simple living

Tattoos, minimalism and mental health

I mean, if that’s not the most random heading then I’m not sure what is, but I am getting a new tattoo, and this is part of my journey to wellness through minimalism and simplifying my life.

It has been around 4-5 months since we began this journey. We have purged the wardrobe, got rid of lots of toys and reduced what we buy, but the chaos of mental health still lingered. I have OCD, pure O to be exact. Pure Obsessional OCD (Pure-O) is a type of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder in which i experience obsessions without outwardly observable compulsions, although when you recognise your compulsions you know, they’re there! It is the tiny territory of the mental health sphere where intrusive thoughts come and can reign supreme.

I say CAN intentionally. It does not always have to be like this. You see, OCD, very often, is an illness you will battle with long term. Unlike depression and anxiety which often can be related to specific life events, (I know this isn’t always the case), OCD is here for the long haul. It is about managing the intrusive thoughts and being able to reduce the frequency, noticing triggers and times when you seem to spiral into a world of sexual/physically abusive/ religious beliefs.

Mind explain the significant types of obsessive thoughts:

Violent intrusive thoughts or images of yourself are doing something violent or abusive. These thoughts might make you worry that you are a dangerous person.

Religious or blasphemous thoughts that are against your religious beliefs.

Relationship intrusive thoughts often appear as doubts about whether a relationship is right or whether you or your partner’s feelings are strong enough. They might lead you to end your relationship to get rid of the doubt and anxiety.

Sexual intrusive thoughts or images. These could be related to children, family members or to sexually aggressive behaviour. You might worry that you could be a paedophile or a rapist, or that you are sexually attracted to someone in your family.

Now imagine you live with these thoughts every day…

Think about how you would feel when life became less stressful (a major trigger!!) And there became a major reduction in the thoughts swirling round…

Now, I’m no scientist. The correlations may not be strong enough to support a scientific exploration around the link between simplifying and minimising the environment around you and commitments, but I know that scientifically, stress makes OCD in any form significantly worse. Significantly, since minimising and simplifying, my stress levels have reduced.

Over these past few months, I have seen a massive reduction in stress, both from my environment and from the mental clutter I had stored. I mean, a comment from 2003 does not reflect the person who I am today, but my brain apparently hadn’t got the memo! I have been able to stay in the house all day, and not rush not to be alone. I have been able to cook dinner, with knives, and not fear what could happen.

Disclaimer: At this point of honestly, it’s probably best to say that anyone with Pure O, does not want to act on the thoughts they have. On the contrary, they often feel such an immense sense of shame, guilt and pain about the thoughts they have! It is these feelings of disgust and shame which lead to the compulsions.

Irrespectively, I have now achieved a mindset I didn’t think was possible! I am no longer under the control of these intrusive thoughts, and much of this I do put down to simple life changes which we have made as a family. When even Boy no.1s teacher mentioned the difference, you know that it’s not just your immediate circle who can see it!

So to celebrate and as an act of remembering when the hard times may hit, which unfortunately they might. I am getting another tattoo! In solidarity to all those others who are fighting currently, and to remember what strength it took in the hard days. It will be a visible reminder which is postive, instead of the scars from the past.

Now the only problem is to choose one!!

Arm tattoos for OCD. Serotonin molecules
Images from Pinterest

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