The truth about living with OCD

Laura McIlveen will head up an OCD Support Group in Coleraine
Laura McIlveen will head up an OCD Support Group in Coleraine

A local woman has spoken out about her Obsessive Compuslive Disorder (OCD) in a bid to help others.

Laura McIlveen (20) has been a sufferer for three years.

Later this month she will launch am OCD support group here in Coleraine, for others who have the condition. Laura says that the condition can be a bit of a joke to some people, and that often people claim to have the condition, when they don’t really understand what OCD is.

Imagine not being able to do something as simple as open a door without feeling huge anxiety - well that’s exactly how OCD leaves Laura. She tells: “At one stage every single surface I touched during day-to-day activities led me to wash or alcohol gel my hands.

“People just open doors without a thought, but not for me opening a door used to be a difficult task because I felt it was highly contaminated. I’d feel terror, my head would be telling me that touching a surface that everyone else had touched would make me ill, which then would make other people ill. That was my big fear, contaminating others and making them sick. OCD makes me responsible for everything.

“People would say to me ‘why worry’ but OCD doesn’t listen to that. I am well aware that my behaviours are often irrational but before my treatment, I couldn’t stop them.”

Laura went on: “OCD has lots of different components, there are lots of different ways it grasps parts of your life and makes things difficult. There are so many types of OCD. People often think OCD is about house cleaning, it’s not, and certainly isn’t for me. In reality that’s only one type of OCD. When I tell people about my OCD a lot of people say ‘aw I’m a wee bit OCD too’- when really these people don’t live with OCD at all. They my have obsessions and compulsions, everybody does, but the disorder part is what separates us.

“OCD is highly debilitating, at a time I couldn’t function at all. I didn’t even want to live my life anymore. That’s sadly how severe OCD can be, it’s not something everyone has a bit of.”

The twenty year old got Cognitive behavioural therapy which helps her cope with her condition, and she hopes that the group will give others support.

“The support group in Coleraine will be providing peer support for OCD sufferers and their families. It’s about getting sufferers together and supporting each other - sharing information, self help techniques and just being there for those who need support.”

The first meeting will take place in the Sandel Centre in Coleraine on Thursday, April 30 at 6.30. Visit www.ocdni.co.uk/colerainesupportgroup or email Laura support@ocdni.co.uk for more information.