October 8 - 14, 2012, has been designated OCD Awareness Week. I am grateful to the International Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Foundation's attempt to bring attention to, and to reduce the stigma of, OCD. The IOCDF's mission to educate the public about the true nature of OCD, and its effective treatment, is critical to bringing relief and hope to so many who suffer in shameful secrecy. For several years, I was one of those who kept my pain private for fear of discrimination and rejection. Thankfully, because of great treatment, my life has changed dramatically.
However, every time I am tempted to think that I am really almost done with all of this "OCD stuff," I am reminded that it is a chronic mental illness that I will most likely have to manage for the rest of my days here on earth. For example, this weekend has been a challenge for me. I had the Friday evening purse incident, and I also had contamination difficulties when I checked into a hotel room on Sunday afternoon.
I get frustrated sometimes because I feel like OCD should be mostly background noise at this point in my recovery. I realize that I do need to keep up with my newly acquired anxiety fighting skills. I also must continue performing ERPs as a lifestyle. However, there are some things I can't change, and that includes how much anxiety I feel. Some things will always be hard for me. I accept that. I don't like it, but I accept it. And maybe that is part of OCD awareness. Helping others understand that some parts of life are just difficult to navigate for those of us with anxiety disorders. We certainly don't want to be viewed as less than capable, and yet there is the necessary acknowledgement that at times, a little compassion and patience can go a long way to ease the burden of those living with mental illness.
So here's to awareness of the need for education and proper treatment, for ownership of recovery by the OCD sufferer, and lastly, for the desire and hope of receiving empathy and sensitivity from society for those who live with the daily turmoil of mental illness.