Lucie shines a light on living with OCD

While many people are experiencing stress around COVID-19, for some, this time is even harder. For Lucie, who battles with OCD, the constant hand-washing messaging has served as a challenge over the last few weeks.

Over the past 12 months, Lucie has experienced a flare up of constant handwashing, a common symptom of OCD. With the help of therapy and treatment, she has been making great strides to calm this compulsion.

Thankfully, her workplace understands the challenges that Lucie’s condition entails, and were able to put measures in place to make her more comfortable. Back in 2016, WISE helped Lucie secure work at Clean Force, a social enterprise with approximately 50% of employees diagnosed with a disability or disadvantaged.

Lucie works with Clean Force as an Administration Assistant – but they refer to her as the ‘The Gatekeeper’! Over the last four years, her responsibilities have included greeting people, answering phone calls and emails, data entry, invoicing and helping others with admin tasks.

Lucie loves her job, and the flexibility it offers with her health. She is proud that she has had far fewer sick days since embarking on her treatment, and is grateful that she can call her Manager and be honest about what she needs, however small.

Lucie’s employment consultant, Uliana, stays in touch with her regularly, and supports her if she has any issues. Lucie said “Uliana has helped me immensely over the years, she has a heart of gold and an empathetic listening ear. Without her, and WISE, I would have never accessed the treatment for my OCD”.

Recently, Uliana helped Lucie with some cotton gloves and moisturiser for under her latex gloves, to help her get through the day without over using hand sanitiser and handwashing excessively. She says the gloves have been a gamechanger for her hands over the past few weeks.

When COVID-19 hand washing messaging increased Lucie found it really exacerbated her compulsions. To help her get these under control Jim, her manager at Clean Force, offered Lucie a week off work. “We don’t have a problem offering time off if it helps our employees look after themselves – it’s part of the support we provide,” Jim explained.

Jim also ensures that the team do little things to make Lucie comfortable at work, like ensuring she can clean her own workspace.

His biggest piece of advice to other workplaces is to “make sure you and your team practice empathy, because that’s how you’re going to support employees with a disability”.

Lucie says her workplace is like a family, and they put a smile on her face every day. “Having a job means I can be independent, support myself and implement a healthy routine,” she says.

Although we’re not yet in the clear with COVID-19, Lucie is proud of the progress she has made in managing her condition. She is extremely grateful she can go to work each day knowing she has support from both Clean Force and WISE, especially during this challenging time.