Today’s blog is part 4 in our weekly countdown to #OCDweek, which starts in just 2 days! IOCDF Spokesperson Ro Vitale joins us today to explain why advocacy is so important to her, and talks about how anyone can make a difference by having a voice.
Many factors contribute to our tendency to remain silent about our suffering: disinformation, the fear of being rejected, social and personal stigma; the list goes on and on. I can’t say that those fears are completely unjustified. In fact, there is a high probability they might come true the minute we dare to “confess” that we suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder. The widespread trivialization of the term OCD makes people react as if they know what they are talking about. That is why they laugh or they doubt the veracity of our words, downplaying the seriousness of our symptoms. It is not necessarily their fault. However, our silence looks like an inevitable reaction to the anticipated fear of massive rejection.
But silence is a very powerful means of communication. Silence is not synonymous with nothingness. Silence SOUNDS like silence, leaving a very particular impact on ourselves and others. Each and every time we decide to keep quiet, every single time we figuratively bow our heads in shame and remain silent, we are actually “saying” a lot.
On the other hand, the risk by we take by raising our voices and speaking out is one hundred percent real. However, the impact of an honest sounding voice is significantly stronger than impact of silence. Here’s why:
If we talk about our struggle — even if it means risking potential rejection — some people might find in our words a reflection of their own suffering and get the chance to give a name to their pain for the very first time. Some people might even see in our stories a reflection of their own sense of hope and a way out of isolation. Our words might represent a compass that guides them towards effective treatment they have been searching for in vain for so long. The honest script of our stories may reach the hands of a desperate dad or a hopeless mom who might be standing by their kid’s closed bedroom door, arms outstretched, as if waiting for a hug that never comes. Then maybe — just maybe — those parents might extract from our words the necessary tools and resources to help their child on their path towards recovery.
And it might be just then — when the resounding honesty of our speech reaches other hands and other hearts — that the message grows stronger and louder, blending gracefully with the melodies of other stories that dared to be sung as well. And who knows, maybe more and more professionals will turn their heads, mesmerized by the contagious rhythm of our brave testimonies, and decide to specialize in the treatment of OCD, leading to more sufferers obtaining earlier diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
So let’s raise our voices and drown out these negatives — the confusion, the light use of the acronym OCD, the recurrent (and hurtful) use of the term as an adjective, and stigma in general — with our own loud voices as part of a majestic choir of hope!
In sum: our stories could change history.
OCD Awareness Week is a formal invitation to be a part of the band. You don’t need to be a talented tenor or a famous pop star to pass the casting. Just let yourself taste the sweet notes of your unique voice, and you are in! Together, we can write a song that more and more people learn to sing. This is what #OCDweek is about.
Let’s gather together in vocal ensemble and share the music.
Visit the OCD Awareness Week website here to learn more about how you can join us during #OCDweek, October 11-17, 2015. With events taking place around the globe, ideas for raising awareness on social media, an online chat series, and more, there are opportunities for everyone to get involved!