Anxiety and Panic

Finding the Source of Your Fears

Knowing what is causing your fear and anxiety can go a long way toward finding the solution. Below are some suggestions.

1. Self-evaluation. A person can find the source of his or her own fears by doing some self-evaluation and also by talking to a professional. Asking yourself questions such as: “Why am I afraid?” or “What is causing my anxiety?” will lead you in the right direction.

2. Determine a solution. Once you find the...
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Room for Misery & Room for Joy: My Story

Most people who have been sober longer than a year are asked to give a “lead” -- to tell their story. Mine was structurally simple, covering what it was like, what happened, and what it’s like now. Having only drank for three years, my addiction story is pretty straightforward: I stopped guzzling down mood-altering beverages.

My depression story, however, is not.

There are too many circles and uneven ends to fit into any neat, compact narrative. It seems as though the longer you dance with the demon of depression, the more embracing you become of different health philosophies and the more tolerant of unanswered questions.

Is it open-mindedness or desperation?

I don’t know.

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Psychology Around the Net: September 27, 2014

Need caught up on this week's psychology-related news around the 'net? From Alanis Morissette's view on happiness to what NOT to say to someone with bipolar disorder, we've got you covered.

Behind the Online Comments: The Psychology of Online Trolls: We've all experienced them. Now find out what motivates them.

Most US Kids Who Take ADHD Meds Don't Get Therapy: Fewer than a quarter of US children prescribed ADHD also receive talk therapy, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Pediatrics recently reported of the findings from study conducted by the nonprofit research organization RAND.

Tax Court: Anxiety, Depression Are Not Physical Injuries: Ever wonder how the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) views anxiety?

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Children and Teens

Passing it On: Parenthood & Mental Illness

“Aren’t you afraid he will get your disease?”

This question was uttered by a colleague at a department picnic this past summer when I was still working as a college instructor. This colleague had known me for a few years. She had known me when I was still adamantly not going to have children. She knew of my diagnoses. This was the first time she had seen me since I had given birth, and the first time she met my son, who had just turned one year old.

She chose to ask a question about my fear of passing on my psychiatric illnesses.Not a question concerning the million other things that happens with new motherhood -- a question of genetic loading.
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Anxiety and Panic

The Paralysis of Analysis: On Overthinking

A friend told me the other day to stop overthinking.

“Bah ha ha ha!”

That’s like telling the pope not to get on his knees, my daughter to stop craving sweets, or a teenage boy not to think about sex.

I’ve always wanted to be one of those people who didn’t need a second longer with a menu. The truth is, I don’t even read the whole menu because I get so overwhelmed. I go to the salads section, where I only have to choose between five items. And I hope that it comes with dressing, because that decision could involve up to 10 candidates.

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OCD as a Barometer & How it Can Help

Anyone who’s been around obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) knows that completely erasing OCD from a sufferer’s life is unlikely. I’m not here to imply differently.

However, I do think people can feel much better than they do now. I believe we all have health barometers that indicate when something is out of balance. We feel the pressure building inside us. As individuals, we’re wise to recognize our own barometers and learn from them.

Many people with anxiety disorders have thought “it’s all in my head.” After getting a diagnosis of OCD, I’ve heard folks express great relief when they realize they’re “not crazy” and begin to recognize the sneaky ways OCD obsessions blossom in their mind.

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Anxiety and Panic

9 Ways to Let Go of Stuck Thoughts

Stuck thoughts... the brick walls that form a prison around your mind. The harder you try to get rid of them, the more powerful they become.

I’ve been wrestling with stuck thoughts ever since I was in fourth grade. The content or nature of the obsessions have morphed into many different animals over the course of 30-plus years, but their intensity and frequency remains unchanged.

Here are some strategies I use when they make a surprise visit, techniques that help me free myself from their hold.

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Brain and Behavior

7 Ways to Stop Obsessing

Mason Cooley once wrote: “The cure for an obsession: get another one.”

That’s about as good advice as any that I’ve heard on how to quiet the annoying voices inside your head. They nag, persist, harass, and endure longer than your patience or composure.

I haven’t been very successful at managing mine, as I’m usually processing three obsessions at a time. But a few of my strategies have helped me from time to time. Here they are.

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OCD & Living Without False Hope

When one has a breakthrough in therapy or in life, one experiences a feeling of aliveness. As a person with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), these moments have been few and far between over the course of my 33 years.

It is natural for human beings to want to give other human beings hope. I am not trashing exposure therapy and the therapeutic process. These things work for a lot of people with OCD.

You’ve probably heard that people with OCD get intrusive thoughts. A simple question is: How many intrusive thoughts go away with exposure therapy?

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Affirmative Action for the Mentally Ill

After 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.

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OCD & Trying to Catch Every Last Detail

Last 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?

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Brain and Behavior

Finding Work or a Job When You Have OCD

I 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.

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