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Accessing life, and living, with OCD

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2018 is a big one for me. It’s a year of returning to full time work, of making plans and moving forward. These don’t sound like massive statements, but back at the beginning of last year, they were things I could barely dream about.

Why? At the end of 2016 life seem to be going all too well. I was happily married to my wonderful wife, we’d welcomed my amazing second child, and I was starting my “dream” career. With all of this in mind, why did I have any reason to be unhappy?

But in late December 2016, my OCD struck me hard.

I went from being happy and confident (with my OCD only bubbling away at a low level) to having dread, panic and depression take over my life. It hit me like a ton of bricks. I have had bad patches of OCD in the past, but this was relentless and I couldn’t see a way out.

Doctors prescribed several concoctions of medication. I tried low-level counselling too, but neither of these things made me feel any better. Something needed to change.

I spent a lot of time researching, and eventually found a clinical psychologist who specialised in OCD. I travelled all the way down to London to visit them, alongside my wife (without whom I couldn’t have managed). After an initial chat I really felt that this was going to be a step in the right direction.

Soon afterwards, we started to have regular Skype appointments and I slowly began to feel better. Eventually, instead of avoiding every bit of tough advice I was given, I decided to face my fear and accept the techniques. I found suitable medication. I gradually began to pull my life together piece by piece.

In time, I decided to start volunteering. I came across a local charity called The Shaw Mind Foundation, and started working two days a week, which helped re-establish some of my routine. In December 2017, they took me on as their Community Fundraising & Volunteer Manager. This role was completely different to what I had been doing in 2016, but it could work with my mental health and help make a difference.

It’s been nearly a month since then. I still have a lot to learn and many hurdles to jump, but it’s all falling into place. My wife and I are planning for the future and thinking about holidays and the year ahead. These are all things I couldn’t have imagined doing at the start of last year.

Time heals. Every day gets a little easier with the right support around me. Yes, I still have bad days, but I bounce back a lot quicker than before.

My final word of advice is to talk. Talk as much as you can, because it really does help. I appreciate how lucky I am to have a supportive wife and parents, but if you are feeling low, please find someone to share your feelings with. It could change your life.

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