Meet IOCDF advocate Kim Vincenty! Kim shares the reasons why she became an advocate below. Learn more about our advocate program.
My heart pounded in my chest. I had low-grade nausea and sweaty palms, and I couldn’t sleep. My ten-year-old son had been diagnosed with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and became completely debilitated within a matter of months. I quickly realized I had to get my anxiety in check. I had to learn everything I could about OCD and treatment, and I had to begin to advocate for my son. My resolve was clear. He wasn’t going down under my watch. But fighting OCD was overwhelming, and it challenged me in ways I never thought possible. In fact, helping my son treat his OCD challenged all of my instincts as a mother.
Eighteen years ago, there simply weren’t the extraordinary resources we have today. I spent those sleepless nights reading everything I could find on OCD and related anxiety disorders. We were fortunate that we immediately began treatment with an excellent Exposure Response Prevention (ERP) therapist. However, OCD can be brutal, and it took four rounds of intensive therapy over many years to get onto solid ground. Over those years, it became obvious that the International OCD Foundation( IOCDF) was the most reliable source of information, and it became my trusted resource.
I became the “go-to” mom in our city when other families faced similar OCD challenges. I would share what I had learned and the carefully curated files of articles and resources I had collected. Once my son recovered and went to college, I started a support group for the families of those with OCD that I led for 10 years. During that time, I was also asked to join OCD Jacksonville, an affiliate of The International OCD Foundation. I served with them for eight years, completing my tenure as Vice President and then President.
I was totally passionate about our work, and I am proud of all we accomplished. I feel deeply touched by every sufferer or family member I meet, and I carry their stories in my heart. When I look into the eyes of other moms and dads, I see their pain, worry, and frustration. I find my heart aches with those who suffer from OCD that they are experiencing the same hell I had to watch play out with my beloved child. I have learned something from everyone I have encountered, and those lessons only confirm how much work there is to do for the community I care so deeply for. Shockingly, there is still misinformation, stigma, and difficulty gaining access to evidenced-based care. That is why I want to be one of the soldiers against the tyranny that is OCD.
OCD impacts everyone in its sphere. I’ve seen how vulnerable sufferers and their loved ones become as they navigate the rocky road to treatment, stabilization, and recovery. I know how difficult it is to build a village of support. Each family has to educate their community and schools about OCD and provide accommodations that will allow OCD sufferers to be successful. We also have to battle a healthcare system that makes coverage for OCD treatment difficult or unaffordable. Then the adventure begins to find an ERP treatment provider. If I can provide anyone with the information that will help short-step their journey, I consider it a blessing.
Because I was lucky. We had excellent clinicians, educators, family, and friends who sustained us. I now say I want to be a “mom friend” to all I meet in the OCD Community.
In this season of my life, I want the flexibility to be able to be with family more often, but I also want to be able to advocate from wherever I find myself. In March, I launched my own nonprofit, named after my son, JACK Mental Health Advocacy. I was also asked to be an IOCDF Advocate, to my great joy! I consider it an honor and privilege to serve the IOCDF, the standard-bearer for the entire OCD community. I want to do whatever I can to encourage both sufferers and their families that recovery from OCD is possible. I also exhort Winston Churchill’s mantra about how to win World War II,” Never Never Never Give Up”! When I look at my son now, I know two things, Exposure Response Prevention works, and God hears a mother’s prayers.