When I first decided to “go public” with my OCD, I was sincerely terrified. I think it was 2006, and I was asked to share my testimony with the campers at a week of 9th and 10th grade Bible camp. My family and closest friends knew about my OCD, but it was hush-hush among everyone else. The night I publicly told a group of people about my OCD, I was so scared that I thought I was going to throw up or fall apart. There is no going back. Once you tell people this, you can’t make them forget you’ve said it. They will always treat you differently, look at you differently. You will lose friends tonight.
Instead, what happened was that a long-time friend ended up sharing with me that he too struggled with obsessive-compulsive disorder. He was so ashamed of it that he hadn’t even told his own family.
Honest sharing from one person draws out honest sharing from others.
In other words, freedom begets freedom.
I have seen the truth of this over the last six years. The more vocal I am about OCD, the more people seem to come out of the woodwork: I struggle with that too; my friend is an OC and I don’t know what to say; I never knew that it was OCD until you described it that way. They want to know the next step, they want to know there is hope, that they are not alone.
And they are certainly not alone.
“OCD is the fourth most common mental disorder, and is diagnosed nearly as often as asthma and diabetes mellitus. In the United States, one in 50 adults suffers from OCD.” (Wikipedia)
But we find one another by saying it outloud. OCD. I have OCD.
And then there is the response: I have it too.
And we begin to steal back power and control.
These days, I drop those three little letters into conversation pretty much any chance I get. I am not ashamed of it or nervous to tell people I am an OC. I am only hoping that my freedom will beget freedom.
I have OCD. What about you?