This Sunday, in Newcastle, is the Great North Run, the world’s largest Half Marathon – and this year 5 brilliant runners will be taking part to raise funds for OCD Action!
First up we have OCD Action’s very own Youth Service and Communications Manager, Olivia Bamber (who many of you will know already!) and her friend Priyanka Mehta. Olivia’s work at OCD Action has shown her first hand just how many people with OCD depend on the charity’s vital services for support, and so she and her devoted friend Priyanka will be taking on this gargantuan challenge in order to raise some much-needed funds.
We have both experienced OCD in one way or another, as I have battled it since a young age and continue to do so, and Pri has lived with me and supported me through some pretty tough times. At its worst, my OCD meant I was unable to leave the house, and even the simplest of tasks - like getting out of bed - were impossible without severe anxiety, distressing intrusive thoughts and time consuming rituals. It sounds extreme but that's often the reality of living with the condition - it's grim and it really does ruin lives...but, on the positive side, there is help available, and that's where OCD Action comes in. This charity provides vital support to people affected by OCD, including friends and family, and helps people to regain control over their lives. I've worked there for nearly 6 years, currently as their Youth and Communications Manager, so I get to see first hand the incredible work that they do day in day out and the huge difference they make. I might sound biased but they are truly awesome and deserve every penny we can raise for them.
Priyanka and Olivia have raised over £1,000 so far – and still going strong!
Secondly, we have the brilliant Stephanie Nash, who has one major reason for entering the run: her “warrior” son Joshua. Joshua is an 11 year old boy who loves Rugby League (both playing and supporting), music, Xbox, chocolate and his dog Elsa. He also lives with OCD, which was diagnosed recently after two years of living with distressing, uncontrollable intrusive thoughts. Stephanie is determined to take on this 13.1 mile behemoth, both to raise awareness of OCD (and the fact that people with the condition, like Joshua, are normal people with normal interests) and to help OCD Action to support people in similar situations to Joshua.
I used to run but an injury to my knee (and any other general excuse) made me stop. Well it’s time to start again and what better challenge than the Great North Run! I’m doing it in the hope that it will go a very small way to showing Joshua that no matter the challenge, he is stronger. No matter what gets in his way, he can get past it. And I thought, if I’m going to do it, I may as well try to do some wider good at the same time. OCD Action has been a great source of support. When it’s 2am and I really don’t know what else to do, just something as simple as accessing information on their website is so helpful because it reminds me we’re not on our own. They have a sister charity OCD Youth which has been great for Joshua. This helps him understand what is happening at a level he will understand, gives him tips on coping and shows him he is not alone. It makes him feel normal and as you will probably remember, this is something that is really important to you when you’re a kid.
Stephanie has raised over £400 so far – thank you so much!
Thirdly is the wonderful Paul Taylor, who is taking on the run due to living with OCD himself. He is determined to help people with OCD by supporting the charity, and running the largest running event in the UK is a brilliant way of doing this!
Help the 1-2% (myself included) of the population affected by OCD. One of the greatest challenges that people with OCD face is the need to fight both the all pervasive stigma of mental health disorders and the widely held belief that OCD is a mild or even "quirky" problem that is nothing more than hand washing. Many people now use the term "a bit OCD-ish" without understanding the onerous nature of the disorder in its severe form.
Paul has raised over £100 so far – keep up the awesome work!
Last but not least, we have the fantastic Kevin Sloan, who will be sporting the OCD Action logo as he takes on this 13.1 mile challenge. Kevin is doing his fundraising offline, so we don't have a page to link to, but if you’re there on the day then please cheer him on as he goes by!
Thank you so much Olivia, Priyanka, Stephanie, Paul and Kevin! We wish you all the very best of luck in your 13.1 mile quest to help people with OCD and raise awareness of this much-misunderstood condition.