by Anna P., an MSc Psychology student volunteer
On the 2nd February, at our Breathe Café online, we had an inspiring talk by Helena Tarrant, Cartoonist and author of ‘Beating OCD and Anxiety’. She talked us through her own experiences and recovery process of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). She explained that in both cases, sufferers are trapped by certain convictions causing them to carry out irrational behaviours to relieve stress. She used the example of walking past a gate on the way home from work and convincing herself that she must touch it several times to avoid anything bad happening to her. She went on further to explain how Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) was a large part of her recovery process. After experiencing CBT, the gate became her focus point and eventually, the anxiety was manageable.
Moreover, we spoke about what supporters can do to help. In some cases, it is vital to not reassure the sufferer as this generates the need for constant reassurance. One thing I thought was particularly important was the emphasis on support from family and friends. Having personally experienced anxiety, this talk resonated with me as friends and family are such an important part of the healing/recovery process. It was reassuring to know that someone else had battled similar anxiety experiences and overcame them. Personally, not having much prior knowledge of OCD, it was very inspiring to hear the extent of what Helena had overcome. I was very grateful that she opened up about her challenges and how the process of recovery can be tough. This opened my eyes to how severe OCD can be and how it takes such strength and bravery to reach out and seek support.
To help and inspire others, she has turned her experiences into a book titled ‘Beating OCD and Anxiety’ 75 tried and tested strategies for sufferers and their supporters. The book explores the disorders through beautifully illustrated cartoons and has helped me understand how to better support those who suffer. It also gave me a clearer insight into how much sufferers experience, especially those diagnosed with OCD.
If you are looking for more support and information, join our Breathe Cafés or ManCave events. You can find more information, and register for sessions here.
If you feel like you are suffering from either of these disorders, you can also access the IAPT service to find the right support for you.
Shawmind has a number of free downloadable mental health guides which you can access here.