This week I have something to look forward to as I plan and prepare for my short trip to San Diego for the International OCD Foundation's Annual Conference! Woot! I'm pretty excited, I have to say. :)
In case you don't know what this is, let me give some quick background: every year the International OCD Foundation (IOCDF), a fantastic resource for learning about OCD and finding treatment, hosts a 2 and a half day conference with TONS of presentations and panels, all of which address aspects of OCD and related spectrum disorders and their treatment. Basically, it's my chance to totally geek out for an entire weekend while immersing myself in OCD education. What makes the conference even better is that, for a couple days, I feel like I can let my guard down a bit because I am surrounded by people who understand OCD and have first-hand experience with this disorder, either as sufferers themselves, as friends and family members of sufferers, or as treatment providers of individuals suffering from OCD and related disorders. So yeah, totally my OCD-nerd heaven :).
During each 1-2 hour time slot of the conference, there are several presentations going on simultaneously geared towards different groups of people - OCD sufferers and their family members, therapists and clinicians, or researchers - though anyone is perfectly welcome at any type of presentation. Last year I actually attended a lot of the research-oriented presentations, but then, I studied neuroscience and did research in college so I find that sort of thing completely and utterly fascinating. This year I again want to see some the research talks, but I think I also want to see more of those presentations that offer practical advice and support to those who have OCD. This year, I feel like I'm in a place where I'd be better able to take some of that information in and apply it to my own life, whereas last year I was having a hard enough time as it was taking my own therapists' advice and implementing that. Don't get me wrong, I still struggle to do my homework and comply with my ERP assignments, but I am a bit more flexible and malleable when it comes to thinking about my OCD and ways to fight it. We'll see how adaptive I am soon enough :).
One lecture I really want to attend is "OCD Genetics: Progress Report from the OCD Collaborative Genetics Association (OCGAS) Study" presented by Gerald Nestadt, MD. Apparently they have this lecture every year, and during this talk they do exactly what the title suggests - provide an update on research being done and what we have learned about the genetic basis of OCD. For me this is fascinating because it takes what I learned from too many years of college bio and chem classes and applies it to OCD in a very easy to understand format. I get to learn and feel like the stuff I studied so much in college actually had some use after all :).
Another talk I definitely plan on attending is “Careers in OCD: Which Path Makes Sense For Me?” I actually attended a presentation/panel on the same topic last year and it was really interesting and informative. I kind of have a not-so-secret wish to somehow find a career related to OCD, both so that I can help others and so that I can continually help myself. I think that being immersed in a world that continually encourages non-compulsivity would, among other things, really help me thrive and work at my best, and I would love to in some way be able to help others do the same. Discovering that I have OCD and learning how to fight it has been a life-changing experience for me, and I would love to be able to contribute in some way to helping others learn about and conquer their own struggles with this disorder. Anyways, there are different ways to pursue an interest in OCD, and last year that's exactly what this talk discussed. I haven't given up on the dream, so I plan on going back again to refresh my memory and learn even more :).
Finally, this presentation just happened to catch my eye when I was reading the "Conference Buzz" blog (see, I really am way to interested in this...): "Recovery Avoidance: Why Some People Have It And What Others Can and Cannot Do About It." At last! A presentation that actually addresses avoiding recovery. While I have come a long way in my fight against OCD, avoiding recovery has been a continual impediment to my success throughout treatment. I know what I need to do to get better and I believe that the treatment strategies really do work, and yet sometimes, for the life of me, I just can't help but get in the way of my own progress. Getting better is scary - yes, because ERP is hard, but also because I am still realizing all the ways OCD has affected my life, and going from "OCD sufferer" to "recovering OCD sufferer" is a bit of an identity crisis for me. As I confront my more regular OCD fears, though, I am also confronting my fear of getting better and no longer knowing "who I am." Two birds. One stone. I'm hoping that this particular presentation might address some of these types of issues as part of "recovery avoidance."
So this is certainly not an exhaustive list of all the conference presentations I would like to attend. In all honesty, I would love to attend EVERY LAST ONE OF THEM, but umm...that seems to reek a bit of compulsivity now, doesn't it? Alas, that can't be done, but trust me, I'll be plotting out my schedule well in advance, carefully deciding which talks I just can't miss and those I might just have to. There's really something there for anyone who has a relationship with OCD, in one form or another, and...I love it. Yes, indeed, I do.