Monday, May 10, 2010

Bringing a Voice to Children and Adults Who Suffer with OCD

When Vrinda Pendred was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome at age 7, the doctor failed to notice she had obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) as well, despite these symptoms being a huge part of why her parents brought her to the doctor in the first place. Even when she was finally diagnosed with OCD at almost 14, Vrinda had no comprehension of how complex and wide-ranging the disorder was, even within herself. Only as an adult did she finally start to understand just how deeply OCD affected her life, mentally, physically, emotionally and socially.

Vrinda’s story is not at all unique. In fact, if there is anything rare about it, it’s that she was diagnosed as young as age 13. Some people don’t discover there’s a name for their intrusive thoughts and compulsive behaviour until mid-life. Others are never diagnosed throughout their entire lives, their quirkiness remaining a mystery both to themselves and to the people in their lives. We can only imagine the suffering they’ve experienced, struggling through homelife, school and work, feeling misunderstood by teachers, parents, friends and colleagues.

And it’s not just the people who have OCD who are suffering. Think of the frustration and heartache felt by millions of teachers and parents around the world, who watch their students or children struggling with OCD (often undiagnosed), but cannot understand what is happening because these children are too young to express what is going on inside their heads. The sense of helplessness, and even guilt, can be enormous, as they simply do not know what to do to help an OCD child, and are at a total loss as to how to manage or respond to the unusual behaviour and destructive anxieties.

And what is most poignant is the thought that all of this could be avoided–and even treated–if there were more education about the many facets that make up OCD.

And that is what Vrinda Pendred has set out to do. Now 27 years old, and a mother herself, she has merged her two most passionate callings in life: writing and educating the world about neurological conditions, such as OCD. Vrinda has created a unique publishing company called Conditional Publications, whose primary aim is to help push forward this education, by devoting its catalogue to publishing the works of writers with neurological conditions, thus giving a voice to the real experts on these mysterious disorders.

Their first book, Check Mates: A Collection of Fiction, Poetry and Artwork about Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, by People with OCD, is coming to Amazon Tuesday, May 11. Put together by 20 writers and artists from around the world, all who have OCD, Check Mates showcases a range of emotions, from love to hate, joy to rage, fear and sorrow to hope and optimism. There’s even a little bit of humour. What it doesn’t do is shy away from the truth. Every angle is covered, no matter how painful, which makes for a startling and moving read.

Whether you’re a parent or teacher of a child dealing with OCD, a therapist or coach of OCD clients, or you have OCD yourself, everyone will find something in this book that speaks to them.

And if you don’t think you know anyone with OCD, have a look around. I think you’ll be surprised (if not shocked) at how many people have it, but are hiding in silence and isolation. This book will open up your eyes, your mind and your heart, and will bring a long overdue healing for many.

And, true to her principles, Vrinda will be donating a portion of the proceeds from the sale of every copy of Check Mates to OCD charities, to encourage research and treatment for the condition.

I hope you will join me in celebrating the launch of this unique book. Check Mates is the first ever collection of fiction, poetry, and artwork about OCD.

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