My friend Sunny over at 71 degrees and Sunny commented on a recent post of mine. She brought up several good points, but what touched me the most were these words: “The symptoms of OCD are often so humiliating that you will do almost anything to hide them….If no one around you notices what you are going through, then there is no one to encourage you to get help even though you may need it desperately. It can be such a lonely illness.”
Such a lonely illness. Those words ring true and pierce right through me. Thinking back to when Dan’s OCD was severe, especially before he received proper treatment, I know he felt incredibly alone. How could anybody possibly understand or relate to what was happening to him?
In this article by Dr. Jeff Szymanski, he explains how even those with OCD often have trouble relating to others with the disorder:
Even in a facility dedicated to individuals with OCD, they would stare at each other in astonishment as they explained their behaviors to each other: “You do WHAT? Don’t you know that is crazy?” I get that it is hard to understand what someone with OCD actually goes through — even people with OCD have a hard time being empathetic with each other!
It is not only those of us without OCD who have a hard time making sense of the disorder; it can even be difficult for those who have OCD to understand somebody else’s “tailor-made” obsessions and compulsions. More loneliness.
That’s one of the reasons it is so important to keep sharing. At the IOCDF Annual Conference this summer I heard conversations like: “Oh, you’re kidding me, I do that too,” and “You’re the only other person I’ve ever met who…” The first person OCD blogs I follow are filled with similar comments. The more we talk about OCD, the less alone everyone will feel.
And I’m not just referring to OCD sufferers. I’m talking about their loved ones as well. I’m talking about me. When I had no idea how to help Dan, or even where to turn for assistance, I felt so alone.
I know now that I am not alone, and Dan is not alone either. Having obsessive-compulsive disorder is hard enough without the feelings of isolation that come with it. So let’s keep talking and blogging and coming together. OCD is nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed by. If we unite against the tyrant that is OCD, we can, at the very least, end the loneliness.