OCD shared experiences

Last Wednesday, I was interviewed about my OCD in front of a group of around 100 students at the college where I work.  It was such a blessing to be able to share with them.  We talked about wanting to keep OCD a secret, about how OCD affected my relationships, about cognitive-behavioral therapy, about how long it took for me to find relief.

Afterward, I had a small group of students who hung around to ask questions and to connect with me.  One girl was crying, telling me her older sister had OCD and she hoped that her sister could “come as far” as I had.  Another told me that she had never had the chance to meet someone who struggled the same way as she did.  Another asked some great, probing questions about CBT.  Two days later, I had a mom email me and tell me that her daughter had come to my chapel talk and told her how great it was to hear from someone else who’d been diagnosed with scrupolosity.  I’ve scheduled or am scheduling several coffee dates with these newfound obsessive-compulsive friends.

The mom wrote:
I could tell it meant a lot to her the other night to hear that someone she knows, and is successful and enjoying her career, and has remained faithful amidst all the doubts scrupulosity brings is living an abundant life.  You are the first person she’s met that truly struggles as she does; someone who understands better than any councelor or psychologist or psychiatrist  OR MOM WHO HAD READ EVERY BOOK SHE CAN GET HER HANDS ON TO HELP HER DAUGHTER.

It’s sad, but it’s also true.  No one really gets an obsessive-compulsive like another obsessive-compulsive.  I am so grateful for every opportunity I have to connect with someone else who GETS IT.  We haved lived a nightmare together– while others only hear about it second-hand.  OCs truly share a unique experience of pain, struggle, and attack.

I hope that these new OCs I’ve connected with will also one day share my story of victory.  Please Jesus.

hearing your story on someone else’s lips

The week after OCD Awareness Week, I am going to be a part of a breakout chapel service at the university where I work.  (I am employed by Northwestern College, the most wonderful Christian college in the world … as an alumnus, I’m a little biased.  Ha!)  I am going to be interviewed by one of the campus therapists, and I am just so eager to tell my story.

I think one of the most helpful things for OCs is to hear their own story on someone else’s lips.

It makes us feel less alone.

I remember my first conversation with another obsessive-compulsive.  I was sitting on a dock underneath a sky of summer stars, and as we talked, it was like shrugging off a giant sheath that had separated me from everyone else.  I was not alone; this person had the same experiences.

And when I read Kissing Doorknobs by Terri Spencer Hesser, it was like reading my own biography.  It stole power from OCD, just reading that, because it showed me how not creative the disorder is … sure, it has a variety of manifestations, but at their core, they are really very similar.

And that is what I am hoping will happen for someone in the audience on October 17th.  For that person to say, That sounds just like me!  I am not an anomoly.