I said I wanted to convey how a world can fall apart. If it is ever really possible to pinpoint when things started to go wrong, looking back, for me in my most recent episode of OCD there is an incident that stands out because it came so out of the blue.
Christmas 2010. I was at home here in Edinburgh for the holiday, mostly studying for my exams back at the university in Greece. One evening I was watching a BBC Sherlock on TV. I don’t remember all that much about the story but I remember feeling gradually more unnerved, which I suppose is the intended effect. Then, suddenly, it felt as though I had slipped into another world and I thought, “I did this murder”. I could see logically that this wasn’t possible and I had no memory of doing it but still, somehow, I really felt that I had. An incredible sense of guilt and terror surged through me and, without letting on that anything was wrong, I went to the bathroom to wait out a panic attack. The most intense feeling left within about 15 minutes, but something of it stayed with me.
Around this time was the murder of Joanna Yeates. After hearing about that again I became terrified that I could be responsible. I knew that this was not possible. I had not mysteriously disappeared from my family home for such a length of time as to make a trip from Edinburgh to Bristol, for example. But again, I just felt guilty. I don’t know how to really get that idea across. Only some of the time am I even able to recall how it felt to me then.
Worrying about having harmed someone is a common symptom in OCD. For example, people often worry that they have hit someone while driving and may be compelled to drive around looking for bodies (by the way, perhaps not unrelatedly, I don’t drive). I have had minor fears about having harmed someone or an animal before, although not recently before, but I had never felt anything nearly as powerful as this. Because although I knew what was possible and impossible, deep down I just didn’t seem to know what was true.