To Get OCD on TV

About a year ago I was approached by the Mind (mental health charity) media team to offer some help with character development. It was a great honour to asked to work with a popular TV drama and one that I couldn’t pass up, so of course I said yes.

Due to the nature of the plot line and the risk of it being revealed to tabloids I had to keep super quite which wasn’t difficult for the most part. Keeping it from my family, who knew I was working on a show and desperately wanted to know more info, was the tricky part. I couldn’t tell them what the show was or what the story line was going to be, although of course they tried to guess and trick me into revealing it. All attempts failed.

On the 16th of Feb 2018 the plot line was revealed on the show, Coronation Street. It is one of Brittan’s longest running dramas with viewers of all generations. The show portrays the lives of people living in a Manchester following the current events of the day. This particular story line was about a young man (Craig, played by Colson Smith) with OCD, obsessive compulsive disorder. With mental health awareness on the rise the shows leaders clearly wanted to reflect this and so with the help of charity organisations did just that.

For months I looked over scripts deciding on whether certain manners or behaviours would be right for someone with OCD to ensure that a rounded, not stereotyped, view was taken.

After watching the episode on the 16th I was not only proud to be a part of it but impressed with how the Smith played his part.

In one scene we see how Craig spends a challenging time completing his compulsive checks without getting any satisfaction from it. Over and over he performs the tasks knowing that he is getting late for a date with his girlfriend, yet unable to break out of the pattern. The thoughts in his heads continue to torture him with doubts.

The following scene Craig confesses (with tears streaming down his face) to a child, who stumbles on him mid check, as to what he is doing. The innocent child cannot understand why doing these things would save the lives of anyone, stop them from being angry or prevent harm. All he can see is how emotional it is making his friend.

It is a truly powerful scene to watch, revealing the emotional and physical toil of mental illness on a person.

I was invited to attend a workshop to help the actor get into character for this role but unfortunately was not able to make it. A friend (Rich Taylor) and fellow mental health campaigner, was also invited and he was able to attend. It is clear from the episode that Rich was able to really help get Smith get into the mind of an OCD sufferer.

The story line continues and I am excited to see how it goes. If you do watch Coronation Street tell me what you think. It would be great to hear other people’s thoughts also.

Here is a clip from the show;

And one from the interview in This Morning. Rich Taylor also speaks about OCD in this.

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My Mental Health. Where To Now.

Hi and welcome to the last episode of this series. Up until this point I have talked about my journey with mental illness so far, such things like how it possibly began, the way it affects my relationships and some of the big events in my life that had an impact. In this concluding episode I am going to tell you about where I hope to go from here.

So what are my long term goal? Ideally I would love to live a life in which I can control mental illness all on my own. At the moment I am not really there although I am close to it. I want a life in which I can help myself out of an episode so that I no longer rely on other people or feel trapped because I am alone with only my mind. To achieve this I will need further help. I have recognised this already. The treatments I have taken on have been great in helping me but there is still a bit more that I need to do to get to the level I desire. How I hope to get there is to seek further counselling through my GP, reading self help books, talking openly (so as not to isolate myself) and to try small experiments in safe way until I feel confident. From my past therapy sessions all of these have proven useful.

If I keep up with this plan I am on track to reach my goal. Doing things like this blog is also a way in which I am helping myself. I am sharing my experiences with you which means I can normalise mental health. As soon as I accept that it is nothing to be ashamed of then I stop making it personal or unique to only me.

Over the last year I have looked at what is really important in my life. The usual things have come up such as family, friends and being able to enjoy my life. But to really know what that means to me I had break it down. With family I want to have better relationships, stronger even, being open and no longer relying on them to support me but being the one that can also support them as I once did. With my friends I want to be able to go out to parties, day trips, socialise etc rather than locking myself up in my room for days. I also want to have adventures. There is a whole big world out there which will not come to visit me at home, it wants me to go an experience it. I have recently started to go on holiday overseas and by doing so I have discovered how much of a positive impact it has on me.

At one point in my life I saw no future now that has changed. I have goals to work towards, places I want to see and things I want to do. I am not going to say that my demons aren’t trying to stop me when they can or that I have been born again. What I am saying is that instead of mental health ruling my life I am starting to take some control back. The journey will be long and tough but worth every step.

There you have it, the end of this short series. I do wish that my story has inspired you and given you some hope. I also trust that it has given you an insight that the conditions that we suffer are also shared by others as well. As much as it likes to make us think we are the only person ever to have these thoughts or feelings we are not. If you haven’t done so already please seek help and share your progress as well. I would love to hear how you are getting on.

Thank you for putting up with my bad recordings. I wanted to give you a face to my story as I thought it might help. As you can tell technology has not always been on my side on this journey.

Until then I wish you all the best, a strong recovery and good mental health.

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My Mental Health. The Things In My Way

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My Mental Health. The Turning Point 

Below you can find a link to support networks for mental health.

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My Mental Health. Relapses

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My Mental Health. Feelings

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There is danger all around me

This morning I woke up feeling sick. Waiting to get into the bathroom was virtually impossible and so by the time I made it in I was too late to reach the toilet to vomit.

My PJs were covered in sick as was the bathroom floor. Everything I touched was marked by the horrible fluid that had been expelled out of me. 
Once I had gathered myself I was able to start the cleaning process.
Cleaning, something that shoule have been easy for me to do but painful to complete.
I cleaned the initial mess then washed. If I was dirty I couldn’t clean anything else as I was risking spreading the germs that were on me. So I needed to washed and changed. 
Germs are such vial things. They make you and other sick. They can kill you or give you long term conditions to deal with.
I can’t be responsible for doing that to someone else. So I clean.
Bleach, disinfectant and boiling hot water. It has burnt my skin so that it was lost its brown glow. It’s ok because I know then it’s working. 
It takes me an hour and half to complete the room which is no bigger that a large storage closet. 
Why? Because I can never be convinced that it was actually clean. I scrubed every surface several times until I was sure it was safe but even then I wasn’t really sure. So I would scrub it again. 
Have you ever played the game, ‘the floor is lava?’ Imagine that the room is lava. I feared touching anything just in case I was further contaminated and spread that unknowly to other parts of the house. 
Cleanliness is like Godliness. If the rest of the house is dirty then prayers wouldn’t be accepted. The angels wouldn’t visit and I wouldn’t have the protection of God.
Eventually it’s over and I can have my second wash. 
I’m already late for work and my boss knows why. Once I’m ready and my clothes are in a boil wash I can start my usual ritual of leaving the house. 
As always it takes forever but I get to work.
I’m not convinced I’m clean. There is still contantiation on my body and I ask for reassurance.
‘You are fine,’ they say. But I’m not sure. 
It’s only 10.30 am. I still have the rest of the day to go. 
At the end of the day when I finally make it home I’m no more at peace than when I was at the start of the day. I think I am still contaminated and so is the house. The heavy stench of bleach is not enough to convince me otherwise. 
I’m so tired. 
I never wanted to be mentally ill. 
I have no choice.

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