Adversity: Became debilitated by OCD in 2010
Advocacy: Started a grassroots movement to raise OCD awarenessKevin Putman’s first “OCD memory” was at age 10 as he packed for a camping trip. “I took out all of my socks and I spread them out, and I tried every single sock on,” he says. He put each sock on his left and then right foot, and marked them according to which side “felt” better. But it wasn’t until he sat in a college psychology course that he learned about OCD. “As I was taking notes, I felt like someone was punching me in the stomach,” he says. “Everything was right on.” He was functioning until 2010, when his OCD got so severe he could no longer function. “It had gotten to the point where I didn’t want to turn anything on, because I’d have to turn it off. I didn’t want to move one way, because I knew I wasn’t going to feel symmetrical,” he says. “I was at home on the couch in a sleeping bag.” At one point, he made plans to jump off a nearby bridge. Luckily, his wife bought him a plane ticket to get treatment in Houston, Texas, where he stayed for two months. The experience changed his life. “Before then, I was at the point where I was like, ‘I’m the only one in the entire world that knows how I feel,’” he says. “But I started realizing that tons of people have OCD.”
Unfortunately, the small town Kevin returned home to had no OCD support groups. One day, he found himself buying a second ping-pong table, and it hit him: He could organize a ping-pong tournament to raise awareness about OCD. About 100 individuals showed up for the event, and in the corner, nonchalantly but effectively, was an information table about OCD. A few months later, Kevin held his first support group with the people he met. Today, he is the founder of Run OCD, a grassroots movement that raises awareness about OCD by sponsoring support groups, hosting ping-pong events and educating others. Kevin also participates in national OCD conferences and has established himself as a go-to-guy in his community.