#RadioDocumentary Struggles of Helen, an OCD sufferer


Helen Purslow

Helen Purslow is a 45 year old woman who suffers from severe Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. 

She is one of the seven hundred thousand people in the UK who struggles with OCD on a daily basis.

OCD is an anxiety-related mental condition that provokes Helen to repeat actions because of intrusive and disturbing thoughts.

What causes OCD?

Despite the extensive research done by scientists there has not been any identification of a definite cause of OCD says OCD UK.

It is still believed that OCD is likely to be the ‘result of a combination of neurobiological, genetic, behavioural, cognitive, or environmental factors that trigger the disorder in a specific individual at a particular point in time.’

However, in Helen’s case she believes her OCD is more genetic. As per the recent studies OCD sufferers might have a family member with the OCD or with one of the other disorders in the OCD spectrum. Although genetics might play a part, they are not solely the cause of someone’s OCD.

Helen’s OCD is not just hand washing

Apart from washing her hands 70-80 times a day Helen is also obsessed with counting 24*7.

She performs such rituals to feel safe. Helen has the fear of losing her loved ones. Performing such rituals assures her that they are not in danger.

Difficulty with accepting your mental illness

Helen learnt about her OCD when she was seven years old. At a tender age she was beginning to get obsessed with her dressing table, she used to take hours ‘cleaning it up and making it all lovely’ to herself.

It took years for Helen to come out and seek help. Helen is one of the OCD sufferers who were embarrassed to accept their illness due to its misrepresentation in the society.

“Sufferers often go undiagnosed for many years, partly because of a lack of understanding of the condition by the individual them self and amongst health professionals, and partly because of the intense feelings of embarrassment, guilt and sometimes even shame associated with what is often called the ‘secret illness'”, says OCD UK

However, with her persistent effort and courage Helen decided to open up to talk about her illness and seek help.

Helen:  “I have not got the treatment that I so desperately seek.”

According to a report, patients like Helen have not received immediate medical attention due to insufficient funding in the mental health sector.

Helen complains about the lack of attention she received from the NHS.

“There has not have been enough help from the NHS. I was locked in a psychiatric hospital where they did not let me have a bath. I have not had the treatment that I really do need to this day.”

Helen: “OCD has stripped me of my life”

Performing the rituals repeatedly in a day can take a lot of time, says Helen.

“Social life does not exist for myself. I do not allow myself to do the things that I like to do for myself and be a free spirit. It cost me dearly. It can strip you of your life.”, she adds.

The government and mental health charities continue to find a way to help mental health patients like Helen.

To understand what the government is doing to help OCD sufferers in the UK listen to the radio documentary, OCD is not just hand washing.

While the authorities try to find a solution, people like Helen eagerly wait for the day when they can be a free spirit and live their lives without OCD.

Kindly note: If you believe you could be of any help to Helen please contact me on sonal.a.gupta15@gmail.com

Photo credits

Hand washing: Flickr 

Helen Purslow: shared by the interviewee

> Listen to the trailer of the documentary

> Listen to the radio documentary on OCD.