Wirral man lifts lid on OCD to urge others to get help
A WIRRAL man whose life was torn apart by obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) has lifted the lid on the condition to urge others to seek help.
Duncan Parkes, 33, from Hoylake, spent years battling the disorder which at its height saw him compelled to do every day tasks – such as washing his hands – in multiples of four.
For years he kept the condition secret even from those closest to him until his grandparents died within two weeks of each other and he fell into a crippling depression.
Now eight years after overcoming the compulsions that tortured him he helps run a support group for people with OCD and to mark OCD Awareness Week which runs in February wants to tell sufferers there is hope.
Mr Parkes, whose condition has stopped him from working, said: “I would get upsetting thoughts about family and friends. In my case it was fear of loved ones dying and I would have to repeat everything. My number was four and I would have to do everything in multiples of four. Practically, I’d turn light switches on and off, open and close doors, wash my hands four times. It was incredibly time consuming. I didn’t want to do the rituals but the OCD urges were so powerful.”
Mr Parkes said the OCD would leave him living on a constant “knife-edge”. From the age of just 10 years old, he was wracked with anxiety, feeling that he had to perform the rituals or someone in his family would die.
One example he gave of a ritual was having to walk to school the exact same way every morning, down to which way around a lamppost he should turn.
When he was asked to go on errands by a teacher, he would have to plot out in his head which way to go.
His parents discovered he had been hiding the condition from them for years when his grandparents died and he fell into a deep depression.
Medication and Cognitive Behaviour Therapy – a practice which helps suffers combat their condition – helped and eight years ago he joined Wirral’s OCD Self-Help group. He no longer performs the rituals.
But he said: “OCD is very severe and it in the end I was housebound by it, which takes away the jovial aspect of it. OCD is kind of joked about by the general public and it is probably quite funny but people don’t realise how seriously it can affect individuals and their loved one’s lives.But there is a way forward. It can never be cured but it can be managed.”
Wirral’s OCD self-help group has set up an information point at The Lauries Centre in Birkenhead which will be staffed throughout the week.
Contact Duncan Parkes via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.ocdaction.org.uk for more.
OCD – Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder – is a clinically recognised condition in which people experience repetitive and upsetting thoughts and/or behaviours. It has two main features – obsessions and compulsions. Left unchecked these become so frequent and distressing they affect every area of a person’s life.
People with OCD make up between 1-3% of the population. It is listed by the World Health Organisation as one of the top ten debilitating disorders.