Sligo self-help group is to feature on RTE film
Pat Spellman knows all about the urgency of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or OCD. The Bunninadden man has suffered with the condition for much of his adult life. Pat (56) used to have to wash his hands for up to ten minutes a time at least 10 times a day. He says he was unable to answer the phone because of 'germs' and if he did take a call, he would have to immediately wash his hands afterwards.
He explains: "OCD is an anxiety disorder characterised by repetitive intrusive thoughts. I had classic checking symptoms also. I would constantly have to check that the doors were locked, the gas was off or the letter had a stamp. Just getting out the door for work was a major problem. I found it difficult to touch objects in the house, the phone for example as I thought it was contaminated in some way."
Pat says his OCD led to him developing depression and had a severe impact on his social and personal life.
Thankfully intensive therapy has helped Pat to turn his life around and the financial advisor now runs a self-help group for people with phobias in Sligo.
"Therapy helped me to get better and I wanted to set up a group specifically for people with anxiety disorders. I discovered an organisation called Triumph Over Phobia (TOP) in the UK, I went there and had some training," Pat says.
He launched an Irish branch of the group in 2013. Pat says: "The HSE supported me and we use a room in Markievicz House. We meet once a week. This is a working group with an emphasis on self-help and recovering. Our members are doing really well, A few people have come through the programme and out the other side. It is comforting to know that we can help to show them the way. We cater for people with OCD and phobias. The conditions are two sides of the same coin."
Eileen Morrison (65) from Sligo attends TOP. She says: "I suffered with OCD since I was 15 and it ruined my life. Even though I ran a business, it was torture and there was no help available to me back then. Over the years I've had therapy, but it was only when I started going to TOP that I could really get great support because those at the group knew exactly what I was going through. We could share experiences at the meetings."
Eileen and Pat have both taken part in an RTE documentary to be aired on February 2nd at 9.30pm called OCD and Me. Eileen says: "I want young people to know you don't have to suffer in silence anymore like I did. There is help available out there now - our group in Sligo is a source of great support to me and can help others.
"I'm an older woman now and that's why I decided to go public because I would like to help younger people who suffer with OCD or anxiety of any kind. You can turn your life around."
To contact TOP: call 071-9128900.