Just a few years ago I’d cringe when I’d tell someone I had OCD and they’d say, “Really! What do you obsess about?” It was one thing to share that I had this anxiety disorder—I knew it wasn’t my fault and I wasn’t at all ashamed. But how could acquaintances and co-workers, or even close family and friends, understand my obsessions? It’s not easy to answer with, “Oh, you know, that if I’m not careful I’ll accidentally molest somebody. Hey, you’ve pictured Jesus naked, right? And earlier I looked at your butt as you walked away, and in the old days I would have worried for months afterward that I’m gay and wouldn’t be able to make eye contact with you.”
So how did I get here, where I am open about my most embarrassing intrusive thoughts? I’d say I started small, and in some ways I did, telling my husband certain tidbits I wasn’t too mortified by. But what opened the floodgates was the book I wrote for teens and young adults: I wanted to help other people with OCD, so I had to get over some of my worries and be more candid than I felt comfortable with. The book brought many opportunities for me to share my story, and I felt sick to my stomach every time I did. What would people think after [reading this blog post, watching that TV interview, hearing me speak at that conference]?
While I can’t say with 100 percent certainty what they actually thought, I can say that what they’ve said has been overwhelmingly positive. I still feel nervous—and usually cry—each time I share intimate details from my life, but I am always met with grace. Knowing my story reaches someone else and helps them realize they’re not alone keeps me going. It can be as small as a one-on-one email exchange with someone who’s suffering or as big as presenting to a room full of people.
OCD can be such an isolating disorder, but it doesn’t have to be. I once thought I had to be the only person who ever had thoughts like I’d had, but thanks to others who have bravely gone before me and shared their stories—even with therapists who then use that information in a helpful book—I now know I’m not. And that’s why I keep telling my story, over and over again. Others need to know there’s a community of support available, and they need to know there’s help.
Have you told anyone about your own journey with OCD? How did it feel? Would you do it again?
*Sponsored by nOCD – an OCD treatment app that helps OCD patients each day with ERP therapy (https://e2pt.app.link/treatmyocd-blog)!
Learn more about nOCD and our mission to revolutionize OCD treatment at Treatmyocd.com