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Monique’s OCD Awareness Story

By: Monique Obeng

Starting my placement at OCD North, I realized that I had limited knowledge surrounding Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). I have never had a class or a lesson that specifically focused on OCD. I have never even heard of Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP). I felt as though there was a big gap within my education experience. Why was there no focus on OCD or ERP?

At OCD North, I was able to gain a deep understanding of OCD and how it can function within an individual’s life. Obsessions are unwanted intrusive thoughts or feelings. To soothe the anxiety from the obsession, an individual will engage in repetitive behaviour, also known as a compulsion. The compulsion may provide temporary relief, but it doesn’t remove the feeling of anxiety, which then creates a cycle. This cycle is very time-consuming and can impact the functionalities within an individual’s life. People living with OCD all have a unique experience. I realized that there are many misrepresentations and false narratives on the experience of those living with OCD. I thought back to how often I heard “I am so OCD” or “I need to fix this because I am OCD” regarding actions unrelated to the disorder. I realized the importance of challenging this language to fight back against stigma. OCD is not a character trait; it is a disorder that can have severe impacts on an individual’s well-being. No one is ‘OCD,’ but some live with this disorder.

Though OCD can be severe, I learned that there is hope for a recovery journey that leads to a life full of possibilities. Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) is a therapeutic approach that exposes a person to their fear to provoke anxiety while not completing their compulsion. I was amazed to learn the bravery of those in ERP therapy. They fought back against OCD by leaning into the fear and constantly challenging the uncertainty within their lives. With the support of a therapist, I have witnessed clients face the things they feared most and claim back what OCD has taken from them.

There have been more conversations on the importance of mental health. In these conversations, we must include OCD. These conversations should challenge the stigma and shame surrounding OCD. Challenging the stigma and shame enhances solidarity with community members and can break down barriers for individuals hesitant to seek support. As I progress in my career, I want to continue speaking about what OCD really is and the strength and resilience within the community.