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JoAnn and her daughter, Chloe, in Chicago this summer.

On today’s blog, we feature a guest post from IOCDF board member JoAnn Winston. JoAnn shares what the Foundation means to her and her family, and why she is so excited about celebrating the IOCDF’s 30th birthday next month at the Then & Now Anniversary Party in Boston. 

When OCD entered our family back in 2008, I was so misinformed about OCD. I asked, “Isn’t that when people wash their hands too much? We can make her stop it right?” I soon realized I was so uneducated and had no clue what OCD really was.

Every day, maybe four or five times a day, my daughter was taken away from me into a world of confusion, doubt, and fear. It would cripple her daily tasks and rob her from her childhood pleasures.  Chloe would ask me; “Mom, why is my brain doing this to me? Please make it stop.”

JoAnn and Chloe’s walk team at the 1 Million Steps 4 OCD Walk in Boston in June.

Like any mother, I turned into Tiger Mom and was ready to do anything I could do to stop my little girl from her suffering. Not only did I have to educate myself fast, I had to educate Chloe on how to manage her OCD, while continuing my everyday life for the rest of the family. It was going to take a village and I was on a mission to find one.

After a lot of searching, I stumbled across the International OCD Foundation (IOCDF) website, where I found books and other resources to further my knowledge of OCD.  I started attending a support group at McLean Hospital, which was very beneficial in giving me the support needed to manage the change in our everyday life. However, it was the IOCDF’s annual 1 Million Steps 4 OCD Walk, which happens every June, that was really the stepping stone for me to become more involved in the Foundation. I was inspired by Denis Asselin’s story about his son and his family’s strength despite their loss. The walk showed our family that we were not alone in the fight against OCD. It was particular eye-opening and helpful for Chloe to see so many people like her that had OCD and all the others that were there supporting them. We haven’t missed one walk yet!

Flash forward to the IOCDF’s most recent Annual OCD Conference in Chicago, where I dropped into a session for kids named, “Want to Beat OCD? Learn tools and start fighting back!” I was so impressed with the kids that were participating. They asked really good questions and shared really hard things about their OCD. I thought to myself, I wish I knew about this when Chloe was little. Then, I went to OCD in the Family: Becoming more supportive parents and siblings. This I really needed!! Having a loved one with OCD can really test your patience. I loved that everyone in the room was feeling the same way I was and boy did that make me feel much better.

I found my village and I am so thankful that the IOCDF makes this all happen, day after day, year after year. It gives our community the resources we need to be educated and supported through all stages of OCD. I think a lot about all the kids and adults that are just being diagnosed with OCD.  I want them to find the IOCDF and get help because even though OCD does not go away it can be managed and we can fight back together!

Slide for Website- White BG-01On October 14th, the International OCD Foundation is celebrating its 30th Anniversary with an event in Boston, its headquarters location. I am so excited to be helping with this event as the chair of the host committee. I’m excited to hear from the founders of the IOCDF and celebrate their forward thinking and efforts in making this all happen thirty years ago. I’m also looking forward to being a part of the next 30 years and supporting all that the foundation does for our community.

Please join me in supporting the International OCDF Foundation by attending this special event.  We’ve worked hard to make this event accessible to many, whether you want to attend the awards presentation at the beginning of the evening by buying a Patron Ticket for $86, or whether you want to just come for the party (and great music and dancing) later in the evening for just $30. Click here to learn more.

We can’t wait to see you there!

Jo-Ann Winston
30th Anniversary Party Host Committee, Chair
IOCDF Board of Director, Member


  • Brigit Rotondi

    Hi, My namebus Brigit. I have been suffering with OCD and worry thoughts since my early 20’s it would mean alot to me to make this anniversary dinner. I thank God for this organization. I was Hoping I could make it and, that there might be a chance for financial help to get there. Please let me know if it is possible. I would love to join

    • Brigit,
      Thank you for your comment. It would be best to call the IOCDF office in regards to your question.
      I wish you well,

  • Denis Asselin aka Walking Denis

    Thank you, Jo-Ann, for this amazing personal blog. Our family (The Nicholson Asselins) never quite knows how Walking With Nathaniel impacts on the lives of others. We are simply doing what we have to do, and what we feel called to do—that is, to move forward in life and to let the lessons we have learned from our dear son’s life and illness guide us so that they can help others. In my opinion, IOCDF is an incredible organization. Its outreach is far flung and its strong commitment to serve the OCD Community is so rightly ordered and deeply appreciated. My family and I will definitely see you at the 30th Anniversary Party. There is such good reasons to celebrate hard! May we all come together to say thank you to the Foundation’s for its birth (the Then part) and to learn more about its mission and future directions (the Now part). Nathaniel and IOCDF were born in the same year!

  • Leslie Arturi

    Great post Jo-Ann!

    I was diagnosed with OCD at 8 years old. I can’t even imagine what my parents went through watching me suffer for so long. It’s good to remind parents of OCD children and the children with OCD that they are SO much stronger than they think. It took me a very long time to win my battle, but I won and I’ve been living the life I’ve always dreamed of living for the past ten years. There’s so much more research and support today than there was back when I was first diagnosed. Everyone struggling needs to take advantage of it. I’m sure if my parents had all the support of the IOCDF back in the 80’s, their stress may have been relived by a good percentage.
    Super excited for the 30th Anniversary Celebration! I’m bringing some NYC, NJ and Long Island people with me!

  • Margot Soule

    So glad I found out about this event!! It will mean so much to connect with others who have similar stories. And in a fun way! Can’t wait to bring my friends and neighbors.
    A party that MEANS SOMETHING to EVERYone attending…that’s something special.

  • George Soule

    thanks for your wonderful blog — what a truly uplifting and inspiring story. I’m certainly thankful to have leArned about the event and will plan on attending. Should be a wonderful and meaningful event.

  • Chloe

    I am chloe and as my mother said above I have struggled with OCD for a long time. Still to this day I have struggled a lot with telling people I have OCD. This foundation has helped me so much to tell people about my OCD. Although I still am working on this, telling the people that I have told today has helped me tremendously. This event is a place where people can go and be comfortable and open about their OCD. It truly helps to know there are people out there who can relate. I am so proud of my mother for joining the IOCD foundation and helping to put this event together because it has showed me to be more open with my OCD. No one should feel alone. I love you mommy.


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