As many of you know, my son Dan’s OCD became severe at the end of his freshman year in college, four years ago. Still, he desperately wanted to finish the semester, and I flew fifteen hundred miles to help him as best I could. The basic act of eating was torturous for him, as was entering most buildings on campus. Though it was distressing for him to be in crowds, or even interact with his friends, he insisted on attending the Senior Animation Show, where the Class of 2008 was showcasing its films. As impressive as the show was, I had trouble focusing on the movies. I was too preoccupied with how I was going to get Dan to eat the next day. Also, it was painful for me to watch, knowing there was little chance I’d ever see my son’s work up on that screen. At that point his dream of becoming an animator was way beyond reach.
This past weekend I returned to that same auditorium. Dan wasn’t next to me this time, anxious and apprehensive; he was on the other side of the large hall, sitting with his girlfriend and laughing with his friends. Sure, he was nervous too, as were they all, anticipating the debut of their films in front of almost 1,000 people. I was at the Class of 2012 Senior Animation Show.
While the atmosphere was one of fun and excitement, for me it was an experience of profound gratitude and emotion. Almost surreal. He made it. We’re here. He’d been on a journey few could imagine, and through sheer determination (and ERP Therapy), had arrived right where he wanted to be.
That night is now etched in my mind, because one of the greatest lessons I’ve learned over the past few years was staring me right in the face: There is always hope. Recovery from severe OCD is possible. No matter how bad things might be at this moment, or how unlikely it seems that they will ever change, it absolutely can happen.
Dan’s journey is far from over; in fact it is really just beginning.
Next stop: graduation.