If I didn’t want my dad to go to the pub, for example, I would ride my scooter around our flat a certain number of times, thinking that would prevent him.
It was nonsense really but I felt compelled to do it.
I also counted objects. I would count objects up to 10 and if I hadn’t done them in a certain way, I’d have to repeat it again.
When I was 12, I moved from Rowley Regis to Weston super Mare.
I didn’t know anyone and was starting at a new school with new teachers and a new curriculum.
These kinds of things put a lot of stress on a youngster, and it made my condition much worse.
I didn’t get on well at school and I wasn’t very well-behaved.
I was almost excluded at the age of 13 – and my condition went through the roof.
At that point I talked to my dad about it. Turned out he had noticed the things I’d been doing.
My dad was very supportive and understanding but he knew he couldn’t help me and that frustrated him.
It was out of his control and he wanted to be able to fix things.
We went to the doctor and he referred me to the Child and Adolescent Mental health Service, or CAMS for short.
They diagnosed me as suffering from OCD.
They gave me cognitive behavioural therapy but because I was only 14, I wasn’t really ready to deal with my problems.
I wasn’t ready to start changing because by that point my OCD was my life. I had to have an hour off school every week to go for treatment.
People at school didn’t believe I had OCD because I hid it so well – but they took the mickey all the time.
They didn’t understand mental health issues so there were a lot of jokes, loads of taunting at my expense.
They even made up a song, singing ‘If you’ve got OCD, wash your hands’ to the tune of ‘If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.’
They’d turned a nursery rhyme into something so cruel, and they’d sing it all the time.
They called me a freak.
I always put a smile on my face and tried to make a joke back – but I never wanted to go to school.
I felt that if I did my OCD habits, I would be OK. But inside, I was very stressed and agitated.
Then, when I was 15, things got worse. I started to suffer online abuse.
One girl threatened to bring a knife into school and stab me.
We’d had an argument earlier that day and she’d used my OCD against me as so many people did. It came to a head and she said she was going to stab me. I was so worried that I told my dad.
He went to the police about it, and they went to talk to her.
The girl and I actually became friends after that. I suppose you could say I’m quite forgiving.
But I never felt safe at school.
One of the hardest things was that so many people didn’t believe me. They thought I was attention-seeking.
With something like this you already feel like you’re alone with it, and then you find people are denying you’ve got it.
One teacher asked a boy once why he kept saying these things to me.
The boy replied: ‘He hasn’t got OCD because he doesn’t wash his hands and turn light switches off and on all the time.’
People often look for stereotypes with mental health issues, and they generalise a lot.
I would say to people not to treat those with mental health issues any differently to anyone else, and to try to be there for them rather than using it against them, which makes them feel like an outsider.
It helps that celebrities like David Beckham are talking about mental health issues now.
David Beckham started talking about his OCD when I was at school. It made me realise that I wasn’t alone. If a footballer like him could make something of himself with OCD, then so could I.
Whenever I tell people I have OCD, which isn’t very often, they ask me if I clean a lot. Actually I’m quite a messy, scatty person.
It affects people in different ways. For me, it’s the intrusive thoughts.
The thought that if I don’t tap an object a certain number of times, or move objects in a certain way, that something bad will happen.
It’s silly stuff and I know it has no connection with anything that will happen but it just pops into my head, and it’s very distressing.
In counselling, we’ve talked about what might have caused my OCD.
My parents split up when I was around five. They had a very tempestuous relationship.
As the second oldest in the house, I took the force of it and witnessed arguments that perhaps I should not have witnessed.
The early stages of a young person’s life are key and your parents splitting up is upsetting at any age.
I still live with my dad and we’ve moved back to Rowley Regis. I see my mum three or four times a week and I get on well with them both.
I’m studying drama, film studies and English at college.
I’d like to be an actor. I’ve actually always been a confident, sociable person. I’ve always enjoyed talking to people.
I’ve had counselling at college from a lady who is lovely and I found an OCD website –– which is full of self-help advice. I’ve managed to get my OCD under control so I’m less anxious now.