freedom begets freedom

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?

4 thoughts on “freedom begets freedom

  1. I have found out the same thing. After I’ve revealed I have OCD, I’ve had a number of people tell me, I do too, or, I have symptoms like that, or, my family member has that. It’s amazing. It’s like we’ve all been silent for so long, and then one person breaks the silence, and the gates open. It’s a healthy thing, I think. The more we talk about it, perhaps the easier it will be for others to tell their doctors, to get help.

    The first time I told people other than a few family members and a few friends about OCD, I was in my 30s. It was when I discovered that a friend of mine had OCD. I wrote about it on my blog at if you want to check it out.

    Thanks for your post and for what I considere a call to action–get the word out, and don’t be ashamed!

  2. Here, here! I’ve only just begun the process of telling lots and lots of people. It is absolute freedom. I expect that at some point I will get a negative response or two, but you know what, that’s their problem. Overall, people have been gracious and frankly, I think I’ve really surprised a few people, in a good way.

  3. This is a great post. I haven’t told many people that I have OCD, and most people, though accepting about it – don’t really understand or really ask about it. I certainly haven’t had the “warm fuzzy” experience that you have. I admire your courage! Especially since you’ve had HOCD. When people find out I have OCD they say “you?! But you don’t have a super clean house! ANd you’re not constantly washing your hands!” The whole need to explain that there are so many manifestations of OCD just seems like too much for me. That, and I am still scared that if I tell people what type of OCD I have – they will think “yeah right – ahem – you don’t really have OCD – you’re really a lesbian!”

  4. Pingback: “Coming Out” as Obsessive-Compulsive | Lights All Around

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