What Is It Like Living With Anxiety And Extreme OCD? | Our Life



Meet the people living with anxiety and extreme OCD at Bethlem Royal Psychiatric Hospital. Subscribe to Our Life:

The world’s oldest psychiatric institution, the South London and Maudsley (SLaM), opens its doors in a brand new documentary to challenge the myths, taboos and stigma around mental illness in Britain. Anxiety has become the mental illness of our time. The NHS issues around seven million tranquiliser prescriptions every year.

At the Bethlem Royal Psychiatric Hospital in south London, a specialist anxiety unit treats some of the most extreme cases in Britain. Most suffer with extreme OCD. 23-year-old James has an unusual anxiety, a profound fear that he’ll lose control of his bowel movements in public. Consequently he spends up to seven hours a day in the loo, too scared to leave in case he has an accident. He’s been in and out of psychiatric institutions since he was a teenager and last year had to drop out of university because his OCD got so bad.

Helen is a librarian at the British Museum. She has an irrational fear of harming strangers, she believes that somehow she’s responsible for killing them in road traffic accidents or putting them in rubbish bins. For the last two years she’s lived the life of a recluse, too worried to leave the house or go to work. Aaron is a middle manager with an oil company who struggles with perfectionism. He can spend hours opening and closing drawers or switching lights off and on, unable to stop until he’s carried out the task a certain number of times. Until now, he’s hidden his OCD from everyone, worried the world will think he’s crazy. All of them are on an intensive 12-week therapy programme at the Bethlem which has a three in four success rate. Head of Anxiety Disorders Residential Unit (ADRU), Simon says some patients can be completely “cured”.

This film was first broadcast: 31 Oct 2013

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33 comments

  1. I generally don't talk about it but I am diagnosed with Depression Anxiety OCD and ADHD and luckily my anxiety and OCD aren't too severe and I'm thankful for that while watching this but I still feel for them because I get those same feelings of inner torture if whatever I'm doing isn't done how I want it.

  2. It all started with when I was at a low point in my life where I drank hard liquor everyday just only last April and May. Was on a antipsychotic and klonopin meds during this time. One day my body couldn’t handle it anymore and had I alcohol poisoning worsened by abusing benzodiazepines. My hangover which eventually went to extreme psychosis and delirium tremens completely changed me where I now have pure ocd. I believe I did every crime out there, wanting to commit one, harming others, stealing and hurting myself. I feel like I need to come clean for stuff I didn’t do as the feelings of guilt are very real to me. I kind of wish my withdrawal killed me as I’m suffering everyday then I ever was before. Some days I’m alright but I just keeps coming back and I just want to be alone. Going to work is a struggle but having to deal with high cost of living with no sick leave in my region is already adding to my mental stress.

    Remember that you think things can be bad right now but doing what I did would make me go back to my old self in a heartbeat and like I said, I wish I died

  3. I deal with anxiety too and ocd too. I hate typing and texting people because of auto correct. I hate spelling words wrong. That's why I'd rather talk I'd im available. I barely see people who talk to me because well at least my boyfriend visits me 7 days a week

  4. I believe James is experiencing these horrible things because the realm is contaminated with monsters. Remember James, those thoughts aren't yours trust me, I have the same problem.

  5. I have social anxiety
    i couldn’t even be in a video like this or getting interviewed cause i would be so anxious front of the camera and the people. Everytime i go out in public, i think that people are judging me and looking at me. Even tho i know it’s not true, my brain keeps telling me to fear and fear. It’s literally uncontrollable.

  6. I have PTSD, anxiety and extreme OCD. I know exactly what this man is going through. I have mine a lot worse than he does, I can't even leave the house, at times eat, it's the worst thing in the world. I hope he gets better

  7. Did I understand correctly, toward the end, that James was made to actually BM, but forbidden from wiping? Or was it that he was made to go through the motions, without an actual BM?

  8. As someone who greatly suffered from OCD during my childhood, not knowing why the heck I had to turn off a light switch 15 times, but just did it anyways. I know how hard it is to break, and I know how much it truly pains your soul doing the OCD ticks, but not being able to stop. I can proudly say that's all behind me now, and living life without those ticks is just indescribably better.

    I wish the best for all those featured in this video, and hope they maintain a recovery forever, especially James. Same goes for potentially anyone else reading this, that may be dealing with the same. <3

  9. My OCD is about touching (unwillingly) or becoming "infected" by things I find repulsive , so I can't even take a walk on the street without having the feeling that I've stepped on something I disgust . For many years I've walked and looked back every few steps to see if I stepped on something , to the point that I don't even look forward that much . Then it developed into not only looking back every few steps , but going back to look closer to where my lasts steps were … For some weeks I've been determined to not look back anymore . I still get the overwhelming feeling that something really gross touched my foot , leg , etc , even though I rarely look back now .
    This seems to be a great progress , but I still feel like these things are conspiring against me EVERY SINGLE DAY , many times in one day . This makes me very angry and hopeless . I thought these thoughts would get scarcer , but I didn't even left my property today and I had 3 different "OCD episodes" which made lose almost all my will to live . I don't know how much more I can take , I just wish to be free from my OCD , it's been controlling my life for over 10 years ! It makes my mood terrible every single day , which makes me lash out on the people I love the most , and I hate it !
    I want to be myself again !

  10. This is a Coping Mechanism. Parents need to take responsibility for their neglect. This child was not born this way. She hasn’t lost anything but her desire to seek help for her own problems that have been projected onto her child. That’s my opinion.
    If someone pulls a gun on someone,it’s not anxiety ,we’re afraid!
    Something tragic has happened in his childhood. This a human,trying to hold onto a coping mechanism. Something has been taken away. Children should not be left to cry ,they need their needs met . This child had something happen to him , that he’s internalized and he’s had severe childhood trauma ,and I hope this human gets the help he so deserves.

  11. Thank you for documenting this. I struggled for years with similar experiences and degrees to James. More on the Pure-O (pure obsessional thought) spectrum, less so with physical rituals. At one point I decided not to have children because of the intrusive thoughts. Eventually I believed I wasn't worth being in a partnership because of it. Watching this lightly ruffles some of these memories, I feel compassion and love towards those presented in this documentation. Fortunately in my story, the obsessions have morphed to a lesser degree. I continue to work with my anxiety. Step by step, healthy sleep hygiene, food choices and living situation changes have all been helpful. May you all be well and heal.

  12. Its wild watching this. I have had OCD since I was a very small girl. Was finally diagnosed about 8 yrs ago. I never knew what was wrong with me so I never went to the dr. I though they'd think I was crazy and take my kids from me. I understand EVERY BIT of what these ppl are going through. I now have to live on disability bcuz I can no longer keep a job. I'm 43 and iv worked since i was 15. 2010 was the last time I was able to work. It's a terribly stressful way to live. I feel for you all.

  13. Idk how tf I got to this video but I like James so much 🥺 he seems so sweet. It seems like he's under so much pressure. I hope he's better now

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