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Self-Love a Gateway to Freedom from Shame 

What is shame? 

Shame is an emotion any human being can experience regardless of their mental health. It is insidious, heavy, and sometimes painful. Shame brings on a slew of other emotions like anger, embarrassment, fear, and sadness. Even though it is part of the human experience, there is still work we can do to help those who experience shame reduce the intensity of that emotion. In the OCD community, many individuals have vocalized their experiences with shame. Although shame might be a side effect of an OCD diagnosis, there is so much to do as a community to help reduce shame and support others. 

Why do people with OCD experience shame?

There are a variety of reasons an individual with OCD might experience shame. These reasons include: 

Taboo obsessions: There might be shame around the actual topic of their obsessions. It can feel very scary to share these symptoms with others.  

Frequency and length of their symptoms: An individual who has suffered from OCD for a long time or has very debilitating symptoms may experience shame due to the discomfort and experiences.

Decrease in quality of life: If symptoms become unmanageable or decrease an individual’s quality of life, it can bring up heavy emotions like shame or embarrassment or fear. 

Lack of education and awareness: Due to the lack of awareness and education around OCD there might be shame between the disconnect of public perceptions of OCD and real experiences from individuals with a diagnosis. 

What is the long-term impact? 

Everyone with OCD has a different experience with shame but for some individuals it can cause additional experiences and emotions like: 

-isolation 

-withdrawal from activities 

-embarrassment

– keeps people from seeking life saving treatment 

-grief due to time lost from unmanageable symptoms 

How to reduce shame around OCD? 

It is so important for folks to remember that there is nothing shameful about an OCD diagnosis! The more we can remind each other that there is life beyond shame and grief and pain, in fact there are people who live full, happy lives with obsessive-compulsive disorder. 

There are many ways we can work to reduce shame. Some ideas include: 

Join a community to get involved in conversations to help reduce stigmas around OCD and mental health. 

Join an OCDPeers group to hear other people’s stories and to provide support. 

Work on radical acceptance

Work on self-love 

It’s important to remember that OCD is not the wholeness of an individual’s identity. And even though the shame may attach itself to that identity, just remember that there is life beyond the diagnosis. Everyone deserves to live a life free of shame. Let’s work together to make that a reality.