Last night, here in the MN metro, we kicked off OCD Awareness Week with Jeff Bell, spokesperson for the International OCD Foundation, sharing his personal story. It. was. AWESOME.
I knew it would be.
I met Jeff Bell two years ago when the IOCDF flew me out to Boston to read an excerpt of the novel I was writing before Truest (it was called Lights All Around, and I’ll let you read it if you’ll promise to remember that I’ve grown as a writer since then!). Jeff interviewed me– both one-on-one at Starbucks before the event, and then again on-stage in front of the crowd after I’d read my excerpt. Jeff is brilliant, charming, a tireless advocate for the OCD community, and all-around fantastic guy. When Alison, president of OCD Twin Cities, and I started throwing around names of guest speakers we might invite, he was at the top of our list– and he agreed to come!
I’m writing this immediately after the event, and I’m so tired, but I also know this post is going to go live in less than two hours, so let me just briefly share the things that Jeff spoke about that hit me the hardest.
* There are no shortcuts. This is so, so true. In order to achieve health and freedom from under the tyranny of OCD, you have to go through the hard, HARD work of treatment. Jeff didn’t mince words, just like I try not to here on the blog: ERP IS HARD. It is the second hardest thing I’ve ever had to do– but, you see, the first hardest thing was live with untreated OCD.
* His cold pool analogy. When you jump into a cold pool, it’s shocking to your system. But if you stay in the pool, the temperature goes up … WAIT. No, it doesn’t! What happens is that you GET USED TO IT. This is ERP therapy, and it works.
* “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink … but you can salt his oats.” I can’t force people to get proper treatment for OCD, but I can try to make them thirsty for it. I really need to think on this one and see what ideas come to mind!
* The ah-ha! moment. I almost started crying when Jeff told about the moment he opened a book about OCD and found an example so true to his life on the very first page. (He even thought, “I don’t remember writing a book!” Ha!) That moment– when you finally know what’s wrong and, better yet, when you learn there is treatment— it’s so beautiful. I can hardly describe it. It’s the moment when you realize I am not alone and this has a name and I am not a freak– I am just SICK.
I want to help more people get to that point– and, even better, to the point of recovery/remission through ERP therapy.
Over at the OCD Twin Cities Facebook site, we’ll be giving away signed copies of Jeff’s books this week for various contest winners. Come check us out!
I think I might also be hosting an online chat about religious scrupulosity. I will keep you posted on that. In the meantime, I’m going to try to be active on my personal Facebook page this week to help break down stigma and misconceptions about OCD. Not sure what that is going to look like, but I’m ready.
What are you doing for OCD Awareness Week?