One Of Us Has To Go
Based on a true story
"Unusual... but very interesting, vivid and palpable"
—Scott Stossel, The Washington Post
The national OCD charity
“Beautifully written, the author captures the intense warmth of the characters, beyond the OCD and illustrates the utter courage and determination needed to survive this insidious illness. This book will change the perception of how people view OCD forever, as the human cost of OCD is laid bare for the reader to see.”
—Ashley Fulwood, Chief Executive of OCD-UK
About a dysfunctional family, mind games, dependency, #OCD, falling out of a toxic friendship, and one really nice guy.
Book about OCD
About the author
Katja Schulz has lived with OCD for over thirty years. This debilitating mental illness has ruined far too much, but she has never lost hope and so managed to improve and fight her way back into life.
After leaving her native Germany, she lived in many different places, and is now settling for good with her future husband, Neil, in the UK. She wants to add a dog to the family.
Due to Katja’s OCD, she has struggled with work, particularly full-time, but has found that her lately discovered love for writing suits both the needs related to her mental illness and a new possibility to work.
She plans to publish her second book, LIVING LIES, one day in the future.
Mental Health Awareness
My understanding of OCD:
OCD is a debilitating mental illness that occurs in women, men and children at any age. It is an anxiety-linked condition and ‘made up’ of a ‘vicious circle’: unwanted intrusive thoughts nurture an obsession about something, resulting in the rise of anxiety. The sufferer tries to calm this bad feeling and make it bearable by performing a compulsion. A soothing feeling of safety is created.
Unfortunately, this feeling leads the sufferer to believe – to FEEL – that the compulsions are the only way to deal with their obsessive thoughts and get rid of the anxiety. The obsession gets reinforced.
The next time, the OCD-sufferer will already have learned that they can control and soothe their discomfort by performing another compulsion. And so the terrible circle begins!
It is not yet fully understood what causes OCD; plus, whether it is solely a biological cause in the human’s brain or an environmental one such as a trauma. The tendency seems to be that it is a combination of the two.
I personally believe that I have the blue-print for being sensitive and that what happened around and to me as I grew up has caused me to develop this mental illness. I won’t accept that it’s purely genetic/biological and that childhood events/experiences haven’t taken their toll.
For more information on OCD, please check out:
OCD Action www.ocdaction.org.uk
International OCD Foundation https://iocdf.org/
There are different forms and degrees of OCD. People describe it and their symptoms as they experience and live with it.
some fellow OCD-sufferers say:
Ever felt scared to wake up because when you do, you'll breathe in that smell that you just can't cope with due to contamination OCD? At my worst I was like this. At my worst it made me self harm and not want to be here anymore. My severe OCD was like a galloping horse that I just could not stop. OCD is a bully, disabling and severely debilitating.
My contamination OCD for a time completely ruined my life. I lost my social life and friends because of it. I was too scared to do ANYTHING. Too scared to go shopping. Too scared to go out of the house. Too scared to even breathe. Nobody is a 'little OCD', because when you have it, it can completely devastate your life!
You can find Andy on Twitter: @ScarfmanAndy
Two years ago, I wanted to end my life. The constant intrusive thoughts were too much to bear.
OCD attacks what you love. I love my daughter with all of my being. OCD knew that, it made me scared to be alone with my daughter...so much so that I would constantly have someone with me. I was scared I would harm my daughter. Knives were the focus of my obsession, I was terrified that one day I would snap and use one.
I never thought a life without constant intrusive thoughts and free of misery would be possible. But it is! I have been free of the firm grip OCD had on me for 6 months now. My thoughts no longer hold me prisoner. I am now out of my cage. I can use knives and can be with my daughter on my own without supervision. Maternal OCD broke me but now I am fixed and better than I have been in years.
You can find Sophie on Twitter: @TheOCDfight
I have contamination OCD; an irrational belief that things become contaminated by certain substances or by touching another contaminated object. In my case, bodily secretions, decomposing material, and garbage are major sources of contamination.
When I’m exposed to “contamination” the anxiety is intense enough to sometimes cause panic attacks. The chronic tension has caused many physical issues. I experience frequent migraines. I’ve cracked teeth from clenching my jaw when dealing with anxiety. I am often exhausted after just a few hours of fighting my anxiety. I’m compelled to wash my hands with soap and alcohol for ten to twenty minutes after touching contaminated things in my own home. Dealing with the world outside the house is even harder. It takes two to three hours in the shower to dismiss my anxiety if I set foot outside my door.
You can find Matt on Twitter: @DrussiusH
I developed OCD when I was seven, following a traumatic event in my life. Although the trigger can be traced back to the traumatic event, it is also hereditary; my mother is a long-time sufferer of OCD as well. She is a Checker (she constantly checks to make sure everything is okay), and I am a Washer (I fear contamination). So, even in a hereditary situation, no one suffers OCD the same way.
My OCD is considered severe, my most common compulsion being to wash my hands until they are cracked and bleeding, and then wash them three more times — just to be safe. I just recently left my house for the first time in three years; I thought the air outside was contaminated, and couldn’t leave the safety of my home. A few years ago, I was convinced that if I ate then I would die. I stopped eating for four solid months and ended up hospitalized and near-death.
OCD isn’t a cute little quirk. It isn’t being annoyed by a broken pattern, arranging things by color or alphabetically, or needing a tidy home. OCD is a life-altering, ever-worsening nightmare and should never be joked about. Ever.
I am not in recovery. I am worse than I have ever been. But I cling to hope with both hands because I know once that tiny spark goes out, I will be lost to the darkness forever. All I have is hope.
You can find Bee on Twitter: @ocdpuppet
And I hope you have a loved-one who supports you, too!
The other day, Fiancé (more or less) accidentally 'meddled' in my morning handwashing-routine. I didn't repeat it but became FURIOUS.
I shouted "I hate you" at him - OMG, how horrible! When I don't get to do my compulsions & do NOT repeat them, I often get angry. I'm never angry like that, just in those situations. I directed my anger AT Fiancé. He does NOT NOT NOT deserve this - he's an ABSOLUTE keeper. In fact, he'd deserve a MEDAL for dealing with my OCD.
It must be hard for him!
I did say sorry to Fiancé, but I want to make sure that he, and other 'sufferers' with OCD-sufferers are not forgotten in all this. OCD is such a beast, it does reach far and beyond the actual person having it.
Here is some space for my beloved partner. He says:
My first experiences with Katja, who suffers from OCD, were an eye-opener.
She was totally up front about the OCD and to start with there was nothing really to notice.
There were/are particular countries that were/are ‘not allowed’, so shopping for anything became/is a little more fraught, making sure that nothing was made in these places before purchasing.
Nothing that was too much of a problem, really, until we eventually lived together which was when I realised the extent of Katja's difficulties and the effect they would have on me.
Going to work, myself, and leaving Katja at home meant that I was only aware that it took a long time for her to get washed and dressed in the morning, because of the times between texts.
When I was actually with her at the weekends proved more difficult, because I had to be quiet and stay in one place while Katja went through her routine for getting ready. No interruptions. For up to four hours.
Although I was happy enough to go along with this, it caused problems for our relationship when the subject of the future was discussed, because I didn't feel able to commit to marriage not knowing whether I could handle these restrictions, particularly the ‘breakfast routine’, indefinitely. (‘breakfast routine’ as in over 3 hours minimum of getting ready before going out for the first meal of the day – we never had much food in our flat back then, in Paris.)
As time has gone on, however (fortunately!), Katja has improved her OCD a lot. She’s reduced her morning routine that much that she is ready within about 1 hour 10 minutes now; she’s even able to go out without showering every morning. There is also no longer the restriction of having to remain in one place, and I am ‘free’, within reason, to do what I want.
And in addition to her improvement, I feel that I have matured and have been able to appreciate that the wonderful, warm human being, Katja, was actually separate from the OCD. Nothing was being done to me, actually, and Katja was having to fight against it, 24*7 and needed my help.
An incident recently helped to consolidate this. I interrupted Katja, accidentally, while she was in the middle of her hand-washing routine. She became so angry about it that she shouted at me "I hate you!". My experience allowed me to know that her anger was not really from her at me, it was the OCD and that allowed me to remain detached enough not to become upset at Katja's words.
I love her.
A (writer) friend of mine says:
Smoke reaches me first.
I’m the closest.
Brother, get out, I command.
I can’t, Sister—!
I beat the door
Fist dissolves to ashes
It’s burning, he whimpers.
My brother’s in there! I yell to teachers, clergymen.
they kick in walls
the stranger inside rebuilds.
a small hole,
I peer through.
Brother, remember the beach?
Our shells, the sandcastles.
His eye appears.
Takes my hand; flames dwindle.
I remember, he whispers
to stoke the fire.
Doesn’t look at me
but leaves the opening.
The closest get burned, too.
I’ll keep bringing water.