Meet IOCDF Lead Advocate Valerie Andrews! Following her OCD diagnosis in 2011, Valerie began her advocate journey in hopes of bringing awareness and inclusion within her own community and within communities of faith — promoting change along the way. Today, Valerie spends her time focusing on her nonprofit (msmablesparrows, Inc) for women of age, color, and faith while continuing to be a powerful voice in the IOCDF advocate community. Read below to hear from Valerie on why she became an advocate, and learn more about the IOCDF advocate program.
You can’t live six decades with this disorder and not have it affect you. I’ve often described living with OCD as much like living within your own mind. No one lives there with you, and constant and unwanted thoughts have taken up residence inside your mind’s walls. Despite how much you fight to get rid of them and to get better, the exterior of those walls seem to get smaller and smaller while falling deeper and deeper within.
Over the years, my mind has been a very scary place. Life with OCD is often hard to put into words or even describe because it is something you have to live and be a part of to truly understand. Life with OCD is time consuming, debilitating, and affects every single area of your life (often leaving you feeling confused, uncertain, and unsure). However, once I found the right tools, I was able to allow myself to see beyond those scary and unwanted thoughts, and learned with time that managing life became a little easier.
OCD has taught me not to judge a person without knowing their story. Through OCD, I have seen the humanity in others, while learning along the way that kindness is such an easy virtue to share and be shared. It also feeds my passion to advocate wellness in those overlooked communities. One message that most of us who live with OCD have come to value and understand, is the need for compassion and the importance of advocacy. OCD has also allowed me to have a newfound appreciation for the good days, knowing, that there are going to be some ups, downs, and bad days on my journey.
As a Christian, OCD has shown me the value of having a relationship with other believers. We are wonderfully and uniquely made. It helps to know that there is hope and possibilities. Each day is filled with kindness and mercies that are new to each of us every day. OCD has taught me that suffering is a human trait, a circumstance that we all get to experience. I advocate to show that through servitude, we can know that our living is not in vain and that you are loved and never alone in your journey. That’s where I find myself today; living with a purpose so others can see my light shine and the Christ in me.
I want others to know that I have fallen short. I’m sure there will be more days ahead of that. As the poet Sanober Khan said in A Touch, A Tear, A Tempest— one day I can say and believe without doubt…I live there…where the birds are infinite everywhere..where everyone accepts me, without any pretense!
To God Be The Glory.