Eva Kerr was just four years old when she was given the hand-washing advice - and it quickly ended up with her becoming frightened to even leave her home.
She developed obsessive compulsive disorder ... to such an extent that her constant hand-washing left her skin red raw. But worse was to come.
Her OCD became so bad that she and her family became virtual prisoners in their own home in Burgess Hill. “We were completely overwhelmed, frustrated, worried and anxious,” said Eva’s mum Kate.
Eva developed a range of fears, along with a range of compulsive behaviour to help her cope with them - which left the little schoolgirl feeling suicidal.
Her mum Kate and dad Rob eventually managed to get Eva the help she so desperatley needed and Eva underwent cognitive behavioural therapy at the Chalkhill centre at the Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath.
And Eva herself - now aged 10 - now wants her agonising experience to help others facing similar problems. She stars in a video - outlining her harrowing experience - available on the website of the charity OCD-UK.
Eva said: “I know that OCD is part of me and my battle is not over but I hope this gives hope to others with OCD that things can improve.”
One of Eva’s fears was triggered by a thunderstorm. “Eva was scared and kept checking the weather forecast 40 or 50 times a day,” said mum Kate.
“Then she would hide upstairs in her bedroom with the blinds closed, she would also try to manipulate her family and friends to accommodate her OCD by getting them to help her to avoid the sky, it became a massive burden for her.”
She said that one of Eva’s on-going problems was with ‘intrusive thoughts.’ “Even now she worries about being abducted or that something bad will happen to me or my husband Rob and her having no control over it. The compulsion then is for her to check; she checks on me; she checks the windows. It becomes a consuming problem for the whole family.”
But now, after therapy, Eva can better rationalise her anxieties. However, it is likely that she will need therapy for some time to come. Currently Kate and Rob are having to pay for private treatment because the wait for mental health services is so long.“It is sad to think that there are children out there like Eva who are having to wait for help.”
Kate is planning to take part in the Great South Run in Portsmouth on October 23 to raise funds for OCD-UK. See https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Kathryn-Kerr1