The founder of one of the only organisations providing support for sufferers of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in Northern Ireland has credited a charity for supporting the start-up.
Laura Mcllveen, 21, from Ballymoney, who also has OCD, set up the charity ocdni.co.uk in 2013 in order to list information about the disorder, which causes people to have unwanted or repeated thoughts that drive them to perform rituals in order to alleviate anxiety.
Soon after, she started working with Fixers, the charity which gives young people aged 16 - 25 a voice, to raise awareness about OCD.
She says: “I didn’t know anyone with OCD and I felt as though I was the only person in Northern Ireland suffering – I felt like an outcast. So I wanted to set the charity up so others would know they’re not alone.”
Since then, Laura says she has heard from hundreds of sufferers who are delighted to meet others with OCD.
She says: “We get good feedback from users who say: ‘Thank goodness I have someone else who understands me. They’re going through what I’m going through.’”
“I found that when I told people I had OCD, they would laugh or giggle and say ‘I have OCD too’. For me I wanted to get the message across that OCD isn’t a joke – it’s a debilitating condition.
“It’s a mental health condition that you have to live with every day, it’s not a badge you wear just because you organise your books by date of publication. People often don’t realise the crushing anxiety that comes with OCD.”
Laura has created a 3-minute film. “Now I use the film on my website as a way of explaining what OCD is. It has promoted people’s understanding and they’ve said ‘I’m never going to use the term I’m a wee bit OCD again.”