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.