When I arrived at the OCD-UK conference I thought OCD sufferers could be helped to manage their condition but I didn’t think it was possible for them to be freed of it all together. When I left, I had changed my opinion on that. This is a subject that continues to divide opinion but having listened to the experiences of Yolanda and her amazing son Josh, and Karen Robinson, as well as from medical professionals such as Dr Elizabeth Forrester, Dr Claire Lomax and the ebullient Professor Paul Salkovskis, I was angry with myself that I had ever thought that.
These were my key takeaways on the subject:
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can really help, but not all CBT is the same. You’re going to be a lot better off if you can work with a CBT therapist with a specialism in OCD.
- Exposure therapy should be part of your CBT for OCD therapy, but a lot of service users are not getting that.
- You need to find the right therapist for you. You should not be afraid to challenge your therapist if you do not think they are right for you.
- The sooner OCD is diagnosed the easier it is to get free of it.
- That even someone who is free of their OCD might have blips from time to time, but if their therapy has been successful they are better armed to manage the blips and can remain free of it. Therapy is not just a one-off event, it needs to be a lifestyle change.
- The effort involved is freeing yourself from OCD is *HUGE* and should not be underestimated. I think OCD sufferers are some of the hardest working people I have ever met.
What shocked me is:
- Some people are on waiting lists as long as 3 years to get to see a therapist – and that is not even for an OCD specialist CBT therapist
- It is not unusual for someone to be living with their OCD for a decade before it gets diagnosed.
Surely we can do better than that?