How is day one winding down already? I’ve been looking forward to this since last year’s Conference, and we’re cruising through this year’s already. As with last year, I’m wearing many hats: an affiliate representative (OCD Twin Cities president), a speaker (check out my session with Lee Baer tomorrow afternoon, from 4 to 5:30!), and an IOCDF volunteer (writing these blog posts). It makes for a fun varied experience.
Last night after my plane landed—which included some scary turbulence, exactly what a person with an anxiety disorder wants—I quickly prepared to catch up with old friends and meet some new ones. The entire evening was like a summer camp reunion, running into people I’d met last year, with a little bit of squealing and a lot of hugging involved. That’s one of the best parts about attending this Conference. Another is meeting new people and connecting almost immediately. Wherever you turn, there is someone who understands OCD and is willing to chat. It feels like home—in a really nice hotel.
This morning I attended a panel session about how to deal with the stigma of having a mental illness, led by Chrissie Hodges, Ro Vitale, and Carol Thomas, a teenager with OCD who’s beginning to share her journey with others who need help. Audience members shared advice on how to push past stigma and pat themselves on the back for the progress they’ve made toward recovery, even if others aren’t as supportive as they’d like. I love how interactive the sessions can become. You may initially attend a talk for the speakers, but you end up learning from audience members as well. We’re a true community, always willing to offer advice to others and to learn from each other.
I won’t bore you with the details of my brainstorm with my co-presenter or the affiliate meeting I attended, but you should definitely look into affiliates in your area and see how you can get involved. Tonight I’m meeting up with a Facebook support group for dinner, and I’m excited to meet these wonderful people in person. We’ve lifted each other up and gone to each other for advice and now we get to chat in real life, another reason I wholeheartedly recommend the Conference: You will make and solidify relationships you’ll cherish for a lifetime. OCD is a beast, but with support and understanding we can tame it. Think your obsession is the weirdest? Just tell someone here about it, and you’ll feel “normal” and be accepted with open arms. Really, just try it.
Looking forward to tomorrow! How about you?