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Overcoming OCD: Helping Myself So That I Can Help You

Posted: November 16, 2020

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It’s that time of the year. International summits. World leaders making news. Events making history…

…OCD Awareness Week…

I saw you!

I saw you pausing for that split second.

Its okay. I would pause too.

But would you read every line till the final full stop below?…

My name is Fatima Yusuf.

I am a survivor who conquered the disease that is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

Ah. Yes. It is a disease. Not a just a disorder. In other words, there is a cure.

I fished for the self-help button, and after more than a decade of slowly letting my finger push it down, millimetre by millimetre, I managed to hear the click that sounded like a nightingale’s chirp.

In doing so, another button was automatically switched off.

It is called- The pride button, alias the ‘blame-game’ key, aka the ‘I am a young lady by myself, not a strong willed person, so I can’t help it’ doorknob that refused to twist for a long, long time.

The journey began with talking to myself. It would go something like this:

Me 1: I can’t help having obsessive thoughts.

Me 2: Why?

Me 1: What do you mean why?! It is natural!

Me 2: If it is natural, then why isn’t it normal?

Me 1: You are right. This isn’t normal. I should do something about it.

Me 2: Yes, you too are right. What are you planning to do?

Me 1: No! No more planning and waiting.

Me 2: What were you waiting for earlier? What was the root cause of all this?

Me 1: I was afraid before. Fear led to one thing, then another. The OCD cycle kept turning.

Me 2: So what now?

Me 1: You asked about the root cause. Its fear. Once that is faced head on, the rest will follow, maybe not smoothly, but it will.

Me 2: Fear of?

Me 1: It depends from person to person. For some it’s what will people think. For some, it’s the fear of failure or imperfection. Or losing something important. Fear of re-living traumatizing incidents.

Me 2: Won’t it feel strange letting go of the fear? What if you fall?

Me 1: A baby does not fear falling when learning to walk. I may have forgotten to ‘walk’ the path of a mentally healthy life, thus the fear and the OCD. So I, an adult, can surely survive some falls and bruises before I can run again!

Me 2: So you won against OCD!

Me 1: No. The true success is after seeing outcomes.

Me 2: Good luck with that. So how are you going to ‘let go’ now?

Me 1: If this is the fear within me, then what about others who are yet to overcome the disease? I shall write a book. It will be a process of self-healing and I can help those looking to help themselves.

Me 2: A book??

Me 1: Yes, a book. On self-help for overcoming OCD. I hope it gives solace and direction to others with the condition. That would add to my peace.

Me 2: But peace is a rare commodity nowadays. So much stress everywhere.

Me 1: I disagree. Peace is every person’s birthright. Be it around us or inner peace.

Me 2: Okay. Come, let’s get started. I’ll help!

Me 1: Let’s ask Fernweh to illustrate! ….

Me 2: …. Fernweh said YES.

Me 1: Yay!

Me 2: What will the book be called?

Me 1: ‘Wheat Stalk: Swaying, not Severed’

Me 2: ?!

Me 1: Like a wheat stalk in a storm, that sways in a gale but does not fall.

Me 2: Ah. I get it.

Me 1: And while I’m a it, why not make my own drawings on OCD. I’ll post them on Instagram at wheat.stalk

Me 2: Now individuals can get the package of both reading and visual aids.

Me 1: I’m not interested in mere book sales or promos. I’m looking forward to the book reaching out to as many as possible who can benefit.

And thus was born a book of quotes on tackling OCD through self-help. It was as much of journey of self-introspection and healing, as much it is a call to those with the condition, to look within for answers. By braving each storm, I came out looking pleasantly surprised how insignificant that tempest behind me was.

At times, I had been afraid of a storm in a teacup. Who knows, I may have created that storm myself, instead of just sitting back relaxed, drinking the tea and moving on.

Self-criticism should never be at the cost of self-forgiveness. It is not enough that others get along with us and not cast a judgemental eye. I too must gauge myself while making amends with the past.

The past can’t be changed. Perhaps that is good. For who knew I would be here today, writing about dealing with OCD.

My pen shall not cease

The ink shall flow

To wipe a tear or two

The ink shall flow

as naturally

as a child running to her mother.

The pen shall write

while also

fighting the old self

so that

tomorrow, somewhere, someone

can find that

the silver lining

was within us all along


Fatima Yusuf battled OCD since the age of 13. It took a decade and gettng

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