My name is Jake Smith. I’m 28 years old and I suffer from OCD Intrusive Thoughts and Compulsions.
I don’t quite remember a time when I could think my thoughts, to think without OCD rearing its ugly head. After 17 years, it becomes the norm of your daily routine. Sometimes these intrusive thoughts will be the voice in my head; other times, it will play out as pictures, or like videos. Sleeping at night is difficult with these thoughts running wild, and the compulsions side is a prominent feature – though it’s a lot easier to manage now.
10 years ago the compulsions made life very difficult. It had caused me to lose jobs. My college had threatened to kick me out too, as I’d always miss the first period due to doing rituals lasting around 3 to 4 hours every morning (I cover this in more detail in my Minecraft story). I was often told to get up earlier but it didn’t make a difference. I was having to fight the people who had little understanding of mental health issues, whilst also fighting my brain. Despite not being religious, I’d pray for it to stop. I just wanted a break, to be free.
I had tried CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) a number of times, but sadly it didn’t work for me. Over around 12 years, I had combined it with medication but with no success – in fact, it often made it worse. That said, I know it helps some people and I would still encourage OCD sufferers to try it.
My story seems dark – it is dark, and there have been times where I just want to be put into a coma and sleep it all off. There have been times where I’ve had to fight for the most basic of things; to keep jobs, to keep my education. It’s hard to understand why 10 years ago, mental health support was in a much worse place than it is now. There are still times when I get very low and can’t see the point in fighting it. But the love and support of my family helps me to rise up and continue on, despite how tiring it can get.
Whilst my experiences with OCD have been hard and upsetting, I do have my good days. I’ve had some incredible opportunities; flying birds of prey for a living, working with rescue animals, received many qualifications and attended EGX as a representative of a games publisher. Being able to see the inside of games developers has been a dream come true for me and I want to continue working alongside publishers, developers and the gaming media. I’m also an avid gamer. When you combine all this with my mental health experiences, working with Safe In Our World made perfect sense.
I want to help kickstart a world where we have an understanding of every mental illness and remove the stigmas attached to them. I don’t believe anyone should have to go through what I went through, fighting the fight alone. There is hope and there is help. You just have to reach out to whoever you can; your GP, mental health services, friends or family. OCD is not a death sentence, it is a nasty bump in the road. I will never let it stop me from my goals, I will never let it win. I will conquer it one day and hopefully, this will inspire others in a similar position to get the help they need and deserve.