Next Intensive:
21st Nov 2014, London
0207 096 0368

OCD Intensive Details: Testimonials

Susanne - "I've lived with OCD and its various manifestations for nearly 30 years (since my early teens) and its legacy of "wasted" years, unhappiness, despair and hopelessness (felt by myself and my loved ones). I've been on medication on and off and have been through a number of different therapies. I ended up going on the intensive after yet another OCD crisis and I'm so glad I did.

The course is well administered and structured but not rigidly applied. The therapists India and Clint adapted the course from day to day to most effectively address the specific OCD issues of the course attendees. The course is about educating you about OCD so you know what you are really dealing with and you are shown how to manage your OCD by learning and applying behavioural and cognitive methods (i.e. how you act and think).

I felt that throughout the course I had the understanding, acceptance and support of India and Clint but also of my fellow OCDers on the course who showed courage, determination and commitment to achieve, I feel, their own individual breakthroughs. It was a powerful experience to share and I would recommend the intensive course to anyone who wants to finally take charge of their OCD and lead a "normal" life. There are no quick fixes. The intensive is tough, challenging, fun at times (yes, I wrote fun) and rewarding.

I feel the course has the potential to be life changing in helping you lead your life rather than letting OCD run it for you if you embrace the course and put in the effort and work at it. As hard as it may be to read and accept, you and you alone are responsible for your well being, be it mental or physical and that includes managing your OCD. But that doesn't mean that others can't empathise and support you and empathy and especially support is what I found on the course. If you (yes you and not anyone for you) chose to embark on the course, I truly wish you all the best."

Georgina - "Well, I can only begin with the words that I am a healthy, happy young women with a future ahead of her, and I never thought that would ever be the case, having spent time in a clinic and the past 7 years in long term, very dependant therapy I am now living, every second and moment and I am very optimistic about my future.

My experience of OCD stared as a child, she is just 'very sensitive' I remember everyone used to say, now I know that what I was thinking and feeling was OCD, I was always that little bit to cautious and concerned, I had routines, thoughts and behaviour that were part of my life, although distressing, they did not at this point impede my life, to any obvious degree. As my family environment was confusing for me at times, I preferred to spend time in my head, this felt safe. As I grew older and left school, my OCD came along too, it was at university after the worst term of my life that things really stared to fall apart, I lost a lot of weight and became very ill, I washed my hands so frequently that they would bleed all day, eventually I was diagnosed with severe anorexia nervosa at age 21 and entered a clinic for treatment, I use the word 'treatment' lightly, as other then being 're-fed', not a lot else happened. Over time I came to realise that my eating problems were actually due to my contamination OCD and I have only recently found peace and distance from that label, in my opinion labels can be very dangerous, I didn't understand what was going wrong for me emotionally so I just became very good at my new 'title', anything to distract myself and to disappear from life. I spent the last 7 years always hoping that I would find the answer or the 'magic pill', be that a therapist , self help book, herbal medicine...I was always too stubborn to consider medication, until about 2 and a half months ago when I couldn't keep going any longer as I was.

My life had become painfully hard, I had existed in my isolated bubble world of control, a constant shift between anorexia and OCD, but as my weight had finally reached a healthy place, which was what we had all been waiting for as the answer to my problems, my OCD came in and knocked me off my feet. I had nowhere to hide and it consumed my life and that of my family, in weeks, getting worse everyday. I found it impossible to leave the house on some days, I checked and re-checked things but lost faith in my judgement and myself, I washed and changed clothes several times a day, cleaned and re-cleaned clothes, the house, infact anything that stood still long enough was cleaned....twice or often more!!, my hands again bore the brunt and everyone knew because there was no hiding it, driving became to traumatic, I had to stop my massage training course and avoided my beautiful new baby nephew who was just 3 months old, for fear that I might contaminate him, this hurt me terribly, but also my wonderful brother to whom I am very close. My family were affected on a daily, hourly, even minute to minute basis, constant reassurance, questions and behaviours, 'risky tasks' I asked them to do for me, I thought I was just managing my OCD...but it was managing me.

I was about to see my GP for medication, as I just desperately wanted to be numb, I was tired of the fight, but before I went I sat in front of the computer and typed in the words OCD centre, I think something was watching over me that day because within minutes I was talking to the most empathetic, understanding and wonderful person, who knew hands on what was happening, Chez, gave me total honesty, support and understanding, I remember breathing a huge sigh of relief because just for that moment I felt understood and a little less afraid. It was literally 3 days between that call and my first day on the intensive, the whole of those five days was quite frankly the best experience of my life, It was challenging, exciting, supporting and incredibly motivating...It was wonderful to not feel alone with OCD and I made some fantastic friends for life. The programme really works, it is written by people with OCD for people with OCD and both India and Clint are open, honest, genuine, inspiring people who are with you every step of the way, which meant so much, I left the intensive with everything I needed to start managing my OCD and was lucky enough to have a home session with Clint, which was fantastic and changed the way I felt about my home environment and actually myself and helped me to integrate everything I learned on the course.

The wonderful commitment, patience and care of everyone at the OCD centre, makes it a wonderfully supportive but pro-active environment, I never wanted someone to fix me, I just wanted to learn the tools to take care of myself and manage my OCD, without depending on anyone. The skills you learn are for life and are invaluable and I can say just 6 weeks after my intensive, I am living, laughing and happy, I am part of my family and the world again, I have some great friends and I understand and accept myself for who I am. I hope that anyone with OCD is lucky enough to have this wonderful opportunity and the chance to be in some amazing company with India, Clint and Chez and all the people that you meet along the way."

Simon - "I have suffered from OCD since 1995 (illness phobias and responsibility issues), and have received therapy for much of this time. While the "talking cure" has provided support, insight and self-awareness, nothing affected the OCD until I received CBT at a self-referral clinic at a London hospital. This first experience of cognitive therapy interrupted the anxiety and enabled me to take some control with my condition. However, my treatment fairly ad-hoc, and I was discharged and expected to self-supervise with 1 follow-up session. I have since muddled along for years grappling with anxiety, constantly asking my wife, helplines and all and sundry for reassurance, living a life dominated by fear... you know the story.

In 2004, I came across Dr Jeffrey Schwartz and his book "Brain Lock". This evidence-based, scientific, and compassionate approach to OCD and CBT resonated with me and I made some very small and tentative steps. I wanted to meet this man and through Google discovered India Haylor's association with him. I soon arranged appointments at the OCD Centre and responded to the strategy and the therapist's particular emphasis.

I understood completely what I needed to do - of course, I had read the books! I believed the rationale behind the therapy and my homework and felt better that here was a therapy that did make a real difference, but did I take my therapist's advice? No, I cheated! I avoided my homework because I avoid pain and anxiety. I progressed a little as sessions lifted my spirits, but I with hindsight, I was on an avoidance trip and using therapy as a "sweetener", an excuse to put off the real work.

The OCD became so bad in May this year that I finally gave in and made the decision to attend the Intensive Course at the OCD Centre. My initial decision gave me hope, but as the course approached I became increasingly resentful of the prospect of exposure and behaviour work. I became angry with myself and my therapist (I was horrible) as I searched for any reason not to attend, but thank goodness I did.

Having competed the course and at the risk of sounding like a religious convert I can say is that the Intensive has changed my life. Those 5 days were probably the most challenging but most rewarding of my life. The sheer intensity of the course enabled me to carry out behavioural aspects of treatment that I had avoided for over 10 years and without these behaviours, I would have remained in OCD hell indefinitely. The support and acceptance of the other 4 sufferers and the 2 therapists was extraordinary and overwhelming. I felt understood and believed in. While we had all reached the end of our respective roads and were desperate for this therapy to be effective, my new friends' determination to do the treatment inspired me to try for myself. Even though I had a tantrum and missed a morning, in true prodigal son tradition they supported me when I was resistant and enabled me to work through my tasks with kindness... and as I started, I have begun to recover.

One is rightly suspicious of claims that a therapy works for all people. However, I have responded well to the holistic and integrated approach proposed by the OCD Centre and employed during the Intensive. Grounded in the latest scientific research, the therapy teaches behaviours that affect the physical mechanics of our brain. It has also equipped me with mental apparatus, both in terms of cognitive strategies and mindfulness exercises. The brain-stuff is balanced by insight into psychological factors that affect and aggravate our OCD such as shame, guilt and self-worth, critically with work to address them. A nutritional plan is provided so that we can better manage chemicals that affect our brain-function, while the while package is brought together in a plan for anxiety management that has began to enable me to make real progress for the first time in my life.

I suspect that this works in a similar fashion to a 12-step programme where fellow-sufferers look out for each other. The fact that we all have OCD meant that empathy and camaraderie was immediate, and while I arrived deeply ashamed of my OCD, I was never ashamed to be with these people. Neither can the fact that both therapists are in recovery be underestimated. India and Clint were patient, strong, kind, and unorthodox at times, but determined throughout that we could recover and that we could do the treatments. With my habitual avoidance of treatment, their journeys to recovery and ability to identify with my own experience gave me courage to "do it" rather than "read about it".

I enrolled for this course wanting to find out how to make my anxiety disappear. I left the Intensive with a strategy for recovery informed by the latest scientific research, four dear friends, and transformed by an experience of acceptance that has made me re-evaluate my life and a determination to remain in recovery.  I am grateful beyond words."

Louise - "I have suffered from OCD for nearly fifteen years and before I started therapy with the OCD Centre this year, simple daily life was virtually impossible to manage - every minute was spent on intrusive thoughts and the secrecy was extremely isolating. The OCD Centre has been the only place where I felt I could safely and honestly air and work on the problem. I am now sitting in a crowded computer room at university, completely relaxed, typing this testimonial. I am sure there are many OCD sufferers who would understand that (before my treatment) this would have been very traumatic - often impossible. It has been tough at times but I am delighted to feel that the skills which I am learning can be carried forward in to a much brighter future".

Jeni - "I just want to share my experience with others about the OCD Centre and how much its support helped me to turn my life around. Writing this is easy for me now but when I first entered the OCD Centre it was very daunting. My days would be spent doing rituals which was time consuming and unnecessary but if they were not done then I would go into a blind panic. I lived in my own little bubble away from reality. I was very much in denial at the time and the thoughts I was having were embarrassing and frightening. I never imagined that there would be people out there who were experiencing the same as me, but when I had my first chat with India I finally saw the light at the end of the tunnel. Although I had a long way to go, I knew that there was hope. I felt so at ease talking to them, they taught me so much. After a few sessions I started understanding more about OCD ... it was like somebody had popped my bubble! The more I learnt, the more I accepted my OCD and the more knowledge I had, the more my OCD calmed down to the point where I can now lead a happy life. I wont say it isn't hard work because it is, some days worse than others, but now I know what it is and I'm not afraid of it anymore. I can control it. I am so grateful to the OCD Centre. And it's not just me who has learnt about OCD - my family has also, which is vital for them to understand me. I hope this gives someinsight into how much the Centre and its therapists helped me. OCD is part of my life now, and I am not embarrassed to talk about it. It has made me a stronger person, and more accepting of other people as well as myself."
 
Beth - "Excellent sessions with India Haylor both face to face and by telephone have made a massive difference to my life and management of my OCD.  She has given me practical advice and handy mental tools to help me beat the OCD and lead a more balanced life.  It has been hard work and emotional at times but I have chosen to make the committment to keep practicing the techniques, as I still do everyday.  There are times when I feel I have taken a step back and my OCD gets worse, but I remind myself of the things India has taught me and that its OK to have good and not so good days!  For me it is also a journey towards self acceptance, that really does get better every day."

Nick - "I have suffered from OCD, I guess, for all my life, at least as far back as I can remember. It has taken loads of different forms, from checking doors, cookers and the like to more recently seeking constant reassurance about my health and many other things. My contact with the OCD Centre has made a massive difference to my life and management of my OCD. Even more so it has made a huge difference to my understanding of myself and how I I regard myself. Its been fantastic meeting people with some of the same issues as me. It can feel very lonely at times suffering from OCD, being scared to talk to anyone about it for fear of being castigated as not 'normal' - whatever 'normal' is. I guess I feel less isolated than I ever have ever felt before, and I believe that my contact with the OCD Centre has a lot to do with that. The intensive therapy course (although hard at times and quite emotional) taught me the necessary skills to help me manage my OCD. I understand that there is no cure for OCD, but my understanding of my OCD is far better and I am now able to live with it much more comfortably than I have ever been able to before. I'm no longer ashamed of it, I guess no longer ashamed of being me."

Lisa - "I'd like to discuss my experience doing the Intensive Therapy treatment with India.
Before - 'the safe years': The OCDC website describes, "OCD fears are about things that could happen, however unlikely. Before people begin working with us they are trying desperately to make their world safe". This sums up my life before doing the intensive perfectly! Avoidance was an integral part of my life for many years. If getting on a train became difficult, why do it? When shopping became hard, then get someone else to do it or order from catalogues instead! I also changed careers four times since finishing university in building this wonderful safety net. Looking back, I've known I had the condition for many years following reading an article, but was in serious denial. My first attempt at gaining diagnosis was disastrous - the GP simply asked me 'what all the checking was about?' If I had known that I wouldn't have been there. Following both NHS and unsuccessful private treatment in my area, I found the OCD Centre website to be a breath of fresh air. The site itself is very inspirational and the treatment seemed far more specialised then I had experienced. India was refreshing in the fact she appeared to recognise a lot of my thoughts and compulsions without having to go into great detail. I started therapy with India and it was a huge relief to finally have found someone who truly understood the condition.

Having signed up to the Intensive Therapy course, I was plagued by doubts right up until I got on the coach, including Who will be on the course with me?', 'Will they think I am weird?', 'Will I actually be brave enough to say anything at all?' and What will the behavioural work consist of?'. On good days I'd worry 'Do I actually have OCD, or is it really bad enough to do the intensive?', and on a bad day I'd worry 'Am I really ready to do the intensive?'. Going to London alone in itself was a huge challenge to me (and one I'm so glad I did now). Even after I arrived, I spent hours worrying whether they really thought I needed to be there (paranoia, a wonderful thing!).

The Intensive Course (quite honestly the most pivotal experience of my life so far!): After getting off to a fantastic start getting lost in the centre of London in floods of tears, I finally reached the Light Centre with a sigh of relief. Although the first day was nerve-wracking, the environment was extremely calming and my anxiety began to subside (or at least until we were given the daily group tasks!). My concerns about the group situation were entirely unfounded and I found I was able to expose my stuff easily in the group setting; the people I worked with on both the course and in the follow up calls are fantastic and their support has proven invaluable. The most difficult part for me was definitely the behaviour/exposure work. At many times during the day focussing on this element I felt I couldn't carry on but I did and I am proud of it! To be 100% honest, I seriously resisted what we were asked to do and cheated in many ways (I realise now I was only cheating myself!), however, I have worked hard on this aspect and now recognise how crucial this work was. I feel a sense of achievement and liberation for the tasks I did complete and fully intend to do more of this to challenge myself further. 

The turning point for me came on Day 3, following a fairly frank discussion, I finally opened by eyes to how huge an impact I was letting OCD have on my life and that this didn't have to be the case. From this point on I recognised that I need to take personal responsibility for my condition, recovery and life in general (and that no-one else can do this for me!). After that my progress has been in leaps and bounds. In the information pack, the intensive course is described as being, "hard work, tiring, uncomfortable, emotional and challenging", and yep, it was definitely all of the above for me. But it has also changed my life and has tackled my OCD on all levels in a way I never believed possible.

After - a far brighter place. I was petrified at the thought of returning home and applying what I had learnt to my regular life. Some time later, I am still putting these invaluable skills into practice daily. I still have bad days, but am slowly learning to accept them for what they are, I am also still working really hard on some of my compulsions. The group conference calls following the intensive have been a godsend to me, they provide motivation and ongoing support, remove the sense of isolation and assist me in maintaining my progress. Relapse is a frightening prospect, but I will deal with it if and when it should occur, I am not going to let it rule my life anymore, and know I am now better equipped to handle it. OCD had been a destructive force in my life for many years (although I now realise it also has it's positives - never thought I'd say that!), it has affected me in more ways then I was prepared to accept. I had locked myself into my own 'safe world' as described earlier. Through the goals we worked on during the intensive, I am slowly opening my eyes to the world again and it seems a far more interesting and exciting place ...there is so much I want to do now, I don't know how I am going to fit it all in. I hope to get my own place in the next few months and am picking up a lot of my old hobbies and interests. I have signed up for the Kilimanjaro climb and know this will challenge me on various levels. Most importantly, I want to help others with OCD in any way I can. I feel incredibly lucky to have had treatment and hope to help others feel the sense of freedom I feel now. I recognise I am only at the beginning of my journey in rebuilding my life...but at least I am on the right path now.

If you seriously want freedom from the OCD trap then, from my personal experiences, I would definitely recommend the intensive course as an excellent way to achieve this. Go into it with an open mind and you will achieve the most from it. Good luck!"

Emma - "The 5 day intensive course in London was indisputably valuable in equipping me with the tools for helping to conquer my OCD. There's no doubt it was hard work but it really was so reassuring to meet other people in similar situations and to be able to help each other. The structure of the course was clearly set out at the start and the overall composition of the course - in terms of it focusing on both cognitive and behavioural aspects was just right. It was also genuinely good fun! Well done India, Chez and Clint."

Craig - "As a child of 5 years old I suddenly found myself touching my curtains for hours on end. Then the wardrobe and even crawling under my bed and counting in 4's became an obsession. It wasn't until a few months after, my mum realised what I was doing but could make no sense of it. I am now 17 and the past years since I was 5 have been plagued with OCD. It wasn't long before my OCD changed shape and made me believe that cigarette smoke and car fumes, no matter how far away would have a deadly affect on my health. I soon became convinced that the smell of alcohol would somehow kill me. It soon became clear something had to change, I couldn't go on like this, but I did! During years 8 and 9 I very rarely attended school. All my rituals had gone by this point, only now for the first time in my life I felt completely worthless. I stopped talking to anyone sometimes saying nothing for days. Things were so bleak I was moved out of mainstream school and placed in a specialist hospital, but still there seemed to be no change. I finally left the hospital talking a bit more until the following year when my OCD changed shape for the final time. I soon became convinced I was a really bad person. Swear words filled my head,and constantly calling people names in my head, for the first time in my life I began to feel I was seriously going down hill fast. As these thoughts became louder I had no idea what to do, so I began ruminating all day every day. Then my OCD altered again, now I began convincing myself I was saying these thoughts out loud, even shouting them out when really this was completely untrue. The psychologist I had been seeing once a week, since I was 5 couldn't help me. We seemed to be going around in circles so I finally resorted to self harm. It began by pinching myself until at my worst I was punching myself in the head as hard as I could around 50 times a day. Without realising the damage I was doing to myself, I found myself going to the hospital one morning only finding I had concussed myself. This was the lowest I had ever been. In the past my mum had had contact with India Haylor and at this stage there was only one option, I had to have intensive treatment. I went up and had intensive treatment for 2 weeks, and by the third day I had stopped hitting myself. India taught me that I am only human and no matter what I am as worthy as anyone else. I am currently keeping up my exposure and the techniques India has taught me, but my life has completely changed on it's head for the better. I am unbelievably happier, I feel I have pulled my life back with both hands and am now waking up and look forward to the day. I am much happier now and feel much more optimistic about the future. I would like to sincerely thank India for showing me the way to recovery."

Andrew - "When I was 19 I developed an obsession that I might be HIV+ and pass the virus onto a girlfriend. I felt so ashamed and guilty and frightened. I was unable to experience happy and positive thoughts/feelings because as soon as I did, the obsession would come crashing in. I didn't recognize my problem as an anxiety problem - I thought it was appropriate for me to feel this way. I also believed that if only I could be 100% certain I didn't have HIV then I would be really happy and everything in my life would be great. I was unable to take other people's problems seriously, because I thought my problem was much more important. I felt unable to love anyone freely, including myself, until this awful doubt was resolved. I took 5 HIV tests over the period of a year or so, but kept remembering and inventing new risks that invalidated the test in my mind.

After a few years, my obsession changed. I now began to worry that I might have done something sexually inappropriate in front of a child during a day trip to a city. I had these horrible images in my mind of what I might have done, and the more I tried to not have these thoughts, the more they scared me and the worse they became. I was living in a rented flat, which I shared with two largely absent acquaintances. I dreaded going home in the evenings, fearing what thoughts I might have. I did not realize at this time that having these thoughts was made worse by trying not to have them. I didn't know about OCD or the idea of 'intrusive thoughts' so I felt very confused about what these thoughts meant. I felt really unsure whether I was dealing with things which had happened or things that were just going on in my head. I felt extremely guilty and ashamed. I felt that the thoughts indicated I was a bad person, a pervert. I was scared of my own mind and didn't know how to distinguish between my thoughts and myself.

Over the next few years, the obsession with HIV and with inappropriate sexual behavior co-existed: they were the wallpaper of my mind. Sometimes I would forget about them for a while. Sometimes I would laugh about them. But sometimes they would come back and I would be anxious and guilty and full of doubt once again. I received 5 years of weekly psychotherapy that did very little to help me, other than teaching me how to talk about problems and how to keep a psychiatrist interested in me. OCD and anxiety were never discussed. Surprisingly, during this time, I functioned extremely well as a research student at a prestigious university in the United States where I eventually gained a PhD. Very few people would have guessed at the problems I was having. Because I didn't know about OCD I used to think that some of my problems were the result of growing up with an alcoholic parent. But this explanation didn't get my very far -- I just ended up trying to blame things on this parent, at least in my mind. The parent, my father, died a few years later, though fortunately our relationship had improved at a lot by that time and I had also realized that I had my own problems that had nothing to do with his alcohol abuse. Now I admire my father for his recovery from drug dependency and I realize how hard he worked to turn his life around. He didn't ask to be alcoholic, just as I didn't choose to have OCD.

I was diagnosed with OCD at 27 when I suffered a breakdown. I had been offered a prestigious academic appointment, for life, but developed an obsession that I had secured the job through false pretences by lying on some of the paperwork I submitted with my application. I 'confessed' to my new boss and asked them to offer the job to someone else. They didn't want to do this, and after faking my way through a medical assessment, I took up the post after 3 months of nursing myself at home through an explosion of OCD that included fears of contamination and fears of harming people close to me. I had nightmares of being in the trenches in WWII and screamed out in the night. I started taking anafranil, which helped my symptoms, but made my mouth dry, increased my appetite and decreased my energy levels. Through a referral from my GP I received 8 counselling sessions from a social worker who practiced a version of CBT. But the therapy was too general to really make an impact on my OCD. In fact OCD was not ever mentioned by the therapist who just attempted to explain that our feelings are the product of our thoughts, and we can change our thinking. This is no doubt useful for depression but less so for OCD.

Settling into a relationship with a medic, I switched my medication to seroxat and this led to a decrease in obsessions and in side effects. Life went fairly smoothly for a few years; I settled into my job and felt happy. In fact, things went so well that I decided to come off Seroxat. This was a mistake. Aged 34, and not taking any medication, I suffered another bout of OCD in which my earlier obsessions returned. This was triggered by some problems with my research which had gone off its expected track. I spent Christmas largely in bed, unable to function. Then I tried to get back into my research but I was just hiding from my problems. Suffering panic attacks almost daily on the way home from work, and unable to relax and enjoy myself, I decided to find out what that doctor had meant when he said I had 'OCD'. By this point, my OCD had hardened into a persistent question (and self-questioning): did I do X, or Y, or Z - that is, am I guilty of doing 'bad things'. These worries and 'what ifs' included: getting and passing on HIV; raping a girlfriend; sexually inappropriate behavior with a child; hitting a pedestrian while driving; giving my father too much morphine when he was dying. I would spend many hours trying to figure out whether I had done these things. I thought this was the best thing to do and that I was being honest in trying to 'discover' if I had done them or not.

That was 18 months ago, and I'm now pretty much recovered. The turning point came when I contacted India Haylor at the OCD Centre having heard her speak at the OCD conference in 2003. After assessing my particular type of OCD, India used REBT to enable me to accept myself unconditionally. She taught me, at a profound emotional level (not just intellectually) that it is OK to make mistakes, to be fallible. India taught me about the types of irrational beliefs many of us bring to life, the demands we make on ourselves and others, our low tolerance for frustration, our tendency to over-estimate the awfulness of events, and our habit of denigrating ourselves and others on the basis of one perceived or actual element. Armed with a new belief system, I was able to say to my obsessions 'OK, maybe I did do that' and so to stop trying to prove I didn't. I have stopped trying to sort out my memory or figure out if I did X, Y or Z. I have accepted those things which I have genuinely done wrong as mistakes, and I have accepted those things which I worry I might have done wrong as possibilities (however remote) that I will never be able to prove didn't happen. In technical terms, REBT has enabled me to stop my cognitive rituals by giving me another basis - self-acceptance and fallibility - through which to live my life. In the past, I couldn't do this, because I had no self esteem. Now I have confronted my sense of shame, I can live with feelings of guilt, and don't think I have to feel sure about things in order to enjoy my life right now. It is only by accepting the possibility that I can harm others that I can love myself, and love others. With time, perhaps my rational knowledge that I simply have OCD and that all my obsessions were just obsessions will really sink in so profoundly that I will cease to doubt. I would prefer this, but it doesn't have to happen. I am learning to live for myself, and from this selfishness I am learning to love, and to help others. I believe it is my right to be wrong and make mistakes."

Katherine - "When I came to the Centre, I couldn't drive my car, I couldn't do physical activity because I thought I couldn't breathe and I couldn't be in public places. And I'm sure if I had left it, it would have got to the stage that I couldn't be left on my own. I want to say thank you - because I'm starting to see life in a completely different way, probably how a child would see it. I feel like I have removed the fear that stopped me from progressing. I've gone from having a truly frustrating life, to having a very varied and satisfying life. I now drive my car and I actually caught myself enjoying it the other day! I go to aerobics, swimming and kickboxing weekly too - all the things I always wanted to do, but couldn't. I went to Paris on Eurostar for New Years and I loved it! 3 days break and it was the first time I was actually sad to get back.

Sure I still get spiked now and again and I've learnt to accept that it's not a case of rapidly becoming ill again, but it's about not giving into those spikes, re-assuring ones-self, not reacting to it, and that tomorrow is always another day. Something India said to me stuck with me - anything that doesn't kill you, makes you stronger - it is very true. When ever I feel uneasy or wobbly in a situation I STICK WITH IT... it's a battle of nerve and will, and I have to say that since my time in the field, I seem to be winning most battles. For me the best way to deal with my OCD is to face what I am frightened of, head on. It's funny I used to avoid anything that I knew deep down needed addressing. Now I seem to enjoy the challenge."

Julie - "I am 32 years old and all my life I have suffered with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and have been looking for help. I have been to private counselling, out-patient in hospital, phychiatrists, I have had reflexology and tried most of the medication, and none have worked. Then one day a friend came across an article in The Sunday Times magazine about OCD. I made contact with the OCD Centre and have been receiving therapy with India Haylor since then. I am not 100% through but would say I am 80% there. There is no cure for OCD but the therapy helps me to control my everyday nightmare. I gave my heart to India Haylor for helping me and I am not ashamed anymore about my illness. I now know I can talk to people about my OCD. if anyone is affected with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder they need to know they are not alone in their own imprisonment and there is help out there.

One of my compulsions was to repeat words, I would interrupt in a conversation, because I had an obsessive thought that "if I didn't repeat the word then something terrible would happen to my daughter" e.g., she might have a car accident or she may get a disease and die etc. I had to confess everything to someone I cared about because I felt bad and guilty, and I had an obsessive thought that I would go to hell if I was not a good person. I would repeat over the same words in a book, because again I had an obsessive thought that my family might die. Continually, from morning to bedtime, I would be doing my compulsions going around turning the lights on and off 3 to 4 times a day, checking the doors and that the electrical sockets were all off. I was constantly washing my hands, and making sure there was nothing out of place in the house. I will not sit down until I drop, then when I was in bed I would be getting in and out touching my feet on the floor, and going to the toilet, because I had an obsessive thought that if I didn't do these compulsions my family will die.

I was exhausted, I cried myself to sleep many times ashamed of what my family thought of me and afraid that my daughter will discover my OCD and pick up my habits, I even thought of leaving or suicide, I didn't want to put any more pain on my family - they didn't deserve it. When I was a child I had no confidence, I was shy, quiet and dyslexic. I had a hard up-bringing, a perfectionist dad and a negative family, I blamed my parents for not helping me and not taking time to understand my problem, they would call me a stupid child for doing these compulsions, which made matters worse. But now I can learn to forgive them a little bit and move on with my life. Now my whole life has changed I couldn't be happier and more energetic."

Mark - "It is almost impossible to describe in words how much my life has changed in the last three months. Instead of telling you about my life before, I want to start from then, as I am very much moving forward and want now to concentrate on the future. It started with a call one Wednesday night from OCD Action. They had a telephone call from the Producer of 'Richard & Judy' who were looking for someone with OCD who had never before received treatment. Eager to get help with my OCD I went down to London the following morning ready to go on the show that afternoon. It couldn't have happened at a better time. I felt within myself that I was really ready to start fighting this thing and was very excited about the prospect. I had previously met India, my therapist, at the OCD Conference and we had the chance to have a good chat in the green room before the programme started. Talking to her about my OCD was a huge relief. Knowing she understood me was such a reassuring feeling. After the show I had so many positive comments from people that I felt I was not only helping myself but, in some way, helping other people by bringing OCD out in to the open.

My treatment started at the OCD Centre not long after and from the first session I was determined I was going to see positive results. Without a doubt the technique I found to be the most effective was detaching the OCD from me, a rational human being. For years I had regarded the OCD to be a fundamental part of me but then for the first time I began to see it as this other thing which I didn't much like being around. Everytime I felt an obsessive thought coming on or felt compelled to carry out my much-rehearsed repetitions I was able to say, 'It's the OCD, it's not me'. During the weeks that followed I began to feel I was regaining control over my life. I realised just how much time I had been giving to this intrusive thing and wasn't prepared to do so any more. I have just finished making a short film about OCD as part of my final year at University, which follows me on my campaign to raise awareness of the condition. So many positive things have happened through having treatment and making my film that it has literally been a life changing experience. Believe in yourself and never give up."

 

Karen - "Before I got help I would never had believed where I am now - my life is back under control. I may not be 100% but I am working on it and my world is a bigger and brighter place than I could have imagined. Reflecting back, it's difficult to believe how depressed I had become. "So what changed?" I hear you ask. Well, this is my story and its all thanks to India Haylor's therapy approach to treating OCD. Eight months ago I was a mess. My comfort zone was getting smaller and smaller. I was almost completely co-dependent on my poor husband. I couldn't walk or drive anywhere on my own without huge amounts of distress. I had, with the help of my OCD, created a cruel and very scary world for myself. My biggest enemy was rumination; it consumed many hours of my day; I was in constant torment; I had no peace. I needed help! I was at my wits end and sinking deeper and deeper into depression. Somehow I managed to keep it going enough to search for a cognitive behavioural therapist. I found one who said she had successfully treated OCD and would be happy to treat me. I was elated; maybe this would be my answer? I started therapy almost immediately giving her my 100% trust and commitment. However a few months down the line, I began to question her ability (having had a little bit of background knowledge with self-help treatment myself). This doubt led me to call India and she agreed to treat me herself once I had finished with my current therapist.
After the first session with India I was so excited. I instinctively knew it was the correct approach I needed help to combat my OCD. She gave me the basic understanding and knowledge of my illness and taught me exposure and response prevention which was crucial in treating my OCD. No, it wasn't easy! But with India's guidance and teachings she gave me the tools and confidence to confront my demons. As a result I'm out there on my own, doing my exposure and growing stronger and braver every day. Bit by bit my world is getting bigger and brighter with each new day. It feels wonderful to find the old me again.
This is all thanks to India and her therapy. I can't thank her enough."

Roger - "I was six when I started to suffer from what I now realise is obsessive-compulsive disorder. I was plagued by worries such as "would I be to blame if I ran across a road in front of a car and caused the driver to have a heart attack?" I became so anxious that I had to have regular sessions with a child psychiatrist. A number of factors may have triggered the OCD. I was very unhappy at school - as an English child amongst Scottish children, I was given a rough time, and the teachers' regular use of the "strap" to punish miscreants didn't help. I was transferred to a private school, where the stern teaching on morality made me very anxious. I also now know that my grandfather very likely suffered from OCD.

The anxiety became much more bearable after we moved back to England and I transferred to a state primary school. However, in my early 20s, I had a difficult time finding a job, and the OCD reared its ugly head again - this time, in the form of an obsession with getting enough sleep. Moving from a noisy flat to a house cured the sleep problem, but then when I found a permanent job after a period of temporary jobs, the stress of working on deadlines and long hours brought on a severe attack of OCD - this time focused on worrying about my musical instruments (my violin and guitar).

Eventually, I found a job that I liked and the OCD became almost unnoticeable. But my ambition led me to take on a job in London in the late 1980s - at the height of the yuppie era - and I very quickly became very ill. This time I made the mistake of seeing a doctor, who referred me to a psychiatrist. This set me on a very harmful path of taking anti-depressants, such as Prozac, which were very bad for me. I ended up losing my job as the drugs had made me unfit to work. Going self-employed was a great help, as I was finally my own master - it is interesting that my OCD was often exacerbated by unpleasant employers or teachers. I was able to chose the type of work that suited me.

Once again, the OCD became manageable, and my life seemed to be going well. Then, in the late 1990s, a member of my family died suddenly, and I became ill with OCD again. This time, I resolved not to go down the drug path, and to seek out someone who could help me. I had tried behavioural therapy in the past, and it had not worked for me. But on a trip to the USA, I found Brain Lock. The idea that I could "step outside" the OCD and view it as something going on inside me, without fighting it, or trying to block it - basically, saying, it's not me, it is the OCD, as the book suggests - was a revelation to me.

Then I called the charity First Steps to Freedom one day and got onto the helpline, where I spoke to India Haylor, who was working for them at the time. She offered to give me some telephone counselling. And it was amazing how helpful she was. By now, I was in my mid-40s and had spent most of my adult life as a sufferer from OCD. I remember I had to cancel the first session as I was in such a bad state of anxiety that I didn't think it would be worthwhile talking to anyone. Then when I tried to cancel the second session, she told me to try talking to her. India showed me how I could learn to live with the OCD, not by fighting it as I had tried to do - arguing with the thoughts and trying to win the battle with them - but by becoming mindful - it is hard to explain this concept, but it means detaching oneself from the thoughts.

Actually, at the time I was not comfortable with some of the exercises India wanted me to do, but I am proud to say that now, a year after the therapy sessions, I have been able to do them. I am not cured of OCD, I don't think I ever will be - and I still have bad days. But my life is so much better than it was before. I no longer feel wretched and I am no longer angry and bitter about having a mental illness. I accept myself as I am and have a full life."