I’m currently a thriving writer/director/producer in Los Angeles AND the National Spokesperson for the International OCD Foundation. 6 years ago, I was 32, 100lbs lighter trapped in a twin size bed in my parents’ house paralyzed by my own thoughts. And that was just the culmination of 30+ years living with OCD.
There are absolutely no words to describe how grateful I am to NBI for literally saving my life. After 25 years of therapists and doctors giving me false hope and bad therapy, the team at NBI took my case without hesitation, went above and beyond for me and my family, and would not accept anything less than seeing me through to a healthy life. And they did just that!
2014 Annual OCD Conference
Ethan Smith’s 2014 Keynote at the Annual OCD Conference.
Since I can remember ( age 5 ), I’ve had OCD. As a kid I had severe separation anxiety from my mother. I was fearful she would get in a car accident and die. So I would count for hours to make the anxiety better. I felt that counting from 1-10……and then from 10-1 would somehow save my mother from a car accident and anything terrible happening to her.
I would also tap things to prevent bad things from happening. I would tap the table 3 times with my left hand, next I would tap the same table with my right hand 3 times. Tapping and touch things was a constant thing I would do to try and control things. But in reality, I was letting my “ocd thoughts” trick my brain into believing I needed to perform these actions to keep people safe.
I lived with OCD for 38 years before getting the proper treatment.
After the birth of my son, my OCD got even stronger. I remember the nurses handing him to me. My anxiety had peaked as I feared the nurse would contaminate my son with germs. After that point it was all downhill. I would not allow anybody to touch him unless they used Purell, but it was still very scary for me. When we got home, I bought rubber gloves, stocked my house with Purell, masks and Clorox cleaners. The next 2 1/2 years I spent my days and nights worrying about people getting sick and giving it to my son. I, myself, could not touch my son for the first 3 years of his life. I wore a mask to feed him, had my rubber gloves on and washed my hands excessively to the point my skin was cracking and bleeding. I stayed in my house for 2 years because the fear of germs, even the common cold, scared me. I remember holding my breath as I walked to the mailbox for fear of germs in the air that would make me sick.
I reached out for help at NBI, it was March 16. I’ll never forget the date! I finally found doctors who understood me and my thoughts. I had felt so alone, helpless and scared. After meeting Dr Moritz I was at ease, she and the other doctors at NBI were all trained in the treatment of OCD. How lucky was I to have found them? I had the proper treatment, ERP which was difficult at first, but so effective for OCD. Oh, by the way I was a teacher for 10 years before the birth of my son. I had to stop teaching because I couldn’t walk into a classroom full of kids that may be sick and expose me. So I avoided. OCD took away my love for teaching and being with children.
For the last few years I have worked very hard to learn skills to fight OCD. I have many skills that I use on a daily basis. Since starting treatment in 2010, I’ve been able to travel to NYC, California, Chicago, Atlanta and many more fun places. My son is 10 years old now. I am able to touch him without using gloves or masks! I’m also going back to being a teacher this fall! I’m able to go places with my family, travel, go back to teaching, and most importantly be a good mom and wife. An important value in my life is to be a good mom and wife. Im able to do that now.
I try not to be to hard on myself. I try and use self compassion but it’s taken a very long time for me to do this. NBI and the doctors have saved my life and have given me the tools to be a good mom and have a good marriage, while fighting OCD. Here are 2 quotes that I really like and the NBI doctors are the authors!
“You are NOT OCD, you have OCD but you are XXXX, NOT OCD”
“At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how you felt, what matters is what you did”
I hope this has helped at least one person, I want to give back to the OCD community and give people hope. NBI has given me HOPE and helped me get my life back!