Category Archives: Psychobabble

My OCD Story, Part 1: Hand Washing and Worry

This is the first in a series of posts about my obsessive-compulsive disorder. It’ll be part biography, part documentary about the disease, and part self-help manual. If you struggle with OCD, I’ve learned some tricks and habits that may help.

Starting this is really difficult for me, but I feel like this is the block that’s preventing my life from moving forward. My OCD story is stuck in the machinery of my brain, and I feel like I’ll never be able to write again unless I tell it.

That’s the thing about obsessive-compulsive disorder. It loves the dark. It hates when you reveal its secrets, or talk about it like it’s no big deal. It taught me, at a very young age, to hide, to fear, and to lie.

My Beautiful, Anxious, Shitty Childhood

I grew up in an idyllic middle-class household in Northern Alabama. Two parents, a brother 2.5 years older than me, and all the toys and video games I could handle. We had a huge backyard festooned with fire flies and honeysuckle, and we pretty much always had a pug and a cat. My mom made us Kool-Aid and Jello, and sometimes she’d fry baloney with a slit down its radius to make little Pac-Men. ... continue reading.

On Despair

I wrote the following about a week ago. I was feeling really depressed, and I wanted to get some thoughts out while I was in that state. It didn’t go far:

There’s something that a lot of people don’t understand about depression. It’s not about feeling sad. Sadness is okay. Sadness and happiness are like your left and right hand, each equal in dignity, each wonderful in its own clumsy, apeish way.

It’s not grief. Grief is an expression of joy turned on its head, a recognition of the ripple left in the world by a beloved person or thing. Anger is passion denied, hatred is love forsworn. The line between these concepts is so thin as to be imaginary, a product of our lack of self-knowledge.

So what is depression? Sadness, you see, would be too kind. Sadness would mean wistfulness, a longing for things lost and for things never to be. Sadness is a comfort that we create in the lulls between ecstasy, a burial shroud meant to be folded and kept with our other treasures. When we are sad, when we grieve, it’s the moment our feet touch the ground between leaps. ... continue reading.

For When You Can’t Forgive: The Power of Pity

Let’s say someone has wronged you grievously, possibly repeatedly over the course of your life. People keep telling you that you’re “only hurting yourself” by holding a grudge, that forgiveness will set you free, but… it just doesn’t sit right. It’s a square peg in a round hole. You try to forgive, but it chafes at you because it feels wrong.

Life is full of petty little tyrants, bullies with a hard-on for their own power. That boss who treated you like an insect because he had risen to the lofty position of “manager at a Starbucks.” The friend who manipulated you for years for seemingly no reason other than caprice. The abuser who controlled you because… why? They had a taste of power over someone else and their first impulse was to instill shame. ... continue reading.

“Should I Go to a Psychiatrist?” Frequently Asked Questions

As I subtly implied in my post “Feel Depressed A Lot? Please Go Get Medicated, You Jerk,” I tend to think that medication is a good idea if you’ve got mood or anxiety problems. I’d like to use this post to answer some questions about the whole process, maybe allay some fears, and possibly confirm some others. It’s a mixed bag, but I think that the eventual positives outweigh the negatives.

“Why should I bother getting medicated?”

If you’re chronically down in the dumps, or if you can’t act like yourself because you’re so damned stressed out, medicine can make you feel better. In fact (and this is the main reason for me), it can make you feel more like yourself.

I recently got on a new regimen (sometimes this shit stops working quite right, or you get new goals), and suddenly I can leave my house again. I can stand talking on the phone and answering emails. I’m no longer binging on sugar or booze, and my mood is just plain better. ... continue reading.

How to Talk To Your Mentally Ill Loved Ones

So you love a person with mental illness. Maybe they have depression, social anxiety, or even schizophrenia or obsessive-compulsive disorder. I can’t help you help them with a specific disorder, but that’s okay. You shouldn’t try to help them with their specific disorder either. You are not a therapist.

That is to say, you shouldn’t be a therapist. Maybe you’ve found yourself falling into that role: You try to help them figure out ways of beating their disorder, you try to ask them just the right questions so that they’ll feel better, or you look up therapeutic techniques and see if they’ll play along. As a long-time sufferer of all sorts of crazy shit, allow me to kindly say: Cut it out. ... continue reading.