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Man housebound for 10 years due to OCD has breakthrough after catching train to Liverpool

Liverpool Echo logo Liverpool Echo 01/12/2019 Olivia Williams
a man standing in front of a body of water posing for the camera: Andy Lloyd, a graduate from Liverpool John Moores University has lived with severe OCD for decades © Andy Lloyd Andy Lloyd, a graduate from Liverpool John Moores University has lived with severe OCD for decades

A university graduate was left virtually housebound for nearly a decade due to a severe form of obsessive compulsive disorder - until he managed to get a train back to Liverpool.

Andy Lloyd, 42, started at Liverpool John Moores University in 1998. But due to his OCD, other illnesses and losing his dad aged 21, he took so much time out of his studies that he did not graduate until 2008.

Unfortunately, an incident at the doctor's where he accidentally sat in vomit caused his OCD to get even worse and for him to withdraw from society.

Speaking to the ECHO Andy said: "The OCD started around when I was 14 or 15 years old I felt dirty when I went to the toilet.

"We had dogs and if they piddled in the house I would feel contaminated and dirty.

a person standing in front of a bridge over a body of water: Andy Lloyd, a graduate from Liverpool John Moores University has lived with severe OCD for decades © Andy Lloyd Andy Lloyd, a graduate from Liverpool John Moores University has lived with severe OCD for decades

"I was diagnosed with OCD during my A-Levels and had a massive thing about dog poo which started and I would fear about it.

"But my motivation was to get my degree, so I persevered."

Andy, who is from Manchester, said at this point his symptoms were manageable at this point, but after the incident at the doctors his life took a turn for the worst.

He added: "I didn't realise it was on my bag and my trousers until the next day and because it was the next day the smell of sick had spread in the house.

"I threw all my clothes away and my computer, I didn't go anywhere and it was just avoidance all the time.

"I love clothes, but I still threw them all away."

The budding TV critic said this started a cycle of avoidance and isolation, which stopped him leaving the house - only going out on rare occasions.

Andy said: "I couldn't go anywhere, no pubs, cinema or restaurants in case there was sick and I could smell it.

"I had suicidal thoughts and began self-harming, I was smelling things and paranoid.

"The house was a prison because I could smell the sick everywhere, but still couldn't go out."

a man standing in front of a crowd of people walking on a sidewalk: Andy Lloyd, took a trip to Liverpool after 10 years of social isolation due to his severe OCD © Andy Lloyd Andy Lloyd, took a trip to Liverpool after 10 years of social isolation due to his severe OCD

The Liverpool John Moores graduate said his obsessive compulsive disorder stemmed from wanting an "equilibrium and peace of mind."

He said: "There's a bit of a germ thing, I am careful of what I touch but more of the fact I want an equilibrium and peace of mind in my head.

"The smell meant I couldn't concentrate on what I was doing."

a man standing in front of a window posing for the camera: Andy Lloyd, 42, got a train to Liverpool after 10 years of social isolation due to his OCD © Andy Lloyd Andy Lloyd, 42, got a train to Liverpool after 10 years of social isolation due to his OCD

In 2016, Andy decided to get help after a number of failed attempts of cognitive behavioural therapy.

He went on medication which he said calmed him down enough to go out a little more and saw a psychologist.

Two years later, in August 2018, he had a huge breakthrough in his recovery when he got on a train to Liverpool Lime Street and made the trip to see his university friend.

The 42-year-old said: "On the Liverpool trip I was absolutely bricking it, but it was great. My friend Ruth was chuffed to bits.

"My friends have been tremendous and felt like someone was holding my hand through it."

Andy said his relationship with his mum has also gotten better and he has since been to Liverpool a further 20 times.

He added: "I had my mum always with me, but she was involved in the rituals all the time so it sometimes took a toll.

"I have been to Liverpool about 20 times since and coming to visit for my birthday on December 7.

"I like to think I'm a fighter. Life has been tough, but I'm so nearly there. 

"As little as two years ago, I was the shadow of the person I once was.  The happy ending is almost there, just need a serious writing career and spouse in 2020 and that's what keeps me going."

Andy said he it is hard not to be angry at his condition, but he has come far in his recovery.

He added: "It's very hard not to be angry at the OCD. I wasted so much of my life, but you can't think like that.

"If I stood in dog poo at 18, I would have killed myself. Now I would probably still throw my shoes away but it is not the end of the world."

"At the moment I am in such a good place."

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