How The Secret Illness Came About

Becca (@BeccaLaidler) has a personal family connection to OCD and Liz (@Smith_Liz) is a filmmaker who was inspired by some extraordinarily courageous OCD sufferers she met. Together we set out to make a documentary on the subject but as the project developed it evolved into this trans-media creative arts project co-created with OCD sufferers.

A note from Liz

Every OCD sufferer I have met has their heart very much in the right place and their pain is palpable.  I have seen them lick the bottom of their shoe, stick their hand down a toilet bowl or force themselves to hold a knife to their therapist’s throat as part of exposure therapy.  It is their story we want to tell. Many, on the outside appear to be ‘functioning’ normally, holding down jobs, raising families, but inside they are fighting a daily battle with their OCD and the related compulsions, and this has robbed them of a quality of life of their own.

Many OCD sufferers I have spoken to have been able to put an exact date on when their OCD first afflicted them, the trigger can often be quite clear, but the underlying cause remains a mystery. Initially my interest in OCD came from a cerebral place, an interest in the mysterious workings of, and the power of, the human mind. As I have delved deeper I have been so touched by some of the people I have met that they have inspired me to develop this project further and over time it has become clear that short form audio and visual content co-created with OCD sufferers and shared through digital media, in public spaces and in the workplace may be more effective, impactful and longer lasting than a traditional documentary film.

My hope is that together we can take some of the ‘secret’ out of OCD, that more people can be diagnosed early and get the treatment they need. I hope it will open our minds and make it more acceptable to talk about OCD and intrusive thoughts more openly.

If you would like to contact me about this project you can find me at

You can find out more about me on my website

Thank you to everyone who has already helped us get this far, and to everyone who (hopefully!) is going to help make The Secret Illness achieve its goals.

A note from Becca

I still find it hard to speak about OCD. I fear I will embarrass my family or that people will judge the illness as “mad”, “weird” or “dangerous”. I struggled for a while when Liz and I first spoke about this project, but unless I and others living with OCD tackle these fears, the stigma will continue to grow and people will continue to suffer in silence without support or treatment.

OCD is a very isolating, lonely illness that needs us to keep quiet so that we don’t reveal it as the lying, bullying monster it is. The truth is, your loved ones will still love you, your colleagues (with the right information) will understand and your life can be an enjoyable one.

I hope this website can become a community where together we can break misconceptions and a support network no matter where in the world you live. I hope if you are living with OCD, this website can help you unburden your intrusive thoughts and rituals or simply see that you are not alone and are much more “normal” than you think. I also hope if you didn’t know much about OCD and your perceptions have changed through reading this, that you will share what you have learnt with those around you.

If you would like to contact me about this project you can find me at

Categories: Blog

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