Tuesday 24 October 2017

‘At my worst a normal day was pure and utter hell’- Irish man on living with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Brian Clarke lives with OCD
Brian Clarke lives with OCD
Patricia Murphy

Patricia Murphy

A young Irish man who lives with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) has opened up about the illness and said he is always fearful about falling back into that dark place.

Brian Clarke (22) from Navan has been successfully managing the disorder since he was diagnosed  but revealed that he always worries about slipping back into the worst period of his life.

“I’ve been dealing with this my whole life, but it was when I was nine or ten that I really began to feel as though something was really wrong,” Brian said.

“I have always been obsessive about cleanliness and germs but when I was a teenager it began to develop into more.  I began to have obsessive thoughts. For instance I would obsessively pray that my family wouldn’t be hurt or killed, even though there was not a risk. I became fiercely particular with routines.

“When I was 15 or 16 my obsessive thoughts became overwhelming and they were so intrusive. They began to develop into that of a sexually violent nature and this went on for years. The thoughts frightened me and I didn’t know how to cope with them,” said Brian.

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'Brian revealed that he kept his struggle a secret from his family and friends because he feared what they would think if he had revealed the true nature of his thoughts.

“For the most part I lived a normal life. I went to school and I had good friends, but behind closed doors it was a different story.

“I didn’t know what was wrong with me and I didn’t want to confide in anyone in case they thought I was crazy.

“At my worst a normal day was pure and utter hell. It was spent being bombarded with intrusive thoughts of a harmful and violent nature and I couldn’t escape them. To try and relieve that I would tidy to the point of madness,” he said.

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The 22-year-old revealed that at his lowest point he attempted to take his own life to escape the overwhelming impact of the disorder on his life.

“It got to such a point where I had made several attempts at suicide and I couldn’t take it anymore. It seemed like the only way out,” he said.

In 2014, Brian was admitted to hospital where he was diagnosed with Severe Anxiety Disorder, and later OCD and he said to to finally have a diagnosis was a huge weight lifted off his shoulders.

“The moment when I was diagnosed with OCD was one of such a relief. It was such a dark time and this was the only bright moment during such a bleak period,” he said.

Since being diagnosed, Brian has been managing his OCD successfully through medication, cognitive therapy and psychiatry but admitted that he is afraid he will slip back into “the darkness” of his worst days.

“At the moment I’m doing well.

“I’m now well enough to lead a normal life but I always fear that I will slip back into that dark place. Throughout the past two years I have felt it creep back in and my main aim is to keep it at bay. It’s very scary and I know that I will have to cope with this for the rest of my life. OCD can’t be cured, but I have a better understanding of myself and this illness now but it can be completely disabling.”

Those struggling with mental health should not be afraid to speak to somebody and Brian admits that he wished he had opened up about his battle years before he did.

“When I was 12 or 13 there was no information available to me about OCD, even though I didn’t know that that is what I was dealing with. I hope that by speaking about my struggles, others might be able to see my symptoms in themselves and have the courage to ask for help.

“Having OCD doesn’t mean you’re crazy, and that’s how I felt for so long."

“It’s very hard but you have to keep going and try and live your life because it’s the only one you have,” he said.

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