Beyond OCD

Posted by Phil Cardenas on Jul 09, 2012

by Janet Singer
 

What's in a Name?

OCD Chicago recently changed its name to Beyond OCD to better reflect its current scope and mission. I love the new name, as it conjures up a vision of moving past obsessive-compulsive disorder into a life of freedom not dictated by the illness. Beyond OCD conveys hope, and to me, there’s nothing more inspiring than that.

Mental health stigma

This name change brings to light how powerful words can be. It works both ways, however, and, unfortunately, stigma has been wrapped around so many words for so long that it’s hard to change the perceptions that many people have. Words such as mental illness, brain disorder, psychiatric hospitals and antidepressants are just a few that easily come to mind. Beyond OCD, as well as other mental health sites, works tirelessly to educate people and reduce the negative connotations associated with all these words. Some progress is being made, I believe, but we still have so very far to go.

If only it were as easy as just changing those stigmatized words and replacing them with others, ones that don’t evoke shame or embarrassment. Mental illness could just be illness, antidepressants could just be medications, and so on. But this solution is too simple, and I think would ultimately do more harm than good. It’s just another way to hide obsessive-compulsive disorder (or other mental health disorders) from others and maybe even ourselves. There is already enough secrecy and lack of understanding; we don’t need to generate more.

What I think we need to do is just the opposite. We need to get these words out in the open and use them often; we need to discuss and explain and clarify what OCD is and is not. We have to work through our own shame and embarrassment, if they exist, and have ongoing conversations about mental illness with our families and friends. In this way we can chip away at the stigma surrounding these words until we are all comfortable speaking them. In my own experience, the more I talk with friends and family about OCD, the more comfortable they become with the topic. This level of comfort, in turn, paves the way for them to share their own mental health issues or concerns. These honest conversations are a strong reminder that we are all in this together.

So really, what’s in a name?  In my opinion, a lot. Beyond OCD will continue to be the same wonderful organization it was as OCD Chicago, helping sufferers and all those whose lives have been touched by OCD. But it will do it with a more befitting name, one that resonates with hope. We, in turn, can keep the dialogue flowing, using the words that may be hard to speak, but need to be spoken. In that way, we can all work together to support Beyond OCD as they strive to help children and adults get proper treatment. Once this happens, those who suffer from the disorder will be one step closer to moving beyond OCD.

Beyond OCD, formerly OCD Chicago, is a worldwide resource for sufferers of OCD, the family and friends of OCD sufferers impacted, educators, clergy, the media, and for mental health professionals. The organization and its web site act as a clearinghouse for OCD information, recognizing what OCD is and is not, assistance in seeking help, and for the very latest in therapies and treatments. Beyond OCD is proof positive that Obsessive Compulsive Disorder can be managed and a full and wonderful life restored.

Janet Singer, an advocate for OCD awareness, is published regularly on various mental health web sites. She explores all topics related to OCD and shares what helped and what hurt in her son Dan’s recovery from this devastating disorder.  While there were many lessons learned along the way, Janet feels the most powerful one of all is that there is always hope. She is committed to getting the word out that OCD, no matter how severe, is treatable. You can read more about Dan’s story and follow her personal blog at: http://www.ocdtalk.wordpress.com/. Janet uses a pseudonym to protect her son’s privacy.

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