Woman lives being controlled by her OCD Intrusive thoughts.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a term that most people are aware of, but very few understand the difficulty it can cause people living with the disorder.

Since the Covid-19 outbreak many people are washing their hands constantly, wearing masks, gloves and more protective equipment to reduce any possible contamination from the virus.

The term “I’m so OCD” is commonly  used as a light-hearted joke, but the realities of the condition are much worse than a few pumps of hand sanitiser.

“People who have obsessive compulsive disorder have irrational thoughts. They are compelled to carry out compulsions to alleviate the anxiety from the thoughts, which is often through irrational behaviour.yuko

“I am really concerned about people with the condition during the coronavirus pandemic because we are being told to have repetitive behaviour with hygiene which could worsen how people with OCD react.” says Psychotherapist, Yuko Nippoda.

For 23- year-old Lois Callacher, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is something she must battle with day to day.

Lois started showing severe symptoms of intrusive thoughts OCD when she was 16. She would have intense intrusive thoughts surrounding sexual, death and harm themes and describes the thoughts as, “Having a nightmare and not understanding how or why you would dream such a horrible thing.”

Surveys have estimated more than 95% of the population experience these thoughts but how they affect you is when it becomes OCD. People with the disorder will find it difficult to not obsess over the thoughts, which makes it difficult for them to continue what they are doing.

“I didn’t disclose my intrusive thoughts to anyone or tell anyone what was going on as I didn’t know what OCD was. I diagnosed myself with everything but that because I thought OCD was tidying and washing your hands all the time as it is shown in the media. I thought I was going a bit mad so I didn’t tell anyone.”

“My thoughts have sexual themes or harm themes which are the ones that bother me the most.

“I had an obsession a couple of years ago around death and I was terrified of myself or others dying so I would check on people all the time.

“A lot of the time sufferers find that the thoughts are the things that they find most morally wrong, which can be uncomfortable. You can convince yourself you are an awful person or a dangerous predator, it is really scary.”

When Lois was 19, her intrusive thoughts OCD became intense and she began to tell people, which led her into getting the right treatment. She began taking medication and going to cognitive behavioural therapy at 42nd street, Manchester.

“I had CBT for six months every week and was off work for about a year to really focus on therapy.”

Lois’ brother, Liam Callacher, left work and became her full-time carer despite his own personal challenges linked to his autism. He also became involved with the OCD Action charity to further educate himself and support his sister.

lois

Liam said, “Neither of us worked for a year. She had therapy once a week and there was always a possibility there would be a flare up.

“Lois lost whole days sometimes, so I had to be there.”

Throughout the year they both received employment support and were supported by their parents.

“If it was a particularly bad day for Lois, I would wrap her up in blankets and we would watch TV.”

OCD can be a very misunderstood mental health disorder and many people believe it is just an obsession with being clean and tidy. Lois has been subject to this misinterpretation and has been stereotyped because of the disorder.

“I think when you tell someone you have got OCD, the first thing they think of is how tidy I must be. I get a lot of people saying ‘you can come and clean my house!'”

“I also think people don’t mean to. It is just something that people need to be educated on which is why I am so keen to raise awareness.

“It can be difficult for my family, after seeing what I have been through, to hear someone making it a light-hearted thing.” Says Lois.

ocd facts final 2

A list of contacts for support with OCD and other mental health disorders:
Mind
Phone: 0300 123 3393 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm)
Website: http://www.mind.org.uk
OCD Action
Phone: 0845 390 6232 (Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 5pm).
Website: http://www.ocdaction.org.uk
OCD UK
Phone: 0333 212 7890 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm)
Website: http://www.ocduk.org
Samaritans
Phone: 116 123 (free 24-hour helpline)
Website: http://www.samaritans.org.uk

Published by Isabella Foster

An aspiring journalist studying Broadcast Journalism at The University of Salford.

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