Those who don’t have the disorder misconstrue and continue to promote misconceptions about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Those suffering may hide and shield themselves from possibly being hurt and shunned. They may feel ashamed or embarrassed. The fact is that there are still many people in society who have no idea that OCD can be paralyzing, and it should not be trivialized. Only those suffering can change things by letting the OCD Nightmare in their closet get out.
The classic children’s book “There Is a Nightmare in My Closet” written by Mercer Mayer comes to mind. Here are some parallels:
Prepare for the OCD nightmare to come out. The young boy decides he will defy the nightmare. He gets his weapons lined up and is ready to face it once and for all. You can decide when and how you’ll prepare yourself to tell a family member or a friend about your OCD. What are your weapons? Mindfulness skills may be a great option in order to help you stay in the present and avoid thinking errors that could only increase your anxiety because of your worry thoughts. These thoughts could impede your desire to tell someone about your OCD.
Be proactive. The young child turns on the light and is ready to take that nightmare on! Notice opportunities to educate people regarding OCD. When you have a friend or relative who claims: “I am so OCD,” calmly take your time to tell them what OCD really means. As a matter of fact mention that you know about it because you have OCD!
Who should you tell? As you work towards improving your symptoms, you need emotional support. Research confirms that those who have a support system will have a greater chance of success during and after treatment. When you decide to tell others, consider these questions:
- Who do I talk to when I’m having a bad day?
- Who is there to cheer me up when I fall down?
- When I experience success, who do I celebrate with?
Consider expanding your circle of friends and family who will understand, support you, and increase awareness about OCD. They can help you dissipate the stigma that still exists in society about OCD and other mental health challenges.
How much do you tell? This is a question that is frequently asked because often sufferers aren’t able to determine where to draw the line. It is suggested that you briefly clarify what OCD is and what it’s not. Explaining the OCD cycle will be helpful for those who wish to understand it better.
If your main emotional support person is a parent or a spouse, they’ll need to know a little more than what you’d tell a friend or other relative. You’ll have to decide if you want to tell them about the type of OCD you suffer from, but details may not be necessary. Sometimes this can backfire. For instance, there once was a young woman who struggled with relationship OCD. She told her husband all the details about her OCD. The husband became insecure about their relationship and every time he noticed his wife becoming anxious, he would question his wife’s thoughts and feelings about him. The husband had some emotional challenges and knowing the details about his wife’s OCD heightened his struggles. You know your main support person and you’ll need to decide whether talking about the details will be practical and valuable for both of you.
Don’t wish OCD away. The young boy in the book tells the nightmare to go away! Hopefully you know by now that wishing it away is not the best strategy to overcome your OCD symptoms. The boy then invites the nightmare to sleep in his bed because it is crying and is too loud.
Accept the fact that you have OCD, but don’t let it define you! Learn to tolerate the uncertainty and anxiety. Focus on your life. Discover or enhance your talents. Work towards your goals and aspirations. You don’t have to let OCD define your present or future. You are in charge. Make sure it stays that way!