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What one individual with lived experience wants you to know about attending this year’s Annual Faith & OCD Conference.

Join the International OCD Foundation on Monday, May 9th as we host our second annual Faith & OCD Conference! Faith leaders, mental health professionals, and the OCD Community will come together to talk about the impact of scrupulosity, how to recognize when someone is struggling, and ways to support those in the faith community living with OCD.

Last week, Justin K. Hughes, LPC shared on the importance of clinicians attending this year’s conference, and showing support for individuals in the faith community living with OCD. In another post, Reverend Lauren Buck Medeiros shared her experience attending last year’s Faith & OCD Conference shedding light on what other faith leaders can take away for both themselves and their communities. This week, IOCDF Advocate Alex Rosenberg shares his thoughts about attending as both an individual with lived OCD experience and a member of IOCDF’s Faith & OCD Special Interest Group.

Alex was diagnosed with OCD when he was just 10 years old and uses his advocacy to reach out to others with OCD who may need extra support— keep reading below for the full interview! 

Are you attending this year’s Annual Faith & OCD Conference? If so, what are you most looking forward to?

Yes, I am attending the conference. I am really excited for such an incredible opportunity to hear from others who are going through the same challenges and experiences as I am—some from different faith communities, and some from the exact same faith community as me. In addition to this, I am looking forward to the part of the Conference when participants have the opportunity to join different breakout rooms that focus specifically on various religions or religious denominations. 

As someone who identifies as Orthodox Jewish, I am very excited to join the virtual breakout room in which there will be other Orthodox Jews (and Jews of other denominations). I am also looking forward to hearing from people of other religious affiliations throughout the event. I want to meet more people like myself who are experiencing the same challenges, and learn new strategies about how to overcome these difficulties.

What do you hope that others (whether that is faith leaders, clinicians, or those with lived experience) will take away from attending the Annual Faith & OCD Conference? 

I hope that all attendants of the conference take away at least one heartfelt interaction that changes their perspective about overcoming their own challenges, as well as how to understand and support other people’s struggles. 

I hope to take that away from this conference, too. 

Has OCD ever interfered with your engagement with your faith? What type of impact has that made on you?

I have personally become more religiously observant than my family, and the question about me has always been whether I am making this choice because my OCD wants me to— or whether it is something I want to do as a part of my own identity. At the end of the day, it is truly my identity that is the reason I have chosen to live the way I do, alongside a positive experience with a very kind and inspiring faith leader with whom I share a close bond. 

Sometimes, when it comes to religious rituals it can be difficult to decide whether I am being overly strict about doing them because of my OCD, or whether I am just abiding by my faith. I also sometimes doubt whether I am a moral person according to my religious values, which is sometimes just the voice of my OCD telling me I am not perfect enough. I am still working on overcoming these challenges while pursuing hope and meaning, and trying to find my identity. 

What would you like others to know about navigating OCD in diverse faith-based communities?

We are a lot more similar than we are different. Even though we may come from different backgrounds and disagree on the specifics of our faith affiliations, we all struggle from similar challenges, and can share similar experiences of success— or can learn how to reach this success from the other people going through the same challenges as us.

None of us are alone, no matter how isolated we feel. There are so many other people, both who share the exact same religious beliefs as us or hold slightly different ones, who are dealing with the same challenges. We can all find hope and recovery together.

The second annual Faith & OCD Conference will take place virtually on Monday, May 9th, 2022 at 12pm ET for faith leaders, mental health professionals, and the OCD Community. Register to connect with others navigating OCD in diverse faith-based communities.

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