This gathering of researchers, treatment providers, clients, relatives, and friends of those struggling with OCD was a special event. Everyone that attended learned, taught, and shared knowledge and experiences. Most importantly, it was inspiring to meet individuals who struggle with OCD and are not giving up. They are fighters and are willing to keep working and learning so that OCD does not defeat them.

I have been an advocate because I have seen it first hand through the struggles of my son. However, it was not until after the completion of his treatment that I decided to specialize in treating OCD and OC related disorders. I have come to personally understand the pain and struggles of families and sufferers. At this year’s conference my vision was expanded to become a better OCD therapist. It felt like my heart quadrupled in size as I listened to individuals’ stories during group sessions I had the opportunity to lead and co-lead. I felt inspired and touched seeing the new OCD kids movie “Unstuck.” These kids are awesome and so lucky to start treatment early enough in their lives. They can implement the necessary tools so that OCD does not get in the way of them living a value-focused life.

If you struggle with OCD or are a relative or friend of someone who experiences this illness, don’t ever give up. Remember that there are amazing researchers, treatment providers, and organizations such as the IOCD Foundation that care and can provide you with information and appropriate training to manage OCD.

Don’t forget that thoughts are just thoughts, and though they feel like they could be absolute truths, OCD is tricking you. Skills exist to help you get untangled from the thoughts and feelings OCD brings on. The truth is that life is uncertain and difficult, but when OCD shows up, it can become dramatically harder. Don’t despair and always remember that you matter to many and that you are more than your OCD!

It was uplifting to hear and meet individuals who have received treatment and are learning to manage OCD successfully. They have learned that when the OCD storms show up, they can become observers and discoverers. It’s difficult to be brave when afraid, but you can learn how.

Please, don’t ever, ever, give up!