OCD Awareness Week, which runs from October 10-16, is meant to increase understanding of obsessive-compulsive disorder while also reducing the stigma associated with this illness. According to the International OCD Foundation, 1 in every 100 adults and 1 in every 200 children have OCD. Even though the phrase “I’m so OCD” is thrown around casually and colloquially, OCD can be a debilitating and devastating disorder.
The most common stereotype of OCD reduces this disorder to the example of someone who repeatedly washes their hands. But OCD consists of many different subtypes, including people who have intrusive thoughts, people who are afraid of harming themselves or others, people who are rigid about strict moral and religious doctrine, and people who obsessively doubt their relationships. These examples capture only a fraction of experiences of OCD. This disorder attaches to what matters most to a person and creates obsessions and doubts related to that very thing.
Stripped to its most basic form, OCD is a disorder that is all about doubt: “What if I didn’t turn off the stove?”, “What if I accidentally ran over someone with my car”, “What if I caught COVID by going to the grocery store?”, or “What if I didn’t pray correctly?”. If you haven’t experienced OCD, imagine being plagued with these types of thoughts day in and day out. Those who suffer from OCD are exhausted by their obsessions and rituals.
I’ve worked with many people who have successfully overcome OCD, and I can say from experience that they are some of the bravest folks I’ve met. Treatment of OCD requires facing one’s greatest fears head on. This year, the International OCD Foundation is running a social media campaign of #chalkituptovalues to encourage people with OCD to identify their life values that help them to push past their obsessions and anxiety. If you live with OCD, what values do you have that help you to keep going every day?
For more information on programs and events running throughout the week, click here.
Bethany Kriegel, LMHC, earned her master’s degree in mental health counseling from Boston College. She has experience working with adults in residential treatment settings, helping those struggling with eating disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorder, among other issues.
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