Where’s Dan?

mountain climber 2

I have been fortunate to share the story of my son Dan’s recovery from severe OCD with so many OCD sufferers and their loved ones. The fact that he is doing so well is concrete evidence that OCD, no matter how severe, is indeed treatable, and it is gratifying to know that people have found hope through our story.

When I connect with those who have either read about Dan’s story or heard me speak about him the first question they often ask is “How is Dan now?”

I am so incredibly thankful that the answer continues to be, “He is doing very well.”

The next question is usually something like, “Where is he? How come we never see him at these conferences/meetings/or other OCD events?”

More than a year ago I wrote a post discussing whether “OCD advocacy” should be a responsibility of those who have recovered from severe OCD. Better than my post, I believe, are the comments from those who pointed out that advocacy comes in many ways, shapes, and forms. By continuing to do well, keeping his OCD at bay, and living his life to the fullest, Dan is giving hope to all those who suffer from OCD.

Maybe my son’s choice to not focus on his OCD any more than he needs to is one of the reasons he has learned to cope so well. As I have heard many OCD sufferers say, “OCD is something that I have, not something that I am.” Dan has made a conscious effort to put his OCD on the back burner and focus wholeheartedly on living his life to the fullest. He has fought his way back from the brink of despair, and perhaps this fact fuels his resolve to leave OCD out of his life as much as he can.

But I’m not fooling myself. I know at some point Dan might not have a choice. While he might go years with mild obsessive-compulsive disorder, there’s still a chance it could flare up, at any time, with a vengeance. It could overtake him again. The bottom line is I don’t know what the future holds, and neither does Dan. Uncertainty. The word that those with OCD (and many of us without the disorder) hate. Nobody knows what will be.

For now, however, I will revel in the fact that Dan is doing well. I will continue to advocate for OCD awareness and proper treatment, and I will respect his decision to not want to make OCD a focal point of his life. Because after all, isn’t that the whole idea?

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16 Responses to Where’s Dan?

  1. lisa g says:

    was he always willing to get help for his OCD? I’m wondering what to do when someone you love is suffering from OCD but is too afraid to get help.

    Date: Mon, 11 Nov 2013 17:10:44 +0000 To: lgronski@hotmail.com

  2. I’m glad Dan is doing so well. I hope he never has a flare, but if he does, it sounds like he will have the tools to deal with it, and certainly support from family like you. 🙂

  3. Great post! When you explain it like that, it makes perfect sense that your son would wish to take that approach. Better to move on and enjoy his life, than dwell on the past – which probably applies to most people one way or another. All the best to both of you.

  4. Varun says:

    I agree with your son’s decision to keep away from OCD as much as possible… you never know what could be a trigger to intensify OCD again. He is lucky he has got you, closely watching his life & the monster keeping them both apart. You are anyway contributing to the community. Reading your post, I realized though every moment we OCD sufferers think of getting better, its best to live every moment to the fullest while we are not in effect of OCD, as it may come back in our life anytime without knocking on the door. Nevertheless, always look at the bright side !!!

    • Thank you for your kind words, Varun, and I like your attitude! We certainly all need to appreciate each moment in our lives as much as we can. Nobody knows what’s around the corner. I’m wishing you all the best.

  5. C says:

    From what you’ve said about Dan before and the degree of intensity his ocd once was, I completely understand why he would want to get as far away as possible from it. When your life’s #1 priority is Ocd and the rest of your life goes downhill, I promise that the last thing you want to contribute time, energy, and your life to seems like is ocd. I’ve said those words before and I’ve definitely felt that way, too, but I feel like there is an overwhelming need for people with severe ocd to see/read and relate to people who have come out on the other side, or have gotten significantly better…but of course, that choice is up to us. I personally feel a pull to do this because I have experienced the feeling, panic, and acceptance of thinking that I could never get better because my ocd was so severe and my thinking has changed on the matter. I agree with Varun also, that your presence in OCDland is probably influencing people more than you know and even though Dan isn’t stepping out publicly, you still do so much to help…and Dan, if you ever read this: WELL DONE and Congrats!! You’re amazing.

    • Thank yo so much C for your insight, kind words, and support. The few times I’ve asked Dan about it, he has told me he does not read my blog, but I will certainly pass your good wishes on to him!

  6. Deb says:

    I completely understand why Dan would rather focus on the direction his life is taking him than revisiting the time OCD ruled his world! When OCD is in charge it is not a very good place. It is wonderful that Dan is controlling his life and OCD is no longer in charge. 🙂

    My son Matt, 19, is making small steps towards freedom and hopefully will someday force OCD fears aside. He still has a lot of irrational fears, but he is better than he was a year ago. He is going to therapy once a week and is making slow, but steady progress. When a new fear pops up I have to remind myself that he has come a long way from a year ago.

    I hope in another year or two my posts will be about Matt’s journey forward. He is going the right direction. I don’t want him to look back either. The time when Matt’s OCD was at it’s worst is not something he should think about.

    Keep it up Matt and Dan. Keep looking forward. 🙂

    Deb

    • Hi Deb, I agree that as long as Matt is going in the right direction, that is such a positive thing, even though we would love for recovery to not take so long! Even though he has therapy only once a week, he is moving forward, so he must be incorporating the ERP therapy into his life. Yes, keep it up Matt and Dan and all those who are working so hard to overcome OCD!

  7. Krystallynn says:

    Hi Janet. My OCD has waxed and waned over many, many years and though I am always hoping that it will disappear completely, I feel so blessed when it is Mild or even Moderate. I am happy Dan is doing well and that he (and we) have you to advocate for us. I had a blog about my OCD a while back but there came a point to where I found it was counterproductive to my OCD. It is hard to explain why but I knew I had to take care of my self for awhile and put the blog to rest. I will always support and help anyone I come into contact with who has a mental illness and I hope I always have the courage to speak up when the subject is brought up in conversation so I can advocate. But I also have to care for myself. When OCD rears its ugly head, it is there on my mind constantly so when it wanes and gives me some peace, I enjoy that I can concentrate on other things. It may sound selfish but I think it is empowering and healthy. Krystallynn

    • Hi Krystallynn, Great to hear from you and I totally agree. You need to take care of yourself. It does not sound selfish at all; it’s just good sense! There are many ways to advocate for those with OCD, some of which you mention in your comment. I think living your life the best you can while keeping OCD at bay is also a great way to advocate……because you are proving it can be done! Wishing you all the best.

  8. Supratim says:

    I am 18 .I am from Bangladesh.I am suffering from ocd.when I get rid of any senseless thought from my mind,another senseless irrational thought comes to my mind. I just cant stop it.How can I concentrate on my normal life just like dan?I need some advice

    • Hi Supratim, I’m sorry to hear things are so difficult for you now. OCD is indeed treatable with Exposure and Response Prevention therapy. If you are not able to find an OCD specialist, there are some books, workbooks, and programs online you might find helpful. You can also contact the IOCDF for suggestions. Wishing you all the best as you move forward.

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