Compulsion to help

OCD support group co-ordinator Matthew Charlton. Picture: Martin Kennealey
OCD support group co-ordinator Matthew Charlton. Picture: Martin Kennealey

But what about those folk who really do have obsessive compulsive disorder? For them, it’s not a throwaway line or flippant matter but a lifetime managing a potentially debilitating condition.

Attadale administration assistant Matthew Charlton co-ordinates a ConnectGroups/Mental Illness Fellowship WA support group in Booragoon.

He said he had helped many people with the condition cope better over the past 12 months.

According to beyondblue, the anxiety disorder is characterised by obsessions or compulsions (acts performed to alleviate the distress or neutralise a thought), or both.

While Mr Charlton (32) has been lucky enough to only lose days and not weeks or months to his own unique disorder, he knew of others that had become largely housebound trapped in a cycle of checking lights, electrical appliances and locks as a result of fear or safety anxiety.

He said the biggest danger was for people to go undiagnosed and untreated for years, as he had.

‘I first noticed it when I was 12 or 13 with very small, isolated incidents but it became more obvious and difficult in my 20s when I was studying at university,’ Mr Charlton said.

‘OCD is anxiety-driven, brought on by rising stress levels and emotions, and if the symptoms are not well-managed they can become crippling.’

Apart from seeking early diagnosis, the help and fellowship of a confidential and safe environment like the support group, Mr Charlton recommended the mantra Act Belong Commit ” taking action to improve mental health and wellbeing ” with regular exercise a vital ingredient.

Mr Charlton ensures he exercises at least five times a week.