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Last week was OCD Awareness Week, and OCD-UK were proud to be proactive in our work to generate media interest. In the end over the last 10-days OCD was featured across national newspapers, local and national radio and TV too. In fact according to our calculations the work we helped generate had the potential to reach 14.3 million people last week. Claire shares her experiences of being involved.
My OCD Awareness Week
I consider myself very lucky to be involved with OCD-UK. I've had OCD since before I knew it was even a thing, and since I stumbled across the support forum in 2011, I've felt part of a community who understands. We just 'get' it. We don't have to explain anything.
Having said that, I hadn't taken part in Awareness Week until this year. Initially I was still nervous about speaking out in public. I'd suffered in silence for the best part of 25 years, so opening up about it didn't come naturally to me.
If my OCD recovery journey has taught me anything though, it's that the reality of a situation is generally a lot less terrifying than the worry I invest in it! For this reason now, if I'm asked to do something in the name of OCD awareness, I generally say "yeah ok!" I know that I'll be supported by the OCD-UK team. Don't get me wrong, after the "yeah, ok!" often comes the "what have I just agreed to?!" but it's good for me to challenge myself in this way.
On the Wednesday and Thursday of this Awareness Week, I went along with Ashley to the studios of BBC Sussex and BBC Kent, to talk about OCD. On both occasions, producers told us how nerve wracking it must be to come and talk about it in public. But actually, no, it wasn't. These were people who were interested in our message and talking about the reality of such an important subject. I don't know how many people were listening in, but I couldn't see any of them, so I could forget they were there. Although I hope our message reached hundreds.
A blessing and a curse came on Tuesday in the form of the Good Morning Britain interview with Michelle Mone and how she diagnosed herself with OCD apparently without an understanding of what it is. I'm not going to go on about this as to be honest, I'm tired of hearing about it. The interviews Ashley and I took part in were scheduled before the GMB interview and would have gone ahead anyway, but it gave us a good opportunity to highlight a recent event that shows the general misconceptions around the disorder.
At one point, Allison Ferns, the presenter we spoke to at BBC Sussex said that the OCD Ashley and I were talking about some was 'something completely different' from the idea that it's all about cleanliness and tidiness. We all know this of course, but from a person with no or little knowledge of OCD (as far as I know), it was extremely powerful. I wanted to hug her!
Our interview at BBC Kent, in my opinion, was even better. We spoke for longer, we spoke about checking, washing, intrusive thoughts, Pure-O, CBT, medication and we also spoke about the time people wait before getting help and how it can make relationships so difficult. We also spoke about how recovery is possible. Of course, to cover all aspects of OCD would have taken a whole week of programmes, but I was so pleased that we got to tell people about parts of the disorder they may never have heard of. For me, it was a good start.
As we left the studio, they were already getting calls and and emails Afterwards, I received a lovely email from BBC Kent telling us that there was such interest, they're returning to the subject, with someone else going into the studio to share their story!
If you ever get the chance to share your story and feel able to, I would recommend it. People are often interested and want to understand (the presenter at BBC Kent was still asking us questions when our interview was over!) and you never know who you might reach!