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Will you be joining us for the 26th Annual OCD Conference in Austin, TX? We asked Narisa Trammell of Visit Austin to share what makes Austin such a unique and exciting city to visit. Read her article below and start planning your trip!

By Narisa Trammell

As a native Texan, a local and a proud representative of Visit Austin, I’m thrilled to welcome the 26th Annual OCD Conference to the capital of Texas! Austin is one of the country’s most popular cities – one which has the ability to appeal to a diverse set of interests. Austin is down-home, yet sophisticated. Laid-back and bustling with energy. Traditional and avant-garde. Austinites (as the locals are known) and visitors alike embrace the city’s unique identity and appreciate the values it was founded upon.

I had the pleasure of attending the 25th Annual OCD Conference last July in Washington, D.C. and found it to be one of the most amazing experiences of my life. After chatting with fellow exhibitors, getting to know attendees, and hearing many of your stories, I am so excited to be able to introduce you to this great city. My goal is to make your time in Austin one of the most memorable experiences of your lives.

Getting to Know Austin

As the Live Music Capital of the World,® Austin echoes with the sounds of country, rock, blues, and Tejano. Fans discover live music in nearly 250 venues throughout the city. This small university town where Willie Nelson crafted his own style has become a big city with a glittering skyline and two million people in the metropolitan area.

If you have the time, I highly recommend exploring our live music scenelocal restaurantsentertainment districts, shopping, and our beautiful outdoors.

As the gateway to the Texas Hill Country, with rolling hills and wide-open landscapes, Austin has been called a “hymn to the outdoors.” Surrounded by three lakes and dozens of parks, Austin offers the perfect environment for enjoying the best of nature. Speaking of nature, did you know Austin is home to Mexican free-tailed bats? Just before sunset, you can watch them head out into the night sky. And since you’ll be visiting in the middle of summertime, be sure to beat the heat by visiting one of our natural, local swimming holes.

Visit Barton Springs PoolDeep Eddy Pool, Hamilton Pool Preserve in Dripping Springs, or extend your weekend and make the 45-mile trek to Schlitterbahn, a family-friendly water park in New Braunfels, Texas. You also can’t go wrong with a frozen, sweet treat from Amy’s Ice Cream Shops or Sno Beach Austin.

If staying indoors is more your style, don’t miss our fabulous museums. Immerse yourself in Texas history at the Texas State Capitol or the Bullock Museum of Texas State History, get presidential at the LBJ Presidential Library, or catch a movie in the birth city of Alamo Drafthouse at one of our six theaters.

Exploring the Conference Hotel

This year’s host hotel, the JW Marriott Austin, brings an unparalleled upscale hotel experience to downtown Austin. Situated in the heart of the city, this sprawling urban resort features the largest guest rooms in Austin with floor to ceiling windows, seven bars, three restaurants, Starbucks, the posh Spa by JW, the brand-new Edge Pool Bar & Cabanas, and the ever-popular Burger Bar, a food truck without wheels. JW Marriott Austin is a 2018 TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence Award winner and only a 15-minute drive from Austin International Airport.

Planning Your Trip

Whatever your interests, preferences, or budget, Austin has something for everyone.

Don’t miss out on special discounts with our Austin Insider Deals. And don’t forget to check out the Austin Visitor Center, where you can take one of our fabulous tours and pick up a souvenir to take a piece of Austin home with you.

Experience all things Austin at VisitAustin.org.

Interested in attending the 26th Annual OCD Conference?

To learn more about the 26th Annual OCD Conference, taking place in Austin, TX from July 19-21, click here.

The post Visit Austin for the 26th Annual OCD Conference! appeared first on International OCD Foundation.

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This story is part of our blog series called “Stories from the OCD Community.”  Stories from the community are submitted and edited by Toni Palombi. If you are interested in sharing your story you can view submission details at www.iocdf.org/ocd-stories.

I was three months old when I had my first open heart surgery. The second came when I was six, the third when I was eleven. I was born with something called truncus arteriosus, a rare heart condition requiring continual replacement of one of my heart valves. This became the norm for me, a scared kid dealing with repeated medical trauma, and from that trauma came obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), though I wouldn’t realize it until much later.

As a kid, I always had this underlying urge to count in my head: counting objects, grouping things in numerical categories, or just counting upwards for no reason. My mind always seemed too busy, full of conflicting thoughts and ideas, not all of them pleasant or rational. And I might check things, but only briefly, fleetingly. These compulsions and intrusive thoughts were mostly just background noise until I was much older, had graduated college, and was beginning to feel lost without that sense of structure school provides.

Then my dog died.

My parents gave me a dog shortly after my third major surgery, to give me someone to love, a way to heal. Louie the pug was my constant companion for almost fifteen years, then one day he got sick and didn’t get better. We choose to put him to sleep.

Several months before Louie fell ill we had gotten two more pugs, then just tiny pups. Louie’s passing became a trigger for me, and my latent obsessive compulsiveness quickly turned into a severe condition. I became obsessed with keeping these new dogs safe from any potential threat, no matter how absurd or unlikely. I would meticulously, laboriously check everything from the stove to the front door and the gate in the back yard, to make sure they couldn’t get out and disappear forever, or get hit by a car. I tried to limit the time and energy I spent checking, but it only increased, until at the height of my struggles I was spending about four hours every night checking at least a dozen different items and objects, dogs included.

It was at that point I realized I had a serious issue. The logical part of my brain told me a “normal” person wouldn’t struggle like this, could easily check things if they felt the need to, then just as easily walk away without agonizing like I was. Then I did something very difficult: I told my parents I needed to see a therapist, and asked for financial help. They agreed.

My parents have always been supportive, were there for me through each of my surgeries, for every checkup and echocardiogram I had as a child. They saw me struggling with OCD, saw it begin to take over my life, and once more stepped in to help. Yet unlike all the other times my parents had helped me, this time was different: I had to ask for help. This wasn’t easy—far from it—but I saw how I was “living,” saw how much the anxiety and thoughts and compulsions really were taking over my life, and I knew the worst thing I could do was nothing at all. So, I asked for help.

That was three years ago, and I’ve since worked with several therapists, and continue to do so. I’ve learned much about OCD and post-traumatic stress disorder relative to me, my challenges and experiences. I realized that I’d been obsessively trying to protect the dogs because losing Louie hurt so damn much, and I wanted to keep them safe as a way of protecting myself from the possibility of further pain and loss.

I wish I could say that OCD is a minor part of my life now, but the truth is I’m still working on managing it. Therapy has benefitted me greatly. I’ve learned much about myself in the process, why I do these things, strategies to respond and cope. Being able to stop and walk away from the thing I’m worried about and just feel the fear that comes up is something I’m actively working on. I still struggle with anxiety and uncertainty. They say that dealing with OCD comes through learning to accept that uncertainty, which sounds simple, but may actually be the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Which is where the issue of self-trust comes into play.

There are always those moments when new challenges pop up, and life slides sideways. Just recently, I was hospitalized for sepsis, which inevitably brought up past trauma, yet also put me in a position where I had no choice but to trust myself. Because of my heart condition, I had to undergo a rigorous home infusion program after I was discharged.There I was, working with an IV at home, doing infusions every six hours for almost a month. The fearful thoughts crept in: What if I missed an infusion, damaged my heart, or accidentally contaminated the IV line and got infected all over again?

Despite my fear and self-doubt, I kept going, two grams of ampicillin at a time, until I’d done over one hundred infusions, and completed the program. Throughout all this, I was able to trust myself just enough to get to the next infusion, and the next one, gradually realizing that overcoming OCD requires a combination of accepting uncertainty, finding support and guidance in friends, family, and therapists, and finally, being able to show up and support oneself, to really trust that you can do it.

I have good days and bad days, moments of ease and moments of panic and uncertainty. But for the first time in a long while, I feel like I’m on a path, actually headed somewhere, hopefully somewhere good.

Kai is a writer from Tucson, Arizona who lives with two pugs and a hyperactive but well-meaning brain. He hasn’t yet fully conquered obsessive compulsiveness, but believes he’s headed in the right direction. His work has previously been published in Cornell’s Ezra’s Archives and Rainy Day, as well as numerous other literary publications.

The post Just One More Time, I Swear appeared first on International OCD Foundation.

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Spenser Gabin (far right) speaking on a panel at the 25th Annual OCD Conference

Spenser Gabin is a videographer living in California. Inspired by attending the Annual OCD Conference, he is planning to go to school this fall to become an OCD specialist.

About two years, I first came across the IOCDF through a video they posted on Facebook featuring Dr. Jonathan Grayson. Dr. Grayson’s book, Freedom from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: A Personalized Recovery Program for Living with Uncertainty, was instrumental in my recovery from OCD. I wanted to make a contribution to the OCD community, so I decided to contact the organization to see if they were interested in having professional videos made at their annual conference. They were interested and I have had the pleasure of attending and making videos at both conferences the last two years - in San Francisco in 2017 and Washington D.C. in 2018.

While I was excited to attend my first conference, I was slightly apprehensive because I didn’t know anyone and I wondered if anyone else would understand my particular issues. I thought I was somewhat unusual in that I had doubts about whether I really had OCD or whether my case was severe enough to justify going to an OCD conference in which I would present myself as an OCD sufferer. I have since learned that these doubts are not unusual. In fact, this past year, I spoke on a panel at the conference with Stuart Ralph, Chrissie Hodges, and Alison Dotson in which we discussed this particular doubt.

While Grayson’s book provided the intellectual and theoretical foundation in my recovery, the emotional component has come largely from my connection to other sufferers and the sense of understanding that such connections provide. When I spoke on that panel, I felt completely understood in a way that is unparalleled by any other setting. I found that it was much easier to be vulnerable when I was in a group and in an environment where people were likely to be empathetic. It was incredibly rewarding when people approached me after the panel and shared that my story had helped them or might be helpful for a loved one. In my conversations with other sufferers at the conference, there has been such a strong sense of understanding that is extremely difficult to find anywhere else. The conference gives you an opportunity to get to know people on a deeper level and it’s especially fun to leave the hotel and hang out in more casual settings.

Perhaps due to stereotypical portrayals of OCD, I admit to having had a skewed view of what “typical” OCD sufferers were like. I saw myself as a departure from this “typical” sufferer and was thus concerned that I would not fit in at the conference. Again, this was proven to be misguided through my experience interacting with other sufferers. I met many people who had extremely similar obsessions and compulsions (my compulsions are almost exclusively mental, which I assumed was rare or some kind of outlier case, this is yet another misconception which was disabused by the conference) and found tremendous relief in their sense of understanding and camaraderie in our collective struggle and recovery.

These relationships also elicit the common sense of humanity behind mental health issues. It is one thing to consider the abstraction created by a statistic in a psychopathology textbook; it is another to realize that everyone battling mental illness has their own particular background, personality, and complexity that cannot be summarized or understood by any particular diagnosis or data set. We may have OCD, but we are much more than OCD.

It has been a pleasure to meet so many OCD professionals through the process of making videos at both conferences. The opportunity to talk to them one-on-one and develop those relationships has been extremely satisfying. In fact, it was a large influence in my decision to change career paths and become an OCD specialist (I plan on beginning graduate school in the fall). In particular, Jon Hershfield’s experience as both a specialist and sufferer has been especially inspiring.

In our increasingly digitized world, the IOCDF’s conference is a wonderful opportunity to put away your screens and focus on the people right in front of you. While it can be nice to connect with people through online forums, nothing beats sharing physical space with people who understand you. While the panels and presentations at the conference are diverse and well-executed, the most satisfying aspect of it is connecting with people outside of any formal structure. The atmosphere at the conference is extremely accepting and there is no pressure to attend any particular speaker or panel. If you would rather just sit outside the hotel and chat with a new friend, that is perfectly acceptable and even encouraged.

All in all, the conference is a wonderful experience that can only truly be had once a year. I highly recommend it to anyone looking to connect with others who will understand their struggle with OCD.

Interested in attending the 26th Annual OCD Conference?

To learn more about the 26th Annual OCD Conference, taking place in Austin, TX from July 19-21, click here.

The post Finding Inspiration at the Annual OCD Conference, By Spenser Gabin appeared first on International OCD Foundation.

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by Alice Franklin

This story is part of our blog series called “Stories from the OCD Community.”  Stories from the community are submitted and edited by Toni Palombi. If you are interested in sharing your story you can view submission details at www.iocdf.org/ocd-stories.

For as long as I can remember, I have had obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Going to bed as a little girl was a time-consuming ordeal. I would be tucked in by my mum and dad, and upon them leaving me to head off into the land of nod, I would get up again, close the door just so, turn the CD player on and off 17 times and check under my bed 17 times. I would meticulously line up my toys so each of them had an equal amount of space, and then eventually go to sleep, much later than my parents ever realised.

OCD wasn’t just there in the night, of course. It followed me around in the day, too. Every time I would walk into a room, I would check the corner for spiders, check under the table for spiders, check under the seats for spiders. It wasn’t that I was a crippling arachnophobe, it was more that spiders were wrong, weren’t meant to be there, had to be removed.

OCD wasn’t just there when I was a child, either. It followed me into adulthood, taking a more pernicious form; I found myself losing control of my thoughts entirely, my mind being completely absorbed by my obsessions, even if the compulsions had calmed down a little.

For me, OCD feels like you’re not in control of your brain. Intrusive thoughts – vivid, visual images of the most horrendous things – plague me on a daily basis. I pick up a knife to chop an onion and see myself stabbing someone. I pick up a cup of tea and see myself throwing it on someone. I stand on the Tube platform and see myself pushing someone onto the tracks.

The questions I ask myself whilst thinking these thoughts do not help matters at all: What kind of person could conjure up such ideas? What if I did act upon these images? What if these things are what I subconsciously want to do? The questions only lead me around in circles, and fuel the intrusive thoughts until they return with a dizzying ferocity.

Ruminations over past events play in my mind so loudly it’s almost as though they’re audible. A constant soundtrack to my days, it’s as though I’m listening to the same song on repeat for years, only the song is a hellish event from my past and it accompanies me from the second I open my eyes to the second I finally manage to close them at night.

The questions I ask myself during my ruminations are not helpful: What if I said something differently? What if I did something differently? What if it had never happened at all? The questions only lead me around in circles, and fuel more ruminations.

Right now, my OCD is just about under control. Yes, thoughts still intrude. Yes, I still ruminate. But the intrusions and ruminations are muted somehow. I am on 150mg of sertraline and have educated myself on unhelpful thought patterns.

For now, I am just grateful for the quieter spell, but nevertheless irritated when people laugh off OCD as a personality quirk, when it’s dismissed as something everyone “is a little bit of,” when it’s aligned with being meticulous, organised, a perfectionist – qualities anyone could put down on a CV, rather than what it is: a horrible condition that requires treatment, support and empathy.

These misconceptions about OCD need to change. It’s about time OCD was taken seriously, because what it is, is no fun at all.

Alice Franklin is a writer who has Tourette syndrome and OCD. She writes at a leisurely pace, runs at a leisurely pace, and hammocks at leisurely pace. Previously, her work has appeared in two Spanish short story anthologies, Liars’ League, and the Financial Times. She blogs about OCD, autism and Tourette’s here and you can follow her on Twitter here

The post What it feels like to live with OCD appeared first on International OCD Foundation.

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For years, the International OCD Foundation has offered the chance to become a part of a unique community and to support us in providing resources, research, and respect to all those impacted by OCD and related disorders. Our membership base is comprised of individuals with OCD, their family members, friends, and supporters, as well as mental health professionals who treat OCD and related disorders. Our members take action and help to reduce the stigma associated with mental health conditions by speaking out against misconceptions and myths surrounding OCD and challenging the oftentimes misrepresented statement, “I’m so OCD.”

We value our membership and hope you do too! Here are the benefits of the various types of membership with the IOCDF (some of which are new!):

Community Membership - $25

Foundation Membership – $55

  • Discounted registration at the Annual OCD Conference, taking place July 19-21, 2019 in Austin, TX! NEW! Now only one membership is needed per household for each family member to receive the discounted rate.
  • Subscription to the quarterly OCD Newsletter (print or digital).
  • Email news and updates from the IOCDF (opt-out available).
  • NEW! Access to the members-only OCD Newsletter Archive.

Student/Trainee Membership - $50
All benefits of the Foundation Membership level, as well as:

  • Eligibility for Annual OCD Conference Travel Awards & Scholarships with the submission of a research poster.
  • Discounted registration to the Annual OCD Conference, as well as an invitation to the Professional Networking Luncheon at the Conference.
  • COMING SOON: Access to an invite-only Student/Trainee member platform for networking and job opportunities.

Professional Membership – $150
All benefits of the Foundation Membership level, as well as:

  • Your clinical services listed in the IOCDF Resource Directory.
  • Discounted registration to the Annual OCD Conference, including CE/CME credit, with the discount extending to your entire household.
  • Eligibility to attend IOCDF’s Training Institute programs, including the Behavior Therapy Training Institute (BTTI).
  • The ability for researchers to advertise IRB-approved studies on the IOCDF website and in the quarterly OCD Newsletter.
  • NEW! The ability to advertise professional job opportunities on the IOCDF website.
  • NEW! Discounts on print and digital subscriptions to the Journal of Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders.

We strive to keep our membership options affordable for all those in the community, but we (like others) sometimes have to increase membership prices in order to allow us to continue to offer great benefits to our members and vital resources to our community.

While the prices will remain the same for the Community and Student/Trainee Membership (at $25/year and $50/year respectively) we are raising the membership dues for Foundation Members and Professional Members ($50 to $55/year for Foundation Members and $125 to $150 for Professional Members). Of note, our last membership increase was in 2014!

We thank you for your continued support of the International OCD Foundation (IOCDF) and welcome any feedback you may have about these changes. Please feel free to get in touch with us at membership@iocdf.org.

The post An Update on Membership Options with the IOCDF appeared first on International OCD Foundation.

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International OCD Foundation Blog by International Ocd Foundation - 2M ago

This story is written by Alyssa King for her daughter Bella as a part of our Spring Inspiration Campaign. Donate and share your story of who inspires you at iocdf.org/inspire

Bella King

My inspiration is my daughter, Bella. As an 11-year-old with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), Bella has had to deal with more than any child her age should. Yet, she works unbelievably hard to manage her condition and does so with a positive attitude and an amazing sense of humor.

It’s hard to believe that just a short time ago, my family was drowning under the weight of what we now know to be OCD. The therapist we were seeing at the time didn’t properly diagnose or treat Bella, instead encouraging her to turn her “cloudy thoughts” into “sunshine thoughts.” Her symptoms continued to snowball out of control, until we found ourselves in a psychiatric emergency room, where we first heard the words that would change the course of our lives: “Your daughter is showing signs of OCD.”

Bella was diagnosed with OCD in the summer of 2017, but she suffered for more than six months prior because her symptoms weren’t recognized as being a form of OCD. There was no compulsive hand washing, the lights in our house weren’t flipped on and off incessantly, her room wasn’t neat and organized – often what we think of as “typical” OCD symptoms. Instead, Bella suffered from disturbing and distressing intrusive thoughts and compulsions to confess these thoughts and seek reassurance.

Bella in a school play

My heart breaks thinking of the months Bella suffered, but I know that we were lucky. For many people, it can take years to get the correct diagnosis and even longer to find a qualified therapist. This is what inspired Bella and our family to become outspoken advocates for OCD awareness and the IOCDF. Together, we have created fun and educational videos about her experience with OCD, some of which have been viewed 7,000+ times on Facebook. Bella has written articles about OCD for our local paper, created mental health awareness wristbands, and spoken at her school about what OCD really is. Last fall, our family participated in the IOCDF Mental Health Advocacy Capital Walk in D.C., which provided us with the opportunity to meet others who know exactly what it’s like to live under the shadow of OCD.

We are all so grateful for the work the IOCDF does to increase awareness and access to effective treatment so families like ours get the resources they need. Please make your donation to the support the IOCDF today.

We want to know who inspires you! Share your story by visiting iocdf.org/inspire or filling out the form below. Alyssa and Bella King

Sincerely,
Alyssa King

The post Who Inspires You? appeared first on International OCD Foundation.

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by Rachel

This story is part of our blog series called “Stories from the OCD Community.”  Stories from the community are submitted and edited by Toni Palombi. If you are interested in sharing your story you can view submission details at www.iocdf.org/ocd-stories.

When I was six years old, I wanted to be a veterinarian when I grew up. When I was thirteen years old, I wanted to become a lawyer.

When I was sixteen years old, I told my therapist that I was afraid I wanted to become a murderer.

I remember when this thought first appeared a few months earlier. I was in the bathroom; I was in tears, afraid to move. I had to force myself to not repeatedly shower in order to decontaminate myself. I wanted to scream. When I stepped out the shower, I found my towel on the floor close to the toilet. As I leaned down to pick it up, my mind rushed with thoughts:

What if my hair fell into the toilet when I leaned down to pick up the towel? Oh my gosh, there’s toilet water all over my hair. There might be E. coli in the toilet water. I’m going to spread E. coli and people will become ill. No, they’ll do more than just get sick; they’ll die. I’ll be killing people; I’ll be a murderer. I want to be a murderer.

Once this line of thinking started that night, it stuck with me. My purpose in life became avoiding situations where I could pick up E. coli infections. My obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) quickly decided that E. coli could be spread by my own bodily fluids. I created elaborate bathroom routines that took longer than an hour. I had to shower after going to the bathroom. I had to wash my hands for almost thirty minutes after touching dirty laundry or going to the bathroom. I would spend hours researching E. coli and looking at obituaries of people who died from E. coli, trying to find out if I was responsible for their deaths. Eventually, it got to the point where I was so scared of going to the bathroom that I started severely restricting food and liquids. I began to drink only three sips of water a day and eat one meal.

OCD took control of my life: I spent countless hours every day on obsessions and rituals. I could not focus in class because of the thoughts racing through my mind. As I was eating and drinking so little, I felt extremely dehydrated and tired. Several months later, my parents and therapist made the decision to take me out of school for a while to receive treatment. I left boarding school and engaged in intensive therapy sessions a couple of times a week. Nevertheless, the thoughts still lingered:

You know that you are a murderer. If you decide to eat and drink, you will kill innocent people. Do you know how many people die each time you go to the bathroom? If you really cared about other people, you would never eat or drink.

I was so fused with these OCD thoughts that I followed them completely. I saw OCD as the one thing in life keeping me from harming others. I felt hopeless.

Finally, at the end of November 2018, I was admitted at McLean’s OCD Institute for Children and Adolescents. After months of horrendous struggling, I began to receive the support and treatment I needed. During this time, I learned how to diffuse from my thoughts in order to get some space. As I wrote down my thoughts each day, I began to see them as just thoughts, separate from myself. This realization made it easier for me to fight the OCD. Slowly but surely, I was able to eat and drink more and my rituals decreased. I began to sit with my thoughts more instead of pushing them away. I finally gained some freedom from the OCD.

Today, I still struggle with OCD. I still have the same thoughts of infecting others with E. coli; however, now, I recognize the thoughts as the OCD. I know that these thoughts might stay with me for a long time, but I now know how to fight them.

Rachel is seventeen years old and lives in Maryland. She has lived with OCD since she was five and is still working toward complete recovery.

The post Fighting OCD as a Teenager appeared first on International OCD Foundation.

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by Rissa Roo

This story is part of our blog series called “Stories from the OCD Community.”  Stories from the community are submitted and edited by Toni Palombi. If you are interested in sharing your story you can view submission details at www.iocdf.org/ocd-stories.

While my mom and I were in a beauty parlor, the beautician told my mom that her facials take longer than normal because she is a “perfectionist.”

My mom motioned toward me, “My daughter’s like that too.” When she looked over at me and saw my annoyance, my mom quickly added, “Well you are, we all have our little tics.”

I was annoyed that my mom was sharing details about my personal life with strangers. I was also annoyed because I felt that the beautician was using her idea of perfectionism as a selling tactic. I wanted to say that having obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) was not what this person was referring to, and it is certainly not the same as having “little tics.”

Originally, I planned to use this story to write about how we could be more understanding of people’s conditions and not minimize what others are going through (which is what I felt my mom was doing). Then I realized there are many more important takeaways from this story.

First, I could be wrong about the beautician; she may also struggle with OCD.

Secondly, while I felt my mom was minimizing my condition, I could have appreciated that she didn’t see it as shameful to mention I had tics. It’s really rather encouraging that she saw a beautiful young woman who clearly applied herself to her work and thought she had something in common with her daughter.

Both of these routes would have had the effect of making me feel just as human and flawed as the next person.

However, the most important thing I learned from this interaction was: the importance of forgiveness.

I need to forgive my mother for not understanding exactly what if feels like to live with OCD, after all – how could she? Instead of feeling frustrated by my mom’s comment, I am committed to finding joy in the fact that she wasn’t ashamed of me and gratitude for the chance to spend the day shopping with my beautifully flawed mother who lives halfway across the country.

I am also committed to forgiving myself: for feeling annoyed, for compulsive skin picking, for checking the stove too many times, for worrying that I need to turn myself into the police for bumping a stranger on the train. I will never be perfect, nor will my mom, or the beautician, or anyone else for that matter. The sooner I can remember that, the sooner I can forgive myself for having OCD, which may be just what I need to beat it.

 

Rissa Roo works in the hustle and bustle of Manhattan. She has a love-hate relationship with public transportation and in her free time can be found biking, hiking, or reading the most eccentric book she can find.  

The post The Spaciousness of Forgiveness appeared first on International OCD Foundation.

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January 2019 Edition
Spotlight is our monthly email series that gives our readers regular updates on OCD and related disorders research and news. Enjoy reading the January edition here on our blog, and if you would like to get the next update in your inbox, please click here!
Making Headlines
A roundup of recent stories from journalists, advocates, and researchers across the web.

4 Days of Intensive Therapy Can Reverse OCD for Years
By Diana Kwon
Scientific American
The Bergen four-day treatment for OCD concentrates exposure therapy into an intense, multi-day format that is showing promising results for patients and is attracting significant, international attention. For more info about the four-day treatment method, check out our OCD Newsletter article co-authored by Drs. Gerd Kvale and Bjarne Hansen.

Life After, Life After OCD
By Ethan S. Smith
IOCDF.org Blog
What happens when OCD is no longer the biggest challenge you face in your day to day life? After successful treatment, does life become easy, with OCD mere background noise rather than the seemingly immovable barrier that it was once before? In this blog post, IOCDF Ambassador Ethan Smith describes the surprising insights and lessons that came in the wake of his successful OCD treatment.

The IOCDF is now accepting applications for the 2019 Research Grant Awards!

Each year, the IOCDF awards grants to research scientists pursuing projects in the field of OCD and related disorders. This year we will award as many as eight research grants through our Young Investigator, Breakthrough, and Innovator Awards programs. Applications are due February 28th, 2019.

To learn more about these grants, and for information about how to apply, please visit our website.

Research Corner
A monthly roundup of the latest OCD research from scientific journals. Articles that require a journal subscription or purchase to view their full text are denoted with "($)". All linked articles provide a brief, publicly-accessible summary of research and findings.

Development and Psychometric Evaluation of the Children's Yale-Brown Obsessive-Compulsive Scale Second Edition
By Eric Storch, Joseph F. McGuire, Monica Wu, Rebecca Hamblin, Elizabeth McIngvale, Sandra Cepeda, Sophie Schneider, Katrina Rufino, Steven Rasmussen, Lawrence Price, and Wayne Goodman

Researchers have updated the Children’s Yale-Brown Obsessive-Compulsive Scale (CY-BOCS) to reflect new knowledge gained about OCD in the 25 years since the CY-BOCS was originally created. In this paper, the authors describe the new “CY-BOCS-II”, and describe the steps they took to test its reliability as a measure of OCD symptoms in children. IOCDF Board Member Dr. Elizabeth McIngvale, and IOCDF Scientific and Clinical Advisory Board members Drs. Eric Storch, Wayne Goodman, and Steven Rasmussen (emeritus) contributed to this research.

Impaired generalization of reward but not loss in obsessive-compulsive disorder ($)
By Nina Rouhani, George Elliott Wimmer, Franklin R. Schneier, Abby J. Fyer, Daphna Shohamy, and Helen Blair Simpson

Our brains draw general conclusions about our past experiences to help us respond quickly to new situations. However, what happens when this generalization process is impaired? Could impairments in generalizing, including “overgeneralizing” past threats during new and benign experiences, help explain OCD symptoms?

This study examined how people with OCD, people with Social Anxiety Disorder, and healthy individuals generalize experiences involving reward and loss. People with OCD were found to generalize loss experiences like their unaffected peers, but were impaired in their ability to generalize reward experiences. The study also found that those who had greater impairment in this regard were more likely to overestimate the severity of potential threats. Dr. Helen Blair Simpson, member of the IOCDF Scientific and Clinical Advisory Board (SCB), contributed to this research.

A randomized controlled trial of the judicious use of safety behaviors during exposure therapy
By Shannon Blakey, Jonathan Abramowitz, Jennifer L.Buchholz, Sarah C. Jessup, Ryan Jacoby, Lillian Reuman, and Kimberly Pentel

Standard protocols for treatment with exposure therapy call for patients to experience feared situations without engaging in the behaviors that they typically use to reduce anxiety or make themselves feel safe.

However, resisting safety behaviors can make treatment very challenging for patients. In this study, participants engaged in exposure therapy for clinically significant spider phobia; half received standard exposure therapy, and half received exposure therapy where they were allowed to engage in “judicious” use of safety behaviors.

It was expected that the exposure with safety behaviors group would experience less symptom improvement from treatment, but results showed the treatment was equally effective for both groups of patients. While the study offers new information about the effects of safety behaviors on inhibitory learning, the authors caution that these results may not generalize to more complex disorders like OCD and PTSD. IOCDF SCB member Dr. Jon Abramowitz contributed to this project, as did Dr. Ryan Jacoby, who received a 2017 grant from the IOCDF for BDD research.

Photo:  Tarantula  by Jason Scragz,  CC 2.0  / Cropped from original

Attend the 7th Annual Hoarding Meeting

This year, the 7th Annual Hoarding Meeting will be held July 18-21 in Austin, TX. The Annual Hoarding Meeting offers an opportunity for professionals to learn how to effectively and compassionately work with individuals with hoarding disorder (HD), as well as provides critical information for individuals, families, and loved ones affected by HD.

If you are looking for training, education, resources, or support to manage HD, we encourage you to learn more about the Annual Hoarding Meeting.

Research Highlight: Hoarding Disorder
Hoarding disorder (HD) is a complex issue that affects 2-4 percent of people around the world. Learn more about HD treatment, research, and other resources that can help.

Recruiting under-represented populations into psychiatric research: Results from the help for hoarding study
By Anna Martin, Jessica Zakrzewski, Chia-Ying Chou, Soo Uhm, R. Michael Gause, Joanne Chan, Monika Eckfield, Mark Salazar, Ofilio Vigil, David Bain, Sandra J. Stark, R. Scott Mackin, Eduardo Vega, Kevin Delucchi, Janice Tsoh, and Carol Mathews

This paper explores the recruitment strategies that were used in large study of behavioral treatmentsfor hoarding. They found that word of mouth was most effective mode of recruiting certain underrepresented groups, including elderly and disabled individuals, but that a multimodal strategy was needed to ensure that the participant pool was broadly diverse and representative. Interestingly, they found that traditional media advertising through radio and newspaper was the least effective way of reaching participants, despite being the most expensive method utilized. Co-author Dr. Carol Mathews is a member of the IOCDF SCB.

Photo:  Message Board  by Alex Garcia,  CC 2.0

Augmenting Buried in Treasures with in-home uncluttering practice: Pilot study in hoarding disorder ($)
By Omer Linkovski, Jordana Zwerling, Elisabeth Cordell, Danae Sonnenfeld, Henry Willis, Christopher La Lima, Colleen Baker, Rassil Ghazzaoui, Robyn Girson, Catherine Sanchez, Brianna Wright, Mason Alford, Andrea Varias, Maria Filippou-Frye, Hanyang Shen, Booil Jo, Lee Shuer, Randy Frost, and Carolyn Rodriguez

The best treatments currently available are able to achieve improvements for people with hoarding disorder, but have been unable to achieve complete reductions in symptoms. In this study, researchers sought to improve an effective, evidence-based program for hoarding (the Buried in Treasures (BIT) workshop) with up to 20 hours of uncluttering help in participants’ homes.

They found in-home uncluttering to be an effective addition to the BIT workshop. IOCDF SCB members Drs. Carolyn Rodriguez and Randy Frost contributed to this article. Henry Willis is the recipient of a Young Investigator Award for OCD research, and Dr. Omer Linkovski was recognized for an outstanding research poster at the 2018 Annual OCD Conference.

Find other research-related resources from the IOCDF, including:

The post Spotlight: OCD News and Research Updates appeared first on International OCD Foundation.

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By Corey

This story is part of our blog series called “Stories from the OCD Community.”  Stories from the community are submitted and edited by Toni Palombi. If you are interested in sharing your story you can view submission details at www.iocdf.org/ocd-stories.

“Where do you want to start?” Dr. K. asked, his eyes scanning the composition notebook in his lap.

That question has never failed to incite anxiety.  Part of this is because I’m terribly indecisive by nature.  But more than that, the question of where to start always puts me in the mindset of approaching a giant, insurmountable challenge.

I think of when I was in high school, when I, a struggling perfectionist, would sit down to tackle a night’s assignments.  The homework from AP and honors classes was extensive, leaving me feeling defeated before I even opened a book.

I think of my mother, whose hoarding behaviors turned our house into an uncomfortable realm of clutter as I was growing up.  Once she finally acknowledged the problem, she found it impossible to choose which room she should work through first.  “I just don’t know where to start,” I would hear her say, hopelessly, as she pondered over the piles.

Deciding where to start addressing a challenge may give some people a sense of control, but that wasn’t the case for me.  In my experience, the question evoked anticipation of impending stress. Pain. Failure.

So on my second day of an inpatient stay, when my doctor asked me where I would like to begin focusing my treatment for obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), I was not exactly excited.

I shrugged and sank into the armchair opposite his. Dr. K. turned the page in my notebook.

The previous night, he had given me my first homework assignment: to write down all the rituals I had been performing.  He was now looking at that list, and in doing so he was getting a better idea of the extent to which my life had been overrun by obsessive thoughts over the previous three years.

A lot of my rituals were based around making predictions.  I would make a prediction about something completely unrelated to my fears and obsessions, and I would associate the accuracy of that prediction with whether or not something bad or unwanted would happen to me.

For example, say I was watching a baseball game on television.  I would predict how many runs a team would score in a particular inning, whether a batter would strike out, which team would win, etc.  If my prediction was correct, I would gain temporary relief from whatever was causing me anxiety in that moment.  If I was wrong, not only would my anxiety spike, but I was now left with the burden of having to perform multiple rituals to make up for it and ensure none of my feared outcomes would occur.

As my symptoms worsened, one of the most unsettling aspects of the experience was realizing just how seamlessly OCD could infiltrate every facet of my life.  As time wore on, the proliferation of rituals I created knew no contextual restrictions.

This didn’t just affect me when I was watching sports.  Eventually, OCD found a way to slither into every nook and cranny it could find. I had rituals I had to follow when I went to the movies or the gym; when I spoke to friends online; when I walked; when I went to sleep; when I ate; when I showered; when I channel-surfed; when I read; even when I had to blink.

Each time a new ritual entered my regimen, I imagined a map representing my life, with all the previously OCD-free areas suddenly being marked by a giant red X.  It was like a country being overtaken by an invading army.  OCD was building an empire, and with every one of its conquests I was losing autonomy over my life and, seemingly, my brain.

Now, Dr. K. was looking at my map.  He wanted to know in which area we should start the process of retraining my brain to become less reliant on these rituals when I wanted to gain relief from obsessive thoughts.

“Well,” he said, lifting his head from the notebook.  “I’d like to get you sports back.”

I sat up straight.  Something clicked when he said that.

You see, no matter how many versions of “you are not your illness” I had been fed over the previous years, from doctors and blogposts alike, it had never truly resonated.  This distinction did not exist in my eyes.  These were my thoughts, I told myself; therefore, this must be my fault.

Even as I lamented the loss of simple everyday activities that were now anything but simple, I was not able to identify it as OCD’s doing.  To me, it was entirely my doing.

But when Dr. K. talked about bringing sports back into my life, he was implicitly telling me something else: OCD was robbing me, taking things that I enjoyed or loved and turning them into a conduit for mental anguish.

Now, I would be taking those things back, reclaiming what was rightfully mine.  And there was nothing better to start with than sports; during my first meeting with Dr. K., I mentioned how much I loved sports, baseball in particular.

I made significant improvement during that inpatient stay, and in many ways it set the tone for the treatment I continue with today.  When thoughts of self-blame enter my mind, I think back to this moment of clarity I experienced in the early stages of my recovery.

To be clear, I don’t see myself merely as a passive victim of the destruction OCD wrought.  Of course, I played an active role in what was happening, by engaging in my rituals and perpetuating the thoughts-feelings-actions cycle that keeps OCD thriving.  But I believe it’s essential to remain aware that this is an illness, and an illness does not shape one’s identity, no matter how enormous its impact.  And while it is important to hold oneself accountable for one’s actions, imposing blame is not only obstructive to recovery, but dangerously misguided as well.

Corey lives in Brooklyn, NY and trained as a peer support specialist as a way of advancing his recovery from OCD. 

The post The Gift of Sport appeared first on International OCD Foundation.

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