Helen Chang.

The path has definitely been a bumpy/curvy one. I’ve had OCD for over 20 years, and the journey is far from over.

It will be a life-long struggle.

However, I am in a much better place now than I was as a kid.

When I was little, I didn’t know that what I was experiencing was OCD at the time.

I just knew that I was extremely anxious and that I was going to great lengths to make sure that all my homework assignments were submitted and received by my teacher.

I used to call almost every single one of my classmates each evening after school to ask them if we had homework that night, just so I could confirm that everything was fine.

Needless to say, things got out of hand fast and as a child, you’re not mature enough yet to understand your own thoughts and feelings.

And unfortunately, none of the adults in my life (not even the school counselor that I went to see multiple times) could figure out what was “wrong” with me.

Helen Chang.

Over the years, I became an expert at hiding my OCD so that other people wouldn’t suspect anything strange was going on inside my head.

There were times when the OCD was quiet and other times when it was so loud that I couldn’t think straight.

After having my first child, my OCD took a turn for the worst and made me imagine terrible things happening to my baby.

My OCD was stealing time away from my daughter.

Instead of focusing on her needs, I was caught up in my own.

That’s when I decided I needed to do something and started researching self-help resources and came across the concept of mindful awareness.

I studied and practiced, and it was horrible at first and my anxiety was through the roof, but I got through it thankfully.

Today, I still struggle with keeping it in check sometimes.

I have to consciously make an effort to get better. It’s up to me to help myself.

J.

How do you define “healing”? What does it mean?

Helen Chang.

To me, ‘healing’ means forgiving those who were less understanding of my OCD.

Healing is moving forward with my life and letting go of all the negative things that happened in the past.

Concentrating on making progress to getting a little better and a little strong each day.

J.

What happens to the broken pieces? In other words, is the goal to clear them away or to incorporate them into our lives?

Helen Chang.

I like to clear them away because I feel that’s the best way to move forward with my life. I try to let things go instead of holding on to them.

J.

Where’s a place to start if you want to heal yourself from your story’s hurt and damage?

Helen Chang.

You can start with your close friends and family.

Confiding in others is an effective way to lighten your spirit.

You no longer feel like you’re going it alone.

J.

What tools to use to detect the symptoms of what needs to heal before it gets severe?

Helen Chang.

A simple tool is a journal or notebook.

Keeping a daily diary of one’s thoughts and actions can really help with self-reflection and hopefully realizing when things are getting worse or out of control.

There are also so many great resources and self-help books to educate yourself and identify symptoms early.

J.

When is the right time to heal?

Helen Chang.

I think it’s today – at least to get started.

Trying to heal isn’t something that you should put off for too long.

We all only have so much time on this earth, so why not spend it at least making an effort to get better.

J.

Is there a stage in life where anxiety, pain, and grief, go away completely? Why?

Helen Chang.

If there is, I haven’t gotten there yet.

I hope so, that would be so nice to be free of those things.

J.

What’s the center that helps you weather the storms of life? How do you recharge it?

Helen Chang.

My relationship with my husband helps to keep me centered.

He’s definitely my rock and is extremely supportive and understanding.

We try to keep our relationship strong by laughing together.

I love it when he makes me laugh.

J.

How do we build communities required to nurture our healing?

Helen Chang.

We start by teaching the youngest generations about empathy and how to have it for others.

We create mentorship programs to connect people to one another.

And we organize forums for those struggling with something in their lives and give them a platform to speak up and share their stories.

J.

How do we find healing outside of traditional medical models that are either ineffective or that we do not have access to?

Helen Chang

I think we look to other cultures for different ideas and viewpoints on healing.

J.

How do we incorporate this within our families?

Helen Chang.

Within our own families, we need to foster an environment of open communication and consistent dialogue.

Simply talking to one another and being open with one another can make a world of difference in our lives.

Helping us to bounce back faster from life’s challenges and heal faster.

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