October 13-19 marks International OCD Awareness Week. This is a time rich with possibilities for individual and collective healing, and for igniting systemic change – by raising awareness, lifting mental health stigma, and continuing the work of making treatment accessible to all who seek it.

What can this time carved out for awareness mean for us, people living with OCD? Today, one answer rings especially true for me. Living with OCD can feel extremely isolating – I wish to use my voice to raise awareness of each other. No matter how alone we may feel, we can build systems of support together. We don’t have to take this journey alone.

In my own hardest moments with Purely Obsessional OCD, I felt like I was trapped in a room with my greatest fears. There were no windows and the door seemed to be locked from outside. As I sat with my fearful thoughts, it was as if the thoughts grew bigger while the room grew smaller. I felt that I was the only person experiencing such thoughts and that something was terribly wrong with me. I believed that my thoughts defined me, and I could not imagine sharing my truth with anyone. I felt completely isolated.

I know now that I’m not the only one who has struggled with the pain of OCD.  This in itself is a source of healing for me. If you are feeling alone, I am sending love and solidarity to you. Not as a mental health professional, but as someone who travels my own journey with OCD.  Maybe this week our paths can intersect for a moment, and we can recognize in each other some of the experiences we feared we carried alone. I do not know your name, but I know that your thoughts, no matter how shameful and isolating they may feel, do not measure your worth as a person. I know that you are intrinsically valuable. You are worth more than OCD could ever take away.