Caption: I credit CCFCheetah @CCFCheetah / Patricia Tricorache for the left photo and Cheetah Conservation Fund for the right photo – I will also make their requested minimum donation of $10 to the CCF for each photo they kindly emailed to me
DEDICATION: THIS RIDICULOUSLY LATE FIRST PROPER BLOG POST IS DEDICATED TO MY YOUNG FRIEND :'( [EMOTICON FOR A SAD FACE CRYING ONE TEAR] @WorthlessAly’S RECOVERY (SAID WITH HIS PERMISSION), MY BRAVE YOUNG FRIEND NOW IN SAFE HANDS AT THE MAUDSLEY/BETHLEM HOSPITAL’S “ANXIETY DISORDERS RESIDENTIAL UNIT” (IN THE UK) WITH THE CHANCE I WAS DENIED IN 2010 (THEIR ONE EN-SUITE “PATIENT FLAT”) DUE TO FUNDING PROBLEMS – ALY, YOU’RE A VERY BRAVE YOUNG MAN AND (AS YOU KNOW) I DON’T SAY “YOUNG” IN A PATRONISING WAY BUT TO STRESS, INSTEAD, HOW CRUEL CHILDHOOD/ADOLESCENCE OBSESSIVE-COMPULSIVE DISORDER (OCD) IS AND THAT I REALLY WISH THE REST OF YOUR ADULTHOOD IS OCD FREE!
I have painfully teleported to American Samoa’s time zone (now -11 hours from UK time) to do my first proper blog post, dedicated to Aly’s recovery, today on All Souls’ Day, DESPITE THIS BEING AN IMPERFECT DRAFT POST THAT I WILL CONTINUE TO EDIT AFTER PUBLICATION AND MY MULTIPLE FORMS OF OCD INCLUDING “OBSESSION WITH NEED FOR SYMMETRY OR EXACTNESS (ACCOMPANIED BY MAGICAL THINKING)” AKA PERFECTIONISM OCD, AS I PROMISED ALY I WOULD DO SO AND I WILL NOT LET HIM DOWN!
I am the first referral to WORLD LEADING OCD EXPERT Professor Paul Salkovskis @psalkovskis‘s new national specialist centre at University of Bath (formerly Clinical Director of The Maudsley Hospital’s “Centre for Anxiety Disorders & Trauma”, 2000-2010) – see www.bath.ac.uk/news/2013/01/07/anxietycentre/ and www.bath.ac.uk/psychology/mental-health-partnership/index.html.
Assessment in a quiet cafe by Paul (25 March 2013): I thank Paul for coming to Exeter to see my face “crumple” twice with “mental contamination” – I think his beautifully written assessment report reflects what he calls my “profound sadness”.
“It seems likely that a substantial proportion of her obsessional fears are related to mental rather than contact contamination; that is, she feels herself to be contaminated not by the physical presence of germs but by their impact on her internally. Very recently mental contamination has been identified as a variant of OCD and has been specifically identified as particularly problematic because it does not usually respond to conventional Exposure and Response Prevention treatment. It is also associated with adverse life events, particularly involving elements of bullying by people who might be expected to be trusted; that is, the experience of betrayal.”
Recommended a “tentatively estimated” 100 hours with Paul himself as my therapist – “Given the intensity and severity of her problems I take the view that a longer duration of treatment may be required”.
On 19 April 2013 my NHS local funding panel decided to fund this (30 hours initially and all 70 hours in principle – later corrected to 30+70=100 hours) after my Rethink Mental Illness advocate (OCD-UK @OCDUK are my advocate for all other matters but don’t specialise in NHS complaints) helped me submit a 31 page “statement to the panel outlining my case for funding and the exceptionality of my case”.
Nobody but Paul (as he is now my therapist, I really like him, and he will be the only therapist for me) knows just how EXTREMELY DIFFICULT it was for me to do my pathetic 5.59 minutes in the Jon Richardson documentary I am in (filmed over a whole day with lovely Jon there the whole afternoon) – I still can’t believe I am unknowingly in the doc with Paul, who I have admired since watching him in Channel 4’s excellent 2005 doc THE HOUSE OF OBSESSIVE COMPULSIVES, and Paul knows I am honoured that Paul follows me back on Twitter:
- I have no regrets doing the documentary I am in and am proud to be in it with my brave friend Joyce and her beautiful late son Martin (and unknowingly with Paul…)
- My consent form for the Jon Richardson doc proves (1) the “working title” my friend Joyce and I signed up for was LIVING WITH OCD and (2) they thought Jon had OCD until Paul assessed him* as the consent form states “‘Living With OCD’ – working title […] Form for Participants […] The programme features Jon Richardson, stand up comedian and television panellist, who has personal experience of OCD as he meets others who are coping with it on a day to day basis” – they therefore had to change the title at the last minute without consulting us (the “clean DVD copy” Open Mike Productions sent me is dated “23.07.12”, the day before the doc first aired on Channel 4) so I tried to object that the new title doesn’t make sense as you can’t be A LITTLE BIT OCD but I had no editorial control!
- I was filmed for the doc I am in with the same camera that the self-shooting Director Ashok Prasad used to film the beautiful Katie Piper. He was the first male that she was alone with after the sick acid attack. Just before being filmed meeting Jon (which was all filmed live and not “acted”), I was waiting in my lounge and physically shaking and crying as it was such a big thing for me to give up editorial control of myself with my “control isues” – but somehow I managed to go out and do the doc and felt Katie’s strength come through the camera lens!
- I only agreed to be filmed because I like Ashok, he travelled to Exeter twice to meet me in cafes before I agreed to do the doc, and he agreed to my following 4 main conditions: (1) due to my profound OCD plus Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder’s [OCPD’s] great fear of factual errors being written/spoken about me, he agreed with email “evidence” to give me a script of my part in the doc during editing [i.e. the doc was not “scripted”/fake/unreal] for me to point out any factual errors for him to address as he sees fit, and in the end the Producer Anju Passi also had to offer me extra support [e.g. I was distraught that there wasn’t time to re-film lovely Jon incorrectly saying outside my flat that I had then had OCD for 15 instead of at least 17 years]; (2) due to my profound Body Dysmorphic Disorder’s [BDD’s] Compulsive Skin Picking [CSP] “making a mess of my face”, Ashok agreed not to do any extreme close-ups of my face; (3) I insisted I did not want my cleaning compulsions to be filmed as I have multiple forms of OCD, Ashok and Anj insisted on doing so but explained this was due to needing it to be visual as there was only time for 2-3 minutes on each sufferer [which they later extended during editing as they couldn’t get our stories across in this time], and when I saw the script Ashok agreed to correct it by adding a voiceover of Jon saying I also have re-writing and proofreading compulsions; and (4) MOST IMPORTANTLY ASHOK PROMISED ME HE, TOO, HOPED THE DOC WOULD LEAD TO A DOC SERIES ON ALL THE MANY DIFFERENT FORMS OF OCD [BUT INSTEAD CHANNEL 4 – WHO I HAD TRUSTED DUE TO BEING A BIG FAN OF CHANNEL 4 DOCS INCLUDING “THE BOY WHOSE SKIN FELL OFF” AND “THE HOUSE OF OBSESSIVE COMPULSIVES” – BETRAYED US AND CONTRIBUTED TO MY OCD’S “MENTAL CONTAMINATION” BY COMMISSIONING THE HIGHLY STIGMATISING “ENTERTAINMENT” SERIES #OCCLEANERS INSTEAD!!!!!!!!!]
- I have my young writer friend Thomas Brown @TJBrown89‘s permission – who only writes, like I am trying to do, classic SUPERNATURAL HORROR FICTION (I.E. NOT GORY HORROR AND NO GRATUITOUS SEX/VIOLENCE), ESPECIALLY THE GHOST STORY – to quote him in my first blog post as saying the following to me
- “I can’t imagine what it is like living with such intense OCD and related disorders but I would like to applaud you for seeming to handle it so well. Keep on pulling through and feeling Katie’s strength, and know that wherever you are, whenever, you are channelling my strength too […] I am absolutely fine with you quoting the sentences above. If anything, that statement will only grow stronger when shared. I only hope it inspires others to consider your conditions seriously, and perhaps offer their own strength too.”
- In my reply to Tom I said “Your description ‘Keep on pulling through and feeling Katie’s strength, and know that wherever you are, whenever, you are channelling my strength too’ is sublime! And what a beautiful thing to do – to offer me your strength! Am both honoured and touched and it brought a few tears to my eyes – :)!”
- It’s interesting that Tom has used the word intense as this is what Paul’s assessment report has also picked up on, which uses this word twice (“Gemma is intensely preoccupied by details in ways likely to result in difficulties in engaging with the emotional material which clearly lies at the heart of her problems” and “Given the intensity and severity of her problems I take the view that a longer duration of treatment may be required”)
- Paul has linked my intense emotions with the new OCD term called “mental contamination” that he specialises in – I LIVED IN A BUBBLE UNTIL I PHONED PAUL DISTRAUGHT LAST NOVEMBER (WHEN SPRINGFIELD HOSPITAL, MY LAST HOPE DUE TO ME NOW BEING CLASSED AS “TOO ILL TO TRAVEL OR TO BE AN INPATIENT”, DISCHARGED ME BACK TO MY CMHT AS “TOO PROFOUND TO ENGAGE IN THERAPY” FOR “PALLIATIVE CARE ONLY”), PAUL RECOMMENDED OCD-UK TO ME AND I DISCOVERED THEM, AND I DISCOVERED FROM BOTH OCD-UK (RUN SOLELY BY SUFFERERS/EX-SUFFERERS) AND PATRON PAUL THAT OCD CAN BE COMPLETELY CURED, i.e. I didn’t know this new term “mental contamination” existed (as OCD Action’s website doesn’t mention it and Springfield Hospital take an extreme pure exposure approach so don’t treat it) when I described myself as having it in the documentary I am in (where I say “I feel mentally contaminated” by “uncontrollable particles” and that “you can’t clean your insides” and the Director Ashok cleverly ends my 5.59 minutes with me cleaning the inside of a chair and strangely saying “I’ve done the INSIIIIIDE!”)
- While up all night with extreme insomnia, I often re-read Paul’s co-authored 2012 article on “mental contamination” and its co-author Stanley Jack Rachman’s “mental contamination” scale/questionnaire – I use the phrase “mental contamination” in the doc Paul and I are both in but back then didn’t realise “mental contamination” is a new actual term used by OCD experts!
- I used to re-watch my appearance in the doc repeatedly, looking for signs in my description of my “mental contamination” and just crying and crying – I feel sick that I say at the end while wiping the chair “I’ve done the INSIIIIIDE!” but say earlier on that “you can’t clean your insides”!
- I often used to watch the doc and/or my 5.59 minute appearance in it for therapy overnight to try and step out of my head – I have located the actual second where an intrusive thought about the drains/sewage enters my head and if you pause the TV then you can see my face appears possessed by the thought completely taking over and I have disappeared!
- I AM HIGHLY ASHAMED TO SAY THAT PAUL SAYS I AM HIS ONLY PATIENT, IN HIS LONG CAREER OF TREATING OCD SINCE 1979, WHO CAN’T MAKE EVEN A SMALL CHANGE IN A NON-OCD WAY – I WITNESSED HIM, VIA A RECENT RECORDED SKYPE THERAPY SESSION, FORMULATE A NEW METAPHOR FOR OCD AND IN PARTICULAR “MENTAL CONTAMINATION” BASED ON ME, AS HE SAYS I’VE COMPLETELY LOST MY IDENTITY AS THE OCD HAS COMPLETELY CONSUMED ME!
Paul advises that HE THINKS HE CAN HELP ME AND WANTS TO IDEALLY REDUCE MY OCD FROM 40/40 PROFOUND SEVERITY (WHICH HE HALF JOKED IN MY CASE IS REALLY A “44/40” Y-BOCS SEVERITY SCORE) TO A SUB-CLINICAL SCORE OF LESS THAN 08/40 (TO “HELP ME TO CURE MYSELF OR SIGNIFICANTLY IMPROVE”) – however, he says my OCD is like a difficult to steer “supertanker” ship, i.e. he feels it will take a while to steer me in the right direction but that then I will continue going that way BUT HE WANTS ME TO PROVE HIM WRONG AND CHANGE QUICKLY.
SO MY SYMBOL OF HOPE IS THE STRONG AND FAST RUNNING CHEETAH WITH ITS FACIAL MARKINGS MAKING IT LOOK LIKE BOTH OF ITS EYES ARE CRYING ONE TEAR EACH – I.E. ALY’S POSITIVE CRYPTIC/OBSCURE REFERENCES, ON TWITTER, TO MY THEN FORTHCOMING FIRST BLOG POST’S POSITIVE CRYING CHEETAH SYMBOL/METAPHOR (E.G. HIS NEW “:'( [EMOTICON FOR A SAD FACE CRYING ONE TEAR]” TWITTER NAME) ARE SHOWING ME HE – QUITE BEAUTIFULLY – IS TRYING TO SUMMON UP THE STRENGTH TO CONTINUE FIGHTING HIS OCD ALONGSIDE ME, AS WE WANT TO GET BETTER TOGETHER!
I KEEP REPEATING THE PHRASE “MY OCD TEARS WILL BECOME MY STRENGTH” TO MYSELF AS A MANTRA AS I NOW HAVE HOPE IN THE FORM OF LOVELY PAUL!
* Paul’s assessment in the doc concludes “my diagnosis is that you’ve got some of the preoccupations that go along with OCD […] things like bodily fluids and stuff like that […] and you are clearly a perfectionist […] in terms of how often you’re experiencing these obsessional symptoms, they’re actually occurring quite frequently, you’ve got a score of 53 in the clinical range – people who have [OCD], that starts at 60, but the frequency is not the important thing, it’s how much they upset or distress you and interfere with your life […] and in terms of distress you’re way down on that, so you’re actually at the kind of level, average level, of people who don’t have OCD and that’s really the important thing because when we talk about [OCD] it’s the disorder bit that defines it, the way it interferes with your life, and you haven’t got that”.