This post comes from our regular contributor, Melanie Lefebvre. Here she writes about her experience attending the International OCD Foundation’s Annual Conference in Boston last year, and this past July. She wrote about her hit and run OCD in an earlier article.
Rewind to 2014 at the International OCD Foundation’s Annual OCD Conference. Zoom in to me volunteering to share my struggle with hit-and-run OCD at Dr. Baer’s workshop about taboo thoughts. Adjust the lens and you’ll see that it was a period of my life where I had stopped driving out of fear of accidentally hitting someone. It wasn’t worth the risk. Driving was paused as I hung out with the comfort of avoidance. But after his workshop, I decided the risk was worth it. Being Dr. Baer’s impromptu patient got me back behind the wheel.
Now fast forward to the OCD Conference of 2015. I again attended his workshop on taboo thoughts but this time observed a peer share her story—now a witness to the vulnerable place I was in just a year prior. The audience again created a sense of community. The community who helped hold me accountable to my commitment to drive again; the community that Dr. Baer introduced me to. By asking for a volunteer that day, Dr. Baer helped me decide I wanted back in the driver’s seat.
But it’s not just the driving that’s changed.
Last year, I almost didn’t attend the conference out of fear my cats would die without doing my compulsions to keep them protected. This year, I trusted in my husband to care for them.
Last year, I bawled in the airport lobby, contemplating not getting on the plane. This year, I sat calmly in the lobby and realized Brave by Sara Bareilles was playing.
Last year, I requested photos of my cats as proof of life while away. This year it didn’t even occur to me to ask for pictures.
Last year, I disclosed to my mom about my OCD only a few months prior. This year, I felt pride in my video in which I disclosed to anyone who might stumble across it on YouTube.
Last year, driving was impossible. This year, I’m driving.
The conference wasn’t a magical fix. Driving is still hard. OCD is still hard. Sometimes I don’t want to get behind the wheel. But I’m viewing the conference as the renewal of my commitment to the community.
Here’s to 2016 in Chicago, next year’s conference, where I again “renew my vows” to progress!
Note: The photo shows me with Dr. Baer