Frederick W. Thompson Anxiety Disorders Centre Mental health Sunnyview

OCD: one patient’s story

We can all relate to checking the front door a few times, or maybe walking back into the kitchen more than once to see if the stovetop is really turned off. These small intrusions are just a glimpse into what a person with obsessive compulsive disorder, or OCD, has to deal with. About 1 in 40 people have symptoms severe enough to fit the clinical definition of OCD: when their rituals (or repetitive behaviours) take up more than one hour of their day and cause a lot of stress.

And then there are the more extreme cases, like Harlan Kirshenbaum. At just 20 years old, his life should have been opening up to relationships, work and having fun. Instead, over the 13 years of his illness, he developed more than 100 daily rituals that made him a virtual slave to his disease. He became housebound and unable to touch or look at family members in fear that he would make them sick. As he describes it, he was the puppet and his OCD was the puppet master.

OCD patient Harlan Kirshenbaum
Harlan Kirshenbaum shares his story in the video.

The reason Harlan shares his story in my video is to reach others who may not know where to turn for help. Harlan did eventually get the treatment he needed, and his story has a hopeful message for anyone looking for direction. The video also has insights from Dr. Peggy Richter, one of Canada’s foremost experts in the areas of OCD. If there is one message she wants to have heard, it’s that OCD is a treatable condition.

Learn more about services offered at Sunnybrook’s Frederick W. Thompson Anxiety Disorder Centre

About the author

Monica Matys

Monica Matys

Monica Matys is a Communications Advisor at Sunnybrook.

Have a question about this post? Get in touch.