A woman whose teenage years were plagued by thoughts so x-rated she contemplated taking her own life has seen her story turned into a Channel 4 drama.
Rose Cartwright, 32, suffers with pure O, a form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder that causes constant intrusive sexual and violent thoughts about people including children, friends, teachers and family members.
After enduring years of anxiety and isolation about the condition after her first panic attack at the age of 15, Cartwright finally sought treatment and her book, Pure, published in 2013, was the inspiration behind a new Channel 4 drama of the same name.
Channel 4’s latest drama Pure starts on January 30th and is based on the 2013 book of the same name by Rose Cartwright which documents her battle with Pure O, a form of OCD that manifests in sexual and violent intrusive thoughts (Pictured centre: Charly Clive as Marnie, the main protagonist in Pure )
Rose Cartwright has seen her book which details the trauma and isolation of living with Pure O written into the television drama by Kirstie Swain. Right: Cartwright said the process of watching her story transformed for the screen was ‘healing’
The show sees Marnie experiencing dream-like sexual scenarios constantly even with family members including her own mother
The series, written by writer Kirstie Swain, doesn’t hold back – there’s a scene where central character Marine (Charly Clive) endures a dream-like thought that sees her performing oral sex on her own mother.
As the six-part drama, which took two-and-a-half years to make opens, central protagonist Marnie shares that she can spend a whole day with rational thoughts hijacked by shocking sexual experiences that range from bestiality to incest.
Convinced that she must be addicted to sex, Marnie uproots from her native Scotland and tries to find a new life in London.
Along with a new circle of friends, she also discovers she isn’t obsessed with the X-rated, more that she has a rare form of OCD known as Pure O.
Rose is now the co-founder of mental health foundation @madeofmillions; she says intrusive thoughts are still part of her life
Newcomer Charly Clive admits that such controversial subject matter made her initially hesitant about accepting the role.
She said: ‘I got an email to audition and I didn’t have representation at the time.
‘I didn’t think it was a scam, but I was pretty cautious. I was just really excited for the opportunity to audition for something legit on television, paid. So cut to now and it’s kind of a crazy “journey”.’
English actress Clive was spotted after her comedy show Britney, about her own battle with a brain tumour diagnosed in 2016, caught the eye of producers.
The content in Pure may make for compelling viewing but for Cartwright, enduring Pure O from the age of 15 felt like a death sentence.
Charly Clive plays Marnie, who escapes her native Scotland fearing that she’s a sex addict…and discovers when she arrives in the capital that OCD is the real reason she’s been suffering from x-rated thoughts
A 2013 article for the Guardian by Cartwright inspired the book that followed, which Channel 4 has spent two-and-a-half years making
Rising star Joe Cole, of Peaky Blinders fame, appears in the show as a recovering sex addict
What is Pure O OCD?
The Pure O stands for ‘purely obsessional’ and while sufferers often also have the better-known symptoms of OCD, such as compulsive checking, this strand of the illness often focuses on intrusive and distressing thoughts rather than actions.
Those who live with Pure O may not even realise that they have it.
Treatments range from exposure and response prevention (ERP) therapy to cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), with the latter more likely to be offered ahead of medication.
In a new interview with the Guardian, she reveals that she was so derailed by the constant intrusive thoughts, she thought about suicide.
‘When I was younger, I had no idea what was happening to me. My thoughts were so obscene and the anxiety I experienced so intense, that it seemed there was no way out.’
However, seeing her own mental health illness manifest on screen has been a ‘healing’ process for Cartwright.
Explaining how she experienced certain thoughts to writer Swain was ‘almost like another kind of exposure therapy’, she says.
After years of trying different treatments that failed miserably, Cartwright’s condition finally eased when she saw an OCD specialist in New York.
Sessions that would expose her to increasingly explicit imagery, known as exposure and response prevention (ERP) therapy, began to help although Pure O sufferers are unlikely to be cured completely.
Six-part drama Pure airs on Channel 4 at 10pm on January 30th