One camper’s OCD Camp experience
I´ve always loved being in nature. Sadly, over the past two decades, OCD had cunningly taken more and more of this resource from me, associating nature with contamination fears. Therefore, although I had been camping in nature before OCD had stolen my life, I would have never thought that this could become possible for me again.
After starting CBT with ERP and embarking on my recovery journey from OCD in summer 2016, a whole new world unfolded. Bit by bit, I stopped “scanning” nature for potential contamination threats. I was able to mindfully notice its beauties and get into enjoyable, calming physical contact with trees, soil, grass, rocks and water again. In parallel, “The OCD Stories Podcasts” had been educating, motivating and inspiring me, conveying hope that recovery from OCD is possible. With these newly developing skills and exciting possibilities during my recovery journey, I felt ready to apply for the first OCD Camp in the UK, and luckily got accepted.
For me, this camp was truly life-changing! Most importantly, I got to know wonderful human beings – my fellow campers, Stu, Eliot, the campsite owner Ian, and our empathic therapist Pete Weiss from Seattle, USA. Right at the beginning of the camp weekend, Pete created a caring and respectful atmosphere for all of us to open up and show emotions. It was great to meet others “who get it” and feel connected. We shared learnings and ideas on how to live an amazing meaningful life while being in recovery and mastering OCD.
I really loved the value-based and recovery-focused spirit in the camp, helping and supporting one another, our conversations at eye-level, laughing together, our activities (a little challenging yet rewarding), the campfire atmosphere, the delicious self-made food, seeing bats, looking at the treetops and at the stars in the sky.
Having had the opportunity of exposures by challenge or choice, with the support of our therapist Pete, Stu and my fellow campers, was awesome. I would have never imagined being able to actually touch a toilet seat, followed by brushing my teeth without having washed my hands. Experiencing that I could stretch myself and do this specific exposure opened new horizons for me. Since OCD Camp weekend, I have been able to engage in exposures which I would have considered impossible before. Remembering that uncertainty is part of a rich, self-determined and meaningful life and to continue what started in the OCD Camp, I have since then tried to take value-based decisions on each single day.
For me, the trustworthy relationships formed during this inspiring camp have gone beyond the camp weekend, intensified and become important in my day-to-day life and ongoing recovery. We continuously support one another on our recovery journeys, give and receive hope, motivate each other, and are planning to reunite from time to time. This means a lot to me. I found my tribe – my community!
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