At the International OCD Conference in July, several people asked me why my son Dan wasn’t with me. My husband and daughter (neither of whom have OCD) had come along just to see Chicago, but Dan had no interest in joining us or attending the conference.
On more than one occasion, people have commented how great it would be if Dan, and other “OCD success stories” showed up more frequently at conferences. It would be so inspirational for those still suffering from the disorder to connect with, not a few, but a lot of people who have conquered OCD. I had never really thought of it that way because, to me, most OCD sufferers that attend conferences seem to be “success stories.” I realize now that my assumption is naive, as we never really know how much someone might be suffering. People who outwardly seem to be doing just fine may be tormented inwardly. This is especially true for those with obsessive-compulsive disorder.
So do those who have recovered from OCD (meaning it plays little to no part in their lives) have a responsibility to those who are suffering now? Maybe they can’t wait to share their success story, and that’s great. But maybe, once they’ve beaten their disorder, they just want to get on with their lives. Maybe, if their OCD was severe, they’d rather not even think about what they’ve gone through. Why would they want to dwell on such an awful time of their lives? Should they feel obligated to do so to help others?
It’s not an easy question to answer. As an advocate for OCD awareness, I think, “Who better to inspire and instill hope in those who are suffering from OCD than someone who has overcome it?” As a mom, I think, “Dan’s been through a lot. If he’s not comfortable going the advocate route, then of course it’s his choice and I respect his decision.”
I do feel that all of us have a responsibility to try to make the world a better place, and each one of us has to figure out the best way to do that. Dan may not be shouting from the rooftops now that he has overcome severe OCD, but maybe at some point in his life, sharing his story will become important to him as a means to help others. If not, I am confident that he will find other ways, as he has done already, to make the world a better place. Really, what more can I ask for?