Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work (MSW)


Social Work

Program Name/Specialization

Individuals, Families, and Groups


Lyle S. Hallman Faculty of Social Work

First Advisor

Martha Kuwee Kumsa

Advisor Role

thesis advisor


This study is an autoethnography exploring my experiences of living with Obsessive Compulsive “disorder” (OCD). The stigma surrounding mental health is one of the most devastating and problematic issues in Western society today. Many individuals with a mental “disorder” suffer in silence due to the shame and fear of being ridiculed and discriminated against within their intimate and wider social networks. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is currently one of the most prevalent anxiety “disorders” and is characterized by intruding obsessive thoughts and ritualized or compulsive behaviours. Individuals experience a great deal of distress and embarrassment in dealing with the stigma and misunderstanding surrounding the “disorder”. Currently, however, there is a dearth of research literature examining the subjective and intimate accounts of those struggling with mental health issues in general and OCD in particular.

In this study, I address this gap in the literature by providing deeply personal autoethnographic accounts of my own experiences of living with OCD. My data sources are current self-observations, past recollections, and a collection of personal poems, reflections, stories, and journal entries. By using an interpretive approach within the social constructionist framework, I look at both my internal subjective struggles and external societal stigmatization. Three major themes emerge from my thematic analysis of the data: guilt, shame, and hope. I discuss these findings in three chapters and provide the implications for social work in my concluding remark. In narrating my personal struggles and successes, I hope to contribute to deeper understanding of mental health and OCD, while also challenging dominant societal discourses and misrepresentations of mental “disorders”.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season


Included in

Social Work Commons