Though this is my first post for OCD Reflections, I have been an advocate for OCD awareness for about seven years now. Given the name of this blog, I’ve recently been reflecting on these past years:
Does the general public understand obsessive-compulsive disorder and its proper treatment more than it did seven years ago? Indeed, do those whose lives have been directly affected by OCD have this understanding?
And what about health-care providers? If you take your child to his or her pediatrician and are given a diagnosis of OCD, are you promptly referred to a competent therapist who uses exposure and response prevention (ERP) therapy? Or are you steered in the wrong direction? If you are lucky enough to find proper treatment, is it easily accessible geographically and financially?
Are we comfortable talking about obsessive-compulsive disorder, easily informing others that we, or perhaps someone we care about, deals with the disorder? Are we open about OCD, or any mental health issue for that matter, at our schools or workplaces, with no worry about any backlash or stigma?
The questions go on and on.
And the answers?
Certainly opinions will vary, depending on each person’s own experiences and views. I do feel as if progress is being made, little by little, in the general public’s understanding of OCD. Countless blog posts and articles have been written decrying the use of the phrase, “I’m so OCD,” in reference to neatness or quirks. Mainstream television and movies have gotten better at accurately depicting OCD, or at the very least, not misrepresenting it.
In the health-care department, I’m not so sure. Almost daily I hear from people who have suffered with obsessive-compulsive disorder for years, and are still searching for the right treatment. They’ve been on all kinds of medication, yet have never even heard of exposure and response prevention (ERP) therapy, which is the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) recommended by the American Psychological Association for the treatment of OCD. This boggles my mind. There is a shortage of qualified therapists, and even if they can be found, they are not affordable to many.
And the stigma surrounding OCD and other brain disorders? Unfortunately, I believe it is alive and well.
We still have so far to go in the world of OCD awareness and advocacy. Which makes me reflect once again:
How can we best advocate for OCD awareness and acceptance? What can we actually DO?
Again, answers will vary from person to person. I personally will continue to do what I’ve been doing for the past seven years – writing, speaking, sharing my family’s story, and having conversations with anyone who will listen about what obsessive-compulsive disorder really is. How it is not cute or quirky, but rather an often devastating disorder with the potential to destroy lives. How people who live with it are some of the most courageous, kind, and caring people I’ve ever met. How we have to do everything we possibly can to educate others about OCD and get the word out about proper treatment, because one of the best-kept secrets about obsessive-compulsive disorder just might be that it is very treatable, and those who are suffering now can go on to live wonderful lives.
I hope you’ll join me! Welcome to OCD Reflections.