In her new book Open: Why Asking For Help Can Save Your Life, The Saturdays star Frankie Bridge explains how her OCD impacted her on a day-to-day basis, and why speaking out is an important step in raising awareness of this misunderstood condition.
When celebrities speak out about their mental health, something significant happens. Not only do people learn more about a condition they may previously have known little about, but the awareness raised a public figure can do plenty in the fight against stigma, helping other people who struggle with their mental health to feel less isolated.
It’s this phenomenon which makes Frankie Bridge’s story – from her hospitalised breakdown to her experiences with suicidal thoughts – so important. The Saturdays star has spoken openly about dealing with mental health conditions including depression and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) in the past, and in her new book Open: Why Asking For Help Can Save Your Life, she shares how the latter affected her day-to-day life.
In an excerpt released by The Sun, Bridge reveals how her OCD manifested as anxiety around cleanliness and hygiene, meaning she feared that the cutlery provided in hotels and restaurants wouldn’t be clean.
“I went through a phrase of carrying plastic cutlery everywhere,” Bridge writes. “We stopped off at so many service stations and I just couldn’t trust that the knives and forks had been cleaned properly.”
Bridge also writes about how her OCD made it difficult for her to deal with certain textures in her mouth.
“The texture of the cutlery became an issue too,” she explains. “I couldn’t bear the feeling of tinny metal, or a bent prong, in my mouth.”
Bridge’s decision to open up about the particulars of her OCD is a powerful one, because it helps to raise awareness of how the mental health condition affects individuals on a day-to-day, minute-by-minute basis. While the condition itself is said to affect around three quarters of a million people in the UK, misconceptions about the mental health condition remain rife. Too often, comments like, “I’m so OCD,” or “I’m a bit OCD about that” add to the stigma that people with OCD are all “neat freaks” and that the condition only manifests in a need to be clean, which just isn’t true; in fact, there are many different ‘types’ of OCD.
Last month, Bridge also appeared on Elizabeth Day’s podcast How To Fail to discuss her mental health, speaking openly about how she felt guilty for not feeling happy at the peak of her success.
“I felt guilty because I was in a pop group that was successful,” she told Day. “I was living a really lovely life, and I had basically everything I’d always wanted. And yet I was completely miserable. You feel an immense amount of guilt with depression and anxiety anyway. So then I think when you do have a life, that you know you should be thankful for – which I was – the guilt is even worse.
“How do you complain to people about a life that is supposedly perfect?”
Reducing the stigma around mental health conditions such as OCD starts with conversations like the one Bridge is starting, so it’s incredibly refreshing to see The Saturdays star speak so openly and honestly about her experiences.
To find out more about OCD you can visit OCD UK’s website at ocduk.org, or call 03332 127890 for support.
Frankie Bridge’s new book Open: Why Asking For Help Can Save You Life is out now.