Ria Fay, actor, director, playwright and OCD advocate, shares what it was like to make a programme for BBC Radio 4 about her day-to-day life with OCD as part of the Director of Me series. Listen to Ria’s episode here.

I was very excited to be asked to participate in the BBC Radio 4 series, “Director of Me”, for several reasons. The first and obvious reason is that I wanted to help raise awareness and challenge misconceptions surrounding OCD and what it is like to live with the disorder. The second reason is that, being an actor, I loved the idea of working on a project that would be broadcast on the BBC. You never know; someone might listen and think, “Wow, she would be perfect in the new BBC drama about a detective who has OCD and ADHD and communicates solely in tangents…” Okay, a little far-fetched, but the BBC is a big deal, and I was excited.

Earlier this year, I met with Catherine Carr from Loftus Media, and we spoke about OCD, what the project would involve, and what I would need to do. I was blown away by the kindness, patience, and support that she showed me in that first meeting and throughout the entire project. I was sent a microphone and asked to record myself in voice notes. It was amazing to simply record my unedited thoughts and reflections on something that had happened and then send it away. I didn’t want to listen back because I didn’t want to overthink what I was saying.

At the time of recording, I was the most recovered I have ever been from OCD, and I am happy to say I am still living in that recovery now. It is a weird feeling to return to a life not ruled by OCD when I have no memory of life before OCD (my symptoms began at age 5). This concerned me, and I was worried that I would record for a month, and nothing OCD related would happen. I was afraid that, instead of helping to show how severe and debilitating OCD can be, I would just add to the stereotype of it being “a bit of an annoying quirk.” However, my OCD recovery is a work in progress, and fortunately many occasions arose for me to reflect on throughout the month. OCD is nothing if not persistent.

Something that made the project feel special was the music sessions with Maia Miller-Lewis. We created a soundscape to musically reflect what it’s like to live with OCD. It was incredible how everyone in the project focused on portraying the authentic experience of mental illness and not just the worst or most extreme days. This carried into the music, where we spoke about good and bad days and what they may sound like. I think Maia did a fantastic job of translating my random, jumbled ideas into a succinct reflection of OCD, highlighting the discomfort and intensity those with OCD often experience.

Overall, it was an incredible experience that I feel lucky to have been a part of. I listened back with a glass of prosecco and felt proud of what we created. Humour is a vital part of my recovery and ability to push through OCD, so I was so happy the edit encapsulated some funny moments. I want to say a big thank you to all involved. I hope it brings those who listen some insight, some laughs, and the knowledge that no one is “a bit OCD” about anything. And if anyone decides to make that detective series, please feel free to get in touch.

You can listen to Ria’s episode here.

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