Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners



Hayley talks about being diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder, its impact on her life, and how she found the filming process for the show.

Hayley: In series 1, I found myself totally pushing my boundaries with my OCD and I feel that this method works for me. I was always advised during my recovery to do this and I really do believe this is how I manage to keep my OCD under control. I found myself returning home thinking wow I went into a really grimy environment and I'm not sick, my children weren't sick and this helps me to reconfirm that my OCD is JUST A THOUGHT and I am so, so proud of what I've done as to others it may be so insignificant but for someone with OCD it's such an achievement.

For this second series I'm doing the same again: I'm pushing my boundaries and having the proof shown to me by swabbing lots of things that I would assume and think are dirty

Can you tell us about when you were diagnosed with OCD?

When I first got diagnosed with OCD it wasn't black and white: I was unaware of anything being wrong, I actually thought 'I'm not strange in the way I clean, other people are!'. My husband actually had to be very strong and forced me to seek help. At the doctor's, we discussed what my days consisted of. I remember really crying. I then got referred to an OCD specialist who saw me twice if I remember rightly and that was it: I got diagnosed with having OCD and started cognitive therapy and was prescribed medication.

This is why I think family and friends have a huge part to play in getting someone diagnosed with OCD. It may seem hard approaching the conversation but if it remains undiagnosed it really does tend to spiral out of control which is what happened with me.

I like to think I have my OCD under control now. It affected my life in a huge way: I was housebound a lot of the time and so were my children, which was horrible.

What advice and support you could offer other OCD sufferers?

I just want everyone to know it doesn't make you a bad person and shouldn't be kept as a secret illness. It's hard work to keep pretending everything is fine when it isn't and OCD is not just cleaning: it could be checking or moving things. It's such a wide area.

My OCD also spills over into my appearance. I spend hours making sure I look perfect and tidy and that my make-up is fine: it really is exhausting.

I think the more people who have courage and support to talk about their OCD the less ashamed or embarrassed by it people will feel.

I also would advise anyone who thinks they have OCD to seek treatment or at least a diagnosis (you can visit the help and support webpage for further information). I thought I was going mad but to actually be told you re not mad, you just need some help with this, was such a relief.

I'm so much happier now I've had treatment for OCD and it did at one point feel I would never have the OCD under control but with the right treatment and guidance it s no longer a massive presence in my life.

What did you learn about yourself and other people during the making of series 1?

I think it will become quite apparent in the show that not everyone understood why I used so much bleach and why I wore six pairs of marigolds. This is why I'm glad I took part in this show I think there is still such a misunderstanding around OCD. If this highlights it and makes people more aware of the illness then I will walk away from this experience very happy. I have a lot of empathy for the people who needed our help.

Has making this TV series changed your outlook on life, and if so, how?

It's changed my outlook on OCD. I get so frustrated sometimes with my compulsions and irrational thinking. But I now feel like I've used my OCD for a very good cause and although it was very hard and I went to what may seem extreme lengths to keep myself protected from 'germs' I did overcome huge challenges throughout the series.

Hayley appears in series 1 and 2.

Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners synopsis

Obsessive cleaners team up to clean some of Britain's dirty homes

Episode Guide >

Watch on 4oD

6 Episodes