March 24, 2014

lukeOver the past 6 months I have learned to accept my OCD as part of who I am, as much as my eyes are brown and my skin is pale.

I was undiagnosed until last year

Being a filmmaker is never easy. You work 12-15 hour days on average and there is pressure on you as a director to get it right from everybody. To work through this and to discover I have a mental illness has probably been my biggest challenge to date. I was undiagnosed until last year. I write this as I am sat in the sound mixing studio on Quay Street in Manchester, overlooking the final stages of post-production on my first feature film 27, Memory Lane, a £15,000 fantasy drama that I wrote 2 years ago.

Secretly I was suffering and I told no one

Filming on 27, Memory Lane commenced in September 2013 over 15 days. We were a bit like a traveling circus. Each day brought a new set and a new set of challenges, but secretly I was suffering and I told no one. By the end of the first week, my best friend had come to the set and she began to notice the signs. They are subtle and unique to each individual, but I was completely unaware of how I was acting. A single word could derail me. I was completely infatuated with my work, combing over every detail meticulously and often ignoring the needs of others. When I was confronted, my defence went up and I denied everything.

Once filming wrapped, things got a lot worse. I felt as though the ground had given way beneath me. Some days I was convinced life would be better without me, even though I didn't feel suicidal and have never physically harmed myself or wanted to.

It was only when I tracked back to my childhood that I was diagnosed with ODC

I felt like I owed it to myself to see a doctor, because this wasn’t the person I really am. I had tests for everything - Bipolar Disorder, Depression, even a blood test for a Thyroid condition. Almost everything came back negative. It was only when I tracked back to my childhood that I was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, which in turn had caused depressive episodes when it had finally worn out my body and mind. I was offered medication, but I flat out refused it. This was my battle.

It has been with me since I was around 3-years-old

It has been with me since I was around 3-years-old.It started with food - I had to smell everything and then I wouldn't eat certain things due to it contaminating my body. I'm now a vegetarian after discovering that it was meat I had an issue with. I wouldn't be able to stay anywhere that wasn't home because the bed might be unclean. It's a stereotypical symptom that is truly sensationalised, but it was a big one for me as a child. Luckily it is fairly minor now. I couldn't empathise with a lot of people my age because I didn't need to drink, do drugs or sleep around to get a thrill out of life. Every day, something as simple as leaving the house, just knowing that I will get to where I am meant to be on time, is a thrill. It's a calmness, and it allows the real me to step into the light.

I have a beautiful family who love me with a fierce passion. I have loyal friends, some who suffer beside me and when they do, I can hold their hand until it passes, because on some level, I know their pain as much as I know them.

It was only when I read a blog on Time to Change by a fellow sufferer that everything really did change

I chose to write this blog because I had nobody for a long time who really understood how I felt every day. It was only when I read a blog on Time to Change by a fellow sufferer that everything really did change. It never occurred to me that I may need to take care of myself in ways I hadn’t before. Darkness cannot exist without light. Everything requires balance. Sometimes we have to discover how resilient we are through trial and error.. For a very long time I didn’t think I would be able to do the one thing I feel like I was put on this planet to do, because of my OCD – to tell stories. I have since told my cast and crew about my condition, and nothing at all has changed.

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