'I want to abolish the taboo' - Mum's battle with OCD

Hollie Harrington-Ball hopes to combat the taboo surrounding mental health. 

Hollie Harrington-Ball hopes to combat the taboo surrounding mental health. Pctured: Hollie Harrington-Ball and daughter Willow. - Credit: Hollie Harrington-Ball

Outwardly filmmaker Hollie Harrington-Ball is the picture of happiness and success: A filmmaker, a mum and social media influencer. 

But behind the smile Hollie is fighting a very personal battle. And she's winning. 

The 34-year-old, from Earlham, suffers with a specific type of obsessive compulsory disorder (OCD) called pure. 

Pure OCD is characterised by intrusive thoughts, images or urges without any visible physical compulsions.  

Hollie has two daughter, Willow and Robyn 

Hollie has two daughter, Willow and Robyn - Credit: Hollie Harrington-Ball

It differs slightly from other types of OCD because its compulsions primarily take place in a person's head rather than manifesting in their actions. 


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She also has to battle with anxiety and has suffered with depression.  

“It’s important to understand the type of mental health issue that someone is suffering with, they are all very different.” the mum-of-two said. 

Hollie, 34, from Earlham wants to encourage people to speak up.

Hollie, 34, from Earlham wants to encourage people to speak up. - Credit: Hollie Harrington-Ball

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But Hollie refuses to remain silent about this much-misunderstood condition sharing her highs and lows on social media.

“I use them for a variety of reasons. I find is cathartic, unloading is a form of therapy in a way," she said.  

“It allows you to discuss things that are on your mind openly.” 

She also uses this method to help other people.  

“I’m really passionate about mental health and removing the taboo that surrounds it," she added.  

“I hope by discussing my own experiences on a platform like Instagram, it will help in some small way.” 

She wants to help people realise that it should be perfectly normal to discuss mental health just as people do physical health - “mental health is just as important as physical, if not more so”.  

Hollie believes we need to keep talking about it to “abolish that ridiculous notion that it’s somehow shameful to talk about it".

Hollie Harrington-Ball hopes to work towards abolishing the taboo surrounding mental health. 

Hollie Harrington-Ball hopes to work towards abolishing the taboo surrounding mental health. - Credit: Hollie Harrington-Ball

She said: “Talking about it and showing people it is OK would help to alleviate people's own struggles and encourage them to get out and ask for help.” 

Hollie has also found sharing the rollercoaster of parenthood online has helped: “Motherhood is such a whirlwind and it changes you so much as a person. 

“After my first daughter Willow was born in 2018, I definitely struggled with my mental health.” 

Hollie hopes that mums will reach out to each other. 

Hollie hopes that mums will reach out to each other. - Credit: Hollie Harrington-Ball

Around 80pc of women experience post natal depression.

“For most women, this levels out after a few days, but I found it lingered much longer, almost like flashbacks to my lowest experiences in the past,” she said. 

“I asked the doctor what was happening to me, they said it was the equivalent to having back-to-back panic attacks.” 

Hollie loves being a mother, but thinks it should be okay for mothers to talk about the struggles. 

Hollie loves being a mother, but thinks it should be okay for mothers to talk about the struggles. - Credit: Hollie Harrington-Ball

She chose to get as much help as she could including therapy and acupuncture.  

“Post-natal depression and post-natal anxiety can be really quite different,” she said. “I really think that more people need to talk about that.” 

Hollie urged new mothers to talk about their struggles - “it’s the most life changing, rollercoaster experience”. 

She thinks social media is a great place to meet people who have similar struggles to yourself.  

“To have the reassurance that you are not alone is huge. 

"I am very lucky, I have an incredible support network around me, and they're knowable about mental health, talking about what I am experiencing really helps." 

To try to keep on top of the way she is feeling, Hollie uses mindfulness. 

“Literally 60 seconds can help me to re ground myself when I am feeling low," she said.

“I start the day with a mantra – what am I looking forward to? What am I grateful for? And what do I like about myself?” 

She thinks that mums should be encouraged to share how they feel, and to support other mums during the lows.  

Hollie likes to share her highs and lows on her instagram account. 

Hollie likes to share her highs and lows on her instagram account. - Credit: Hollie Harrington-Ball

“It would be lovely if we were given the space to talk about our mental health more, it is vital we provide a society where it is okay for mothers to struggle.” 

She thinks society can move forward if people learn to “ask people if they are okay, don’t wait for them to reach out to you if you suspect they are struggling". 

“Mostly, just be kind.” 

OCD - The facts

Obsessive compulsive disorder has a lot of misconceptions.

It is a mental health condition where a person has obsessive thoughts and often compulsive behaviours. 

The condition can affect anyone but most commonly presents itself during early adulthood.

The NHS recognises the symptoms of OCD as:

  • An obsession is an unwanted and unpleasant thought, image or urge that repeatedly enters the mind, causing feelings of anxiety, disgust or unease
  • A compulsion is a repetitive behaviour or mental act that people feel you need to do to temporarily relieve the unpleasant feelings brought on by the obsessive thought.

People who suffer often are too ashamed or embarrassed to seek the help they need. 

The NHS warns "It's unlikely OCD will get better without proper treatment and support".

If you think a friend or family member may have OCD, try talking to them about your concerns and suggest they get help.


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