Karen’s Story – Living With OCD

As part of Mental Health Awareness Week, we are sharing stories of how people have benefited from Gloucestershire Health and Care services.

Karen, from Gloucestershire, contacted Let’s Talk for support with her obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) tendencies.

She explained: “They have got progressively worse over the years and this made me realise that I wasn’t dealing with the OCD alone and that I needed to get help.

“I started with phone therapy and spoke with the same person each week. On my first call, I answered a questionnaire about my OCD to assess where I had difficulties and how severe they were. I carry out a similar version of this each week to check my progress.

“At the end of the short course of phone therapy, it was determined I needed more help, so I was referred to a face-to-face high intensity therapist.

“These sessions were good. It was a safe space to learn about my OCD and why my brain acts how it does. Gradually, over time, the need to check things reduced and the anxiety went down. Now, when I leave the house, it’s much quicker and doesn’t make me anxious.

“This therapy really relied on me putting in the hard work outside the sessions. Sometimes I wished I could just take a medication to make the anxiety go away quicker and easier but I know that once I stopped the medication it would come back whereas this will make it go away for good. So, although it is harder, it is definitely better in the long run.

“I also learnt about what makes my OCD worse and behaviours to avoid.

“We discovered that my OCD is made worse when I’m stressed. I have a very busy job and I find it very stressful. As so much of what I’m responsible for at work is out of my control, this exacerbates my feelings of stress.

“While pregnant, I found my OCD resurfaced strongly with worries about the baby so I rang Let’s Talk again and was seen within a couple of weeks. I found the first few weeks after birth particularly hard. Because my difficulty was now more anxiety than OCD, this time in therapy we looked more at what is causing my faulty thinking patterns and how to rationalise my worries. Over the weeks I have learnt about what causes my OCD.

“Let’s Talk definitely feels like a safe environment to discuss worries and troubles, and I don’t feel judged. I have already recommended it to friends who have mentioned they need help.

“I’d say to people dealing with stress, learn what to worry about. If a worry pops into your head, then think ‘Can I do anything about this?’ If the answer is yes, then make a plan to do that thing. If you can do it in a few minutes, then do it straight away. If it isn’t something you can do anything about then try not to worry about it. This is much harder and something I’m still working on mastering.”

If you are experiencing issues with your mental health or wellbeing, you should speak to your GP or, if you live in Herefordshire or Gloucestershire, contact Let’s Talk on 0800 073 2200. You can also visit www.talkghc.nhs.uk.

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