O.C.D. – Conquering the Dragon

It’s been a while. John is 21 now. The last couple of years have taken us on a nail biting, tear jerking ride, but he currently has his O.C.D. on the ropes. That is not to say that it isn’t fighting back with the usual unwavering determination, but John is winning this round. Good times. We have learned to embrace them when they come.

If you have followed his story, you will know that John’s last school years were challenging. The quiet, bright boy suddenly became a problem student as his O.C.D. worsened. He would refuse to pick up his pen, to do PE, or move seats when asked, and preferred to appear confrontational rather than explain the real reason he could not comply. Most of his teachers were unsympathetic and unswerving, even after we met with them several times to explain his condition. School became a bear pit he was reluctant to enter. John’s grades and attendance slipped. His dreams of becoming an architect were replaced by anxiety and depression.

Leaving school with disappointing results, John went to college to study construction.  He thrived in this new study environment, where tutors were more understanding and prepared to accept the constraints of his condition. Working his way up through the BTEC levels with outstanding results, John hit a stumbling block half way through his two year Level 3 BTEC course when the compulsions and insomnia caused his timekeeping and attendance to slip. The thought of arriving late made him anxious, so he would call in sick. Frustration at missing classes made him depressed. One day ran into another until so long had passed that the thought of going back and having to explain himself was just a bridge too far. His ambitions seemed thwarted once again.

When the new academic year began, John, (who refuses to discuss his OCD, even with family and friends), went into college and met with his old tutors. With enormous courage, and unsure what the outcome would be, he explained the reason he had dropped out, expressed his commitment to the subject, and asked to be given another chance. He was told he could not jump in where he left off in year two, but was allowed to re-start the course from the beginning. Despite all the obstacles, John was wrestling with the dragon and was back on track.

After two years of perseverance and hard graft, John passed his course with distinctions across the board, and was even commended for helping his colleagues to succeed. He was nominated by Llandrillo College and received the award for outstanding achievement in his subject.

The following September (2017) John was accepted to read architecture at The University of the West of England in Bristol, and to date he is excelling and enjoying the journey. Who can say what life holds in store, but I am so proud of him for conquering the struggle each new day brings.




Jon Richardson: A Little Bit OCD documentary wins Mind Media award

Jon Richardson: A Little Bit OCD, produced by Open Mike for Channel 4 in 2013, was  shortlisted and subsequently won a Mind Media Award which the charity Mind hosts every year.


In it’s category were four other outstanding documentaries . Open Mike were very proud to win and are quoted as saying that it was the sharing  very brave stories of those living with OCD that made it such a great documentary.


Congratulations to all involved.

My perfect son.


In John’s early teens when he and I  suspected OCD and the rest of the world were either oblivious or in denial, John tried to combat the condition himself (without the stigma of having a label slapped on him by the medical profession)

For my part I hoped that if we ignored it, it would go away. Perhaps he would grow out of it? I wondered if acknowledging it’s existence might somehow justify the rituals and discourage John from trying to suppress them. I wonder still if time alone with OCD allows the sufferer to indulge what should be resisted. We were both naive, however, and underestimated the OCD grip!

The rituals and compulsions multiplied and became more severe with time. The realisation that this was not going to go away hung like a black cloud.

Now, years on in the midst of the battle I am still regularly fooled into thinking that all is well. Each time John has a few ‘good’ days (not to say that he is ever OCD free, but sometimes in good spirits, functioning well, sleeping, eating with only moderate compulsions), I am euphoric and find myself acting as if he is well. Perhaps he is cured? Perhaps it was all a dream and he never had it at all?!      I fall for it every time!

When the meltdown comes it devastates me anew.

I relive the heartbreaking realisation that my son is not perfect. That life will probably always be hard for him, but you know what?….

…….I am proud of him, at 16 he is already his own man despite his difficulties, he is perfect !

Jon Richardson ‘A Little bit OCD’

Jon Richardson ‘A little bit OCD’


Comedian Jon Richardson with my son John filming for Channel 4.  ‘A Little bit OCD’  which aired July 2012.

The program aimed to discover if Jon has the disorder. He visited several sufferers, including John in the hope that he and viewers learn more about what it is to have OCD.

John took part, despite misgivings, in the hope that it would help to raise awareness, which we hope it did. It’s first airing netted an unexpectedly high 1.6 million viewers. Both John and the subject were treated with sensitivity by the production company and Jon Richardson, who spoke to him by phone after the show.

I think that John was very brave to do this, as he has hidden the condition for years. He is my hero.

This event and the feedback it created from other sufferers and their families inspired this blog to share my experiences of having a child with OCD. The idea came from thediaryofthegirlinthehat who reviewed the show on her blog. Thanks to her for that.

My hope is that this blog will be therapy for me and helpful to others in the same position.

September 2013. We just heard from the production company that the documentary has been nominated for an award from Mind.

Jon Richardson talks to John

Jon talks about John’s OCD

My guilt at my son’s OCD

Hidden in clear view

When I tucked my boy in bed at night
And passed his teddy bear
I closed the door and didn't even notice you were there .

You followed him to school each day,
Hanging at his sleeve.
You poked your bony finger in his back and  wouldn't

You bullied him and frightened him
And wouldn't let him tell.
You wouldn't let him sleep at night
You made a living hell.

I can't  believe I shouted at him
When you made him late
And when you wouldn't let him eat the food upon his

What kind of mother doesn't know?
How could I be so blind?
You were his only friend
-The liar, poisoning his mind.

You lived amongst us silently for years before
I knew.
We saw your shadow once or twice 
Hidden in clear view

But now I know you're here, beware!
watch this! With my last breath
I will protect my son
And we will fight you 
to the death.

by Jane Drew