A TEENAGER who washed his hands up to 40 times a day has described how he used poetry to help control his obsessive compulsive disorder.
Ronan Thornley, aged 14, started suffering from OCD last year.
It got so bad it began to dominate every aspect of his life, but therapists from Sheffield Children’s Hospital urged him to use his love of creative writing to combat the condition.
“Having OCD really takes over your life,” said Ronan, from Longley.
“Mine got so bad I couldn’t go out with friends and I was struggling to make decisions by myself.
“It was hard for people to understand as they don’t think young people can get something like OCD.
“When my therapist suggested using poetry to help express my feelings I felt relieved as it was something I felt comfortable doing. I really enjoy writing poems at school and it worked really well to see my issues on paper in front of me.”
Ronan, a student at Parkwood Academy, is speaking up about the disorder for OCD Awareness Week, which starts today.
He said he wanted to raise awareness of the condition in younger people and inspire others to recover.
Ronan was treated at Centenary House, a facility run by Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust.
“When I first went to Centenary House I was really nervous,” he said.
“But the staff showed me they were people I could trust. They would explain I wasn’t going to catch an infection from having a cup of tea or sharing sweets like I thought, and they would do these things so I could see they were fine after.
“One day they took me to Tesco and we bought a pick-and-mix and sat and shared the sweets. It was hard but that is when I knew I could beat my OCD.”
Sara Gilles, a child and adolescent mental health practitioner who treated Ronan, said: “OCD affects 742,000 people in the UK and it is very important for people to realise young people are part of this huge statistic.
“We knew Ronan had a talent for writing poems so we thought it might be a great way of helping him think about his hopes and fears.”
The trust said at the beginning of his 40-week course of therapy Ronan was writing: “My head full of thoughts, and eyes full of tears, I’m tired, depressed, my life looks a mess.”
Towards the end he was writing: “OCD is in the corner, I took my life back.”