By Liana Jacob
MEET THE inspiring student who was so consumed with violent intrusive thoughts of being a KILLER due to Pure OCD that she barricaded herself in her own home for over THREE MONTHS – but now she wants to show that recovery is possible after attending therapy sessions over Skype.
Barbering student, Shauna-Leigh Davies (19) from Pontypridd, Wales, UK, began experiencing traumatic and intrusive thoughts in May 2016 when she was just 16 years old that started when she thought about stabbing her friend’s baby.
The uncontrollable thought led her to be consumed with constant guilt and anxiety with the feeling that she should be locked up and that she would turn into a killer.
For years these intrusive thoughts continued, and she ended up barricading herself in her house for three to four months to avoid social interaction due to her anxiety.
When she first met her boyfriend, Bartlomiej (19), in 2018, she told him everything about her journey as she didn’t want to face the guilt of keeping it to herself. Despite telling him she understands if he wanted to break up with her, he has been a consistent support ever since.
During the last two years she has done prodigious research on her symptoms and discovered she has Pure OCD, also known as Pure O, a type of OCD in which a sufferer engages in hidden compulsions.
She began therapy sessions in early August 2019 over Skype, which she says has helped her significantly. She is given ‘homework’ to help her combat her illness by encouraging her to go out and socialise, daily hygiene, sexual activity and to change her perception of Pure OCD and instead of reacting to her intrusive thoughts, she is taught to ignore them and accept it for what it is.
To support her through her journey, Shauna’s boyfriend takes care of the cooking, chores and food shopping.
“I suffer from violent or sexual thoughts of family, friends, children or random people. I also think of random things, people or memories for no reason,” Shauna said.
“These thoughts can come in pictures, words or sentences. Sometimes they don’t even make sense. My brain tries to adjust words or sentences to make it a better thought so I can feel relief.
“When I was sixteen, I had an intrusive thought about stabbing my friend’s baby; I felt so much anxiety and guilt for weeks and months, I still feel those emotions to this day. I felt like I should be locked up and that I was going to turn into a killer or psychopath.
“I didn’t know what was happening; I felt so lost, I didn’t know who I was. I felt so many emotions at once, such as confusion, sadness and anger. I felt as if my whole world had fallen apart.
“I carried so much anxiety around with me I couldn’t complete simple tasks anymore. I would wake up in a state of panic and go to bed in a state of panic.
“I didn’t want to live anymore, even brushing my teeth and showering became a chore. I was so consumed by these intrusive thoughts that it felt like I had been possessed.
“Nothing made sense and I felt like my mother would disown me and think that I’m a monster if I told her what was happening.
“It’s hell but inside your head; it feels like I’m being punished mentally everyday by intrusive and unwanted thoughts that make me feel physically sick.
“These thoughts turn into obsessions (we attach meaning to these thoughts and obsess over them) which turn into compulsions (to calm the anxiety).
“These compulsions give the brain short term relief; we have to do the compulsions, or we cannot settle.
“I did around two years of research before suspecting I have Pure O OCD. I am waiting to have an official diagnosis from the NHS which is this month as I have been on a waiting list.
“I am currently receiving private therapy from a trained OCD therapist out of my savings at the moment.”
Shauna explains that her anxiety was so all-consuming that she would lock herself up in her house for three to four months and that her illness had affected her relationship with her boyfriend.
“If I was out and consumed by anxiety, I would zone out and get stuck inside my head. I would start to sweat, my body would start to shake, and I’d have to go somewhere alone or with my partner to calm down,” she said.
“My partner became like my personal guardian who had to come everywhere with me to make sure I was okay. There would be times that I would cry my eyes out to go home so I could sleep and switch off.
“I would barricade myself in my own home, it went on for around three to four months, which happened in March this year.
“I was going to a sports college to be a gym instructor; I started to skip days and before I knew it, I wasn’t going anymore. I dropped out because I was so drained with anxiety, I was in no place to complete a qualification.
“I told my boyfriend everything because I couldn’t face the guilt; I told him that if he wanted to break up with me there and then, I would be okay with it.
“I thought he would leave me and think that I’m a monster, I was wrong, he was so supportive about it and still is to this day.
“He is the only one that understands what I’m going through. He used to reassure me, which we found out is bad, so he stopped it.
“I used to confess my thoughts to him to relieve myself, but I’ve been limiting myself a lot recently. He does a lot of daily tasks like cooking, chores and going to the shop for me.
“Lately he’s also been pushing me to complete my homework and push me out of my comfort zone even though I get frustrated at him.
“I began my therapy sessions early August for once a week over Skype. I had a one-to-one session to introduce myself and where I’m at. From that session on, he gave me homework based on my personal case.
“Every week, we review how my last week and homework went to see what we can improve on and I get new homework to complete.
“My homework consists of stuff like daily hygiene, going out, sexual activity, watching or being near things that trigger me.
“They have helped me massively to see that OCD is only as bad as I let it be and that I should accept it for what it is.
“I shouldn’t try to make it stop; I should bring it along for the ride. The more comfortable I have gotten with OCD, the less anxious I am.
“It’s still hard but my perspective has changed; OCD shouldn’t take my life away and I shouldn’t feel guilty for something that is out of my control.
“The thoughts are not the problem but my reaction to them is the problem. I should let them be and give them no attention.
“I am feeling a lot better since therapy; I have learnt that OCD is a part of me, but it doesn’t make me a bad person. It says nothing about my value as a person.
“The more therapy I complete, the better quality of life I have. Everything I do now I see as a learning experience. I grow and blossom no matter if I get intrusive thoughts or not.
“I want to try and help other people who struggle with OCD and to let them know that recovery is possible. They are a good person no matter what OCD tells them.
“I also want to break the stigma that OCD is just about cleaning, it’s not. Cleaning can be an obsession of OCD but there are many different symptoms.
“I want OCD to stop being a stereotypical metaphor; Pure O OCD is the mental type of OCD, where compulsions are usually not physical.
“Don’t give up, OCD is not the end of your life. Learn to live with it, not against it. I believe in you and help is available to you. If you can’t afford therapy, the internet is a great place to start for tips on how to recover.”