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Woman sheds light on the ‘agonizing’ world of obsessive compulsive disorder

On any given day, Callandra Stroet might wash her hands until they bleed, her countertops until they shine, her backpack if she touches it, and any door knob along the way.

“I do a lot of hand washing, I do a lot of showering, I do a lot of cleaning,” Stroet said. “I have a lot of obsessions about contamination.”

Stroet, 23, lives with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), an anxiety disorder characterized by “uninvited or obsessive thoughts, urges or images,” and where a person tries to suppress those obsessions by relentlessly performing certain rituals (i.e. cleaning), according to the Canadian Association of Mental Health.

Stroet was 19 when she was formally diagnosed, but she began to engage in obsessive behaviours when she was just 11.  She knew it wasn’t healthy, but she couldn’t seem to stop herself.

“It’s kind of agonizing and it never ends,” Stroet said.

A woman with short blond hair, wearing a red necklace and a denim jacket, stands in a school hallway and looks to the camera.
Callandra Stroet, 23, has worked hard to gain back control over her life: ‘I’m in school, I’m tutoring.’ (CinemaRolls Studios)

Therein lies the difference between someone with OCD and someone who’s got a few quirks and odd behaviours, says Sandra Wallace, a Winnipeg-based psychiatric nurse who supports people with OCD.

The difference “between someone who has OCD and someone who’s maybe a little bit obsessive is the fact that it is unwanted and it’s intrusive,” Wallace said. “And it takes up an ample amount of people’s time in a day.”

A woman with short blond hair and wearing a denim jacket holds her hand under a hand dryer in a washroom.
Callandra Stroet dries her hands after compulsive hand washing. (CinemaRolls Studios)

Eventually, that’s what led Stoet to seek treatment, in hospital and now through group therapy and medication, she says.

Today, she says, she’s gaining back control of her life.

“I’m at school, I’m tutoring,” she said. “I’m managing to live my life.”

Stroet’s story is now the subject of a short documentary by students in the Create program at Sisler High School in Winnipeg. The post-high program trains students in the creative digital arts, including filmmaking.

Create students Markus Ramiscal, Bridget Clemente and Gabriel Beso produced the new video.

Meet the filmmakers

Black and white portrait of young man sitting on a stool. He is smiling broadly and has a shaved head. He is wearing a light-coloured hooded sweatshirt.
Markus Ramiscal (CinemaRollsStudios)

Markus Ramiscal is developing his skills in storytelling, filmmaking, editing and motion graphics, and plans to pursue a career in the creative industry in screenwriting.

Young woman with straight, dark hair sits on stool. She has multiple face piercings including her nose and both eye brows. She wears a silver spiked collar around her neck. She is wearing a scoop neck dress with a zipper down the front. She is wearing fish net stockings.
Bridget Clemente (CinemaRolls Studios)

Bridget Clemente is a Sisler High School graduate who wants to pursue a career in filmmaking and editing. Her passion for the film industry started a few years ago, progressing from editing YouTube videos to creating short films. In her free time, Bridget enjoys listening to music, dancing and playing with her two fat cats.

Black and white portrait of young man sitting on stool. He has shaggy, dark hair with bangs and has a broad smile showing his teeth. He is wearing a grey sweatshirt with a Levi's logo on the left chest area. He is wearing dark pants and his hands are resting on his thighs.
Gabriel Beso (CinemaRolls Studios)

Gabriel Beso has been making films since he was in Grade 9, but he has been editing videos since he was 12. Filmmaking has led Gabriel to new friendships that inspire him to continue storytelling in new and creative ways.

More about Project POV: Sisler Create

CBC Manitoba’s Project POV: Sisler Create is a storytelling collaboration that partners filmmaking students with CBC Manitoba journalists to produce short docs. The collaboration is in its second year. You can see past projects here

During fall 2023, CBC journalists taught storytelling to filmmaking students and led producing workshops at the Create program.

The Winnipeg School Division program, hosted at Sisler High School, trains post-high students in the creative digital arts.

The program focuses on education and career pathways into the creative industries. Students can take courses in animation, film, game design, visual effects, graphic design and interactive digital media. 

Sisler Create is currently looking for new recruits to their program. Apply here. 

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