All too often, OCD makes people feel isolated and alone. When you’re facing these feelings, having a support system you can turn to makes all the difference. Finding and connecting with others—both with and without shared experiences—can provide much-needed emotional support and encouragement, and help you feel less alone in the battle against OCD.
Other people with OCD can be an especially powerful source of support, normalizing your experiences, helping you face challenges, and providing inspiration by sharing their own stories. Finding support is an integral part of every person’s OCD journey, and there are several ways you can develop your own support system.
The power of sharing our experiences
While it can feel difficult to open up about your experiences with OCD, I always tell the people I work with in therapy that we want to speak the unspeakable. What I mean by this is that when we have OCD, the thoughts, feelings, and urges we’re experiencing can feel too embarrassing to share. People often experience intense guilt and shame surrounding these experiences but by allowing ourselves to speak openly about them, we can take back their power.
We have so much to gain from opening up to others. Sharing our experiences can give us added insight and understanding of them, and even provide a sense of validation. We learn that not only are there people with similar stories, but that we don’t have to fight OCD on our own.
That said, it’s also understandable to choose not to share your experiences, and there are other ways to connect with people. Sometimes, even sharing the bare minimum and not going into detail can provide a sense of connection with people in your life. The important thing is that each person decides for themselves how much, if anything, they want to disclose about their OCD journey.
Accountability as a form of support
We gain more than emotional support from our connections with others. We also gain an outside perspective, which helps us in a practical sense. Fighting OCD can feel overwhelming, and when you’re in the thick of it, it can be difficult to see how the condition is impacting your life. People who care about your well-being can provide an outside perspective and helpful, honest feedback that holds you accountable and keeps you on track with your goals.
By telling the people in your life what you’re experiencing, what you’re struggling with, and what your goals are in your OCD journey, you create an opportunity to ask for their support. When people who care about you know that you’re practicing resisting the urge to ask for reassurance, for example, they’re able to support you more effectively by not providing it. Having this accountability can be helpful as you practice new ways of responding to uncomfortable emotions.
Accountability can also keep you on track in other ways. Racing intrusive thoughts can affect our abilities to concentrate, and potentially lead us to slip away from what we know to be effective in the treatment of our OCD. This can lead people to forget to take prescribed medications or miss important appointments. If we’re honest with the people around us, they can support us in these situations with reminders and encouragement.
Finding connection through advocacy
Advocacy can help us feel more connected to others with similar experiences, in addition to having a powerful impact on how we feel about ourselves. Many people who’ve experienced the pain of OCD find a sense of belonging and purpose through working to promote access to treatment and raise awareness of the condition’s seriousness.
OCD, while well-known, remains widely misunderstood. Engaging in important discussions surrounding the condition can not only help raise awareness and reduce stigma, but can be a healthy way of expressing empathy. Advocacy can help us feel more connected to others with similar experiences, and have a powerful impact on how we feel about ourselves.
By becoming involved in efforts to raise awareness, you can also help build a sense of a larger community. This can be especially beneficial for people living in relatively rural or small areas, where OCD and other mental health conditions may not be discussed openly and honestly. Advocacy and spreading education about this topic can help individuals feel less isolated.
If you feel strongly about these causes, there are many opportunities to get involved in advocacy. Learn more about organizations working to educate people on OCD and uplift the OCD community.
Finding community in support groups
One of the most powerful sources of connection can be found in support groups with other members of the OCD community. Societal stigma and lack of understanding around OCD can make it feel difficult to talk about what it’s like to live with the condition, but support groups provide a safe place to come together and discuss topics that can feel shameful or isolating with people who understand and won’t judge you for what you’re experiencing. With OCD support groups being available online or in-person, you can access this source of support in the way that works best for you.
Many times, just recognizing that others have been in the depths of pain that you are in and have found a way out of it can be healing in and of itself. The testimonials of other people living with OCD can serve as a source of much-needed hope when things feel impossible, and provide inspiration to keep moving towards our goals. The level of empathy and compassion that support groups offer can create a powerful sense of belonging.
Support groups can even act as a form of exposure and response prevention (ERP) therapy, in the sense that they provide the opportunity for people to discuss the things they fear openly and honestly with trusted individuals. It’s important to note that while support groups can facilitate this experience, they are not a replacement for OCD treatment. Working alongside a well-trained therapist who specializes in ERP to develop an individualized treatment plan is the most effective way to manage OCD, and support groups can be part of that plan.
At NOCD, we know how important community support is, many of us from our own experiences. Because of this, we want every NOCD Therapy member to be supported at every point in their treatment journey. That’s why we offer dozens of support groups for our members at no extra charge. There are meetings nearly every day of the week, with themes ranging from co-occurring conditions to skills and values.
And because the OCD recovery journey is stronger with help from loved ones, we also offer dedicated support groups for everyone involved in a therapy member’s OCD recovery journey, including family members, caregivers, spouses, and friends. You can book a call with our team to learn more about gaining access to community support as part of your OCD treatment journey with NOCD.
Access therapy that’s designed for OCDLearn about how ERP works
Strengthening your support system with therapy
Therapy with an OCD specialist can be a source of additional connection and support, as well as treatment. An OCD specialist will have the expertise to understand what you’re experiencing and listen to everything you say without judgment, no matter how distressing or taboo it may feel.
An OCD specialist will also know what’s going to be most effective in treating OCD: exposure and response prevention (ERP) therapy. ERP was developed specifically to treat OCD, and is considered to be the gold-standard treatment for the condition. In ERP therapy, an OCD specialist will help you address OCD symptoms, while reducing the depression and feelings of isolation associated with them.
ERP is most effective when it’s done with the help of a qualified specialist. At NOCD, all of our licensed therapists deeply understand OCD and are specialty-trained in treating it with ERP. We work side-by-side with the OCD experts and researchers who’ve designed some of the world’s top OCD treatment programs—which means the best care for our members.
And because we know support is vital at every step of your treatment journey, NOCD Therapy includes support between sessions, when it matters most. Once you start seeing a NOCD Therapist, you’ll have the ability to message them confidentially at any time on the NOCD platform. It’s the support you need, when you need it.
Through NOCD Therapy, you’ll also gain access to peer communities, where you can connect with others at a similar life stage or find motivation from people experiencing similar OCD themes. Our Member Advocates are also there to support you in navigating your treatment journey. Each Member Advocate possesses a profound understanding of OCD and related conditions, with many drawing from their personal experiences. And as referenced earlier, dozens of support groups are available for NOCD Therapy members, too.
If you have any questions about starting ERP therapy with a NOCD Therapist and accessing between-session support, please don’t hesitate to book a free 15-minute call with our team. On the call, we can assist you in getting started with a licensed therapist at NOCD who has specialty training in OCD and ERP, share more about our support groups and between-session support, or connect you to other resources that might be helpful.