A SUFFERER of obsessive compulsive disorder has told how voices in her head ruled every waking second of her life.

Sheila Evenden, 61, spoke to The Argus about her torment and the help she received from the UK’s first research clinic to help those who hear voices, which is based at the Sussex Education Centre at Mill View hospital in Hove. .

Sheila said: “I have tried various therapies in the past that haven’t worked.

“I could hear people I know talking to me. It was a constant dialogue that I didn’t understand. “

“Voices are with you from the moment you get up to the moment you go to sleep. They tell you to do things straight way, they threaten you. They tell you if you don’t do what they say something bad will happen.”

Sussex Voices Clinic, run by Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, is the only one of its kind in the UK, and one of only four worldwide.

The clinic aims to make it easier for patients who are distressed by hearing voices to access talking therapies, whilst continuing to improve the effectiveness of these therapies through research.

Patients receiving therapy at the clinic are given the opportunity to find out about and take part in research studies to help improve the quality of treatments available.

Dr Mark Hayward, director of research at Sussex Partnership started the clinic in June 2014 and more than 350 patients have so far been referred.

Mark said: “Having a voice telling you what to do and constantly criticising you can be very distressing, especially when this voice seems to be very powerful and knows everything about you.

“We can’t make voices go away and we are very clear about this with our patients at the start. What we can do is help people live well and improve their quality of life, even if voices are still around.

“Part of our therapy is to identify how people react to their voices. In the face of a threatening voice it makes sense for people to react instinctively by trying to get away from the voice or fight back. However, these ways of responding can sometimes make things worse, so we help people to respond in a more calm and thoughtful way – in a way that’s more likely to help.

Sheila added: “Without the therapy I know I would have ended up in hospital.

“The voices therapy for me has been a life changing experience in a positive way because before I didn’t know what was going on.

“Mark was able to bring out the best in me.

“Therapy taught me to relate to the voices and helped me understand it was part of my condition.

“I can now enjoy socialising and can cope with other problems. “