My friend Denis is taking a walk. A long walk. Hundreds and hundreds of miles, in fact.
Like most of us, Denis Asselin walks for health. But he also walks for illness--the severe OCD and BDD that robbed him of his son. And he--and I--would like to challenge YOU to add your footsteps to his in the name of mental health advocacy.
If OCD has ever kept you from chasing your dreams, you need to meet Carol. She hadn't left her hometown in nearly three decades. But the prospect of helping others with OCD, finding the perfect souvenir, and enjoying authentic Chicago deep dish pizza was enough to help her break free. Forever.
We've all heard the old adage: "We help ourselves by helping others."
Turns out it's true.
Experientially, empirically, the proof is there. And I'm determined to spread the word about the power of this process of turning adversity into advocacy through a National Call for A2A Stories. I hope YOU will answer that call! (Read more...)
OCD Awareness Week is almost here. And this year, the International OCD Foundation needs our help spreading a powerful new message. Read on to learn how YOU can give hope to countless people struggling with The Doubting Disease.
Like most people, I am haunted by the chilling mug shot of Arizona shooting suspect Jared Loughner. But I must confess this picture impacts me in another way that I suspect the average viewer wouldn't even consider--one that has nothing to do with the mug shot, itself, and everything to do with the label implicitly attached to it: mentally ill.
Chances are you haven’t heard of many of my favorite authors. None has written a blockbuster, nor even more than a single book. You might, in fact, have some trouble picking up a copy of their works at your local bookstore. But by providing front row access to their struggles and heroic triumphs, they have all taught, enlightened, and inspired countless readers. Each, through his or her intimate storytelling, has changed--and in many cases saved--lives. And what they’ve accomplished you can, as well--even without ever putting pen to paper...
I am just back from Washington, D.C., where for several days I had the pleasure of hanging out with hundreds of fellow OCD washers, checkers, counters, hoarders, and the like.
Insert punch line here. [Oh, admit it, you've got something, right?--maybe a quip about the gallons of Purell floating around a gathering like this? Perhaps some reference to how well-checked our hotel doors and windows must be at night? It's okay: we, too, find the humor in our get-togethers!]
The occasion was this year's annual conference of the International OCD Foundation, a three-day gathering of not only OCD sufferers, but also their family members and a collection of the top OCD specialists in the country. This was my fifth such conference, and I have left each and every one with life-changing lessons that have fueled my recovery. The lesson for me this year could not have been more clear:
When it comes to recovery-from OCD or any other hardship-there is no substitute for friendships forged by common challenges.
If we can think of OCD as an ice cream parlor in which those of us with the disorder wind up, then we can think of the many OCD subtypes as the random ice cream flavors that land in our cones. Many of us have attempted to describe our experiences in this parlor, but for a variety of reasons, reviews of just two of these flavors seem to get all the attention. The two flavors? Hmmm, I suppose we could call them "Check-and-Check-Again Chocolate" and "Scrub, Scrub, Scrub Strawberry." As someone who's been on both sides of the mic (as a news anchor reporting on mental health issues, and an OCD author/spokesperson speaking to the media), I have a few theories about all this...
I'm feeling exceptionally motivated at this moment, exhausted from a long day, anxious about having to come up with just the right words to convey what I hope to here, and yet ready to stay up all night at my computer if necessary to share with you a simple but profound motivation technique--the very same one that has me typing these words right now. I call this technique the Greater Good Perspective Shift, and I think it can change your life. It did mine.
I know a secret--a deeply profound, life-changing secret--one learned through the school of hard knocks in one of its most grueling courses. It is nothing short of the very key to living with uncertainty, this secret. Okay. Here goes: The secret to living with uncertainty is . . .
Ever found yourself stuck in a state of uncertainty? It's a cold, dark place, this Shadow of Doubt, and getting out can be tricky. As those of us with OCD can attest to, there are some very alluring false exits all around you--trapdoors that only take you deeper into The Shadow.
If you ask me, it doesn't take a brain scientist to understand OCD.Okay, technically speaking, it does; and even they--the top neuroscientists in the country--confess to being somewhat perplexed by the structural and functional anomalies of the OCD brain and the reasons for them. Issues with the caudate nucleus? Problems with serotonin reuptake? Lots of still-inconclusive theories floating around.I, myself, don't even pretend to understand any of the brain science behind this disorder. I do, however, have an explanation for the obsessions and compulsions that have plagued me and millions of other people with OCD--an explanation to which any kid who's every spent time on a playground can relate.I say, The source of my OCD is quite simply . . . The Doubt Bully.
What if I misspell a word? What if I write something that proves harmful to someone? What if the germs on my fingers somehow make their way onto my keyboard, through cyberspace, and onto the keyboards of countless readers who then contract some deadly disease I might be carrying?