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Alicia Liang

I have lived with OCD and bipolar 2 disorder almost half of my life, and didn’t get the correct diagnosis and treatment until late 2019. I’m not sure why I got these two mental disorders, but not knowing how to express my feelings, being bullied at school, and being frightened by religion and scriptures at a young age do play a huge part in it. Growing up I am highly sensitive to sounds, stories, and images, but never dare to and know how to express my feelings. I was also scared of teachers yelling at kids and being punished, so I tried my best to avoid making mistakes. That probably is the precursor of the OCD – I’d call my schoolmates every day to check if I got everything assigned to me correctly, and pray that I don’t leave textbooks and homework at home in the first year of secondary school.


Years later in high school I have full-blown OCD, that I’m obsessed with religion, almost forcing myself to believe in God and spend too much time praying before dinner. I stay away from my interests (drawing, reading, writing) as I fear that I will sin when taking part in the things I love. I got worried about my design project being contaminated by my thoughts, and I’d pray and wash my hands to keep the draft uncontaminated. I had intrusive thoughts of torture, crimes and blasphemy. I was always in tears. The OCD symptoms then somehow morphed into obsession and compulsion about cleaning and washing myself. It stayed this way for several years and later symptoms faded.


But in 2019 OCD kicks in again. This time it is unprecedentedly excruciating, I dare not draw, write, or read, thinking that everything I do is wrong, and ruminate on religious topics. I wanted to sleep all day and was suicidal. I self-harmed and cut myself. I refrain myself from buying things I love just because of the brand name origin being a ‘bad’ or ‘non-christian’ one.


Fast forward to the correct diagnosis, the OCD attacks things and hobbies that I treasure most, and the more I love what I do, the more intense the fear and the intrusive thoughts. And the hypomania part of bipolar disorder makes me energised to do what I want to do obsessively, without enough rest. This will bring me into the vicious cycle of OCD and make me breakdown and depressed.


I’m now on the journey of recovery, taking 4 types of medicine a day and seeing a clinical psychologist and a psychiatrist regularly, and have a full-time job. I still fight against the disorders, which bring me unwanted satanic thoughts and rumination on whether I have sinned.

There are two reasons I’m sharing my story. First, I want people to know that OCD can be anything, it is a kaleidoscope of fear. It is not ‘a quirk’, it is not ‘beautifully organised things that are satisfying’, it is the fear and unwanted guilt that consumes every single part of a person. Second, I want people to know that while fear of religion plays a huge part in the illness, it is not the culprit, as mentioned above OCD can revolve any themes, it’s just that this time it’s about religion. And I urge people to deal with and talk about religion, a delicate subject, carefully and responsibly. The way of presenting it can have a tremendous impact on people, especially on kids.