I have been fortunate to share the story of my son Dan’s recovery from severe OCD with so many people. The fact that he is doing so well is concrete evidence that obsessive-compulsive disorder, no matter how severe, is indeed treatable, and it is gratifying to know that those who are suffering have found hope through our story.
When I connect with those who have either read about Dan’s journey 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 such as, “Where is he? How come we never see him at these conferences/meetings/or other OCD events?”
Some time 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 people with OCD say, “OCD is something I have, not something 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?