Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Peer Support and OCD

Conference 1:
Meet Richelle. 

Here we are meeting each other.

This was quite likely taken within the first three minutes of meeting. Maybe even within the first two. This was monumental, after all.

We credit our friendship to the International OCD Foundation's (IOCDF) Annual OCD Conference. Sure, we were members of the same online support group but that's not what brought us together. Discovering that we were both going to the same conference created an instant bond. We were both terrified. We were both excited. We had a deal that I wouldn't let her stay locked in her hotel room. Plus I had researched a cool Mexican restaurant that we needed to experience during one of our lunch breaks. 

I never before had a friend with OCD so this next part is either creepy or adorable: I have an online "Richelle" folder with things she's said that have melted my heart. 
"I feel comfortable sharing personal things and talking with you. I don't fear being judged."

And that was pre-photo! 

We were each others rock at our first conference. We stayed side-by-side as we immersed ourselves with knowledge, as we stared OCD down, as we discovered the power of peer support. But I'll admit that I did not stay attached to her hip when she took a wrong step into the pool. 

Conference 2:
Meet Hannah.
How many people can say they have photos capturing the first few moments of meeting, not one, but two of their best friends?

Hannah and I met online through the IOCDF's Video Awareness Contest. (The IOCDF may want to consider a matchmaker business on the side.) 

We started with YouTube comments, then emails, then Facebook, as we slowly worked our way up the social media totem pole. And then her mom captured that moment.

Meeting in person accelerated our friendship to the next level, delighted by all the things that seemed to be in-sync about us:
  • We took a selfie on her phone, her mom texted. We took one on mine, my mom texted. 
  • We sighed in unison, as if it had been rehearsed for dramatic effect. 
  • We made some amazing friends at the conference who couldn't get over the fact that we had literally just met the day before.
  • We learned we are both well-versed in goofy dancing.

We let the illness take a backseat while we had fun. We brought it into the forefront when we wanted to share on a deeper level. Being triggered wasn't something to hide or to explain. We understood. And we danced. Boy did we ever dance. 

Conference 3:
Meet Chicago. 

I know OCD will follow me to the conference next summer. Why wouldn't it? Heck, it's got it's own compartment in my suitcase.  

But I've got some artillery I didn't have before, so does Richelle and so does Hannah. 

Peer support. Peer support is our armor.

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