A Derry woman who suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder has revealed how a book she made of her thoughts and feelings helped her cope with her condition.
Caoimhe Hegarty said her anxiety levels were so bad at one stage that they made her physically sick.
Her condition became so severe that she was forced to take a year out of university.
But the local woman recently attended a Christ in Others Retreat (COR) - a religious group which was formed to help young people going through tough times.
“COR has really helped me through it all,” said Caoimhe. “The people there are so lovely and understanding.”
It was after she attended a COR weekend that the multimedia student decided to make her book ‘My Anxious Journey.’ The book contains various images that Caoimhe made, and verses the Derry girl penned to help her cope with her OCD.
She has since been back to COR to show her book to other young people - hoping that her experience might help others.
One of the verses states “I’m proud to say, I’ve passed the test of life beating me down, but picking myself up instead, a hell I never imagined I’d have to live through, one that killed me at the time but taught me more about life than I ever knew. I’m stronger and happier, a survivor, that’s me.”
Another stated: “I was afraid people would confuse my bad days with being weak, when they were the days I was fighting the hardest.”
“I’ve been diagnosed with OCD with intrusive thoughts,” Caoimhe told the ‘Journal.’
“I was in therapy but at one point the anxiety became so bad I would get physically sick.
“There were days when I didn’t want to leave my room. With the OCD I was washing my hands constantly, leaving them dry, sore and painful.”
Caoimhe has since made her book which she says “came naturally to her.”
“Because of my OCD I was very particular about it,” explained Caoimhe.
“It actually took me a long time to print it out and then show it to people. After it was done I brought it to a meeting of COR and the response was great.
“Everyone who looked at it was really impressed with it. The book has helped me too, the very act of putting things on paper has been good. The book is the best thing I have ever done, and I’m still doing it.”
As well as words and phrases, the book contains images that Caoimhe has worked with herself.
Her work has now been selected to be part of an exhibition which will be held in Pilot’s Row in April of next year.
“I just hope that by sharing my book with others it might help them as well,” she said.
“That’s the real reason that I decided to show it to other people.”