Happy OCD Awareness Week! I talk about mental health pretty frequently, but this week in particular we are raising awareness of and busting myths about OCD. (Short on time? Check out the cheat sheet I wrote 3 years ago: Got 2 Minutes to Learn about OCD?)
As an Ambassador for the International OCD Foundation, I am participating in the #FaceYourFear campaign. The evidence-based treatment for OCD is Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) therapy, sometimes in combination with medication. This therapy involves gradually facing your fears and sitting with the anxiety and discomfort that brings. We become masters at walking towards, rather than away, from what scares us, in spite of anxiety.
ERP therapy gave me my life back, and its teachings are something I continue to practice daily. Though OCD only takes up a few minutes of each day now, in comparison to the countless hours I spent previously on rituals, I am almost constantly allowing myself to be willing to be anxious. For me, that is how I continue to live in recovery.
For my #FaceYourFear video, I didn’t do anything specific to OCD exactly, but I did push myself way outside my comfort zone. I went forward with auditioning for a community theater musical, something I haven’t done since I was a freshman in high school, but something I really wanted to try. This also involved singing by myself in front of the crew and everyone else auditioning, which was the aspect that scared me the most.
Spoiler alert: I ended up getting cast in the show! And honestly, I’m so pleased that I went through with trying out. We are a few weeks into rehearsals, and it is indescribably fun. I love the cast, the dances, the songs, and the message behind the show. We open in just under a month. I will be so sad for this show to end.
It has taught me a great lesson though: I can and will do things that make me uncomfortable. No matter the outcome (and often the outcome is fine or even good), it is worth facing my fear.