‘Committing to therapy can be first step in dealing with obsessive-compulsive disorder’

Earlier this week a letter arrived to our offices highlighting Mental Health Week and in particular, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.   The letter was quite disturbing and described how the author had sat staring out his bedroom window at 3 am one morning, convinced that a terrible accident had occurred on the deserted road outside his home. The man even ventured out onto the road to search for signs of the accident. He states in the letter that he paced the road for two hours that night.

  OCD is a mental health condition based on anxiety and characterised by uncontrollable, unwanted thoughts and repetitive, ritualized behaviours the sufferer feels compelled to perform. Sufferers of OCD can recognise that obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours are irrational – but even so, feel unable to resist them and break free.

  Psychotherapist Billy Brogan told the Roscommon People that OCD is an issue which develops over time.

  “Nobody is born with OCD. I would see clients who have developed the issue over time and are unaware of what caused the OCD to take over their lives. One thing is certain: the individual would have always had high levels of anxiety. We all have anxiety at some level and this is normal but some people develop small rituals or as I call them habits. These ‘rituals’ become necessary for the individual to function on a daily basis. You may work with someone who has OCD but never know; it only becomes obvious when living with someone with OCD. The condition has become part of their life,” said Mr. Brogan.

  A good therapist can assist with the condition, which can cause severe distress for those who suffer from it while hindering daily life.

  Billy says: “It’s normal, on occasion, to go back and double-check that the iron is unplugged or your car is locked. But if you struggle with or suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder, obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors become so excessive they interfere with your daily life.

  “Counselling and therapy are the best way to help the sufferer…encouraging the sufferer to talk about their story and identify better ways to develop the mental strength to change.”

  Billy uses many styles of therapy, with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy preferred for those with OCD. It helps them to live in the moment and challenge the thoughts and rituals.

  Billy added: “Talking is the hardest part and recovery starts when the patient – who must work with the therapist. Making that call and committing to the therapy is the first stage in recovery.”

  There are many mixed messages relating to mental health and OCD, but Billy says it’s good to talk about the underlying issues and there’s never an overnight fix. The individual with OCD must commit to the process which will may involve a minimum of six to eight sessions on a weekly basis in order to deal with OCD and anxiety, which in turn leads to the behaviour. Change is often the hardest part of the process while admitting that you suffer or struggle with OCD is the start of the process. 

  For family members, it can also be stressful living with extreme cases of OCD and in some cases they can facilitate or are controlled by the individual as they are to afraid to challenge the behaviour.

  OCD Therapy helps to take back the control and live with it more creatively. When seeking a therapist it’s important to seek out one with proper qualifications as the profession is as of yet unregulated.

  * Visit the Irish Association of Counselling  Psychotherapists www.IACP.com or Billy Brogan at
www.billybrogan.com or on 094 965 9966/086-0675433 for more information.