Warrington Wolves legend Paul Wood opens up about ‘dark times’ battling OCD and how he overcame the problem | Rugby League News

Warrington Wolves legend Paul Wood opened up about the “really dark times” of battling OCD and how he overcame the problem as he guested on Sky Sports podcast, The Bench.

Wood played 339 times for Warrington, winning the Challenge Cup in 2010 and 2012 and League Leaders’ Shield in 2011, and is now a club ambassador for the Wolves.

Speaking to former England team-mate Jon Wilkin and presenter Jenna Brooks, the 42-year-old explained how his OCD manifested itself and the crucial support provided by Warrington.

Wood said: “When you mention OCD, people think you are organising your CDs – I am showing my age there – and keeping your house tidy, but it is about the intrusive thoughts that you have.

“They might be about family members dying – a raft of thoughts go through your head.

“That’s what drains you because your mind never switches off. You have this washing-machine head and then you have to do these compulsions and rituals to stop the thinking.

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Wood has not had any intrusive thoughts since visiting The Priory

“There were some really dark times. One of the realisations that it was serious was once, when I was around 20, I couldn’t shut my mind up. I was doing all these rituals – pulling the handbrake up in my car, switching light switches off.

‘Warrington were brilliant with me’

“When I went to the doctors at 21 they put me on some sort of antidepressants, just to stop my mind from racing. But it didn’t work, I needed different intervention.

“[One ritual] was leaving my hands under scalding hot taps. I spent 10 or 15 minutes parking my car so it was straight. I can laugh about it now but when you are in it, it takes some effort to combat it.

“They call it magical thinking where if you do these things you think life is going to go a certain way for you. I was trying to think myself out of something I had no control over.

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Wood talks about when he realised his OCD rituals were serious and how Warrington helped him

“Warrington were brilliant with me. Around 11 years ago, they sent me to The Priory on a 12-week intensive course and it was a mind-opener.

“They used mindfulness and cognitive behavioural therapy to combat it and I have never had the intrusive thoughts or rituals since. It blows my mind.

“We had to write a list of the compulsions we would do. The hardest one for me was stepping on the field without an arm pad on.

“I was crippled with anxiety in that game but got through it unscathed and it backed up that this magical thinking was not real. It’s not rocket science when it is explained but is not easy to do.”

Wood proud of work carried out by Rugby League Cares

Wood now works with charity Rugby League Cares and is currently heading a project offering wellbeing in the NHS, including delivering education around stress levels, sleep and nutrition.

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Wood explains the goals of the Rugby League Cares charity he is involved with.

He added: “A lot of people probably still don’t know what the charity does. We do loads of work in the community and use the power of sport to provide wellbeing and offer support.

“The name probably doesn’t do it justice, it sounds like it is there to put its arms around people but it’s not. Some players do need that as they might be going through difficult times.

“But the charity is there to coach people, challenge people, make them creators of their own destination. Not to rescue people or just give them handouts. That is probably a misconception.

“Some things cannot be promoted because of confidentiality but it is amazing to see what is happening. I still think we can do better but we are doing some good stuff.”

For more information on Rugby League Cares, click here.

If you are affected by issues related to mental wellbeing or want to talk, please contact the Samaritans on the free helpline 116 123, or visit the website.

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