Obsession Made My Life a Living Hell; EX-ENGLAND and Everton Soccer Ace Paul Gascoigne Says His Life Is Being Shattered by Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. JANET TANSLEY Investigates the Condition

Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England), January 8, 2003 | Go to article overview

Obsession Made My Life a Living Hell; EX-ENGLAND and Everton Soccer Ace Paul Gascoigne Says His Life Is Being Shattered by Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. JANET TANSLEY Investigates the Condition


Byline: JANET TANSLEY

MOST of us enjoy a soak in the tub after a hard day at work - but for Margaret Kane a bath could last three hours. Only then would the ex-teacher have rid herself of the contamination of the outside world. Only then, in fresh, clean clothes, could she enter her kitchen without fear of it becoming tainted. Had she not performed her ritual she would have been forced to scrub the kitchen clean for hours and hours.

``The suffering was intense. I just can't describe how horrific it was,'' says Margaret, 56, from Aigburth. ``It was a constant battle.'' Like Paul Gascoigne, Margaret was suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. While she has got help to overcome her illness, albeit after 32 long-suffering years, she understands exactly what he's going through.

Football star Paul has revealed: ``I need help. Everything has got to be just right. My house has to be spotless at all times. It drives me mad. ``I check the doors and turn lights on and off so many times. It's a terrible condition. ``Sometimes, I've locked the door of the house, got 20 miles up the motorway, turned round, come back and checked the door again. I have to make sure everything is just right. If it isn't I can't move on.'' Margaret says: ``I can only hope that he gets the help that he needs and praise his bravery for admitting to his problem. That's not an easy thing to do.'' Margaret had managed to hide her problem from friends and colleagues. By day this lively, cheerful, intelligent woman was a successful teacher, valued for her ability and her sense of humour. ``Someone once said to me: `It must be lovely to be you, you obviously haven't got a care in the world'. ``It only goes to show how deceiving appearances can be. I wonder what she'd have thought if I'd told her I had an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder which was making my life hell?'' Not all obsessives are concerned with cleanliness. For some of the two million sufferers in the UK - or one-in-50 - says Margaret, it's checking things.

``One woman put the iron on the back seat of her car and took it to work so she'd know it was unplugged.''

For others, it's counting, or hoarding huge piles of rubbish, spending hours arranging things in perfect symmetry, like food cans in the cupboard. Some have intrusive thoughts that they might cause others harm. They know that their behaviour is excessive or irrational but they have no power to stop or control them, regardless of their effects or consequences. Tracy Benson, a spokesperson for Triumph Over Phobia (a national charity for which Margaret heads a Liverpool self- help group) says the condition can take many forms - and it can ruin lives. …

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