My name is Shaun Daniel Carl Flores, UK-based and 28 years old. I am a mental health activist and advocate especially for those with OCD. My OCD diagnosis earlier this year turned my world upside down. Depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation were my companions for a series of months. I now have turned my pain into my passion. I am passionate about increasing awareness of OCD and having more people from ethnic communities speak about their OCD.
OCD made me believe I was a rapist, suicidal and gay. I live with two types of OCD, sexual orientation OCD (SO-OCD) and harm OCD. For years I was unaware that the thoughts I was having could ever be OCD. Upon my diagnosis, I had answers that allowed me to delve deeper into the OCD community and the world of mental health. My therapist helped to give me my life back and I want to be able to help others do the same.
OCD as a space is heavily saturated with white voices and white faces. I want to change this and help encourage the black community to speak up, therefore diversifying the people who represent OCD. As a Black British young man, we have different struggles than in America and other parts of the world. We remain unified in our struggle through the common identity of being black, which comes with many disadvantages and advantages.
At the worst of my OCD, I saw no one black speak about OCD, except this man Duke Al Durham. Now adding myself to the equation that makes two of us which is shocking for a mental illness that does not discriminate as to who suffers and lives with it. Type in Black British with OCD and it shows just how small and untapped the conversation is in the UK amongst my community.
Whilst writing and speaking on OCD I read Black American Celebrities and Notables with OCD and realised there were other black people with OCD! J. Cole and Kelly Rowland are some famous celebrities to name a few! I know for sure there are more of us there in hiding and undiagnosed and as correctly put “A Hidden Population”.
As a result of the poor representation I have created a WhatsApp group for black people which now currently sits at thirteen of us which sounds like a tiny amount, but a change is coming as sung by Sam Cooke. When people like myself speak out it carries immense weight, from telling my story my burden is halved. I have now willingly picked up a new responsibility to be the change I wanted to see when I was at the height of my OCD breakdown.
Activism/advocacy has been a core tenant in my recovery from OCD. I lived in such dreaded shame from the thoughts I had with OCD, now I laugh at the thoughts. Writing and speaking has been cathartic experience. I promised to keep telling my truth and using my lived experience to speak unapologetically, unashamed and relentlessly in the pursuit of a world better for those with OCD.
Since my advocacy/activism inception I have written over 20 articles, some can be found here: The Metro, Inews, Screenshot Media, Treat My OCD, Black Minds Matter UK, Disability Expo & MQ Mental Health Research.
I have also appeared on TheOCD stories podcast, The Panic Podcast, Happiful MagazinePodcast and All Things Hard Podcast to name a few. I refuse to not spread the message of OCD awareness. Even the BBC covered my OCD story on https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m001gc7b alongside Nick Sireau, founder of Orchard OCD.
After my appearance on Channel 4’s Unapologetic chat show hosted by Yinka Bokinni and Zeze Millz, countless people reached out telling me their stories and it has reinforced to me why I will continue and how I’ve made it my mission to use my social media influence to raise awareness about OCD. I want to continue being the right influence on society, not a fraudulent social media influence.
Within my 2023 vision, I am aiming to deliver a third TEDx talk to help raise awareness of OCD, and in turn, raise funds for a mental illness which remains severely underfunded and under-researched. I have had two previous TEDx Talks, TEDx 2022 & TEDx 2018. In the UK only 89p is spent on research on OCD, yet 1 in 100 people have OCD. This is appalling and I will look to change this with all of your support.
If you are from communities that do not speak about OCD, just know you are not alone. I would love to hear from you, please get help. You are not alone, you are never alone.
OCD was the worst thing to ever happen to me. I vow to continue being the worst thing to happen to OCD.