Michael Levine’s OCD first emerged in the 3rd grade. His family was lucky enough to find a therapist knowledgeable about OCD and Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) therapy who helped Michael slowly, but surely, gain control of his compulsions and his life. Now 15 and a sophomore in high school, Michael is one of five teens (along with fellow blog contributor Jack Lindley) that make up the Teen Success Panel at this year’s conference in Chicago. This panel is great because it shares a number of unique perspectives, but all with the common thread of hope. In today’s post, we talk to Michael about his early experiences at IOCDF conferences, and what he’s excited to see this year.
Also, just a reminder that it’s not too late to register for the conference! We are on track to make this one of the best attended conferences yet! We hope you will join us… Click here to register.
Tell us a little about your background.
My name is Michael and I am a 15-year-old male, who began to have compulsions around third grade (8-9 years old). At first, my mom thought I was just weird but after awhile the compulsions got worse and I was spending a lot of time doing them and getting upset. We found a therapist and by luck she used ERP. At the time, my parents knew very little about OCD so finding this therapist was a shot in the dark. The therapist showed me how to do ERP and taught my mom and dad how be a coach for me. It took about a year for me to really feel better and get a handle on my compulsions but now I’m doing great. I still get the urge to do compulsions but my mom and dad will tell me and then I work on them with some ERP and they don’t get worse or interfere in my life.
How did you find out about the IOCDF?
When I was first diagnosed, my mom went on the internet to do research and found the IOCDF.
What made you first want to attend the Annual Conference?
It was my parents decision at first but now I wouldn’t miss it for anything. I look forward to the conference every year. We have a little family game that we recently started playing. We try to guess where the next convention will be. All three of us have different guesses…
When was your first IOCDF Conference? What made you decide to attend?
My first conference was in July 2010 in Washington, DC. I attended because my mother wanted our family to go.
Were you nervous about attending?
No—but, I didn’t know what to expect.
What was the first year attending like?
Great! It felt comfortable being around others who understand.
Any memorable moments?
I made many new friends, and I was able to help a kid who was not doing too well with OCD. He never tried ERP. I helped him to sit through a few minutes of a talk, which at first his OCD wouldn’t let him do. My parents enjoyed meeting other parents and all of the education. My mom says the conference gets better each year.
Did you feel out of place as a non-therapist?
Not at all.
Were the talks helpful and easy to understand?
Do you have a favorite talk from past year’s conferences
I liked them all the same. My mother likes the ones about education and applying for colleges.
What are you most looking forward to about this year’s conference?
Seeing all my friends again and hanging in the teen [Art Therapy] room!
If you could give any advice to someone who is not sure about attending the conference, what would you tell them?
It’s really helpful and people are very nice. You will not be alone.
As someone dealing with OCD themselves, what was it like to be at a conference filled with others who could relate to your disorder?
I felt like I was a part of a group and I was actually happy to have OCD! Going to the conference each year makes me feel good about OCD. It’s like taking something negative and turning it around to look at it in a positive way.
The Teen Success Panel features youth who have struggled with OCD, overcame it, and are now enjoying and excelling in life. The panel takes place Friday, July 27th, at 1:45–3:45PM.