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The International OCD Foundation is thrilled to announce that Lead Advocate Chris Trondsen, AMFT, APCC will be moving into a new leadership position as the newest member of our Board of Directors!

In addition to be on the Board, Chris also currently serves as the vice president of OCD Southern California and is a leader of the IOCDF’s BDD and LGBTQ+ Special Interest Groups. As a lead advocate of our advocate program, Chris’s passions include expanding BDD awareness and education, addressing LGBTQ+ issues in mental health treatment, and expanding the IOCDF’s services to the young adult community.

Read more about Chris’s story with advocacy and becoming a Board member in his piece “Finding Strength Through Advocacy: IOCDF’s Newest Board Member from our Summer 2022 OCD Newsletter, below:


“He is the worst case of OCD I have ever seen.”

“I can work with him, but it will take about four years to see any progress.”

“He will never hold down a job, so be prepared to have him living with you forever.”

At age 21, these were some of the most devastating words I or my parents had ever heard. Like many of you, the first therapists I sought out used only talk therapy to treat my OCD. After having no success, my mom found a therapist known as the “OCD expert” in our area, who, after discussing my symptoms, told me I would be in therapy for life and could expect minimal results due to the severity of my OCD. This left me with little hope and could have been where my story ended— but it’s not.

A Light in the Dark

I will never forget the day my mom let me know she had found an organization that specialized in providing OCD resources and education. After navigating their website, she felt hopeful and found a nearby provider who specialized in the treatment of OCD. After making a phone call, I was able to start working with a treatment center; after 14 months of consistent care, I went from being housebound and non-functioning to someone ready to take on the world. I began volunteering, found employment, returned to school, and my life started to turn around. The organization my mom had found that led us
to an effective treatment provider, additional resources, and hope was the International OCD Foundation.

Discovering Advocacy

Battling OCD for most of my life forever changed me. After treatment concluded and I began to re-enter life, I realized something was missing. Occasionally, I would reminisce about the first IOCDF Annual OCD Conference I attended. Although my OCD was so severe that I could not attend the entire weekend, one of the talks featured a speaker my age, Dr. Liz McIngvale, and her words moved me. Her recovery story left me with a sense of hope I had not felt before and motivated me to share my story. The first time I officially spoke out about my experience with OCD was on The Montel Williams Show, a nationally syndicated talk show; it felt like an opportunity to offer hope to the suffering. I went on to share my story on multiple media platforms and eventually became a part of the IOCDF Speaker’s Bureau. My first opportunity as part of the Bureau was to share my story at the Annual OCD Conference. It proved to be an amazing way to connect with others who experienced similar struggles while offering hope to the community! From there I went on to visit different parts of the US to educate various audiences on the disorder.

Working with the IOCDF became a big part of my life; one of the highlights of my year was attending the annual conference. At one of the Conferences, other young adults with OCD and I were discussing how much we enjoyed the event but felt it was missing talks geared toward our age group. So, we proposed a talk that explicitly addressed the unique challenges a young adult with OCD faces — and it was accepted! And so the “Young Adult Track” was born to address life transitions that impact individuals aged 18 to 30, such as starting college, moving out on one’s own, and landing that first professional job — all while balancing an OCD diagnosis. The Young Adult Track is still part of the conference to this day, and it reminds me that the IOCDF listens to their community members and works hard to provide the resources they need.

Coming Full Circle

The more I became involved in advocacy, the more I realized there was a lack of providers who specialized in the treatment of OCD. I heard so many stories similar to mine — of people spending years in ineffective treatment. I heard from parents whose children had lost all hope and refused therapy because of the poor treatment they had received. Through my advocacy work with the IOCDF, I felt inspired to become a clinician specializing in OCD treatment to help fill a need. I returned to school, and the work I was doing with the IOCDF helped me get into a competitive graduate school program. I went on to graduate and become an OCD specialist — a full-circle moment for me. Not long after, my mom and I helped the IOCDF establish an affiliate in Southern California to address the needs of our local
OCD community and bring the IOCDF’s education and resources to “SoCal.” Today, Melissa Mose, LMFT, is president, I serve as vice president, and my mom remains an active member of the board.

Passion Projects

In 2018, the IOCDF asked me to become part of their ambassador program, allowing me to take my advocacy to the next level. I once again felt honored to be part of an organization that values my feedback. Recently, I was promoted to become one of the foundation’s Lead Advocates. With the pandemic creating difficulties for so many in the OCD community, this new position allowed me to spread hope across international and national media platforms, including NBC, Buzzfeed, and Vox, and on weekly IOCDF livestreams alongside Dr. Liz McIngvale. In this role, I have found passion in helping a new generation of young adults with OCD and BDD (with which I am also diagnosed) thrive. As a gay male with OCD, I am proud to have helped coalesce the foundation’s LGBTQ Special Interest Group.

The Board, and Beyond

What I love about this organization is that they have embraced those things about me that, for so long, I
had so much embarrassment about. I always struggled with having a mental health diagnosis, the way I looked (because of BDD), and my sexual orientation. These things that I was ashamed of and hid from so many for a long time are among the reason the IOCDF has asked me to become a board member.

This new position is an absolute honor and means so much, because it allows me to thrive and highlight the very things I once kept buried. To you, the OCD community, I make this promise: As a board member, I will do everything I can to ensure that this organization continues to provide you with education, resources, research, and community. I am an individual with OCD just like you, and I look forward to your feedback — because this organization thrives thanks to you. I look forward to seeing you all at the Annual OCD Conference in Denver this July.

— Chris Trondsen, AMFT, APCC

Summer 2022 OCD Newsletter, Volume 6, Number 2

Comments

  • Christine Henderson

    Thank you for sharing your story. It’s so good to have someone in your position who knows all about ocd and the other issues. It’s great that you have such passion to help others. I can imagine how it feels to openly talk about the health issues you hid. I also hid my ocd from even close family for 40 years but lately I have started mentioning it a bit more. When I first got ocd in 1980 not a great deal was known about it and nobody told me it was an anxiety illness, so I was concentrating on stopping the compulsions rather than the reason. I have also had awful therapy, one psychiatrist was half asleep he was so old another like a mad professor and a therapist who said I’ve got to stop doing these things, so I had also given up. Reading your story, of how bad you were has given hope again. Thank you.
    Christine Henderson. North Wales UK.

    Reply

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