or memories for no reason.

I felt like I should be locked up and that I was going to turn into a killer or psychopath

“These thoughts can come in pictures, words or sentences. Sometimes they don’t even make sense.

"My brain tries to adjust words or sentences to make it a better thought so I can feel relief."

Explaining the first time she noticed it, she said: “When I was sixteen, I had an intrusive thought about stabbing my friend’s baby.

"I felt so much anxiety and guilt for weeks and months, I still feel those emotions to this day.

"I felt like I should be locked up and that I was going to turn into a killer or psychopath.

“I didn’t know what was happening. I felt so lost, I didn’t know who I was.

"I felt so many emotions at once, such as confusion, sadness and anger. I felt as if my whole world had fallen apart."

'I felt like a monster'

Shauna said things got so bad that she even considered taking her own life.

She said: “I carried so much anxiety around with me I couldn’t complete simple tasks anymore.

"I'd wake up in a state of panic and go to bed in a state of panic.

“I didn’t want to live anymore, even brushing my teeth and showering became a chore.

"I was so consumed by these intrusive thoughts that it felt like I had been possessed.

“Nothing made sense and I felt like my mother would disown me and think that I’m a monster if I told her what was happening.

“It’s hell but inside your head. It feels like I’m being punished mentally everyday by intrusive and unwanted thoughts that make me feel physically sick."

It feels like I’m being punished mentally everyday by intrusive and unwanted thoughts that make me feel physically sick

She explained that her thought turn into obsessions, which turn into compulsions – to calm the anxiety.

“These compulsions give the brain short term relief – we have to do the compulsions, or we cannot settle," she said.

“I did around two years of research before suspecting I have 'Pure OCD'."

She is currently awaiting an official diagnosis from the NHS and started receiving private therapy last month.

Her therapist reviews how her week went and sets homework, which includes daily hygiene, going out, sexual activity, watching or being near things that trigger her.

What is Pure OCD?

Purely Obsessional OCD, also known as Pure O, is a type of OCD in which a sufferer engages in hidden compulsions.

Instead of combating their intrusive thoughts with visible rituals such as hand-washing or counting, they perform repetitive, mental rituals to minimise stress.

Due to the hidden nature of the disorder, Pure OCD is extremely distressing and challenging to treat.

Many sufferers go years without seeking help or opening up to loved ones.

Common Pure OCD compulsions can include:

Guilt – Thinking you’re a bad person for having violent, blasphemous or sexual intrusive thoughts.

Thinking you’re a bad person – Your character is at risk if you do the wrong thing and you feel devastated if someone thinks you’re a bad person.

Avoidance – Avoiding objects, places and people that are related to the nature of your intrusive thoughts.

Answer seeking – Establishing legitimacy and determining answers to your thoughts.

Reassurance – Going to church or temple and talking with clergy members or getting reassurance from family members that you’ve reached the right conclusion.

Research – Looking online to find answers to your questions.

Source: Intrusive Thoughts

“They have helped me massively to see that OCD is only as bad as I let it be and that I should accept it for what it is," she said.

“I shouldn’t try to make it stop. I should bring it along for the ride. The more comfortable I have gotten with OCD, the less anxious I am.

“It’s still hard but my perspective has changed – OCD shouldn’t take my life away and I shouldn’t feel guilty for something that is out of my control.

“The thoughts are not the problem but my reaction to them is the problem. I should let them be and give them no attention."

Shauna also praised her boyfriend, Bartlomiej, 19, for supporting her through her journey – even when she locked herself inside her house.

“My partner became like my personal guardian who had to come everywhere with me to make sure I was okay.

"There would be times that I would cry my eyes out to go home so I could sleep and switch off.

“I would barricade myself in my own home, it went on for around three to four months, which happened in March this year.

I thought he [boyfriend] would leave me and think that I’m a monster, I was wrong, he was so supportive about it and still is to this day

“I was going to a sports college to be a gym instructor. I started to skip days and before I knew it, I wasn’t going anymore.

"I dropped out because I was so drained with anxiety, I was in no place to complete a qualification.

“I told my boyfriend everything because I couldn’t face the guilt. I told him that if he wanted to break up with me there and then, I would be okay with it.

“I thought he would leave me and think that I’m a monster, I was wrong, he was so supportive about it and still is to this day.

“He is the only one that understands what I’m going through."

Shauna is speaking out break the stigma that OCD is about cleaning – and let them know recovery is possible.



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“I want OCD to stop being a stereotypical metaphor," she said.

"'Pure OCD' is the mental type of OCD, where compulsions are usually not physical."

Offering her advice to anyone going through a similar experience, she said: “Don’t give up, OCD is not the end of your life. Learn to live with it, not against it."

For more information and support if you or a loved one are affected by OCD visit OCD Action's website here, and MIND here.

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