People from all over the world have shared their daily struggles with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) in a series of brutally honest confessions that have formed the basis of an art project.
Entitled The Wall, it is a mosaic made up of dozens of people’s stories about living with the condition and was put together by a creative arts project called The Secret Illness.
From painstaking daily rituals to recurring, obsessive thoughts, it shows the extent to which OCD can dominate people’s lives.
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Dozens of people from all over the world have shared their secret struggles with OCD in a project called The Wall, made up of a mosaic of people’s stories – from painstaking daily rituals to recurring, obsessive thoughts
People submit their stories by emailing co-founder Liz Smith, who curates The Wall’s online page.
Gemma Sarsfield, 30, from Manchester wrote: ‘If I breathe in too deeply, when I walk past a bin I will inhale the germs and my body will become contaminated.’
A woman from Idaho named Laura said: ‘How do I know for sure that I won’t kill someone on purpose?’ The 57-year-old admits that she is ‘haunted’ by obsessions which she has had since she was 12 years old.
Helen, 30, from Heidelberg in Germany confessed: ‘I used to take my hair straighteners to work so I could always check they were off.’
She added: ‘It would probably have been easier just to stop straightening my hair than battling the thoughts that, through my carelessness, I would leave something electrical on that would result in a fire and, ultimately, harm coming to others.’
A 27-year-old woman from Yorkshire wrote: ‘I feel compelled to have objects a certain way or angle because of a thought which haunts me: that I love one of my children more than the other if I don’t.’
Obsessive thoughts: A woman named Helen, 30, from Heidelberg in Germany, confessed: ‘I used to take my hair straighteners to work so I could always check they were off’
‘What if I just stab someone and I can’t stop myself?’ Some OCD sufferers confessed to being plagued by unwanted thoughts, with one saying: ‘I thought it meant I was either losing my mind or a danger to children’
She explained: ‘When I just start to think I have some kind of control over it, the obsession changes.’
One person, named only as A, from Canada, said: ‘If I didn’t touch a random object a number of times my worst nightmare would come true (generally one of my loved ones would die).’
And a 30-year-old woman from London told how, despite having a ‘wonderful’ childhood, she was initially unaware that her mother was suffering with the condition.
‘Growing up, I remember spending hours every night in silence in the car parked one road away from the house while my Mum completed her rituals, checking the handbrake and car windows,’ she recalled.
‘If we spoke the whole routine had to start again. I had no idea why we did this but I knew if I stayed very very still and quiet we would get home quicker.’
‘It just goes to show how many people out there have been suffering in secret’: Co-founder Liz Smith says she has been impressed by the response and they are now making films based on short stories and poems
WHAT IS OBSESSIVE-COMPULSIVE DISORDER?
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is characterized by unreasonable thoughts and fears (obsessions) that lead to repetitive behaviors (compulsions).
It’s also possible to have only obsessions or only compulsions and still have OCD. They often are centered around a theme such as contamination, noise or safety.
Those with OCD may not realize that their obsessions and compulsions are unreasonable and suppressing them can cause anxiety. Acting on the thoughts can relieve the stress, leading to ritualistic behavior.
Source: The Mayo Clinic
The Secret Illness was set up by filmmaker Liz Smith, and actress Becca Laidler, who has a personal family connection to OCD.
Liz told FEMAIL that the project started off as a documentary back in 2014 but quickly morphed into a way of chronicling different sufferers’ personal experiences.
She said: ‘In the research phase we had already started to meet people living with OCD and to connect with them on social media.
‘When we launched we had no idea if people would feel brave enough to post their stories on The Wall, but it quickly gained its own momentum and now the wall posts are coming in thick and fast.’
She added: ‘The response has been incredible. We’ve also received some extraordinary poems, short stories, music and other creations from OCD sufferers that we’re busy making into short films and we’ve some amazing people contributing to the podcast series we’re making.
‘It just goes to show how many people out there have been suffering in secret and it’s really wonderful to be playing a part in creating a community platform where we can explore what OCD really is so creatively and honestly.’