OCD Awareness Week (October 10 – October 16th) holds a special meaning for me. It was during this week last year that I “officially” became an advocate for OCD awareness. Prior to this time, I had connected by telephone with several friends of friends who had children suffering from OCD. Through these phone calls, I came to realize that what these parents who sought me out needed most was not my opinion on certain doctors, medications, or treatments (though those can be helpful), but HOPE. They wanted to hear that their children would be okay. I reassured them the best way I knew how, by telling them our family’s story. Yes, Dan had OCD so severe he could not even eat. Yes, he had barely been functioning. And yes, he has recovered. He is back in college, medication free, and doing great. I could sense the relief at the other end of the telephone as these parents took in everything I was saying.
And so I knew it was helpful to share Dan’s story, and though I was always more than willing to speak to any “referrals,” my advocacy ended there.
Until OCD Awareness Week, 2010.
I was glued to my computer, watching the live-streamed video of “An Evening of Stories,” which included courageous first-person and family member accounts of what it is like to live with OCD. Simultaneously, there were chat rooms open where people could converse with one another. I had never participated in anything like this before but decided to jump right in. At one point during the chat, I connected with a distraught young woman who had been seeing a therapist for quite some time, but her OCD was getting worse, not better. “Is the ERP Therapy too difficult for you to do?” I typed. “ERP Therapy?” she responded. “What’s that?”
And that was it. An advocate for OCD awareness was born. Because even though our family had fought our way through a disorienting maze of treatments and programs desperately trying to find the right help for Dan, I had just assumed we’d had a string of bad luck. I never realized that so many other OCD sufferers were not receiving the proper treatment. I had to help spread the word that OCD, no matter how severe, is treatable, and Exposure Response Prevention Therapy is the treatment of choice.
OCD Awareness Week, 2011, also promises to be special for me. I am honored to have been invited to participate in the OCD Texas Conference in Austin on October 15, 2011. The theme of the conference is OCD advocacy and awareness, and I am excited to be a part of this important event. If you live in the area (or even if you don’t!) please consider joining us. Or check out all of the events scheduled around the country as we embrace this year’s theme:
Dare to Believe………together we can beat OCD.