I posted this on Facebook today…
Since it’s #NationalComingOutDay here in the US, I thought I would come out today. Not as a gay man. I already did that. But as somebody with a mental health disorder.
National Coming Out Day celebrates coming out and encourages people to share their sexuality in authentic ways with family and friends. It was established with the express purpose of lessening the stigma and fears that many people who don’t know other openly gay people might experience.
I’ve felt strongly, as a person with a mental health disorder, that we need something similar for people like me. Chances are, you know somebody with a mental health disorder. Chances are they don’t talk about it much because of personal shame, because it’s difficult, or because they fear they will be judged. So, today, I am coming out with this purpose: to own my story and reduce the shame that I feel, to let other sufferers know it’s ok, and to fight stigma.
I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
I’ve been on the obsessive-compulsive spectrum my whole life. Only in recent years has it become disorderly. I was diagnosed a few years ago, but I didn’t get appropriate treatment until this year. It started small but grew to the point of being untenable. It was over a year ago now where it really got out of hand and made my life hell. It consumed most hours of every day. I knew I needed specialized help. I found out my neighbor who is a child psychologist treats OCD, so I asked his advice and he put me in touch with a specialist. I’ve been meeting with the specialist since the beginning of this year. Because of how disruptive it was we decided it was a good idea for me to take leave from work. I spent twelve weeks in an intensive treatment program over the summer that was between fifteen and twenty hours of therapy a week. I finished the program nearly a month ago now and it has made a world of difference.
For those of you who think you don’t know somebody with a mental health disorder… you do!
For those of you who know somebody with mental health challenges, don’t assume you understand what they’re going through unless you’ve had the same mental health challenges. I can tell you that real OCD is a hellavalot more complicated than having to have an organized desk or closet. It is so much more disruptive than than that.
For those of you suffering from mental health challenges, get the right help! It took me a few years to finally get the right help for OCD. It’s important to talk to people you trust, but it’s also important to talk to a mental health professional.
Hey, even if you don’t suffer from a mental health challenge, I would still advocate for regular mental health counseling. We do regular checkups for our physical health; we ought to do it for our mental health too.
If anyone cares to know more, I’ve been blogging about my experience: owningmyocd.wordpress.com.