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Accessing life, and living, with OCD

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This year is a big one for me. It’s a year of returning to full time work, a year of making plans and a year of moving forward. They don’t sound like massive statements, but back at the beginning of 2017 these are 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, my amazing second child was brought into the world and I was starting at the beginning of a “dream” career. With all of this in mind, why did I have any reason to be unhappy?

Then it struck. In late December 2016 my OCD hit me in a big way …

I went from being happy, confident and loving life (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 tried me on various concoctions of medication. I tried low-level counselling too. Neither of these things helped or made me feel better. I needed to do something. I needed change.

I spent time researching and reading books, and eventually found a clinical psychologist who specialised in OCD. I made the painstaking trip to London to visit them, alongside my wife (I couldn’t have managed without her). After an initial chat I really felt that this was going to be a step in the right direction.

Soon afterwards we arranged regular Skype appointments and I started, slowly, to feel better. Eventually, instead of avoiding every bit of tough advice I was given, I decided to actually adopt the right techniques, to embrace the fear and move forward.

I also managed to speak with my psychiatrist and find a suitable medication. Slowly, piece by piece, I was pulling my life back together.

As my I continued to progress, I decided to start volunteering. I came across The Shaw Mind Foundation, who were based not too far away from me. I started working two days a week, which helped give me some routine back. And then, in December 2017, The Shaw Mind Foundation took me on as their Community Fundraising & Volunteer Manager – a completely different role from the one I had back in 2016, but a role that could work with my mental health and help make a difference.

I have now been in post almost a month. I still have a lot to learn and many challenges and hurdles to jump over along the way, 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 at the start of last year.

My final word of advice is that 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.

Talk as much as you can. It helps to talk. 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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