How I had an epic freshers' week despite living with OCD

10 Sep 2018,
By Alicja W., Student at De Montfort University

It was September and all my friends were excited to disperse around the country and begin their new adventures.

They were all talking about how they’re getting to know their new flatmates, what they’re taking with them and - of course - how epic freshers’ week is going to be.

I wasn’t. I had OCD. Having been diagnosed a month earlier and still on the waiting list for therapy, I was struggling with basic tasks like getting dressed. My anxiety had come between me and eating properly, so the very thought of alcohol made me sick.

I thought that because I couldn’t drink, and with my OCD being related to going out, I wouldn’t be able to make friends. The type of OCD I had has the common name ‘Pure O’, which means that I get distressing intrusive thoughts.

My whole perception of university changed when I was given all the information upon arrival. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that over a quarter of my university freshers’ week activities had nothing to do with alcohol. There was a ‘cafe crawl’ and trips to local attractions. I felt like despite not fitting the student stereotype not just around drinking but also my way of being, I could still find a place to meet new friends. I joined the chamber choir and a few societies that caught my eye.

For me, freshers’ week was about adjusting and I didn’t need alcohol to numb those feelings.

I took the opportunity of arriving early, and signed up for free counselling with my university. I went into the taster sessions and met two of my best friends, who were in the same situation with their mental health and felt similar anxieties. We spent freshers’ week in cafes talking about our favourite books. It was epic.


OCD-UK is the charity dedicated to improving the mental health and well-being of almost one million people in the UK whose lives are affected by Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Find out more about Pure O at the OCD-UK website.

If you feel you might be affected by OCD, visit your GP to discuss your symptoms. They’ll be able to refer you to a local therapist if appropriate.

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By Alicja W.
Student at De Montfort University