By Kim Vincenty IOCDF Advocate
When you love someone with OCD, there is a deep hunger for resources, interventions, and a community that offers support during the arduous journey to recovery. We read books, blogs, and articles, watch live streams and webinars, and seek out support groups. But In my experience, and I’ve walked this path for nineteen years, the best place to go is the annual IOCDF Conference.
The conference has it all. There are workshops, panels, or teachings on nearly anything you seek. OCD subtypes, treatment modalities, pharmacology, research, new interventions, support groups, and specific tracks for children, teens, and families. But I want you to know is it’s also inspiring, encouraging, and packed with pragmatic information. It’s also fun and full of SURPRISES!
I’ve had the good fortune to attend for many years as a mom seeking tools for my child; I have also had the pleasure of having a booth in the convention hall. It is always an incredible opportunity to meet the OCD community, sufferers, clinicians, researchers, and parents like me who want to know how to help our children.
He said what?
I’ve run support groups for years and try to stay informed, and just when I think I’ve heard it all, I go to the conference and realize OCD will keep me challenged and thus learning through this lifetime. Sitting at my booth in the conference hall, I’ve been sung to, had people read me poems, heard many personal stories, and seen the myriad struggles OCD presents. I’ve also joyfully watched as kids from the children’s program become animated and boisterous, a newfound freedom in being with a community of kids with similar struggles. The kids always surround the tables, looking for “free stuff,” the catnip of the convention hall.
So, I was initially unsurprised when a young man approached me last year and picked up a sticker. However, what he said instantly confounded me and nearly rendered me speechless.
He said, “ I saw what you did. It’s awful you would do that here.”
To which I replied, “Did what?”
The boy, “ You know, In the bathroom over there, with the white powder. I know you were doing cocaine. I saw you!”
Sitting beside me, my son looked at me incredulously and said, “What the hell?
The boy darted off.
After about 15 minutes, he came back. Blanched and nervous and apologized profusely.
“It was an exposure,” he quivered.
I could only laugh, then said, “ Oh, are you afraid you’ll say bad things to people?”
“Yes, he replied. The therapist told me I could make up anything I wanted.”
I complimented him on his creativity. Had he just come up to me and told me I was ugly, I likely would have understood it was an exposure.
Learning to Expect the Unexpected
For families and caregivers like those living with OCD, we need to learn to expect the unexpected. OCD will throw curve balls you didn’t see coming or plant landmines in what appears to be a lily field. You will begin to learn at the conference, but unlike many other venues, you will also have fun. Don’t miss Jonathan Grayson’s nighttime exposure tour! You will experience with your loved one how to accept discomfort, but you will also see the wonder of group support and the community’s kindness. You’ll likely also have a few belly laughs along the way.
Hope to see you in San Francisco!