Help Fight Stigma of OCD
I suffered in silence with mental disorders for over 20 years. Despite the challenges, I was able to graduate from school, play music professionally, start a family and build businesses; however, in 2013, everything changed. My mental health had deteriorated to the point in which I was suicidal. My bout with mental illness was further exacerbated by a series of life tragedies. I found myself self-medicating in NYC looking in all the wrong places for help.
Paradoxically, I was simultaneously running a successful and growing digital marketing agency in New York City creating experiences for top brands in fashion, finance, sports and entertainment. And much like I had over the past 20 years, I found myself living 2 lives: the one you knew, and the one you didn't.
The Turning Point
In March 2014, everything changed. After 20 years of struggling in silence, I couldn’t cope any longer and confided in Google for answers to my intrusive thoughts. I searched the phrase, "violent thoughts" and within seconds, I found a site with information about Pure O, OCD, which described my symptoms in the following ways:
- "Recurrent intrusive harm thoughts or mental images of physically assaulting or killing one's spouse, parent, child, self, friends or others."*
- "Recurrent fears that one might be a homosexual, when in fact he or she is not."*
- "Excessively worrying that one does not actually love his/her partner, or is not with the “right” person."*
- "Recurrent fears that one is sinning or not living (or thinking) in a manner that is congruent with their religious, moral, or ethical values."*
I began obsessively searching for more information to only find a grave lack of valuable resources until I found an article written by Rose Bretecher for The Guardian, "Pure O: A Rude Awakening ." Through it, the author humanizes the experience of an inhuman condition. Utilizing humor, wit and bravery, Rose created empathy for this debilitating condition, as well as the realization that I was not alone. At the time, I had no idea that this article would forever change, if not save, my life. For her gift, I am forever grateful.
Creating an Invaluable Resource
Now, it is my turn to create a gift for the sufferers of this debilitating condition. Over the past 2 years, I've been researching information, working with therapists and exploring medications. As the founder and executive creative director of a New York based digital agency, I am using my professional skills to create and curate an educational hub that will prove to be an invaluable resource for the OCD community.
Phase 1: IntrusiveThoughts.org
In March 2016, 2 years from when I found my diagnosis online, I will launch IntrusiveThoughts.org. The site is currently self-funded and in production as an educational hub that humanizes the experience of OCD and helps place sufferers on the proper path to treatment. The website will serve to:
- Humanize the symptoms of OCD to help sufferers seek the proper path to treatment by delivering significant editorial content through web, email and social media channels
- Provide perspectives on how healthy living, Exposure Response Prevention Therapy, and medication can help sufferers live better lives with this chronic condition
- Offer custom videos showcasing healthy living perspectives from experts including psychologists, psychiatrists, nutritionists, health and wellness experts, yoga instructors, educators and beyond
- Play a role in suicide prevention by empowering sufferers with understanding and information
- Raise awareness in the mainstream media relating to misconceptions about OCD and the need for culture change with respect to the conversation about mental health in the United States
- Promote pertinent conversations within the media such as Invisiblia's "Dark Thoughts"
- Serve as a relevant resource to a younger audience that is confiding in Google for answers to mental health issues
With the learnings from Phase 1, I will expand IntrusiveThoughts.org to a holistic mental health platform that humanizes the symptoms of each type of mental illness, building hope and community for the sufferers and their loved ones.
I have a fundamental belief that modern design, relatable language, video perspectives, personal stories and highly curated information are the key ingredients necessary in making a change in the perception of mental health in the U.S.
I am asking you to contribute anything you can to my campaign. The money donated to IntrusiveThoughts.org will go to the artists, writers, coders, videographers, photographers, strategists, digital marketer, dreamers and doers that will ultimately be the change agent for the industry. Further, it will be utilized to build awareness through an integrated paid, earned and owned media strategy. Along the way, I will provide budget transparency through my 501(c)(3) Non Profit Corporation, Intrusive Thoughts, Inc.
For your contribution, words will never express the depth of my gratitude. I can assure you that each donation will only strengthen my commitment to help support the sufferers of mental disorders and mental illness throughout the U.S.
Join me on this journey.
I'm proud of you for what you are doing. Don't know whether or not you know a film producer to help you with this project but I have a friend, Emeka Mbadiwe who lives in New York and is currently finishing up on a Christian 5 film series. Emeka would be a great person to help you get started. Good luck on your project. I will be watching for it.
Hey Aaron, I'm a pure o sufferer from kerala, India diagnosed 3 years back. I came across your project intrusivethoughts.org a few months back. It gave me a good feeling that people who had diagnosed and survived(?) that terror condition try to aware others about the condition and try to help others.Thank you guys for information you people share on the website. And i'm not hesitating to say that website is a good one in other aspects also (like design,presentation..etc).