Christmas Message

By Ashley Fulwood, Chief Executive.

Ho, Ho, Ho... Merry Christmas....

Christmas is meant to be a magical time of peace and happiness, well according to myth, a time where family and friends happily come together, one of smiles, good cheer, relaxation and partying, but for many people with OCD Christmas is far from that, Christmas is added stress on top of a life dominated by Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.

Earlier today I was watching my Twitter fill up with messages from mental health therapists I follow who are now starting their Christmas and New Year breaks for a week or so. They are hardworking and their Christmas break is probably well deserved, but it perhaps should not be forgotten that for most of us, OCD will be a constant through the next couple of weeks.  Sadly for us, OCD doesn't take a Christmas break, which is why when I see people wearing those jolly 'OCD = Obsessive Christmas Disorder' jumpers I want to give the wearer one almighty punch on their glowing red Rudolph nose!

I recall one of my bleakest ever times with OCD came one Christmas, long before OCD-UK was even a thought. It came on Christmas Day 2000, I was living and working in London, living in a bedsit in Wembley and somehow just (only just)  surviving a life dominated by OCD.  I remember waking up that Christmas Day morning freezing cold, the boiler had shut down overnight and needed relighting, but in my head, my OCD had already made the boiler contaminated a few weeks before when I had relighted it before bathing, so I couldn't touch it.   

So for the majority of that first Christmas Day of the new millenium was spent lying in bed feeling cold, feeling contaminated and unable to move or do anything until the boiler was relit.  Fortunately a stranger who also lived there came back mid-afternoon and relit it, but in those few hours I felt very cold, dark, isolated and lonely. At least for the rest of the day I was warm, but still isolated and lonely.

Which is why tomorrow (Christmas Eve and Christmas Day) I will be purposely logging onto the OCD-UK helpline for a few hours. It may be that nobody will call, but it could be that if someone does reach out, I can be there so that someone else doesn't feel completely alone on Christmas Day 2017. 

Thankfully my life's changed considerably since that Christmas, and even though I will be working this year I am deliberately making time for myself to do something I enjoy, because for so long OCD restricted that.   So Christmas morning I will be heading out on my bike, putting in a few miles (aiming for a total of 500km over the 8 days of the Christmas/New Year period) and enjoying the beautiful Derbyshire countryside. OCD is still around for me, but it is more that annoying neighbour these days, a pain, but it no longer stops me doing the things that I enjoy, so it's important that I do just that!  

Of course if I want to be OCD free, and I do and I will be, I have to make that happen, so in early 2018 (I am on a waiting list already) I will be seeking more therapy to nail the final aspect of OCD that remains.  So I hope that by Christmas 2018 I am writing a very different message.

So on behalf of all my team here at OCD-UK I would like to wish all our members, supporters, volunteers and fundraisers a very happy Christmas and hopefully a peaceful, calm, OCD free(ish) New Year.

Finally, I just want to offer a great big festive hug and special mention to our volunteers, most of their work goes on behind the scenes but between them their work will have helped hundreds of people with OCD throughout 2017. So to each of them, I want to thank them for their amazing and tireless hard work this year, you guys rock, and remain my inspiration, thank you.

Wishing you all good mental health.

Ashley

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