Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a grave illness, if not diagnosed and treated early in life. It is a form of chronic anxiety, where a person has recurrent disruptive thoughts (obsessions), which result in repetitive behaviour (compulsions), anxiety about thoughts or rituals, over which he/she has little control.
Obsessions stem from repeated uncertainty towards a thing, situation, or a person. It is a consequence of suppressed emotions or neurological chemical imbalance. Such individuals reach a moment in life when they are unable to accept themselves. In some cases, they develop even suicidal tendencies.
Statistics show that in the United States around 3.3 million people are estimated to have OCD. Exact statistics about India are not available. However, according to the National Health Portal, the lifetime prevalence of OCD is 2.3 percent.
Fatima Yusuf (pen name) was struck with OCD very early in life. But the girl had grit and determination and overcomes it with the help of parents and medical attention. As Fatima puts it, borrowing from Gloria Gaynor’s lyrics: ‘I was afraid. I was petrified.’ But Fatima gradually realized that ‘the change must come from within me. The fear in me lasted for a long time. The more doors I opened; the fear started melting away.’ In another context, she has written: ‘I realized that repeating an obsessive habit was only escapism. Obsessive avoidance is a bottomless pit. So I dived into the heart of my responsibility. I was afraid, but I did not get hurt.’
An oak tree gets uprooted when a thunderstorm hits it. But a wheat stalk survives because it bends before the storm. Fatima learned through experience one must be flexible to withstand the storm; because of this flexibility the ‘grains were safe’ and she ‘reaped a full harvest’. She adds that recovering from OCD is like re-learning a normal way of life, similar to a toddler learning to walk.