A substantial number of people in Zimbabwe is living with mental illness but due to lack of awareness and knowledge of mental health issues they are not able to confront the challenge, a health expert has said.
In a interview with 263Chat, Angelica Mkorongo, chief executive officer of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) Trust, explained how she survived mental illness which inspired her to start an organization that supports victims of the illness.According to Mkorongo, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is a mental illness that causes repeated unwanted thoughts or sensations (obsessions) or the urge to do something over and over again (compulsions).”Until the day I was diagnosed, that is when I noticed that the country is not taking adequate steps towards addressing these issues since there were no support groups I could join and the stigma I faced was too much. I decided to do something about it,”
Some people can have both obsessions and compulsions. An obsessive thought might be that certain numbers or colors are “good” or “bad.”
A compulsive habit might be to wash your hands seven times after touching something that could be dirty. Although one may not want to think or do these things, one may feel powerless to stop.
People with OCD have thoughts or actions that take up at least an hour a day, and are beyond their control.
OCD comes in many forms, but in most cases fall into at least one of four general categories which include checking alarm systems, checking ovens and light switches or thinking one has a medical condition like pregnancy or schizophrenia,
The second category relates to contamination. That is fear of things that might be dirty or a compulsion to clean while the third one is symmetry and ordering which is the need to have things lined up in a certain way.
The fourth is ruminations and intrusive thoughts that entails having an obsession with a line of thought.
Mkorongo argued that many people who have OCD know that their thoughts and habits don’t make sense.
“They don’t do them because they enjoy them, but because they can’t quit. And if they stop, they feel so bad that they start again,” she said.
Obsessive thoughts can include worries about yourself or other people getting hurt, constant awareness of blinking, breathing or other body sensations and suspicion that a partner is unfaithful with no reason to believe it.
According to the World Health Organization, OCD is one of the top 20 causes of illness-related disability worldwide for individuals between 15 and 44 years of age.
After she was diagnosed, Mkorongo started having counseling sessions with her psychiatrist and a support group online where she felt better and recovered.
As a survivor, Mkorongo has encouraged people who suffer from mental illness to come out, embrace it and get treatment as it is treatable like any other illness.
“I urge everyone who have symptoms of OCD to come forward and get help. There are so many people who are suffering and its not their fault. the community should not stigmatized people because the brain like any other part of the body gets ill and can be fixed,” she said.