No One Told Me My Thoughts Were Just Thoughts—Not Facts

I want to stop other people from going through what I’ve been through to get a diagnosis.

Written by Kim (Dainty Bailey)

No One Told Me My Thoughts Were Just Thoughts—Not Facts

01 Kim is a mental health blogger, advocate and campaigner from the U.K. who openly shares her experiences of living with mental illness and her journey working towards recovery.

02 Her first intrusive thought had convinced her that she had done something terrible to harm herself. Over the years, these thoughts morphed and intensified to the point of completely disrupting her daily life.

03 It took 18 years for her to be diagnosed with OCD. She shares her story with the hope that it keeps someone else from going undiagnosed.

No one told me that being convinced I’d drank nail polish remover when taking off my nail polish was actually an intrusive thought

No one told me that wearing certain items of clothing on certain days to stop something bad from happening was a compulsion.

No one told me that praying for all my family and friends to be safe wouldn’t have the power to stop them from passing away. 

No one told me that my thoughts were just thoughts and not facts.

I vividly remember my first intrusive thought when I was around 11 years old. My mum had allowed me to take off my own nail polish. I poured some nail polish remover into the lid and used a cotton bud to remove the polish. Once I was done, I poured the remainder of the nail polish remover back into the bottle and screwed the lid back on. Within moments of doing so, I became convinced that I had drunk the nail polish remover from the lid.

I spent the rest of the evening crying and begging my mum to take me to hospital because I thought I was going to die. My mum reassured me that I didn’t drink it, but no matter what she did to comfort me, I was sure I was going to die. 

I didn’t understand what was going on.

As time went on, thoughts like these became more and more frequent. I felt embarrassed and didn’t understand what was going on, so I rarely opened up to tell my mum or family doctor what was happening. Once I started secondary school, these thoughts began to worsen. I was constantly convinced that something bad was going to happen to my mum whilst I was at school. I used to get so worried it would make me sick, and I’d cry to the school nurse to go home. It was only once I was home and could see my mum was okay that I felt like everything was going to be okay. 

These thoughts continued on in the background sporadically, and my mental health began deteriorating in other ways. By the age of 15, I had overcome an eating disorder and had also received diagnoses of generalized anxiety disorder and depression. However, aside from receiving help for my disordered eating, I never really received any beneficial help or support for my anxiety and depression.

Although I had received diagnoses that correlated with my symptoms, I still continued to have strange thoughts that I didn’t understand and had to act upon, but I never really understood why or what was happening to me. It made me feel embarrassed, and by the age of 16 I had stopped talking to anyone about my mental health. 

At around 24, my intrusive thoughts started to become much more frequent. I became almost paranoid about harm to either myself or my family members and began carrying out a range of different compulsions and repetitive behaviors. This eventually transformed into a fear of contamination. I began washing my hands more frequently and became obsessed with cleanliness and where things or people had been.

At this point, I went back to my GP to explain how I was feeling and that I felt like it was something more than just my anxiety disorder. However, despite trying my best to explain what was happening, I was brushed off by my GP, who continued to tell me that my anxiety disorder was having a flare up due to my Nan being ill in hospital. I left her office with a prescription for diazepam.

I felt like it was something more than just my anxiety disorder.

My obsession with contamination snowballed. 

By the age of 27, I found myself completely debilitated to the point of not being able to get out of my bed. I thought everything and everyone in my house was contaminated and that if I left my bed, I’d become contaminated and die as a result. It was only then, 18 years after my first intrusive thought, that I received a diagnosis of obsessive compulsive disorder along with generalized anxiety disorder and depression. And even now, two years later, I’m still fighting to get the help, support and treatment I need; as I’m housebound, my GPs will not refer me to a community mental health team, despite having received a letter of support from a private therapist explaining that I need secondary care.

This is why campaigns like #NoOneToldMe are so important to raise awareness for mental illness—and also to hopefully make changes in the way that mental illnesses are treated and dealt with. I want to do my part, to stop other people from going through what I’ve been through to get a diagnosis, so they can receive help and support for their mental illness.

About the Author

Kim writes a mental health blog, Dainty Bailey, to document her journey working towards recovery with OCD, generalized anxiety disorder, and depression. You can find her on Instagram @DaintyBailey.

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