What living with OCD is really like: model's illness left her in a psychiatric hospital and made her believe she could KILL someone just by thinking about it

It's an all-consuming mental illness which led to believe she could kill her loved ones with a single thought, and saw her drowning in negative emotions for a decade of her life.

As a child, OCD was her cruel imaginary friend – who would tell the now 24-year-old model, from Wimbledon, she was a 'bad' person.

As a teenager, the crippling disorder left her too exhausted to get out of bed, and as a uni student saw her drinking alcohol in the mornings to drown out her thoughts and get through the day.

And, at the age of 20, the hellish internal battle ultimately took her from her privileged London upbringing, to a secure ward in a psychiatric hospital.

Speaking exclusively to The Sun Online, Lily said: "I don’t remember not having OCD, but I didn’t know it was OCD. I thought I was mad.

"One of the most distressing moments was when my mum's really good friend developed cancer, when I was 12 or 13.

"I had this moment where I thought I wanted my mum’s friend to die. Obviously I didn’t think that, but I was so upset about this thought that I kept thinking about it.

"I really started to think that I had the ability to decide if this woman lived or died. It’s called Magical Thinking and that’s a symptom of OCD.

"That was the most distressing moment because it was so awful to think I wanted that to happen, when of course I really didn’t."

For Lily, her OCD was a constant battle with the voice inside her head which told her she was a 'bad' person, when she desperately wanted to be good.

She said: "OCD can shape shift and change. The main thing I used to experience was a massive obsession that I was a bad person, but in ways other people wouldn’t see as bad.

"If I saw a mirror, and I looked in it, then that would make me vain and I would take the letter ‘v’ for vain.

"Then my compulsion was that I’d make a list in my head, a mental list of terrible things I’d done wrong, and I would be going through the letters over and over again in my head.

"I could have hundreds of letters-a-day.

"Maybe a child walks past and I’m worried I’ve stared at the child’s bum and it’s going to be caught on camera and I’m going to go to prison. So then I take the letter ‘b’ for bum.

"I just repeat them until I can convince myself that what I did wasn’t actually bad. And then it can be taken off the list."

Although people with OCD often believe that they are bad people, they are actually extremely anxious, caring and compassionate.

Lily said: "When my sister was born I took on this massive responsibility for her life and her wellbeing.

"So I would crawl upstairs and I would physically check that her heart was beating and she was breathing and she wasn’t dying in her sleep.

"Often as a teenager and child I didn’t sleep because I would be so caught up in this stuff."

Lily would repeat her lists throughout her sleepless nights, while as a child she would obsessively check under her bed for monsters.

She recalled: "If you feel like you’re a bad person, you don’t really want to socialise. With my OCD, it feeds off isolation.

"I’d want to be in my room thinking about my list, because then I would not have to be around people which would cause me to think I was a bad person.

"So I really did isolate myself. One of the ways I did have to get better was to say to myself ‘I will socialise’ in quite a deliberate way."

By the time Lily turned 16, OCD had become all-consuming illness.

The internal battle had left her so exhausted she was unable to get out of bed, and she faked an illness to get sent home from her fancy boarding school.

She said: "I’m not sure at that point I was suicidal, it didn’t really seem like an option, life was just a bit of a slog, exhausting.

"(Avoiding life) just felt like the logical thing to do because this stuff has just been exhausting me for years and years."

When she returned to school, Lily's mum and teachers insisted she see a GP – and she was diagnosed with OCD.

She started having regular CBT sessions with a psychiatrist, but things spiralled out of control when Lily went to university in Dublin, and stopped seeing her doctor.

By the time she turned 20, Lily had taken to drinking in the mornings to drown out the negative thoughts – and eventually ended up in a psychiatric hospital.

Lily, who's been in a happy relationship for more than a year, has written her memoirs in a book called Because We Are Bad: OCD And A Girl Lost In Thought.

Although it was scary revealing what really goes on inside her head, she felt it was important to change people's perception of what OCD is – as it's a phrase people often use flippantly.

Lily said: "It makes me really cross because I feel like every time someone uses the phrase in that way, it stops someone like me realising what they really have.

"You could be a very neat and tidy person and have OCD, but where the stereotype is wrong is the idea that people like doing that stuff.

"Say you clean your house for an hour and a half every day, but it really brings you joy, then you don’t have OCD.

"But say you clean your house for four hours every day, and you feel like if your house isn’t completely clean then your grandma’s going to get run over, and you’re really distressed by it, then that would be OCD.

"It’s about the level of distress that it’s causing you. I wrote the book because I get so frustrated when people misunderstand.

"Part of me was thinking, ‘Oh God, I don’t want to put my whole story out there, and have everybody know’, because it’s such an intimate thing to do.

"But there was a bigger part of me that thought I need to tell people ‘this isn’t how it is’.

"Using the phrase like that causes so many problems for people who have the disorder, and don’t know that they have it."

Although she doesn't consider herself fully recovered, Lily now recognises the negative feelings as 'OCD thoughts'.

She added: "For me it’s been quite a long process over a few years.

"There were initial benefits very quickly, but actually getting to this point has probably taken three or four years.

"I would never call myself fully recovered, because I personally don’t feel like I am.  I would just call myself better.

"I can do simple things like reading a book or watching TV, which before I couldn’t do because my head was just completely somewhere else.

"Although I have seen people who are completely recovered, so I’m not saying it’s not possible.

"I don’t want my message to be that it is always possible to recover, because then I think people feel really bad if they don’t.

"But I think definitely it is possible to improve and to not live in the Hell that you’re currently living in."

In related news, this Fabulous investigation asked if anti-depressants are safe for kids, as doctors said more kids should be prescribed them.

While one reader sought help from Dear Deirdre, over his daughter's OCD cleaning habits.

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