A woman who has severe obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) has shared an eye-opening video detailing the rituals she has to go through just to eat breakfast.
Ashley Dawson, 26, told BuzzFeed News that she has experienced intrusive thoughts, ritualistic behaviors, and tics since she was four years old, but she wasn’t formally diagnosed with OCD until about seven years ago.
A few months ago, she posted a video of her daily breakfast routine, revealing she has to blink, stretch her neck, and smell her food a certain number of times before she feels comfortable eating.
Hard to handle: Ashley Dawson, a 26-year-old with severe obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), has shared a video detailing the rituals she has to go through just to eat breakfast
In the clip, Ashley is getting ready to eat rice cakes topped with avocado when she starts blinking.
She then bends over and picks up her plate to smell her food nine times before she blinks again. After stretching her neck, she goes back to smelling her food.
Ashley alternates between tapping her plate on the counter and smelling her food before she is ready to take a bite.
She taps her chest and then picks up her first rice cake, smelling it two more times before taking a bite. She continues to smell it as she chews.
The video has been viewed more than two million times, and thousands of commenters thanked her for sharing her experience.
Routine: She has to blink, stretch her neck, and smell her food a certain number of times before she feels comfortable eating
Going viral: The video has been viewed more than two million times, and thousands of commenters thanked her for sharing her experience
‘It looks like you’re super tired of doing it. I’ve never seen OCD like this before so thank you for sharing,’ one person wrote.
‘So tired of doing it! But I have to,’ Ashley responded.
Another person noted that some people think having OCD ‘means keeping your room organized.’
‘I am actually quite messy in areas of my life!’ Ashley commented. ‘And people are like ” thought you were OCD.”‘
According to the American Psychiatric Association, ‘OCD is an anxiety disorder in which people have recurring, unwanted thoughts, ideas, or sensations (obsessions) that make them feel driven to do something repetitively (compulsions).
‘The repetitive behaviors, such as hand washing, checking on things or cleaning, can significantly interfere with a person’s daily activities and social interactions.’
Candid: Earlier this week, she posted a clip demonstrating the ‘weird things’ her OCD makes her do, including stare at sstrangers and raise her hand in class a certain number of times
Compulsions: Ashley explained that she has to sip her drink a certain number of times and high-five people in multiples of three
Diagnosis: OCD is a disorder in which people have recurring, unwanted thoughts, ideas, or sensations that make them feel driven to do something repetitively
What is obsessive compulsive disorder?
Obsessive compulsive disorder, usually known as OCD, is a common mental health condition which makes people obsess over thoughts and develop behaviour they struggle to control.
It can affect anyone at any age but normally develops during young adulthood.
It can cause people to have repetitive unwanted or unpleasant thoughts.
People may also develop compulsive behaviour – a physical action or something mental – which they do over and over to try to relieve the obsessive thoughts.
The condition can be controlled and treatment usually involves psychological therapy or medication.
It is not known why OCD occurs but risk factors include a family history of the condition, certain differences in brain chemicals, or big life events like childbirth or bereavement.
People who are naturally tidy, methodical or anxious are also more likely to develop it.
Ashley told BuzzFeed News that she has also been diagnosed with depression, EDNOS, fibromyalgia, IBS, and Hashimoto’s disease.
Her doctors believe her conditions may have been caused by a series of strep infections that induced Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections (PANDAS).
Ashley has been opening up about her OCD and what it really means to have the disorder in her TikTok videos.
‘I spend so much time being ashamed of my OCD and trying to mask my tics, she said.
‘After 26 years, I’ve figured out ways to make them look more natural so I don’t get so embarrassed.’
‘I wanted to show people what letting my tics run wild looks like, and I didn’t care if 2 people or 2,000 people saw it.’
Earlier this week, she posted a clip demonstrating the ‘weird things’ her OCD makes her do, including stare at complete strangers intensely, raise her hand in class a certain number of times, and repeat certain words over and over.
‘The idea that people with OCD are just “clean freaks” is actually so damaging to the mental health community and to awareness,’ she told BuzzFeed News.
Ashley added: ‘It’s overwhelming to just be ourselves, but I want more people with OCD to feel free to be true to who they are.’