A Personal Battle: Living with OCD

I don't usually get quite this personal on my blog, but what the heck—sometimes you just have to put yourself out there and trust that it will be for a good reason. Besides, it's entirely possible that someone may even find what you have to say helpful, encouraging, or even—dare I say it?—inspiring. I hope that's the case.

The truth is—I have a confession to make. I am far from perfect. (Well geez... Don't act so surprised!) It's a well known fact that no one is perfect, but that doesn't stop us from trying, does it? I'm as guilty as anyone else when it comes to thinking that I might actually be Super Woman, but the universe has an annoyingly stubborn way of reminding us that we're all human.

I run a successful business. I'm a published author. I have a wonderful family and a rich life filled with more rewarding experiences than I could count, which I wouldn't trade for the world. But alone, in the privacy of my own mind, I'm waging war—fighting a constant battle against Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

More than a torturous condition that very few people understand, OCD is listed by the World Health Organization as one of the top 10 most debilitating disorders around. Having kept my battle private for more than 22 years, I've decided to open up and go public in an effort to help others and spread awareness after a recent and especially bad flare up that began in October of 2011 (just as Emir and I left on our bike tour) and roared to epic proportions this past February as we got serious about wanting to start a family. The reinvigorated battle lead to my recent TEDx talk called, "Anything is Possible, and That's the Problem. Or is It?"

The talk explores the ways in which our beliefs shape our realities (however distorted they may be), and how we can all benefit from a wider perspective and more balanced thinking. Check it out:

If you or someone you know is suffering, it's easy to end up in a very dark place if the OCD goes untreated. Find a therapist (who specializes in OCD), ask your doctor about medication, and get some good books. These are my personal favorites:

When in Doubt, Make Belief by Jeff Bell Part memoir, part therapy, this is a great place to start.

Devil in the Details by Jennifer Traig An intelligent and tragically hilarious memoir.

Nowhere Near Normal by Traci Foust Another eye-opening (brilliantly written and humorous while simultaneously tragic) memoir that helps to put things in perspective.

Perhaps I'll share more details of my own battle someday in a future blog post, but for now here are some things worth knowing:

  • OCD is not a personality trait. Preferring to sort your closet by color, alphabetize your music collection, or keep your house exceptionally tidy because it makes you happy—is not a symptom of OCD.
  • Statistically, there are people in your life who have OCD and hide it well. Share this post and these links. Spread awareness.
  • There are a number of highly successful and creative people who have gone public with their OCD including: David Beckham, Justin Timberlake, Cameron Diaz, Megan Fox, and Leonardo DiCaprio (who famously played another famous OCD sufferer, Howard Hughes in "Aviator,"). Super geniuses Nikola Tesla and Albert Einstein are also thought to have suffered from OCD.
  • Although there is no cure, symptoms can be managed with medication and/or therapy. If you know someone who suffers, encourage them to get help. It can get better!
  • Learn more here.