Tesco's Meeting Room
One Friday per month
Who can attend:
Rachel - Elizabeth
This is a brand new group in York for people with OCD and others affected by it. Once the group is up and running, I hope to invite guest speakers to the group.
Tesco kindly offer teas, coffees and juices as part of their service, but I will of course strive to provide alternatives if necessary.
During my battle with OCD, I have accumulated extensive literature on CBT for OCD, which I can bring along to group sessions and go through with you.
Please be reassured that your first visit will be anything but scary!! The group setting is very discreet- the Community Room we use is located upstairs at the back of the Clothing Department in Tesco, so it is easy to just slip away into our friendly group under the guise of shopping!!
Any revelations you make will be totally confidential and you can say as much or as little as you like.
I am friendly, approachable, knowledgeable and most of all I am here to help you! I will be reachable between sessions on my mobile if you are struggling.
Directions to the Venue:
- Tesco's is located at the top end of Tadcaster Road, directly opposite York Technical College.
- Park and Ride is directly outside and there are other regular bus services also.
- Free unlimited parking in Tesco's car-park.
£2.00 per session
History of the group and a bit about the facilitator....
My motivation to facilitate a support group for the brave sufferers of OCD is coming straight from the heart.....Since the age of 7, everyday has been a battle with this horrible mental illness. I have been in a lifelong tug of war between logic and the irrational fears my OCD unleashes. For years and years I have been controlled by the OCD Bully and held to ransom daily by the thought of worst fears come true. I fully understand the moments it can steal, the bizarre behaviours it can inspire and the unbelievable suffering, shame and misery Obsessive Compulsive Disorder can inflict.
However, I know that to most people, even those closest to me, I appear to be a happy- go lucky girl. I don't go around looking dishevelled or making my Compulsive Behaviours known to others. I have never sought attention or allowances for what I go though- no one would know any different. With this considered, I know that there must be other people out there who are suffering in silence right now, that need support from support groups such as this one. So why is OCD such a hidden epidemic ? We all deal with it silently ( sometimes it is easier to let people believe that OCD is just about being neat and tidy) because some of the themes running through real OCD are quite dark. Some people may find the following intrusive thoughts too daunting to talk about, but I have been exposed to these sort of "Bad Thoughts" for years so nothing shocks or offends me..... please please come forward if you are experiencing any of the following because I have so much advice to give.
From my own experience (these have been huge in my life) ....
- SCRUPULOSITY OCD - has you panicking that you have "accidentally prayed to the devil" or "prayed wrong".
- HARM OCD - transfixes you with vivid imagery of physical harm of others, be it loved ones or otherwise.
- CONTAMINATION : Endless cleaning rituals, sometimes food can become the "contaminant".
Others may experience......
- SEXUAL THOUGHTS OCD - convinces good wholesome people that they are rapists, paedophiles or even inclined towards incest.
- MATERNAL OCD - affects new mums who love their children dearly, but makes them think otherwise, attacking them with relentless thoughts of harm to the child.
Support groups where like- minded OCD people can come together and talk about these uncomfortable things in a non- judgemental environment are so important. One of the main epiphany-moments in a sufferers recovery is knowing that OTHER PEOPLE have these thoughts too. Imagine the relief you will feel when you come to my group and find out that it is COMPLETELY NORMAL to have such intrusive random thoughts and that you are not a bad person. It is not just people with OCD that have such thoughts either, these dark thoughts flit momentarily through the minds of unaffected people too but the difference is we attach too much importance and become obsessed, which drives our behaviours and feeds our over-active consciences.
My Story In Short
The early signs- Childhood
The nightmare of OCD began when I was little- these were all the early signs. I can remember being totally care-free up until about age 6 or 7 and then everything changed. I became less concerned with doing normal little girl things , to suddenly needing to feel everything was "Just Right". My mum said a simple task like taking me shoe shopping would turn into an absolute trauma, because I didn't "feel" the shoes were exactly right or I might be "lying to her" if they weren't perfect. A trip to the shoe shop would end with my mum, the sales assistant and me all tearing our hair out, and me getting told off for being difficult. Another thing was I would constantly write my mum confessionals saying sorry for being a bad kid, or apologizing for any minor unimportant occurrence. My most commonly coined phrase was , "I keep on thinking"... or "I've got a confession to make." Then after catching the back-end of a horror movie, I became very freaked out by some of the material I had seen. Then followed an entire awful summer spent indoors attending to Compulsive rituals to ensure what happened on the movie didn't happen for real. I developed phobias and a motor tic. My mum just didn't know what was happening to me. She ended up having a panic attack, seeing a councillor herself and being offered anti- depressants.
As ominous as all this sounds it was traumatic circumstances that really tipped the scales for me. Before this happened I think I could have gone either way but in my teens everything erupted and there was definitely cause for concern when I hit 13. I kept saying I didn't want to live any more, things were really bad. I was pipped to get A's in most of my GCSE's but I ended up not being as successful because I developed a fear of writing down certain words, which naturally spiralled into not being able to write hardly anything at all, so it was impossible to complete a test paper.
I had a real passion for English Literature and wanted to teach but Harm OCD dictated to me that I might hurt someone if I continued down that route, so I became a Beauty Therapist.
Contamination OCD is definitely one of the most endless forms but I am so thankful to it. The classic hand- washing rituals were my saving grace because the state of my hands and wrists meant they could finally pin-point what was wrong with me. I got a diagnosis of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and was admitted to Lime Trees Psychiatric Facility for children and young people in York.
At Lime Trees I was surrounded by doctors who had the highest qualifications - but I didn't feel they had much empathy. I think OCD is really a condition you have to experience yourself to be able to really get and offer advice. It is not very accessible as an illness to outsiders- as soon as you start hearing how ridiculous your fears and actions sound when you say them aloud, you can retract back into yourself. This is detrimental to your recovery because you really need to get your fears out into the open so you can expose OCD for the the fraud that it is- at my support group you will all be in the same boat which means that your thoughts won't seem so out of place when you discuss them.
After a few months I was still not responding to treatment. My mum pushed for a Strep test and begged for more help. Management told mum that I would benefit from CBT, but that there was no funding available, so that was that basically.
Going it alone
The only person interested enough to help was my mum. I had no allowances made at school and mum wanted to get me to a point where I could function in my first job. We got countless books on CBT and worked through a lot of things together. The nature of the illness meant that I was still secretive about some things and I dealt with those aspects alone and still do.
I think when I was a teenager OCD was quite overlooked and availability of treatment was poor.
I still suffer from OCD now, as my fears and compulsions are quite entrenched . I think it will always be a niggle in everyday life but the difference in me now from how I was back then is stark. I am very good at controlling it with techniques I have mastered and I can ignore the bully 99% of the time. I am living proof that you can come back from the brink, get back to normality and be happy!! OCD wiped out my childhood but it is not having my twenties!
I am only 24 but I have so much experience in this area, I really do know my subject and I know how quietly courageous everyone is that suffers... I have been just about every shade of OCD. I've soldiered on through Magical Thinking , Pure O, Just Right, Scrupulosity, Contamination ,Harm and Hoarding OCD. Its pretty much guaranteed that I can relate to whatever you are going without being horrified even by the darkest or most off the wall subject matter!!
A message to Parents and Carers
As for parents and carers, I know how hard it can be to choose your words when it comes to reasoning with your child- mum felt like she was constantly treading on eggshells because the nature of the illness could mean saying the slightest thing might set me off again or incur a whole new fear. Sometimes just stating the obvious logic doesn't always resonate straight away. From an insiders point of view, I know of certain ways in which she negotiated things, which registered more with me.
Mum told me a couple of things recently, saying to me, "I wish there had been someone like you around back then , who could have explained it all to me." Years ago when I was in the throes of severe OCD, she said she'd been to church and there was a lady in the congregation who had a child with a physical illness. Everyone flocked (quite rightly) to this lady at the end of mass with an out pouring of help and well wishes. She said she sat at the back and cried thinking "Where is the help for my child though, when my family is falling apart?" - well this support group is the help for your child, and a support system for you too. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder can wreak havoc on a family and its not just the sufferer who suffers.
Mums only outlet was to discuss things with my Grandad - she apparently once said to him, "Why has Rachel been given all this to deal with so young?" Grandad replied "Because she's strong enough. One day she will be using all these problems to help other people."