Adversity: Suffered from severe OCD
Advocacy: Became a counselor specializing in OCD and related disorders
“Nothing is more rewarding than helping people take their lives back from OCD.”
Shala Nicely almost died after being hit by a car at the age of four. It was then she says her brain learned the world was a very dangerous place. In elementary school, she discovered her “special” number four, and began doing secret rituals in multiples of four to protect herself and others. “My Rule No. 1 was ‘don’t tell anyone what you see in your head, or you will make it happen.’” She tried various types of therapy beginning at 16, and later medication. Nothing worked. In her mid-30s, she spoke with a psychiatrist who prescribed a medication that allowed her to let go of some of her rituals, only to experience a rare side effect after taking the drug for several years. Off the medication, the relief she had experienced disappeared.
An online search brought her to the International OCD Foundation (IOCDF). She attended the organization’s conference, and her life was changed when she learned for the first time about Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) therapy. After successfully going through ERP therapy herself, “I went back and got a master’s degree in mental health counseling so that I could help people get the right treatment for OCD a whole lot faster than I did.” She finds helping people with OCD to be exceptionally rewarding, noting that according to the IOCDF, it takes on average 14-17 years to get the right treatment for OCD . Nicely is the co-founder and past president for OCD Georgia. She continues to break her Rule No. 1 and is an OCD spokesperson, sharing in an animated and humorous way her stories, struggles and triumphs over OCD.