“Maybe the person you talk to today doesn’t seem to ‘get it.’ What we don’t know about is the person that individual may meet with tomorrow. What we share, ripples. We don’t know where those ripples lead, but we have faith that they keep going. Thank you to Jeff Herman of the Jeff Herman Literary Agency for ‘getting it.'”
You’re Not a Murderer: You Just Have OCD, a memoir I co-authored with my daughter, won Best Pitch at the 2022 Atlanta Writers Conference, but you don’t have to write an entire memoir to talk about OCD. Share whenever you can. Bring the light.
People who feel called to discuss mental illness with others, especially an often misunderstood disorder such as OCD and Harm OCD, know what I mean by “the look.” The person you’re talking with has likely never heard of it or thought they knew what it was and your explanation is imploding their entire concept of what they thought it meant. Or maybe they are just screaming somewhere in their head, “For God’s sake don’t say, ‘I’m so OCD’ in front of this woman!” Some people have made such a habit of it that they have to train themselves to stop misusing it.
Then again, some people are just uncomfortable discussing mental health. Perhaps these are things they were taught to whisper about in hushed tones. Perhaps they never knew if this whispering was meant to protect the people who were actually suffering or meant to silence those suffering so as to not embarrass the family. Whatever the case, the silence has left legions of people trembling in the shadows, afraid to speak up, and if they’re not speaking up, they’re not getting help. This is why my daughter and I decided to write about our journey with Harm OCD (an intrusive, unbidden, terrifying thought of harming oneself or others). I remain convinced people are ending their lives over this disorder in the belief that they are doing the world a favor by taking themselves out of it. No one has told them intrusive thoughts can be, and often are, Harm OCD. No one has told them, as my daughter’s therapist told her, “thoughts are not things.”
So, we share. It’s that simple. You don’t have to write an entire memoir to talk about OCD. Share whenever you can. Send a light into the shadows where someone is just barely hanging on. Maybe the person you talk to today doesn’t seem to “get it.” Maybe you even get “the look.” What we don’t know about is the person that individual may meet tomorrow. What we share, ripples. We don’t know where those ripples lead, but we have faith that they keep going. Help remove the stigma and bring hope to others dealing with this misunderstood condition. Let them know they can be free.
Thank you to Jeff Herman of the Jeff Herman Literary Agency for “getting it.”