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Guest blogger Alison Dotson continues our series of OCD Awareness Week guest posts with an entry explaining some of the reasons she decided to “come out” about her OCD and why sharing your own story (or being a supportive friend or family member when someone decides to disclose) can be so important. 

My OCD story is not unique: Like so many others, I endured the pain of OCD for years before I realized I had a treatable disorder. Misinformed about what OCD really was, I blamed myself for the relentless intrusive thoughts and was too scared and ashamed to tell anyone about them.

Unfortunately, this is common. Time and time again people tell me they’re afraid to see a professional because their thoughts are so terrible they think they’ll be reported to the police, or that their children might be taken away. They think no one else would understand. They struggle with guilt, and they suffer in silence.

That’s why I keep talking about my own obsessions, years after I was diagnosed with OCD. I rarely obsess anymore, but I’ll never forget how hopeless I used to feel. I’ll never forget how relieved I was when I learned I had OCD and that I could get better. And I’ll never forget what it was like to realize I wasn’t alone, that countless others had had obsessions just like mine—just as embarrassing, terrifying, and shameful.

Even though I’ve been doing well for nearly a decade now, hearing from others with OCD, especially those with symptoms like mine, still helps me. Being open about OCD means others will be diagnosed and get to the right treatment sooner. One woman contacted me through my blog and said my story reached her, “a scared woman sitting alone on her couch feeling completely alone.”

Imagine who you might reach with your own story. That person might make an appointment with a psychiatrist, start a blog, or “come out” with OCD to a small circle of family and friends or a larger circle on Facebook or Twitter using #OCDWeek. Everything we do to spread awareness can create a ripple effect. Maybe someday no one will mistake OCD for a quirky personality trait, and maybe no one will feel ashamed over something they never wanted to begin with.

12 Comments

  • Megan Jae

    I have had ocd since I was 13 it has only got in worse if there is anything you suggest to help medicines or therapy let me know if love to have medicine that is natural and no chemicals!

    Reply
    • Carly Bourne
      Carly Bourne

      Hi Megan- OCD is usually treated with a type of therapy called Exposure & Response Prevention (ERP) therapy, and sometimes also medication if needed. You can learn more about ERP here: https://iocdf.org/about-ocd/treatment/ For some people, OCD can be managed well with just ERP. If you would like help finding a therapist in your area who specializes in treating OCD, please contact our office at 617-973-5801 or email info@iocdf.org.

      Reply
  • Bridget Monteiro

    Thank you for your opened. My son who is now 23 suffered from age 8 until he was 17 and then received wonderful treatment. He felt alone, scared and so do I, his mom. I write a book about our journey to help moms seek some dolace and know they are not alone. My son still struggles, no meds ( he refuses) but has great strategies to help him through. It’s not something we talk about in the grocery line but we NEED to TALK more. No need for anyone to live in a world without hope….. I am trying to get my book published titled 1379 Ben’s OCD Mind…we need to spread the word and get rid of the shame and stigma!

    Reply
    • Alison Dotson

      You’re welcome! Thanks for responding. I’m glad you’re both talking about it and that your son is doing better.

      Reply
  • Steven Kent

    Hi
    I’m now 67 and have been cursed with OCD since I was 18.
    However. .during the last 12 weeks I attended a government funded course. Using ERP and ANTI-OCD routines, my OCD no longer rules my life.

    Reply
    • Alison Dotson

      That’s great! I’m sorry you had to struggle for so long, but it’s wonderful that you’re finally feeling relief. May I ask where the government-funded course was held? Was it state government, local?

      Reply
  • Celine West

    I have had OCD since I was three-years-old. I remember symptoms like having to kiss my stuffed animals a certain amount of times each. As a young adult, I knew I had OCD and a therapist in my twenties also mentioned it to me. Many years later, I realize how much OCD I have and how pervasive it is for me, effecting me from moment to moment. I recently learned that I have some OCDP traits and a form of Trichotillomania that has to do with my thoughts (I am very focused on my own mind to the extent of being self-mutilating). Only recently have I found a therapist that understands the OCPD and Trichotillomania piece, and only recently have I been able to face the weight of OCD’s effects on my life and well-being. I am also grateful for the education and the tools I have been given to deal with it.

    Reply
    • Alison Dotson

      I’m so glad you found the right therapist! It’s amazing how hard they can be to find–unfortunately even people who think they understand OCD and know how to treat it are sometimes wrong. I wish we could flood the country with qualified therapists.

      Reply
  • Fatima

    I have been diagnosed with OCD in the year 2012, and i think i even had OCD symptoms since i was young. I feel so sad and hopeless, even though i speak all the time when i’m feeling sad to my family.Is it that my society don’t get me? Or is it my family and the people around me? I think it’s both. I already see a psychiatrist, but i’m still lost in my own world. What’s the best treatment for OCD (the anxiety and the thinking one)?

    Reply
    • steven

      I have been living with OCD for 45 years..in the last 12 months ERP has taught me to manage and control it. It has changed my life for the better. I’m happy to speak and tell you more.

      Reply
      • Fatima

        Please, i would appreciate it, thank you.

        Reply
  • Sarah Liz

    For many years, I have suffered from extreme anxiety, depression, and just this past year was diagnosed with Bipolar and PTSD. For the last 12 years, I have had a cardiac condition and an unable to use any form of hormone therapy. After I stopped medications containing those, I began to grow much darker and coarser hair on my upper lip and chin and neck area. When waxing became to expensive, I began plucking. My family feels I am obsessed with this and feel I have OCD. I do have obsessive thoughts but have never considered my plucking to be compulsive behavior. My husband says the hair does not bother him, but to me, it is very noticeable. To keep this maintained, I will pluck 2 to 3 times a week. I will admit that while I don’t necessarily have anxiety leading up to my plucking, I do receive relief and pleasure during plucking and once I am done. At times, my plucking has caused small skin sores, but they do heal. I am looking for opinions, so please be honest. Is this considered a compulsive behavior? Should I discuss this with my therapist further? I have discussed with my family physician after the hair growth bothered me so much I began plucking and was of course told, no hormones or hormone creams due to my heart condition.
    Thanks for taking time to read this. Also, this site is great!

    Reply

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