When Your Brain Is Drained – OCD & Mental Exhaustion

Have you ever felt emotionally drained or had the impression that your problems are impossible to overcome? Have you ever had the feeling that you do not care about anything anymore and you’re just way too tired to do things that you used to enjoy?

Well, I guess most of us have had similar feelings as mental exhaustion can happen to anyone who experiences long-term stress – just think about the way you feel after a long, stressful workday. And apart from stress, there are many other reasons behind mental fatigue but in today’s post I will only talk about the one that has always had the greatest impact on my life: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

Now, if you google OCD, you will see that mental exhaustion is not mentioned on the list of OCD symptoms. And I guess we cannot even say that this feeling (or state of mind or I do not even know how to call it) is an actual sign of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. However, it’s definitely something that most OCD sufferers experience from time to time.

But before starting to talk about OCD and how it can totally drain your brain, let’s take a look at the signs of mental exhaustion.

Signs Of Mental Exhaustion

Mental fatigue has a wide range of symptoms which may include:

  • Apathy (feeling of not caring)
  • Feeling of hopelessness
  • Lack of motivation
  • Impatience and irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating / inability to focus
  • Decline in productivity
  • Headaches
  • Upset stomach (I honestly did not know this could be a sign of mental exhaustion but now it all makes sense!)
  • Poor performance
  • Social isolation

Well yeah – with mental fatigue, a lot of things can happen to you and most of them are far from being pleasant. I have always been a very social person but sometimes I feel that I just do not have the energy to talk to other people. And I have always enjoyed writing but it’s pretty difficult to put a great article together when your brain is completely drained. If you have ever been mentally exhausted I think you know the feeling when all you want to do is laying down on your bed and watching Netflix. Even though you know you have a lot of work and an insane amount of tasks to complete, you are just not motivated enough to do them. Anyways, I am not here to complain, I just wanted to give a more personal insight to what mental exhaustion can feel like.

As you might have noticed, I did not publish too many posts in the last couple of weeks and one of the main reasons behind this was my totally drained brain. Now, do not get me wrong. I really do not want to blame it all on my OCD because this time it’s mainly because I am pretty much “over-committed”. You know, I have always found it difficult to say “no” when other people ask for my help so….here I am. Drowning in the ocean of tasks. Anyways, let’s get back to the topic and see how OCD can lead to mental fatigue.

OCD – Your Annoying Friend

Spending time alone is something that all of us needs. Now if you have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, this is a privilege you can rarely enjoy as your friend, OCD is always there with you. I guess if OCD was an actual person, he would be the most annoying human being you have ever met. Sometimes I wish OCD was only like a crazy ex-boyfriend or something because then, I would be able to get a restraining order and this whole thing would be over but obviously life is not as simple as that.

Just imagine how tiring it could be to spend your days with the most annoying person you can think of and I guess you can kind of see how exhausting living with OCD can be. And if not – let me just share my story with you. Do not think of a very special story – it’s just a day with OCD.

Just Another Day With OCD

That terrible alarm wakes me up. I am not a morning person, I have never been one and I will probably never be one. But I have a job so I have no other choice. I open my eyes and I am kind of fighting for my life. Every morning is like that. The first thing I do is checking my hair. I just have to make sure that I haven’t gone completely bald – that’s one of my biggest fears and I have already started losing hair. And this makes me feel anxious. I just feel that I am ugly and that I look much older than I actually am and I can not stop touching my receding hairline because I feel that I have to do it. It’s a kind of compulsion that my OCD forces me to do. And obviously, it is not the most useful compulsion as it makes my hair fall out even more.

I usually spend about ten minutes checking my hair and then I start to put myself together. Taking a shower. Getting dressed. Making a coffee. And drinking my coffee. Speaking about coffee: it’s another “morning danger”. Not the drink itself or the caffeine in it but the gas stove. What if I forget to turn it off? And what if it will explode? So I obviously need to check a few times that I really turned the stove off. By few times I mean at least 3 times…or 5 times. Depends on my mood.

I am preparing to leave for work but it’s not as simple. First of all, I just need to make sure that I have really locked the door. Exactly 10 times. It used to be 3 but I felt it wasn’t enough so I have raised it to 10. Much better, is it not?

Going to work is not easy either. There are a lot of things on the way that one can be concerned about. Afraid of. Obsessed with. What if I lose my mind of 2 seconds and attack a random person in the street? What if I just want to get naked or do something crazy? What if I want to throw myself under the tube train? All of the usual what if questions that my friend OCD loves asking me. I try to ignore them but it’s not that easy. There are too many what if questions. And some of them can feel very convincing.

Such as throwing myself under the tube train. Sometimes I really feel that I want to do it. And not because I want to but…because I do not even know. I know that I do not want to commit suicide but I just feel that weird urge to do it. It’s the same feeling what I’ll get when I walk over a bridge or when I am on the top of a high building.

Anyways. I get to the office and it’s a place full of opportunities. Opportunities for growth but also opportunities for new and extreme fears and obsessions. What if I insult someone? I do not want to but what if I do? What if I make a mistake and they will fire me? Of course that just should not happen so better to be safe than sorry. Let me check my sent emails a few times a day. Just to make sure there are no grammar mistakes in them and that I didn’t say anything crazy to anyone. Let me ask some people for feedback. You know. Making sure I am good at the things I am doing.

And then there’s that constant fear of fainting. I do not know why I am afraid of fainting and I have never fainted in my whole life but…I am still afraid of it. It’s just so scary when you lose control. One thing that helps me calm down is checking my hair. But again, that’s like a vicious cycle. I do not want my hair to fall out but it’s me who is making it fall out so well…that’s totally insane.

Well, finished at work. Having a couple drinks with my friends. Everything would be perfect if I could just stop thinking about my life for a second. But my OCD would never leave me alone. Most of the people I know are in happy relationships and here I am. 27 years old and have been single for most of my life. And no savings either. I feel guilty for having wasted my life and I feel guilty for not having enjoyed my life enough. Again…like a cycle of insanity. I usually spend all my money on useless stuff and then I feel guilty for having absolutely no money. And the same thing happens again, sitting at the bar, drinking with people I love but just..constantly thinking about all the crazy stuff I’ve been doing for most of my life.

And yeah..I guess it’s been pretty tiring to read this so you can totally imagine how tired my brain is by the time I get home. And I try to fall asleep but I can not. I just keep thinking about all the things I could be worried about and all the stuff I can feel guilty for. The only things that can calm me down are a book, a bottle of wine and crazy TV shows. It’s 3 am and I can finally fall asleep..pretty late I know and that’s probably one of the reasons why I always find it extremely challenging to get up in the morning. Anyways, good night!

How To Fight Mental Exhaustion?

Okay. I do not want to sound hypocritical because I have just finished writing an article about how “dead my brain was”. So I obviously cannot say that I am an expert when it comes to overcome mental exhaustion, however there are a few things that actually helped me.

1. Exercise
– Exercising does help a lot! And there are so many things that you can do. Everyone has their favorite forms of exercise – for example I love hiking, running or just walking in a city. And since the summer is here, I have been trying to spend as much time walking around the city and going for long hikes as possible

2. Reading a good book
– Sometimes it’s good to escape reality. And reading a book is a perfect way to do that! πŸ™‚

3. Do not spend too much time on your phone
– We often do not realize how much time we spend on our phones and it’s definitely not good. I have been feeling so much better since I started cutting down on my phone usage.

4. Get more sleep
– That surely helps and that’s something I will need to be working on. We all know that we feel much better after a good long night sleep but well….it is not always so easy to go to bed early.

5. Art
– Another thing that helps me a lot to deal with my mental exhaustion is art. Painting, drawing, writing – or just enjoying what other people have already created and going to a gallery.

5. Seek professional help
– I am just a guy who likes sharing his OCD experiences with the world but I am not a professional therapist. So if you feel that your mental exhaustion or your OCD is out of control, the best thing you can do is seeing a professional.

Due to the pandemic situation, a lot of things have gone online – including therapy. I have recently come across this website that I think may help some of my readers πŸ™‚ ( It helps people struggling with different mental illnesses find a therapist.)
https://www.consumersadvocate.org/online-therapy

Further Reading

Your Experiences

As you know, there’s one thing that I enjoy more than writing my stories: reading yours. Please share your OCD stories/ opinions in the comment section! πŸ™‚

10 thoughts on “When Your Brain Is Drained – OCD & Mental Exhaustion

  1. Hey Mark, nice to see you again!
    Great post on mental exhaustion, I’ve experienced the same thing but with my friend, Depression. He is also always around you know and he can be demanding!
    I liked your tips and I think they do help to recover the brain. Also, do fun things, things you enjoy. I like to laugh a lot and sometimes be a little silly. To let go some of that control helps me. Also taking baths. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Kacha πŸ™‚ Great to see you again!
      ❀
      Lately, I have started wondering whether I have depression – like I think I have a lot of symptoms of depression and there are a lot of people who suffer both from OCD and depression at the same time but I do not want to self-diagnose so I guess I would need to talk to a therapist.
      Glad you have found my tips helpful πŸ™‚
      And yeah – laughing helps a lot and I think its good to be silly sometimes. Another thing that helps me is watching crazy TV shows πŸ˜€ like most of them are not too meaningful but they can make me laugh which is perfect after a workday.

      How have you been? Is life going "back to normal" in Belgium?

      Cheers

      Mark

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve been ok but the lockdown wasn’t too easy for me. It’s one thing for your mind to be unstable but I like my surroundings to be stable at least which wasn’t the case. A lot of things changed in my life and I’m slowly adapting.
        I guess when you feel something has changed or you feel you should talk to a professional, you should. I believe we ourselves know best when it’s the time to take action.
        Life here is starting to become more ‘normal’ as the cafΓ©s opened yesterday. Shopping is still under the ‘one person per family’ rule and all festivities are cancelled.
        But life in terms of work and transportation is as good as normal. But with a mask. Slowly we’ll be getting there I hope. It’s still weird.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Well yes, the lockdown has been difficult for most of us 😦
        In my case, something has definitely changed, I am just not able to figure out if its a good or a bad change
        And I am glad to hear that things are getting back to normal πŸ™‚ Pretty much the same here – almost everything has reopened but we also need to wear masks on public transport (which I personally do not mind as I was wearing them even before the pandemic) I think we are getting there, I am pretty optimistic about the future.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Mark,

    I accidentally came over to your account and posts, I can relate very well as I have been living with OCD my entire life and it is very difficult.

    your post encouraged me write my own OCD struggle recently.. please go through it if you have time and suggest if there are tips you have to manage the OCD compulsions:
    https://trappedwarrior.wordpress.com/2020/06/26/perils-of-living-with-ocd-when-something-goes-wrong/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi there,

      I am sorry to read about your struggles but at the same time, I am proud of you that you have shared your story and you have talked about your OCD as it is not always an easy topic to talk about.

      And it means a lot to me that my posts have helped you and have encouraged you to share your story because I think that one of the best ways to overcome OCD is talking about it.

      OCD is a very complex mental disorder and it is definitely not easy to get rid of. I am not a certified therapist but a few things that helped me were:
      – learning about OCD – the more you know about it, the better you can fight it. It is like..understanding your enemy. Of course, this can also be pretty risky because one can easily develop an obsession of reading articles about OCD but on the other hand it will help a lot when you understand how this whole thing works and what a vicious cycle it can be.
      Another thing that helps me a lot is writing about the way I feel – and you have already done that so I really hope you feel much better after having published this amazing article.

      And do not be afraid – I do not think other people will think that you are crazy because of your obsessions. You are not alone – there are a lot of other people out there who are suffering from the same condition, and if you ever need help or somebody to talk to you can always reach out to me (markwester92@gmail.com) and we can have a chat about it – as I have mentioned I am not a therapist but I will do as much as I can.

      Furthermore, I think one of the first steps to overcome OCD is to know that you actually have it – because then you can make a difference between the reality and the lies your OCD is telling you.

      And speaking of lies: another thing that has helped me a lot was realizing that OCD was a liar and that my thoughts are not always real. All these thoughts are just some creatures of our minds that we should ignore but obviously when you have OCD it is a difficult thing to do so the best thing one can do is letting them go – by focusing on something else. In my case, what helps me a lot is “writing it out” or reading or just talking to someone about a totally different thing or going for a long walk – so a kind of “escaping strategy”.

      I see you have mentioned about alcohol and I can totally relate – it does help a lot to ease your OCD symptoms but believe me: on a long term, it is not a good idea, as you can easily get addicted to it and that is something that has happened to me and it is really not an easy thing to get rid of alcohol addiction. And also, you may feel good after drinking a few glasses of wine but when you get sober, it will get a lot worse 😦

      Another thing that I have noticed is that smoking and caffeine can make one’s anxiety worse (it is not only me saying that but I have found a couple of studies about this subject) – not sure if you smoke or drink coffee but that’s another thing to think about.

      Some other things that have helped me were trying not to seek reassurance from my loved ones or from Google – like when one has an OCD thought, one will often feel the need to ask others if their thoughts are realistic or not but in most of the cases that will not really help because OCD is not the most rational disorder so only you will be able to ever convince yourself that your beliefs are not real….

      And also, I think it is important to acknowledge that OCD is a chronic condition and it takes time to ease its symptoms so they will not go away after one day or two….one of the mistakes I committed in the past was underestimating it and believing that one day it would just disappear but of course it did not.

      And well, obviously – seeing a therapist is the best thing you can do. I mean, I know it sounds like the typical answer that one can find on any websites about OCD but it is very important – professionals really know how to help you. In my case, my therapist helped me a lot to understand that I am not totally insane (I used to believe that I had been out of my mind and I would end up at a mental hospital) and she helped me to begin my recovery journey.

      Have you ever seen a therapist? How long have you been suffering from OCD?

      I really hope this helped but if not, please feel free to reach out to me and we can always share experiences.

      Blessings,

      Mark

      Liked by 1 person

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