Gregory Gene Conrad embarked on a courageous mission when he wrote his book, "Fighting the War Against OCD: A Season in the Life of Gregory Gene Conrad." His primary goal was to help people gain a deeper understanding of what it feels like to live with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
“I hope they have some understanding of what it feels like to have OCD… to help them understand what their loved one is going through,” Gregory said.
“That they can understand that what their loved one is going through is real, that it feels real at any rate. And that is it's not some made-up thing,” Gregory elaborated. “That it’s a thing that is real that people are experiencing… it's not this kind of personality kind of choice thing. They're not doing these things because they prefer to do it that way. It's because of the pain behind it,” Gregory said.
Gregory's book details the excruciating nature of OCD, describing the “underlying terror,” that grasps people suffering from the disorder.
Gregory describes his experience of writing the book as “easy in a way,” because he simply conveyed his experiences. “I just was writing about what was happening,” he said. “I just wrote what I was feeling and thinking.”
“I had a lot of people tell me that they really didn't understand it until they read my book. Even people that I had close relationships with that I had explained it to just didn't understand really until they read the book,” Gregory said.
The book is intensely personal, providing readers with a profound insight into Gregory's journey with OCD.
One poignant excerpt shares a triumphant moment where he overcomes a long-standing challenge, emphasizing that life can indeed get better for individuals battling OCD:
The wonderful thing about resistance is there’s a peak battle and then gradually, ever so slowly, a victory. I’ve won that war. I don’t have to have the treaty. I just have to reach the peak intervention. Once the tide turns, it is only a matter of time. I win. Life gets better.
I have had a couple of these victories of late. Last Thursday I learned that my life-long love is engaged … and not to me. I love her more than anybody I’ve ever known. She’s an angel. Unfortunately, it was a long-distance relationship that grew further away because of the OCD. Two years ago I would have been holding a knife to myself. But I looked down at my hands and didn’t see the knife this time.
Last Friday, I received a B+ on a test. Again most people would never understand the kind of anxiety this produces. However, a person with OCD understands. A perfectionist understands how he could go throughout all of middle school, high school, and into college and never receive a grade lower than an A‒ on a test, much less on a report card. He would understand how the sight of an 87 immediately causes breathing to cease, his pulse to rise, and his eyes to cloud with tears that he didn’t order to come. That is me. Yet when I saw that B+ I took a breath and I realized I did my best and for the first time in my life it was good enough.
There is hope. Life can get better. It became better because I swore I “would not go quietly into the night … Today [I] declare [my] independence day!”
Gregory explains that the final quote is from the movie Independence Day.
“Specifically, this quote references the very end of President Whitmore’s (Bill Pullman) rallying speech to the fighter pilots right before they fly off for one last shot at destroying the alien invaders. In the movie, it’s a cry for the right of existence. Here I use it in a similar vein, declaring my right to freedom and existence independent of the rule of OCD; it is my solemn declaration that I too ‘will not go quietly into the night’ (further quoting from said speech).
For Gregory, speaking out about his condition has been an essential part of declaring his independence from the clutches of OCD. He no longer hides his struggles and aims to create awareness and understanding among those who may not grasp the severity of the disorder.
“[My OCD] it's not hidden anymore… overall I'm extremely open about it,” Gregory said.
By sharing his story openly, Gregory hopes to break down the stigma surrounding OCD and offer hope to others who may be experiencing similar struggles. He believes that being candid about his own journey allows him to serve as a spokesperson for OCD and potentially make a positive impact on others' lives.
“I hope to help people. It gives me a kind of sense of competence that when I reach out to others and try to explain the OCD and just kind of become a spokesperson for OCD that good will come out of it,” Gregory said.
Gregory explained that his life “is nothing like I expected it would be when I was young.”
Gregory is a part of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and is deeply driven by his faith. As he explains, “I always really, really wanted and felt motivated to serve a mission.”
A mission refers to a specific period of dedicated service undertaken by young members of the church.
“It just was an enormous part of who I was that, you know, that was my plan,” Gregory explained.
But due to his OCD, Gregory explained “all of those things have gone by the wayside. And I was honorably excused from serving a mission.”
“And my mission wasn't to serve a mission, it was to do this with OCD. So going back, it is the Independence Day thing, it is very freeing to be very open.”
“I really want and need to be successful,” Gregory explained, noting how he seeks to serve others and a greater purpose.
“If it's going to be this way, I just better be able to help in some way… my life needs meaning.”
“That undergirds everything behind the book and speaking to people getting the message out,” Gregory said.
Through his candid storytelling and heartfelt desire to help others, Gregory hopes that his message will reach more people, fostering empathy and understanding for those living with OCD.
“I just would really like the message to get out there more,” Gregory said.
Gregory’s book is available through Amazon. He also recorded an audiobook, which can be found on his website: https://www.gregorygeneconrad.com/book.php.