Last week, we heard from Liz Trondsen, who offered a mother’s perspective of the IOCDF conference. Today, we get a young adult’s take on the conference from Liz’s son Chris, who has been attending the IOCDF Annual Conference for the last 8 years.
Chris’ story is an inspiration to anyone struggling with OCD: After years of misdiagnoses and being home-bound due to crippling obsessions and compulsions, he found the support and treatment he needed and has since graduated from college, gone back to work, and put his life back on track. He is also active in helping others get information and treatment for OCD so they won’t have to suffer as long as he did. Chris is currently part of the IOCDF’s Speakers’ Bureau, and also helps to run an OCD support group in Southern California.
Tell us a little about your background: How did you find out about the IOCDF?
When I was at my sickest, my Mom discovered the IOCDF online as a resource on OCD. This led to me eventually finding an OCD specialist who treated me, and I am where I am today because of this.
What made you first want to attend the Annual Conference?
My mom took me to the IOCDF conference in San Diego about 8 years ago or so. My mom taking me was the reason I went. It wasn’t really my choice but I was very curious to see what it was going to be like.
What made you decide to attend?
When I went to this conference, I was at my worst. My Mom did all the groundwork and I sort of had to just show up and go. But I was very curious to see what it was going to be like and I was desperate to get help so I was excited to see what I could learn there or what I could find out that would help me get better.
Were you nervous about attending?
I was extremely nervous about attending. I hated traveling, I hated leaving the house, I was afraid there were going to be a lot of triggers for my OCD and I had no clue what would be in store. There was so much anticipatory anxiety about going.
What was the first year attending like? Any memorable moments?
It was amazing meeting people who also had OCD especially around my age. It was the first time I really met others who had OCD. The most memorable moment was meeting a girl around my age with OCD who lived in my area. We talked about starting a young adults OCD support group in our area. Even though that never panned out, that was the first time I really became serious about helping others with OCD and that moment was when I decided that after I got better, I was going to help others, which is what I do now.
Did you feel out of place as a non-therapist?
Not at all, there was so much to do and talks aimed at those who were sufferers. I never felt out of place. In fact, it felt like home being around so many with OCD.
Were the talks easy to understand?
I have always found the talks easy to understand. I usually attend talks aimed at sufferers so they are never over my head. Even when I’ve gone to talks by therapists and specialist, I have found them easy to understand and gained a lot of knowledge from them.
Were they helpful?
I always find the talks helpful. Even as someone who now has their OCD under control, I am always learning new things about medication, or techniques that will help on a bad day or finding out what is next in the area of research to “cure” OCD!
Do you have a favorite talk from past year’s conferences?
I always enjoy Dr. Jenike’s talks. He has a way of mixing information and humor that I admire. I also enjoy talks about other things related to OCD like Perfectionism or how to deal with anxiety and life after OCD.
What are you most looking forward to about this year’s conference?
I always enjoy seeing what new books have come out at the bookstore. I look forward to meeting up with all the friends I’ve made at the conference over the years and I’m excited about the panel I am speaking on which aims to help those who are struggling with or refuse treatment.
If you could give any advice to someone who is not sure about attending the conference, what would you tell them?
Go, go, go! The conference gives you so much information and hope that you can get better. Or a loved one can get better. You also meet others with OCD and more importantly, the leading experts in the field are going to be there so you can approach them and get advice that is normally difficult to get.
As someone dealing with OCD themselves, what was it like to be at a conference filled with others who could relate to your disorder?
It’s one of the most gratifying experiences ever to meet people who can actually relate to, since that is so rare in your everyday life. This is one of the most beneficial things about the conference — being able to meet people who can relate and understand what you are going through — and many of them can give you advice on how to get better!
Chris will be participating in the IOCDF Conference panel “What Do I Do if My Loved One Refuses or is Struggling With OCD Treatment?” on Friday from 4–5:30pm — along with his mother, Liz — to talk about their experiences of dealing with OCD as a family.