Jeff Bell

Adversity: Battled severe and debilitating OCD

Advocacy: Became a national spokesman for OCD and cofounded A2A

“For me, adversity-driven advocacy offers the ultimate Greater Good motivation: through service to others, I get a sense of purpose that truly fuels me.”

Jeff Bell’s earliest memories are of what he now knows to be compulsive checking. But with OCD not yet part of the national dialogue in those days, neither Jeff nor his parents realized he was battling a treatable disorder. For whatever combination of reasons, Jeff’s OCD all but disappeared during his high school and college years; but in the early 1990’s (with Jeff in his late 20’s), it returned with a vengeance. Soon, Jeff was living an exhausting double-life as a very public news anchor secretly consumed by a long list of checking and washing rituals. Twice he reached out for help, only to be misdiagnosed. Eventually discovering his challenge in a book about OCD, Jeff began getting treatment in 1993 but struggled to stay motivated. By the summer of 1997, he was at his wits’ end. Out of desperation one night, he found himself making a bargain with the universe he thought he’d never have to keep. “Show me how to turn around this crazy life,” he muttered, “and I’ll share my story with anyone who will listen.”

While an instruction book did not coming drifting down from the mighty heavens, something profound did happen in the wake of that night: Jeff managed to turn that bargain on its head. He told himself that, in the name of helping others with OCD, he was going to share his story, understanding at some core level that doing so would, in fact, turn his own life around. Jeff decided to journal about his OCD challenges, and in 2007, he published his memoir, Rewind, Replay, Repeat. Jeff was named national spokesperson for the International OCD Foundation and travelled the country on the organization’s behalf. The more he shared his story, the stronger he got. Fascinated by this adversity to advocacy process and what he came to call Greater Good motivation, Jeff began researching the concepts for his second book, When in Doubt, Make Belief. In the wake of its publication, Jeff teamed with A2A cofounder Patti Lowery to begin a series of conversations that would pave the way for The A2A Alliance. (For the rest of the A2A story, click here.)