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An Unexpected Gift – Traveling with OCD

Sometimes I receive unexpected gifts when I am in a place of being open to receive them. I had such an experience on my way to the International Obsessive Compulsive Foundation’s annual conference in Chicago. I decided to face my fears and do a little exposure therapy by getting on the L which is the public transport train from O’Hare airport to downtown Chicago. I wasn’t sure which train to take but I saw a young man running for the one that’s doors were closing so I took a leap of faith, ran after him, and hopped on just as the doors closed. I looked at him and told him I had no idea what I was doing but I knew I was facing my fears. He asked where I was going and we quickly realized we were going to the same conference but for very different reasons. It was a 45 minute ride to downtown. He shared his struggles with severe OCD and how he had not gotten good treatment until he went to Roger’s Hospital which specializes in treating OCD. Even there, he found staff who were not understanding to his peers when they were incapacitated by their severe anxiety and unrelenting symptoms. I shared my unwavering commitment and passion for helping those with OCD and yet how I am humbled by this disorder every day. We laughed at the absurdity of the symptoms and the tricks OCD plays. He shared several of his fears including his fear of having schizophrenia. I looked up  and saw a huge advertisement on the wall of the train scrolling, “SCHIZOPHRENIA” . We again laughed at how there are opportunities to do ERP everywhere and sometimes it feels like the universe creates these experience for people with OCD just to give them opportunities to practice. I felt his warmth, wisdom, and genuineness throughout our travel. We never stopped talking and actually missed our stop! We laughed and just got off on the next stop, embracing our anxiety and owning our uncertainty. I am so grateful for having met this young man who reminded me of  how challenging OCD can be for people who live with it every day as well as the hope that therapists, researchers, and psychiatrists offer in meeting this challenge head on and offering the latest advancements in treatment for such a debilitating illness.This post is sponsored by nOCD.  Dowload this mobile tool for free.

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