Wow! What a packed day! I don’t know about you, but my schedule was packed back to back — the only moments of downtime I had were before my presentation with Lee Baer when I went to my hotel room to quietly freak out a little bit and plan what I was going to say. [Editor’s note: Alison’s talk went amazingly well! It was very well attended, and she received many compliments afterwards from attendees. Thank you to Alison and Lee Baer for their presentation!]
This morning I attended the keynote address delivered by legendary NHL goalie Clint Malarchuk and his wife, Joanie. It was an emotional experience for everyone there — Joanie cried as she shared the intimate details of Clint’s struggle with OCD and addiction, and as she described her unwavering love for a man who wasn’t always easy to live with. Clint got choked up at the end when he thanked his fellow OCD sufferers, and we all cried at different points throughout the presentation. Clint’s lucky to be alive for a couple reasons, and he’s now dedicated to living a life of service to others. He’s a truly incredible man, as sweet as can be.
After I recovered a bit from the keynote, I made a beeline to a session on skin picking and hair pulling. Actually, I made a beeline to the wrong room and sat in the front row, anxiously awaiting the arrival of my old psychiatrist, who was on the skin picking and hair pulling panel, until I realized I was in the wrong Ballroom B. There are too many ballrooms in this fancy hotel, I tell ya! After I realized my mistake, I rushed over to the correct Ballroom B and basically made my former doctor hug me. I seriously love that man — how could I not be eternally grateful to the person who diagnosed me and got me on the right path toward recovery? Even though I don’t have issues with skin picking or hair pulling myself, I stayed for his session and learned a few things.
If you suffer from either of these conditions, here are some key takeaways: Use smaller mirrors with less light. Consider covering your bathroom mirror with plastic wrap so you can’t see every tiny detail you want to pick or pull at. Instead of picking at your skin or pulling out your hair, occupy your hands with something else, whether it be origami or a squishy stress ball. If your skin tends to get dry toward the end of the day, use lotion to make it less tempting to pick at. Perhaps most important, ditch the idea that you need to be perfect. If you are picking or pulling less, that’s a victory! Learn to be okay with being good enough and being pleased with any amount of progress you’ve made and to not beat yourself up if you backslide a little.
After that I had lunch with Dr. Baer (who insisted I call him Lee, which is going to take a while to adjust t0) and a wonderful woman I’ve been in touch with since last year’s Conference. The three of us have been brainstorming ways to connect on a peer-to-peer level with others suffering from intrusive thoughts. If you’re interested in chatting with someone who really gets what you’re going through, go to ocdandfamilies.org, hover over the Peer Support tab, and click on “I’m interested in one-on-one peer support for unacceptable intrusive obsessions.” Dr. Baer will hook you up.
Insert some moments of panic and uncertainty here, where I questioned my decision to tell a huge room full of people that my biggest fear used to be that I was a pedophile. What was I thinking?! It actually turned out so much better than I could have expected. I cried, which I figured would happen, because that’s what I do. But I powered through and met so many wonderful people afterward who approached me and told me it was exactly what they needed to hear. I made the right decision after all. I suppose I knew that all along, but nerves can take over sometimes. Thank you, thank you, thank you to Lee Baer and everyone who attended. It meant the world to me.
I’m taking a break from the social right now. If you’re here and reading this, head downstairs to dance!
I ran into communications director Carly Bourne today and she said, “You know, I was thinking of how you mentioned in one of your blogs last year how you had just run into Lee Baer in the lobby and now a year later you’re presenting with him.”
Hey, yeah! That’s right, that was a mere year ago. It’s worth every ounce of awkwardness and anxiety to approach people in the lobby, in the hallway, after sessions — whatever. You could be making some very meaningful connections, and if not, at least you faced a fear.
Case in point: I saw Clint Malarchuk and his wife walking through the lobby yesterday, and I recognized him immediately. So I waved. Joanie so sweetly said, “Have we met?” No, I told her, I’m just kind of weird. I sometimes have a hard time approaching people in a normal, professional way, but I figure whatever works is good enough. We chatted for a while, and it turns out Joanie lived in the Twin Cities area for many years. I explained when one says, “Uff da!” in Minnesota, so I guess you could say I taught him as much in a few minutes in the lobby as he did during his presentation this morning. Only kidding, of course!
Have you met anyone you admire here? Did you have the courage to approach them? Tell us about it!