I know how hard it can be to speak out about OCD. For over ten years I kept it to myself. Recently I have started speaking out about it more – both about OCD in general and also about how it specifically affects me. I am doing my bit to raise public awareness of the condition and am writing this article to give hope to fellow sufferers that you’re not alone and there is a way forward.
I suppose it kind of all came to a head this summer. I was working as a holiday rep in France when I started having panic attacks. I had experienced them before but not quite so extreme as these. Leaving my job and returning to England I knew that I had to go to my GP.
For over ten years I had been experiencing what I now know to have been OCD. I remember being at secondary school and not really understanding what was happening to me. I felt I was so powerful that I could cause planes to crash or friends to become ill by not repeatedly carrying out tasks. Rationally I knew I wasn’t that powerful but a part of me kept saying ‘Do it, do it’. I have a thing about dates that involves working out how long ago they were, over and over. Ironically I was quite good at history.
After leaving school I actually had about three years where these thoughts weren’t present. I think it was because I was at aparticularly busy and happy point in my life. I can’t remember exactly when my OCD returned (with a vengeance). I had just started university and was feeling quite lonely and unhappy. These obsessive thoughts would literally take over my life and my compulsions would leave me exhausted. I didn’t have the brain capacity or the energy to do the things I should be doing. I never told anybody over the ten years for fear of being labelled weird, although at the time I thought I was.
When my GP referred me to a counsellor my symptoms were less extreme simply because I had made the first important step. I only had a short talk with the counsellor but it was like a huge out pouring of feelings and emotion.
The relief to finally tell this secret I had kept for ten years was overwhelming. I didn’t, however, have any proper therapy sessions. I am now in my final year at Film School and at the moment my OCD is behaving itself. I found through telling family and friends about my OCD that most were unaware of what it actually is. I feel I am in a position being at Film School to help in some way to raise awareness of OCD. I am not really a big reader and much prefer watching films and documentaries. I found many literary resources about OCD but struggled to find many visual ones.
There is still an awful lot I want to find out about OCD and I am making a documentary showing my journey doing just that. If all goes to plan to documentary will be completed mid-February. If anybody is interested in obtaining a copy I can be contacted through OCD Action. Next week I am starting therapy at the OCD Centre in London. I will have approximately seven sessions. The ‘Richard & Judy’ programme are doing a follow up feature to my initial interview after therapy is complete.