Strength in Numbers
My name is Chase Godfrey and I have been battling OCD ever since I was a young kid. My earliest memory of OCD I remember was being flooded with the overwhelming feeling of guilt and anxiety for saying a swear word. My friends would tease me occasionally since I would never swear and they finally got me to do it one day in the hockey locker room. I remember being sick to my stomach with racing thoughts, “did I do something horribly wrong?..….Will God ever forgive me for this?…….Does this make me a bad person?” The only thing to alleviate that level of anxiety was confessing and seeking reassurance from my mother. Little did I know, I was feeding the OCD. Over the years it strengthened until I decided to seek help from a licensed psychiatrist trained in the treatment of OCD.
The interesting thing about this disease I have come to learn is that it comes in all different forms and obsessions. While the type is unique and varies from person to person, the main similarity that stays consistent throughout everyone is that there is an obsession followed by a certain ritual or compulsion. For an example, I value being a moral and good person who lives a Godly life. I will be having myself a great day going into work and will have a quick conversation with someone in the kitchen. As I walked away from that conversation, BAM! OCD thought enters trying to convince me in anyway that I may have talked bad about someone at the company, I may have been rude, I may have hurt their feelings in some way by not being attentive enough, etc. OCD does everything in its power to convince me that I am an immoral and ungodly person. Most of the time for the OCD sufferer, OCD presents such a solid case where in we have to give in to our compulsions in order to relieve the distress and level of anxiety. In this particular situation I would engage in mental review in order to bring down the amount of anxiety and review the situation over and over until I can 100% confirm that I was not rude to that person or talking bad about someone. The other compulsion I would give in to is confessing this wrongdoing to a peer or family member. I would have them tell me everything is okay and that I am not a bad person. In addition to those two compulsions I would also succumb to avoidance. I would avoid the situations or interactions with people entirely just so I wouldn’t potentially do something wrong. OCD loves uncertainty and I have learned to sit and accept that uncertainty rather than giving in to my compulsions.
What I have been missing from my treatment is a support group. During my recovery, I have felt crazy and very alone throughout this process. I have always wondered what it would be like to meet and share with another individual who is battling the same disease as me. Although our types and obsessions may differ, everyone might have ideas and suggestions on how to combat them. That is why I am starting this support group called “Strength in Numbers”. OCD is a very powerful enemy that has handcuffed us at many times. For me, individual therapy is not enough. I believe that together as a group we can really beat this thing! I would like to meet every 2 weeks on Thursdays 6-8pm. There is no charge to join the support group. Normally I would provide snacks and refreshments, but due to the COVID-19 circumstance everyone joining will be expected to bring their own. Although group participation is encouraged eventually, it is not required when first joining if you would just like to listen in. If interested send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. I am looking to begin the group sometime in January and yes we will be abiding by social distancing measures and facemask use! The overall format of the group will go as follows….
– 15 minutes: Informal hangout/talk. This is a way for people to connect and get to know one another. Generally, it would be time to get snacks (outside of a pandemic), to get to know people’s interests, hobbies, etc.
– 15 minutes: Introductions/Good News. A time where we can introduce ourselves, our type of OCD, compulsions and rituals we do, and where we are at in our recovery
– 45 minutes: OCD Topic chosen and facilitated by Chase.
– 30 minutes: GOAL groups. Everyone has a GOAL partner to break off into a group with.
– 15 minutes: Wrap up/closing remarks….people can share what they are going to work on (optional)