Actor Ian Puleston-Davies, who played builder Owen Armstrong in Coronation Street, has opened up about his “all encompassing” Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
The former soap star has spoken very honestly about his condition in a new BBC documentary which sees him face his biggest fear – the ability to sit down without cracking his coccyx.
“If I’m in a restaurant, I can’t just sit down straight away. I have to measure the distance between my coccyx and the seat,” he admitted.
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“I can’t be bobbing up and down… I’ll look like the crazy man in the restaurant.”
In the documentary, OCD – An Actor’s Tale, the 58 year-old also revealed the lengths he would go to to try and appear normal whilst struggling to overcome his OCD.
“I have this smokescreen of deceit where I’m pretending to sit down but I’m actually going ‘have I got my keys? I must have left them in the car’… ‘Are you happy here, we can always sit there.’ All the time this juggling is going on… I’m actually measuring the distance between coccyx and seat.”
This charade helps him deal with the “voices in his head” which, he stressed, could become all consuming. “If you don’t indulge the voices, the noises in your head, you are under extraordinary stress which won’t go away and, believe me, that noise can and does get very, very loud.”
Ian was first diagnosed with the condition when he was 35, but he reveals he knew he was “different” from as young as seven years old.
OCD is anxiety disorder in which people have unwanted thoughts, feelings, images or sensations and act in response to those obsessions.
This isn’t the first time Ian has spoken about his life with OCD.
When filming Corrie in 2014, he admitted to The Mirror having problems on the set with some of the props he had to use.
“If I have a scene in the Rovers Return, I worry that I’m going to cut my lip or chip my teeth on the glass, so before we rehearse I have a little ritual where I check the glass with my finger to make sure it’s not chipped, then wipe it to ensure it’s clean.
“If I waited until we began filming, my OCD – that voice in my head – would say, ‘it’s stained’ or ‘you’ve just chipped your teeth.’”
But his fellow co-stars were incredibly supportive of Ian and understood what an ordeal it must have been for him.
“The other cast members know about my OCD and are very supportive,” he revealed.
Thankfully, Ian says he’s had lots of help over the years and has “learned to manage it”, but that it still “gets very noisy” in his head.