I’m very interested in OCD because I’m interested in brains and how they all work differently. I’ve occasionally talked about having a close friend whose daughter has severe OCD. I can now reveal that it isn’t just a close friend: it’s my sister. And her daughter is therefore my niece, Megan.
I can also reveal that you are soon going to be able to meet Megan because she’s one of six young people featured in a two-part series on BBC 3 called Extreme OCD Camp. The first part will be next TUESDAY July 30th, 9pm, and the second part on Tues August 6th.
We haven’t seen the programme but I can tell you that the young people and their families were extremely well cared for and this was genuinely a bid to help them get treatment. I guess there will be the usual selection of especially televisual elements, but I know Megan had a wonderful time and made friends who she’s already met up with back in the UK. I think it was life-changing, in a good way.
Megan is an amazing person, and so are her family. Objectively, I find her OCD really interesting. Personally, I find it very sad that such a lovely girl has to deal with such a debilitating set of thought processes. She is spectacularly outgoing, affectionate and charming. (And so is her sister, who doesn’t have OCD.)
There are advantages to Megan’s condition, though. I recently asked her if she would like the (paid) task of creating two documents which required her to match and check, word for word, an early draft of two of my novels against the printed versions. She leapt at the chance, saying, “This is perfect for me because my OCD means I am compelled to read every word anyway!” Result! I’m epublishing Sleepwalking and the Passionflower Massacre later this year.
She is also acting as my chief consultant for The Teenage Stress Guide. I asked her how she felt about everyone knowing about her OCD and she said she wanted to be able to help people.
People often say that most of us have elements of OCD. I think when you watch these programmes you’ll see that the real thing is far more than a normal desire to check, or wash, or worry. It’s irrational, complicated, and damaging.
Here’s the press info for the programmes:
Extreme OCD Camp
750,000 people in Britain suffer with an incurable mental illness. It’s called OCD.
It strips away dignity, independence and makes the simplest task impossible. It’s an anxiety disorder that is often misunderstood, but one so severe it can leave sufferers housebound, depressed and even suicidal. Many are unable to find the treatment they desperately need.
This new two-part series follows six young Brits who have been selected to attend a unique life-changing therapy camp in America. Two leading therapists hold an annual wilderness camp and for the first time they have invited a group of young Brits to attend.
The therapists use a technique called ‘Exposure Therapy’ which is rarely used in the UK, but is reported to produce extraordinary results. Patients are challenge face their deepest fears in order to learn how to deal with their anxiety. It might not work, but this could be their last hope.
I want it to work very much. Please watch the programmes and please let it help you understand people with OCD.