There are 30 days until the 25th Annual OCD Conference taking place July 26-29, 2018 in Washington, D.C.!
I’m fortunate that this year’s OCDcon will be my fourth year attending. I’m one year away from the “attended 5+ conferences” badge sticker (and very excited about this)!
I remember being pretty terrified though at my first conference, and I still experienced anxiety at the other conferences, though I was more comfortable. That’s one of the great things about OCDcon though: feeling anxious is the norm.
Still, if this is going to be your first or hundredth OCDcon here’s some advice about how to have a great time.
1. Anticipate imperfection
One of the best ways to prepare yourself for something to go wrong is to mentally prepare as if something will go wrong. This might sound counter-intuitive, but it’s better to have come up with a plan than to be caught off guard. In DBT we call this coping ahead. Imagine something bad happening, and imagine how you would cope with it.
2. Take in as much variety as you can
Something unique about OCDcon is it is a mix of individuals with OCD of all ages, loved ones, and treatment providers. Because of this there are also sessions targeted to different audiences. However, you can absolutely go to any session on any track. If you want to go to a research talk, you can. If you want to go a craft session with middle schoolers, you can. Especially if this isn’t your first conference, try to go to diverse sessions.
3. But don’t be afraid to take breaks
Something I have often felt myself and have heard friends express is a pressure to go to a session during every time slot. Now, I love OCDcon, but that would be exhausting. It’s okay, and good, to take breaks occasionally. Go have a long meal. Chat with someone in the hallway. (Just don’t skip the 8am sessions because that’s when mine are…kidding.)
4. Challenge yourself to…
OCDcon is all about learning about OCD and its treatment, but it can also be about trying out exposures and pushing yourself while surrounded by social support.
So I challenge you to…
…introduce yourself to someone new.
…ask a question in a session.
…do some sort of exposure within your current ability!
For this year’s OCDcon, I am committing to: not overpacking out of indecisiveness, leading morning stretch group (Fri. and Sat. at 8am), participating in a talk about DBT (Sun. at 8am), introducing myself to various professionals, and dancing at the Saturday Night Social.
5. Remember that everyone there is worried about something and “gets” OCD
And last but not least, take comfort in the fact that you are not alone. I guarantee everyone at the conference is worried about something. Yes, the professionals included. More than that, everyone there “gets” OCD and understands what you’re experiencing.
Hope to see you there! And if you see me, please say hi!