OCD Articles

Affirmative Action for the Mentally Ill

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

Affirmative Action for the Mentally IllAfter reviewing most of what I’ve written about my obsessive-compulsive disorder in the last year, I came to the conclusion that vocational rehabilitation systems that succeed in putting recovering mentally ill people back to work are rare. Some would say this is too complicated and costly for the government. I say this is ridiculous.

I have been through many vocational rehabilitation scenarios — job coaches, agencies or programs that send me leads. All of these have led nowhere.

The real problem is finding people who actually care about getting you a job. They are few and far between. Or they don’t want you to get a job that is better than theirs even if your resume is a good one.

OCD & Trying to Catch Every Last Detail

Sunday, November 17th, 2013

OCD & Trying to Catch Every Last DetailLast Christmas, I received as a gift Deepak Chopra’s book, Super Brain. As a person with a mental illness, I wasn’t sure if this was good news or bad news.

A majority of my prior Christmases have been lackluster because I relive the same year, in and out, without seeming to make the progress I desire in my life. It’s kind of like the movie Groundhog Day , only for years and years. I wasn’t sure if analyzing my brain any further would be a good idea.

So how does OCD relate to all the books, paintings, and movies that a society produces? Essentially, these supposedly give us hope that our lives will get better. My real question is: Does art really achieve any more than false hope for those of us with mental illness?

Finding Work or a Job When You Have OCD

Monday, October 14th, 2013

Finding Work or a Job When You Have OCDI am generally a pretty positive guy.

A long time ago, when I was talking with a therapist during behavior therapy, I recall she was trying to tell me something about the nature of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). She said that I seemed very happy talking to her while I was talking to her. However, she said, in the end, after the therapy session, OCD would try to remove the hope I was exhibiting during the session once I walked out to the sidewalk. Reality would take over.

In this article, I argue that it is OCD — and not reality — that tries to systematically remove hope of this particular sufferer. If it doesn’t remove hope about one subject, it systematically moves to the next thing.

OCD: Sometimes It’s Not You, It’s the Situation

Friday, September 13th, 2013

OCD: Sometimes It's not You, It's the SituationVirginia Woolf, the 20th century English author who also suffered from mental illness, once wisely wrote “You cannot find peace by avoiding life.”

Recently, I was talking to my psychiatrist. It was another one of those “Do I or don’t I?” medication moments that people with mental illness routinely have to live with.

He had treated me for my obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) for about six months before I decided to be treated by another facility. I didn’t like the new facility’s recommendations, so I had gone back to this doctor for a second opinion.

The Disturbing Discrepancy & Double Standard Between Mental Illness & Other Health Concerns

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

The Disturbing Discrepancy & Double Standard Between Mental Illness & Other Health ConcernsIt would seem that the subject of mental illness has, at long last, captured the attention of the American public. Why, you may ask, is this so?

Perhaps it is the fact that when mind-boggling mass murders occur in such ordinary towns as Newtown, Conn. or Aurora, Colo., we are inundated with stories about the suspected mental state of the perpetrators.

Although the aforementioned individuals may suffer, or may have suffered, from any number of debilitating mental illnesses, the vast majority of the mentally ill are not violent. Unfortunately, their stories, and their daily struggles merely to survive, rarely make the 6 o’clock news.

Going to Battle with OCD is a ‘Colossal Struggle’

Sunday, August 11th, 2013

Going to Battle with OCD is a 'Colossal Struggle'I was quiet in high school. Some may have described me as a loner, but I did have friends. I was awkward and scared that I would be judged harshly if I spoke my mind. Some things that gave me comfort during the first years of being diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) were comedy (The Late Show with David Letterman), literature (Kurt Vonnegut), and music (Pearl Jam).

Society’s influence is at its worst during the teenage years. Sex and violence are pushed on teenagers through many different ways (music, TV, peers, et cetera).

I probably was somewhat of a loner because of these influences — along with having OCD, of course.

Can Distraction Contribute to Mental Illness?

Saturday, August 10th, 2013

Can Distraction Contribute to Mental Illness?When Shakespeare wrote of “distraction” in his plays and sonnets, however, he was not speaking of something that diverts our attention. Back then, the word was used to describe a state of mental disturbance or insanity. Even today, one definition of the word “distraction” can imply some degree of emotional upset.

So was Shakespeare onto something? 

Certainly we can be distracted and not experience mental illness. A loud noise, unruly children or a sudden rainstorm are all events that can distract us from what we’re doing at the moment. 

But can repetitive distraction — nonstop ringing phones, incessant email and text message interruptions, meetings and co-workers who need immediate attention — contribute to mental distress or even mental illness?

OCD & Chinatown

Sunday, July 21st, 2013

OCD & ChinatownOne way to explain obsessive-compulsive disorder involves a comparison to the old Roman Polanski film “Chinatown”, starring Jack Nicholson. Nicholson plays a detective investigating a suspicious California land developer (played by the director John Huston).

As in many detective thrillers, the closer he gets to the truth, the more chaos ensues. He uncovers an incestuous relationship, innocent characters are murdered, and in the final scene, his friend declares his efforts to make the situation right a lost cause, a tragedy (“It’s Chinatown, Jake”).

Thankfully, I don’t view obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) as negatively as the “Chinatown” plot. However, there are parallels.

5 Tips for Managing Anxiety During Transition

Sunday, July 14th, 2013

5 Tips for Managing Anxiety During TransitionOne of the primary characteristics of a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) is difficulty processing change. The uncertainty of a new path generates anxiety, sometimes so crippling that the person is unable to move forward on the new path in front of her.

I am reminded of that this month as I make the significant transition from a job as a defense contractor — a communications advisor to a cloud computing company, with comfortable benefits — to an unstable gig as a freelance writer crafting pieces on mental health. I am following my heart all right, as it’s racing to catch up with me.

Every time I sit down to write a piece, I second-guess myself and list all the reasons why I’m unqualified to write articles that will technically be read by a few people.

I have felt this way every time I move through a transition. And so I may know a thing or two about how to manage this kind of anxiety…

The Origins of Anxiety

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

The Origins of AnxietyAccording to author and psychiatrist Jeffrey P. Kahn, M.D., in his book Angst: Origins of Anxiety & Depression, today’s disorders might’ve been yesterday’s valuable social instincts.

Today’s panic disorder might’ve prevented our ancestors from venturing to potentially dangerous places, far away from their families and tribes.

Today’s social anxiety might’ve maintained social hierarchies and peace in primitive times.

Today’s obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) might’ve helped our ancestors keep tidy and safe nests.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder in the Media

Sunday, April 28th, 2013

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder in the MediaSometimes, I overhear people casually using the term “OCD” (obsessive-compulsive disorder). They’re ‘OCD with being clean’ or ‘OCD with organizational skills.’

In fact, however, a real struggle with OCD is a manifestation of anxiety that creates an actual disturbance in one’s life.

Lena Dunham, creator/ writer/ producer/ star of the HBO award-winning series “Girls,” showcased the leading character, Hannah, (played by Dunham herself) in very raw and honest encounters with the illness toward the end of this past season. Hannah had dealt with OCD in high school. It resurfaced when she was faced with two significant stressors: trying to write an e-book in a short time frame, and dealing with the rocky aftermath of a breakup.

Whether the scenes illustrated episodes of relentless tics, counting, or a compulsive habit that brought her to the emergency room, “Girls” took on authentic territory that invited other OCD sufferers to feel less alone.

How to Stop Worrying about Worrying

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

How to Stop Worrying about WorryingSir Winston Churchill, who battled plenty of demons, once said, “When I look back on all these worries, I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which had never happened.”

Unfortunately that advice wouldn’t have been able to stop me from praying rosary after rosary when I was in fourth grade to avert going to hell, nor does it quiet the annoying noise and chatter inside my brain today in any given hour. But the fact that a great leader battled the worry war does provide me some consolation.

It doesn’t matter whether you are a chronic worrier without an official diagnosis or battling severe obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), a neurobehavioral disorder that involves repetitive unwanted thoughts and rituals. The steps to overcome faulty beliefs and develop healthy patterns of thinking are the same.

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