Qualified teacher Michael says he has always been a worrier. He thinks this stemmed from a childhood spent in and out of hospital after developing colitis and then later on Crohn’s disease.
Michael believes he started to worry more once he had got married and bought a house. He said: “I would get anxious about protecting my wife and our home. As time went on I felt the pressure of more responsibility and I became obsessive about trying to prevent bad things from happening.”
He remembers his OCD grew very slowly. “At first I started to check that windows were locked and electrical appliances unplugged before I went to bed or left the house. I would also check that I had locked the front door many times. I then started to check everything during the day too when we were at home.”
The checking slowly got worse and before long, it would take him a long time to leave the house, as he would go round and check everything again and again. He said: “I’d ask my wife to check everything too; she got frustrated with me asking for reassurance as she wanted me to trust and believe in myself”.
Michael would also check he had locked his car numerous times a day and would stand and stare at the door. “People must have wondered what I was doing”.
Michael also washed his hands, religiously followed a set routine. In his mind, he said he would link things together and worry that everything he touched would be contaminated and make him ill, so he’d wash his hands over and over again.
As his responsibilities increased both at work and at home, Michael’s OCD became more difficult to manage. It was at this point, his wife suggested he went to his GP for help.
Michael said his GP was really understanding and supportive and referred him to Addaction. He was invited to attend a Feeling Well group for six weeks with people who have similar conditions. As part of the group, he was asked to complete an OCD assessment and as he scored way above the base line, he was referred for some intensive one-to one treatment. This is when Michael met Amy, a therapist with Addaction.
Michael said: “Amy tried to teach me how to think of OCD as a bully and how to not action the thoughts of obsessiveness by separating them as my bully’s thoughts. She gave me experiments to try”. He started a worry hour, putting all his worries off until 5pm. But he said by that time, he had slowly forgotten what they were.
He was able to slowly start to reduce his checking habits at home and he said it was really challenging, as it felt like something was pulling him back to check it again. He slowly started to reduce the amount of soap squirts he used when washing his hands and he stopped checking whether he’d locked his car.
Michael also wrote a diary of thoughts which he could go back and reflect on, as well as write down a ‘for and against’ argument when he had the urge to check something again.
Michael was slowly getting better but then the new school term started. With lots of changes at his school, he felt more and more under pressure which flared up his Cohn’s disease, increasing his stress and his OCD tendencies.
After seeing his consultant about his Cohn’s, it was suggested he needed a change of career to ensure he could manage his conditions. Michael then made a very difficult decision to give his job up. After a frantic few months and an increase to his stress and anxiety levels, his wife started a new job and Michael stayed at home to look after his children.
It was then Michael decided to come to Addaction to beat his OCD for good. He said: “I felt like I’d failed but I wanted to beat it this time”. He started to see Amy again, which he said gave him comfort and reassurance as she knew his past and the issues he was facing. He was given more intensive, practical based treatment that helped him to challenge his thoughts and the way he was feeling.
Michael found his treatment life changing. He is in a good place. “I feel really positive and a lot happier. I have resources at home to help me if I have a setback, but I can push aside my OCD thoughts as intrusive ones and carry on.
“We now also have a cat – something I could have never had near me before. I’ve also now been decorating and I don’t mind getting splattered with paint. ”
I can’t fault the help I’ve had with Addaction. I have my life back.”