When OCD Is Holding You Back – 7 Barriers Preventing You From Achieving Your Goals

Have you ever felt like your life was going nowhere? It is a terrible feeling that I am sure most of us have from time to time. There are times when you just do not know what you want to do with your life. Days when you feel that you are stuck in a job you hate doing or in a relationship that just does not work. But yet, you do not feel ready to do anything about the whole situation.

You feel that you need a change but you do not even know how to get started. Or sometimes, you do not even know what you actually want or need. Setting goals could be the first step to take for changing your life for the better but it is easier said than done. And it’s even more difficult when you’re suffering from a mental health disorder.

I have OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) and as most of you may already know – especially if you have been reading my blog for some time – it is so much more than being obsessed about order and cleanliness. It is a disorder that can really turn your life upside down. And it can really hold you back from accomplishing your goals. For the last couple of months, I have been asking myself why it’s so difficult for me to set myself goals and to actually stick to them and I have come up with a list of 7 barriers that prevent me from accomplishing them.

What Are The Barriers Preventing You From Achieving Your Goals?

Mental Exhaustion

There are times when you just feel like your brain is drained. You know that you need a change and you may even know what could make you feel happy but you just do not feel you have the energy to actually take action. Like, let’s take me as an example – one of my biggest dreams is publishing my novel. However, after spending a day worrying about all the irrational things my OCD is telling me (as well as working full time) I will often feel completely exhausted so instead of focusing on something that would actually help me achieve my goals, I will just open a bottle of red wine and spend the night watching Netflix. You may say I am “lazy” but that’s not the case, it’s really about the state of mental exhaustion that OCD can give you. And let’s not even mention about the:

Time Consuming Obsessions

OCD is like a horrible boss. It never lets you take a day off. You lead a very busy life and you are glad to finally have some time to work on your goals but then….. OCD kicks in! You were planning to work out (I’ve been planning to do it for sooo long) or to study but your OCD doesn’t agree with your plans. Instead, it will start giving you instructions:

“What if you did not lock the door? Go and check it'”
“What if you will have an anaphylactic shock because of the lobsters you had for dinner? Do some online research about allergies!”
“What if you didn’t wash the dishes well enough? What if someone will get poisoned because of you? Go and wash the dishes once more!”

And well, I am sure that many of you have examples of “OCD instructions” – please feel free to share them in the comment section!

Feeling Guilty About Wasting Your Life

If spending your days with a totally exhausted brain and with your OCD chasing you with its requests weren’t enough, there is one more thing that can hold you back from accomplishing your goals: feeling guilty about having wasted your life.

This feeling is among one of the main reasons why it’s been difficult for me to focus on my goals. Like…instead of trying to do something in order to make my dreams come true, I often find myself thinking about the years I spent on worrying about irrational fears and catastrophizing. And it has taken a long time for me to realize that this was something that was holding me back. But now that I am more conscious about this feeling, I really hope it will be easier for me to get my life back under control. So far, it’s been going better!

Setting Unrealistic Goals

Talking about guilt! Having wasted much of your life on worrying, you may think that the best solution to your problems could be setting yourself as many goals as possible and try to achieve them overnight. Well, unfortunately, it does not work that way. Setting unrealistic goals can easily backfire on you…and so we arrive to the next barrier on our list…

Fear Of Failure

Not being able to achieve your goals will make you feel like a complete failure. And it will prevent you from focusing on them ’cause you will keep asking yourself:

“What if I fail again? What if I am not good for anything?”

And listening to your critical inner voice will make you want to give up your dreams – and that is something you should never do!

Fear Of Actually Achieving Your Goals

Sounds pretty paradoxical, does it not? Why would anyone be afraid of accomplishing their goals? Does not make any sense! But believe me, it can happen. There are times when you are afraid of succeeding because you just do not know if reaching your goals will actually make you feel happy. Like….what if you get the job of your dreams but you won’t be good enough or you will miss your old job or if your new position will not make you any happier?

Of course, we shouldn’t listen to our negative inner voice but again – it’s easier said than done. However, realizing that you have this kind of way of thinking is the first step for learning to keep it under control.

Waiting For A Miracle

The last barrier on my list – and I do not think it is particularly related to my OCD, but it’s another reason why it’s been difficult for me to make my dreams come true is that I often just “sit and wait for a miracle to happen”. Sometimes, when I go to sleep, I imagine that all of my dreams will come true when I wake up in the morning. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but the problem with this habit is that most of the time, I won’t take any action for achieving the things I want – I just wait…and hope. But of course, things won’t change for the better if you do not do anything.

Conclusion

Having realistic goals and actually achieving them has a hugely positive impact on your mental health – but on the other hand, setting unrealistic goals that you cannot possibly accomplish will make you feel even more hopeless. And there are a lot of barriers to overcome – and I think the first step to take is finding out what these barriers are and trying to address them.

This was the first article of my little “series” I am going to post another one about goal setting this weekend. Why two separate posts? Because I have been very busy with work this week but, so it wouldn’t have been realistic for me to include everything I wanted to say in one single post but at the same time, I really enjoy writing so I just felt I had to “let this all out”! 🙂

Further Reading

Your Thoughts

As you know, there is one thing that I love more than writing my stories: reading yours. What are the barriers preventing you from achieving your goals? Do you have any story you would like to share with us? Please share your thoughts, opinions, stories and experiences in the comment section! ❤

Love you all ❤

Mark

Don’t Tell Me Others Have It Worse

Others have it worse.

Has this sentence ever made anyone feel better? I do not think so. Yet, I am sure that all of us have already been told at least once in our lifetime that millions of our fellow human beings go through so much more suffering than we do. As if thinking about the misery of others could make your own problems disappear – or as if it could actually make you happy!

Please do not get me wrong! I perfectly understand the reason why some people think that telling you this infamous “others have it worse” phrase could make you feel better. They think it would make you focus on the positive things in life. Or that you would start appreciating the things you have always taken for granted. And well….there may be something in it. But still, I’ve never found anything comforting in this sentence.

Reading this, you may think that I am just a selfish kid “from the First World”. I could deny it but I won’t – instead, I will explain you the way I feel about the sentence that has become the slogan of 2020.

Hm..where to even start? There are many reasons why I hate when people tell me “others have it worse”. And the first reason is pretty straightforward:

Thinking About Other People Suffering Makes Me Feel Even More Desperate

Have you ever had this feeling?

There are times when you just need to talk to someone about your problems. Maybe, you do not even feel that horrible but you just need someone to understand your feelings or maybe you actually have serious problems and you need your friends to help you find a solution. So you tell them about the things that are bothering you and what you get in return is an “others have it worse” that will eventually make you think of children who have nothing to eat, people who have no shelter or people who have a severe illness.

Will these thoughts cheer you up? Well, of course not! Instead, you will start thinking about those people and about how incompetent you are that you’re just unable to help them all. So in a way, you kind of forget about your own problems but you will not feel better at all.

And in my case – and I guess I am probably not alone with this – this extreme sadness triggered by compassion isn’t the only thing but…

Knowing That Others Have It Worse Makes Me Feel Guilty

Here I should also add that I have OCD – as you might have probably noticed reading my blog – and one of the “key features” of OCD is guilt. An extreme feeling of guilt. So when I hear about other people who are in a worse situation than I am, it will make me feel like I am a selfish monster. How can I complain about feeling isolated when there are thousands of people who have lost their family members? How can I even talk about my seemingly insignificant problems when there’s so much suffering on our planet?

And you do not even know how difficult it has been for me to even write about this. Like it is really making me feel terribly selfish and guilty at this very moment – I feel that I am a horrible person because I am writing about the “others have it worse” phenomenon while millions of people actually have it WAY worse than I do.

But I still believe it’s an important topic to talk about and I think that we should not feel guilty for “having it better than others” – just think about it, instead of feeling guilty and punishing yourself for having a better life than many other human beings on this planet, you can help those in trouble!

And then, there is another thought that our lovely “others have it worse” slogan can trigger:

What If One Day, I Will Have It Worse Too?

Again, I know it sounds selfish – and again, I am feeling guilty for writing about this – but I have always tried to be an honest person and I think I should tell you that when I hear about the agony of other people, it will not only make me feel guilty but it will also make me ask myself: what if one day, things in my life will also turn worse?

And I am sure that those who have OCD are already way too familiar with this infamous “what if”. There is always a what if. And your mind will always be able to come up with the most catastrophic scenarios one could ever imagine – so knowing that “others have it worse” doesn’t help you at all ’cause you’ll just feel guilty and at the same time terribly scared of ending up in the same situation as them.

Furthermore, apart of the feelings I’ve been talking about, there is one more thing I would like to mention:

You Should Never Compare Yourself To Others

Interestingly, when you compare yourself to someone who “has it better”, people will usually tell you that you should never compare yourself to others but when you’re seemingly luckier than other people, it’s always okay to compare yourself to those who’re “having it worse”. Do you see the logic? Because I don’t. I just think we should never ever compare ourselves to others! We all have our own problems and the way we perceive them depends on the situation we are in. Your problem may seem to be something insignificant to other people but if it’s important for you, you have the right to feel upset about it!

A Sentence That Could Hurt

Finally, think about the way those people who “have it worse” would feel if they knew they were used as a “miserable example”. Like how would it make you feel if you knew that your friends were trying to comfort each other by talking about YOU as a person who has it worse than they do? It wouldn’t be a great feeling, would it?

Conclusion

There are people who have it worse than me. And there are people who have it worse than you, dear reader. I do not deny this fact. Should we be aware of this? Of course! Should we help those in need? Absolutely! But should we go around comforting our friends by telling them that “others have it worse”? NEVER! Or at least – that’s what I think. Do you agree with me? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section ❤

Further Reading

Winter Blues & OCD – How To Survive A Winter In Lockdown?

Do you have the winter blues?

Well, you are not alone with that. I have always found it challenging to survive the long and dark winters of my country but I get the feeling that this year, it’s going to be more difficult than it has ever been because in winter 2020, freezing weather and the lack of sunshine are not the only things to worry about ‘cause…..

Yes, you guessed it right! I was about to mention about the ongoing pandemic and its consequences – more and more countries are now going back into lockdown and while I do think that our absolute priority is to keep this pandemic under control and that imposing lockdowns does save millions of lives, I also believe that we should talk about the impact that the current restrictions have on our mental health. Do not get me wrong! I am not here to complain. I am here to share the way I cope with this whole situation, hoping that I’ll be able to help some of you.

A Recipe For Disaster

Living with OCD is not simple. Seasonal Affective Disorder (commonly known as the “winter blues”) is not the best thing to have either. And well…living through a pandemic is one of the worst nightmares that most people with OCD could possibly imagine. This whole situation really seems to be a recipe for the ultimate disaster.

Ingredients:

  • OCD
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
  • COVID-19 & constant worry about your loved ones/ your own health
  • Lockdowns, curfews etc.

And the cherry on the cake is that it’s often difficult to talk to others about the way you feel because there’s always someone who will tell you that you should be grateful for the things you have in life and that there are millions of “other people who have it worse”. Well – let me tell you that I do know that other people have it worse than I do but being aware of their suffering has never ever helped me – on the contrary, knowing that I am luckier than many other human beings will make me feel guilty, it will make me think that I am a selfish monster and that I should “punish myself” for not being grateful enough. And I guess I could probably write a few more pages about the “others have it worse” phenomenon but that’s going to be the topic for another day. Because as I said, in today’s post, I would like to share a few things that help me keep sane in lockdown – while suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

First Of All – What Is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons – SAD begins and ends at about the same times every year. if you’re like most people with SAD, your symptoms start in the well and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody.

Source: Mayclinic.org

What Are The Symptoms Of SAD?

  • a persistent low mood
  • losing interest in activities that you once enjoyed
  • low energy levels
  • feeling hopeless, worthless or guilty
  • having frequent thoughts of death or suicide
  • having difficulty concentrating
  • sleeping problems
  • changes in your appetite and weight
  • feelings of despair, guilt and worthlessness

I normally experience most of these symptoms every winter but this year, it’s been more difficult than usual – especially since the announcement of our national lockdown as many of the ways I used to deal with my SAD symptoms (such as going out with friends, visiting galleries, working from the office, going for an evening walk etc.) are no longer possible. So I had to come up with some additional techniques to keep my “beloved” winter blues under control.

How To Cope With Seasonal Affective Disorder In The Times Of Lockdown?

1. Get As Much Sunlight As Possible

I have never been an early bird but this time of the year, I have no choice: I normally work from 9 to 5 and in my city, the sun goes down by 4 PM during the winter months so I have been trying to force myself to wake up early in the morning so that I could at least enjoy a few moments of sunshine before starting my shift.

2. Exercise

Talking about getting up early in the morning – why not go running?

Regular exercise can boost serotonin, endorphins, and other feel-good brain chemicals. In fact, exercise can treat mild to moderate depression as effectively as antidepressant medication. Exercise can also help to improve your sleep and boost your self-esteem. (source: SAD – Helpguide) And well, in my case this regular exercise usually means running because that’s something I could get to enjoy but I am sure you’ll all be able to find what works best for you! 🙂

(P.S: Credit goes to Alexandra @Ouso Escrever who’s been telling me about the benefits of exercise for the past few months :))) please check out her blog! You’ll definitely love it)

3. Find A New Hobby

Having too much free time can be scary and fantastic at the same time. Scary because….well….you can spend a lot of your free time reading horrifying articles about COVID-19, worrying about the health of your loved ones, checking your cold symptoms on Google and self-diagnosing with coronavirus, drinking two bottles of wine in one sitting while worrying about losing your job – and well, this is my personal worry-list but I am sure we all have one.

Or….fantastic because a great way to cope with your anxiety is distracting yourself from it. So, why not find a new hobby?

Before the lockdown, I would have never thought that my new hobby would turn out to be cooking – like I used to be the one who accidentally set the kitchen on fire – but over the last few weeks, I’ve been getting better and better at preparing dishes and cooking will always make me feel relaxed after a long workday that I spend sitting in front of the computer.

Where do I get my recipes from?

From an Italian site called Giallo Zafferano – as far as I know it’s only available in Italian at the moment but I guess most of the recipes can easily be translated to English using Google Translate.

4. Eat Healthy

Talking about food – do not forget about the importance of healthy eating! Healthy eating does not only strengthen your immune system but it also has a positive impact on your mental health.

5. Take Vitamins – Especially Vitamin D

Lately, we’ve been seeing more and more articles about vitamin D protecting us from severe COVID-1 disease but did you know that low levels of vitamin D can also increase your risk of Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Me personally, I did not use to know about it until one of my friends (who’s from Latin America but is living in Budapest) told me about his doctor prescribing him vitamin D for coping with “his low mood after moving to Hungary”. And it was not only his doctor who thought vitamin D would help but there’re many studies that arrived to the same conclusion.

6. Set Your “Lockdown Goals”

Setting goals helps you stay motivated! My goal is to learn Swedish at an intermediate level by the end of March – that’s when our winter officially ends! – as well as losing weight. Without having these goals, I think I would just keep thinking about the endless winter months that I’m going to spend in lockdown and about the hopelessness of my existence, but thinking about my future plans and taking action to achieve them help me se the world in a more positive way!

7. Throw An “Online Party”

One of the things I’ve been missing the most since the lockdown started, is socializing – but do you have to go to a pub to spend some time with your loved ones? Absolutely not! You can also organize an “online party” with your friends. Of course, it’s not exactly the same as seeing them in person but do not underestimate online get-togethers. They can be fun!

8. See A Therapist

Finally, I am not a trained therapist and my blog is just a platform where I share my stories and personal experiences hoping that they’ll be helpful to other people. If you’re struggling with mental health issues, the best possible thing you can do is seeing a professional therapist – that’s what I’ve done and it’s changed my life for the best! 🙂 Self-help resources are amazing but they do not replace therapy.

+ 1 – Stop Feeling Guilty

Yes, others have it worse. But this does not mean that you do not have the right to talk about your feelings and to try to do everything in order to feel better. We’re all human beings who have their own problems and we should stop comparing ourselves to other people.

Further Reading

Your Thoughts

As you know, there’s one thing I love more than sharing my stories: reading yours. How do you cope with the pandemic and the lockdown? How have you been feeling? Please share in the comment section!

And Most Importantly – Stay Safe!

I really hope all of you are doing fine and I am praying for your well-being and for your safety ❤ We are going through difficult times but we are all in this together.

Love you all ❤

Mark

OCD – A Creative Disorder

Is there a link between OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) and creativity?

This is a question I have been wondering about for a long time but I haven’t been able to find a definite answer to it yet. I have always considered myself as a creative person but is my creativity a sign of OCD? Or is it just a factor that makes my OCD worse by helping me invent a crazy amount of new obsessions and compulsions?

Well, I do not know. And I am not sure if I will be able to answer any of these questions in today’s post but what I can do is sharing a hilarious story to show you just how creative OCD can be.

A Day At The Museum

So, talking about creativity. I have always been in love with art (especially painting) and visiting art galleries has always made me feel better. Looking at beautiful works of art really helps me escape reality and masterpieces are not the only thing I love about galleries but I also love their atmosphere, the way they smell…and the peaceful environment. So.. literally everything.

And that’s why my friend and me decided to spend our Saturday afternoon at the Museum of Fine Arts (Budapest). Could you possibly imagine a better plan for a rainy day? Personally, I cannot.

Szépművészeti Múzeum
Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest – Source: https://www.szepmuveszeti.hu/

So there we were. Strolling around the Museum of Fine Arts, absorbing the art and completely forgetting about a friend we had not invited to our little museum tour. And as you might have already guessed, this friend of ours is called OCD. I always think of OCD as if it was an actual person – I know it sounds pretty weird but believe me, personifying your OCD can help you keep it under control. And well…my OCD is a guy and he is like an annoying ex-boyfriend you can never get rid of no matter how hard you try. Like….nobody wanted to have him at the museum but he still decided to come over. Seriously, how annoying is that?

Further reading: The Face Of The Devil – Personifying Your OCD

Anyways, back to the story! We were looking at some Egyptian clay pots when my OCD decided to join us and he would ask me:

What if you pass out and break something while falling to the ground? Like…these Egyptian clay pots look pretty fragile and they are extremely valuable! So it would be a shame if you accidentally broke one of them.

Now, what is the best thing you can do when your OCD starts bugging you with its stupid questions? Try not to answer them and try to focus on something else. And well, I would normally be able to do this but this time it was a little bit more difficult due to a very simple fact: since the beginning of the pandemic, wearing a face mask has become mandatory in Hungarian museums.

I think I am pretty good when it comes to coping with my fear of fainting – well, over the years I have had enough time to learn how to keep it under control – but wearing a face mask for hours is a pretty new thing to me. So, I was trying to tell myself that I wasn’t going to faint but I guess at this point you can already imagine what my OCD told me:

What if your brain does not get enough oxygen? That could easily make you pass out!

Hm….well that’s a good question. And who knows? That might actually happen so I decided to play it safe and I got one of those portable museum chairs to make sure that I have something to lean on if the inevitable happens.

Was it a good idea? Hard to answer but it definitely helped me forget about my sudden fear of fainting. Like...carrying the chair around made me feel safe and I know that reassurance seeking isn’t an appropriate way to cope with your OCD but I really needed a “quick fix” ’cause I obviously did not want my crazy thoughts ruin my entire afternoon.

But then, there was something about that chair. It did not only bring a sense of calm but also exciting new “OCD opportunities”. I told you OCD was creative, did I not? So while I was enjoying the beauty of renaissance paintings it managed to come up with a new idea:

What if I throw the chair at one of the paintings?

Now, I know that sounds absolutely crazy. And I will not get offended if you laugh at it because to be honest, I too think it is pretty funny. Imagine a guy walking through a museum, totally scared of throwing a chair at a Raphael painting.

And the story isn’t over yet. I was trying not to think about the disastrous consequences of throwing a chair at a renaissance masterpiece but unfortunately, ruining a Raphael painting was not the only horrifying thing I could do with the infamous chair. Because…

What if I attack someone with the chair?

Don’t get me wrong, I am not a violent person. I do not think I would ever be able to harm anyone but my OCD does not always agree with me on that. ‘Cause there’s always that “what if” – like… when you know your thoughts are bats***t insane but it doesn’t mean you’re able to stop having them.

Further Reading: Am I A Monster? – The Story Of My Harm OCD

So… few hours at the museum and I have already destroyed a few Egyptian pieces of art by falling on them while fainting, smashed a couple of paintings with a portable chair and attacked innocent museum workers.(of course, only in my mind) Now, what’s next?

As you can see there are a lot of things that could possibly go wrong while visiting a museum but there’s one that my OCD almost forgot about. I said “almost” … ’cause OCD would obviously never miss the chance to ask you:

What if I grab a painting and run away with it?

I am sure I am not the only person who would like a beautiful painting hanging on their wall. But I guess worrying about stealing a painting from the museum is not that common. Well… that was another intrusive thought I would have. It was less scarier than the other ones but it still shows how creative OCD can be.

Conclusion

I am proud to tell you that no paintings/staff were harmed during my museum visit. You might have already guessed that because I wouldn’t be writing this post if I acted on any of my intrusive thoughts.

I honestly have no idea whether my OCD is responsible for my extreme creativity or whether it’s the other way around but I thought it would be a good thing for me to share with you what kinds of thoughts I have. As I only spent a limited amount of time at the museum so these thoughts haven’t really had a great impact on my life but at least I could show you what my “OCD brain” works like!

Further Reading

Your Thoughts

As you all know, there is one thing I love more than sharing my stories: reading yours. Do you think there is a link between OCD and creativity? Is there any OCD story you’d like to tell us? Feel free to share your thoughts, feelings and stories in the comment section!

Love,

Mark

Catastrophic Thinking – Living In The Shadow Of Disaster or Life Is Like A Fairy Tale

Has it ever happened to you that your partner did not answer your call and you got extremely worried because you thought he got into a car accident? Have you ever self-diagnosed yourself with a terrifying disease just because you felt a little bit more tired than usual? Have you ever been afraid of getting fired for a minor mistake at your job?

Well, I am pretty sure that I am not the only person who answered yes to all of these questions. I have been living with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) for a crazy long time and I have to say that I am very talented at imagining the worst possible scenarios in every single situation. I have always thought I could be an excellent risk analyst – like I could literally tell you at least 10 possible disasters that could happen to me at this very moment!

Now, talking about disasters – this pattern of thinking I have just told you about even has a name and it is called Catastrophic thinking. Very descriptive, is it not?

Catastrophic thinking can be defined as ruminating about irrational, worse-case outcomes. And it is needless to say that constantly imagining the worst-case scenarios can lead to severe anxiety and can prevent people from taking action in situations where it is required. Like how could you think logically if you’ve just been haunted by a terrifying image of your severely injured boyfriend or when you’ve just imagined yourself being fired from your job?

My grandma always tells me that my catastrophic thinking is the direct result of my lifestyle. Modern life she says. Needless to say that I have never agreed with her argument – and the other day when we were talking about this topic – ’cause of course, I have the tendency to catastrophize things and I was just telling her about all the shocking stuff that could happen to me – I remembered a Romanian folktale she used to read me when I was a child.

Human Foolishness

Human Foolishness is a story written by 19th century Romanian writer, Ion Creanga – one of my favorite authors, you should definitely check out his books!And…surprise! It talks about catastrophic thinking!

Of course, the title of the story is far from being politically correct but I think we can forgive him for that. I mean – back then, people were not particularly worried about political correctness and they did not have access to a vast amount of information about psychology.

But in spite of everything, Ion Creanga’s story gives us a perfect example of catastrophic thinking in a very humorous way – I am not sure if any of you agrees with me on that (please share your thoughts in the comment section) but I think that making fun of things is a great way to deal with some of the “catastrophic thoughts”.

Anyways, this has been a crazy long introduction so let’s take a look at the story!

Bucharest Village Museum – Source: romania-insider.com

Once Upon A Time, When It was..

because if it hadn’t been, we would have no story to tell you.
It’s been said that there was a married man and this man was living together with his wife and his mother-in-law. His wife, who had a newborn child, was rather dumb and his mother-in-law was no genius either.

One day, our man leaves his house to go about his business like every man does. His wife was bathing their baby, swaddling and nursing him and then she put the baby in bed, right next to the stove as it was winter. Then, she started singing a lullaby and swinging the cradle until he fell asleep.

After the baby fell asleep, she was sitting there thinking and suddenly she started to cry as loud as she could: “Oh my, oh my, oh my babyyy…my baby!”

Her mother, who was sewing behind the chimney, threw her tools away, jumped up and asked with dread:

“What is it, mother’s dearest? What happened?”
“Mother, mother! My child will die!
“When and how?”
“Here is how. See that salt block on the chimney?”
“Yes, I see it. So?”
“If the cat climbs up there, it will throw it straight to my baby’s head and kill him!”
“Woe to me, you are right my girl! The little one’s days are numbered!”

And there they were. Looking at the block of salt on the chimney, with their hands clenched as if someone had tied them. Both of them crying like crazy as if the house was on fire. While they were in the midst of self-disfigurement, the man of the house entered the door hungry and worried.

“What is it? What startled you?”

Catching their breath, they began to wipe off their tears and tell him about everything while mourning about the disaster that had yet to happen. The man, after listening to their story, said astonished:

“Oh my… I have seen many fools in my life. But never like you two. I will go away to wander the land and if I find anyone dumber than you, I will come back home. Otherwise, I won’t.

So, off he went. And needless to say that he managed to find people who were “dumber” than the two poor women – including a guy who wanted to bring sunlight into his place with the help of a bucket, an agriculture expert who wanted to throw nuts into the attic with a fork, and a wannabe Darwin prize winner who almost killed his cow (and probably himself too) while trying to bring it to the top of a barn to feed it some hay.

Read the full version of the folktale here

I have always wanted to live in a fairy tale. And after reading this story I realized that I actually was living in one – ‘cause I can totally relate to the 2 women who were crying over an imaginary disaster.

Catastrophic thinking is not something that you would expect a folktale to talk about. But this one does. Calling people who’re suffering from a mental health disorder “dumb” is absolutely unacceptable in todays world but I really think it was a great thing that a 19th century author wrote a story that talked about a problem that a lot of people have.

It helps a lot to know that you are not alone with your problems. In the 19th century, people did not write blogs and didn’t have social media platforms where they could share their experiences. And let’s not even mention about the lack of therapy options. But Ion Creanga’s story surely gave them something they needed: reassurance that all of us have our problems (our “foolishness”) and characters that a lot of people could relate to!

Further Reading

Well, todays article was about this great piece of Romanian literature. But I am planning to write a few more posts about Catastrophic Thinking in the near future. Until then, please check out

And a few more Romanian folktales ❤ (many of them collected by Ion Creanga)

Or read Childhood Memories from Ion Creanga – perfect read for a cozy autumn evening!

More From Mark Wester

Why Excessive Hand Washing Is Not My Main “OCD Problem” During The Pandemic

What is it like to live with OCD in times of a pandemic?

Well, every person has their own answer to this question and I think it is time to share mine. The other day, I was reading through articles about OCD in the age of COVID-19 and one thing I noticed was that the mainstream media mainly focuses on excessive hand washing and cleaning but it does not really talk about many of the other struggles that people with OCD have recently been through.

Hmm.. does it surprise me? Not at all. For a long time, we were portrayed in the media as neat freaks. And I have the impression that since the pandemic began, we have been upgraded to neat freaks that other people can learn from. Or to “those poor neat freaks who have never needed help more than now.”

Do I wash my hands more frequently than usual? Of course I do. Will it make me feel anxious when I cannot wash my hands properly? Yes, it will.

But is excessive hand-washing my main “OCD problem”? No. My main struggle is my compulsive news checking.

I have OCD. I am a very social and outgoing person who has been forced to spend most of his time at home since the pandemic began. I have always been interested in reading news. I enjoy spending time on social media. And I am extremely worried about my loved ones’ health.

Well, this is all it takes. I have just given you a recipe for the ultimate OCD disaster.

When I open my eyes in the morning, the first thing I will normally do is checking coronavirus news and I have various reasons for doing so. Sometimes it is just pure reassurance seeking – I know that the situation couldn’t possibly get any better but I just really need to make sure that it didn’t get any worse. There are some mornings when I must – yes, MUST is definitely the right word! – read the news because if I do not do that, one of my loved ones will die. Oh my…it was so painful to write this down but that’s really the way how I feel sometimes.

During the day, I try to keep myself as busy as possible but unfortunately, I will always find some time to analyze the new coronavirus statistics.

What do I mean by “some time”? Well, it depends. On some days, it’s “only” an hour but on other days I can easily spend five hours trying to convince myself that coronavirus may not be too dangerous to my loved ones’. But I am just an armchair expert and the numbers that I find on the internet will usually make me even more confused. And let’s be honest – even if one day, I found something reassuring, it wouldn’t make me feel less worried because there’s always that terrible “what if”.

If you have OCD, I am sure you know the annoying “what if”. Let’s say that I manage to arrive to a conclusion that my loved ones are not considered to be at a higher risk from coronavirus. But does it mean they are perfectly safe? Of course not. It just feels like an endless cycle – sometimes, I am able to calm down and stop worrying but then, there’s either a “what if’ question popping up in my head or – even more often – there’s always someone who will start talking about the virus. And I do not want to be mean but I have to say that there are some people who actually enjoy spreading fear.

And I wish I were only reading the news and stats. Recently, I have found a few interesting threads on one of our local online forums and I can waste reading them. And well, most of the times there’s nothing reassuring on these online forums so today I decided to stop reading them completely. Let’s see how it will go.

I am not extremely worried about my own health. Of course, I know I am not invincible and I try to take good care of myself but I am more anxious about my loved ones’ safety. And this is the anxiety that makes me spend hours on reading the news. ‘Cause I always hope that one day, I’ll find an article that says it’s all over.

Why did I want to talk about this?

Dear readers – I love all of you – I think you noticed that I haven’t posted any COVID-19 related article for the last 4 months. You know the reason why? It is because I wanted to keep my blog a “safe-place” where you can browse through the articles without being constantly reminded of all the sad things happening around the globe. But today I felt that I just had to share this story with you because I am sure I am not the only person who “suffers from compulsive news checking” and I hope that reading this article will help those who are going through the same struggle.

How to stop compulsive news reading?

I do not want to be a hypocrite – I haven’t been able to fully overcome my news reading compulsion. (Guess that is pretty obvious considering the beginning of the article). But there are a few things that have helped me cut down on my compulsive news reading.

Delete Social Media Apps From Your Phone

As I mentioned earlier, I enjoy spending time on social media. Or well, should I say “I used to”? The first step that I took for getting things back under control was uninstalling social media apps from my phone. I have not deleted my accounts but I have uninstalled Facebook and Twitter. And I can tell you that I’ve been feeling so much better since I stopped looking at my newsfeed – like…my social media feed was literally scaring the sh**t out of me. And then, we all know that Facebook is not even the most reliable place to get your news from.

Create A News Reading Schedule – Or Should We Call It “Worry Schedule”?

I read the news every single morning even before the pandemic started and I do not want to give up on staying up-to-date. But when you read the news, it’s just so difficult not to get carried away and start reading literally every new article about the current situation.

And my personal solution to this problem was to come up with a news reading schedule: I have decided to allow myself 2 hours per day when I can read all the news and worry about them. And I am proud to say that most of the time I stick to the schedule – of course, 2 hours is still a crazy long time to spend on reading apocalyptic articles but my long term plan is to reduce my “worry time” to half an hour.

Go For A Walk – Without Your Phone!

If you have been reading my blog for a while, you probably now that I love walking the streets of my city. And I used to take my phone to my daily walks but I do not do that anymore!

Decide Where You Get Your News

Another thing that’s important is to make sure you get your news from reliable sources. The internet can be a dangerous place and it’s sometimes difficult to spot fake news. And while fake news is the biggest danger, another thing that I have noticed over the last few months is that some news sites are “more panicky” than others. Again, I am not telling you to bury your head in the sand but if you have anxiety problems, I think it’s better for you to get your news from sites that do not use sensationalist deadlines.

Seek Professional Help

I would like to emphasize that I am not a professional therapist – I am just a guy who’s been struggling with OCD for a few years now and I hope I can help people by talking about my experiences. However, the first step to recovery is seeking professional help!

Further Reading

Your Feelings

How has the pandemic affected your mental health? Did it make your OCD worse? Do you also find it difficult to stop reading the news? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comment section!

Love you all,

Mark

How To Keep Sane While Working From Home?

Am I the only person who literally hates working from home?

Probably not. There is plenty of articles on the internet about the advantages of remote working but this time I will talk about its disadvantages. I know home working has its own benefits, of course but it isn’t for everyone. Let’s take me as an example – I am an extrovert who enjoys being around other people and for me, spending time at the office used to be a kind of therapy that was helping me keep my OCD under control.

I had the option to work from home even before the pandemic but I have never been a great fan of it. I would be a hypocrite if I told you that I never enjoyed building my career while sitting on my favorite couch but spending a whole week working from home used to be totally unthinkable for me.

But since the beginning of March, the world has changed. And the unthinkable has happened. I have been working from home for way more than a week – it’s actually been 6 months since my last day at the office and I must admit that remote working has taken a huge toll on my mental health.

Back in March, I thought it would be something temporary. I thought we would be back to the office by summer. But it’s already September and chances are very low for us to go back to normal anytime soon.

Now, please do not get me wrong – I am not here to complain. It’s been a difficult few months for all of us and I am pretty much satisfied with my life and grateful for the things that I have and for the fact that my loved ones are healthy. But I really think it’s time for me to talk about my struggles while working from home and sharing a few techniques that are helping me survive! I am sure I am not the only person who’s going through this and I hope that sharing my story will help some of you.

So first of all, let’s take a look at my struggles!

My Journey To Burnout

As I mentioned above, home working has taken a huge toll on my mental health. But what do I actually mean by that? Has it made my OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) worse?

Well, not exactly. I mean OCD does make you more vulnerable to developing other mental health issues so I am sure I would be doing much better if I did not have OCD, however this time I am experiencing something completely different. Something that I do not know if I ever felt before.

Burnout.

It has taken some time for me to admit that I was completely burned out. And it’s taken even more time to figure out the reason why I ended up feeling this way.

Related reading:
One of my favorite blogs on WordPress is Kacha’s Food.for.Thoughts which is full of interesting articles about depression and burnout:
https://journeythroughlife591163021.wordpress.com/category/mental-health/burnout/

Avoiding Work

Avoiding work was the first sign that something was wrong. I have always been a workaholic and when I worked from the office, I would never ever avoid work or I would never say no to any incoming request. Well, unfortunately that is not the case anymore.

My favorite part of my job was spending time with people, organizing meetings, training courses and social events – and yes, I know you will say that I can do all of that on video calls but that is just not the same! And another reason why I simply adored my workplace was the fact that I did not use to be forced to sit in front of the computer for 8 hours a day.

Now, that the things that I loved the most have been kind of “taken away from me” – that sounds so dramatic, I know lol – the tasks that I once found enjoyable are no longer as exciting as they used to be.
And while I am still doing my job, I often feel that I would prefer avoiding doing anything at all!

Apathy & Exhaustion

During the first few weeks of home working, I could still see the light at the end of the tunnel. However, I realized after a few months that remote working was here to stay. And this realization made me feel completely apathetic, exhausted and hopeless

There was a time when I felt that I just did not want to get up in the morning. Why should I? To spend another day in isolation doing things that I am no more interested at and counting down the minutes to finish working?

Lately, I have been doing better. I have learnt to accept the situation and I am trying to get the most out of it. At the beginning, my plan was to survive this period but it’s no longer an option as nobody knows how long it would take so at the moment I am trying to do everything to make my workdays a little bit more enjoyable.

Declining Performance

Well, after everything I said I think you won’t be surprise if I tell you that my performance at work has significantly declined. And I am sure you can imagine how that feels to a workaholic like I am.

To make things worse, this is where our friend, OCD comes into the picture and asks:
– You are not as hard working as you used to be. What if they fire you because of that?

And as ridiculous as it sounds, my OCD has recently decided to become my career coach who keeps telling me that I should put myself together unless I really want to get fired. And well, we all know OCD so it doesn’t only tell me that I could be fired over not working enough but also that if I get fired, I will never find another job and I will end up living in the street. How motivating, is it not?

Inability To Disconnect

Now, I surely know that I am not alone with this problem. Many of my friends have told me that they were struggling with the blurring boundaries between work and home life. Our employers do not ask us to work longer hours but for some reason we still end up checking our work mail long after our shift is over.

How To Keep Sane?

Oh my….it just felt so great to complain a little bit and to tell you about all the struggles I’ve been through recently. Talking about our problems helps a lot but it’s only a part of the solution and fortunately, there are a few things we can do to make home working a bit more enjoyable.

Get Up At Least An Hour Before You Start Working

One of the biggest mistakes I used to make was waking up literally 10 minutes before the first meeting of the day. And I am sure you can imagine how it made me feel – having no time for a coffee, for taking a shower or for brushing my teeth. Or for anything else that used to be a part of my daily routine.

So one thing that makes me feel a lot better is getting up at least an hour before I start working. I have always been a night owl so it’s quite unbelievable that I am the one who’s telling others to wake up earlier but if I have to choose between sleeping a little bit less or feeling completely miserable for the rest of the day – ’cause that’s how the “morning rush” will make me feel – I think I will go for sleeping less.

Dress For The Office Even Though You’re Working From Home

Lose the pajamas! Yes, I know they’re comfortable to wear but if you’re dressed for bed, your brain will think it’s bedtime. And in this case, pajama was just an example because as for my experience, it’s pretty much the same think with any other comfortable piece of home wear.

What to wear instead? Well, maybe it’s just me but dressing for the office actually helps me a lot. I have always loved beautiful clothes and taking my time to get ready for work/ social events. During the first few months of home working, I was wearing a T-shirt with boxers but some time ago I came to realize that I’d actually been missing my “old style”.

So nowadays, my morning routine includes doing my hair, my eyebrows and dressing up in full office wear despite working from home.

Further reading:
The first rule of working from home: never wear pyjamas

Separate Work Area From Personal Space

Is working from bed bad for you? Now some people may say it’s not but as for my experience it definitely is. And not just because it can lead to back problems but also because your bed is meant to be for sleeping.

Remote work can easily blur work-life balance but having a designated area can help you keep the two things separate. I know it can sometimes be difficult – especially if you live in a small city center flat like I do – but there are a couple of creative ways to do that.

Further reading:
Establishing Your Home Workspace

Create A Work Routine

Decide on what your working hours will be and stick to them! It’s also important to schedule regular breaks for yourself and try to spend your break time outside of your “designated work area”. I also try to start and finish working at the same time everyday.

Further Reading:
How To Create A Routine When You Work From Home?

Stop Answering Work-Related Calls/Emails At The Day’s End

Talking about work routine – one thing that you definitely stop doing is answering work-related calls and emails at the day’s end!

For me, this has always been one of the hardest things to do because I have always been a great procrastinator – when there’s an email that I do not feel like answering early in the morning, I will just put it off and answer it sometime around midnight. And that’s obviously not the best thing to do when you’re trying to set boundaries between work and home life.

Take A Break And Go Outside

Scheduling analog breaks is another great way to keep yourself sane while working from home. And what could be more relaxing than going for a walk in a nearby park or enjoying the sunshine in your garden?

Unfortunately, I do not have a garden and there aren’t too many parks in my neighborhood but I enjoy going for long walks on the riverbank! 🙂

Go Out For Lunch With Your Friends

Well, this one obviously depends on the current pandemic situation in your region but if it’s safe to go out for lunch with your friends, why not do that?

I have a friend who lives very close to my place and we often meet up for lunch. And it’s just so refreshing after spending hours staring at my computer screen!

Call Your Colleagues

One of my main problems with working from has always been the feeling of being isolated. Fortunately, this is something that I could easily overcome by talking to my colleagues a little bit more often. You do not need to be at the office to spend some time with them!

Talk To Your Manager

Many of us may find it difficult to talk to our managers about the way we’re feeling. Especially when it comes to burnout – I mean, how could I possibly tell my boss that I feel completely unmotivated to do my job?

Well, that’s what I have done and let me tell you it wasn’t as hard as I expected. Managers are human beings just like anyone else and I am pretty sure that most of them are very understanding.

Take A Few Days Off

Well, finally if you feel that you just need to think things over and have some time for yourself, you can also consider taking a few days off!

Conclusion

Most of the people I know like working from home and I can understand why. I do agree that remote working has its own benefits and I am very glad that my workplace gives us the option to work from home as it helps us keep ourselves and our family members safe.

However, home working isn’t for everyone and while over the last few months, I have learnt how to manage my day and I am no longer on “survival mode” , I still cannot wait going back to the office.

How do you feel about working from home? What are the challenges that you face and do you have any tips to overcome them?

Further Reading

Mark’s List – 7 Things To Drink Instead Of Alcohol

What to drink instead of alcohol?

Now, that is a good question! For the last few months, I have been trying to cut back on drinking and I am sure I am not the only one who feels this way but I have to tell you that it is a pretty difficult thing to do! First of all, alcohol is a drug and withdrawing from it can cause a wide range of rather unpleasant symptoms.

But apart from all the well-known reasons, there is one more thing that makes it challenging for me to cut down on alcohol. And it is the fact that over the years, drinking alcohol has become one of my rituals and also a part of my everyday life.

When I get off work, I will normally go to the pub to grab a few drinks with my friends. Or when I do not feel like socializing, I will just read a novel while drinking red wine or gin & tonic. And sometimes I go for long walks and well – I enjoy walking with a beer in my hand.

And in these situations, I often ask myself the greatest question:

What Could I Drink Instead Of Booze?

Like, reading a novel is fun but my little “novel reading ritual” includes that bottle of red wine. So what could I do? Habits are hard to break. But we can try to make a few changes to them. And well…what if I replace that bottle of wine by something else? Something non-alcoholic?

Alcohol addiction is not easy to overcome and you cannot treat your alcohol use disorder just by replacing alcohol by non-alcoholic drinks but I do think that finding alcohol free drinks that you like will help a lot!

So that is why I decided to share the list of my favorite non-alcoholic drinks with you! Some of them are pretty much well-known, others are not.

Salep

Orchids are beautiful flowers but have you ever tried eating one? Or drinking one?
Not yet? Then it’s time for you to try salep!

Source: https://theistanbulinsider.com/

It is a hot milky drink that warms you up in winter and it is made from Orchis (a kind of orchid) and cinnamon. Salep is a popular drink in Turkey (its country of origin) throughout the Middle East and in the Balkans.

Where to get it from?

Well, it depends on where you are in the world. If there is any Turkish grocery store or café in your neighborhood, chances are high that they will have some salep for you (or at least that’s normally the case here in Central Europe). Or as far as I know, you can also order salep powder from Amazon.

And here is a recipe in case you’d like to prepare it at home:
Salep Recipe (Ozlem’ Turkish Table)

Tomato Juice

Tomato juice is probably less exotic than many of the drinks that made my list. And also it is something that all of us know so I do not think I provided you with any new information by mentioning it.

Source: http://www.morejuicepress.com


BUT it is one of my favorite “alcohol replacements” . Especially when I add some spices to it or when I make a Virgin Bloody Mary!

And let’s not forget that it’s a very healthy drink that is rich in nutrients like vitamin C, B and potassium.

Where to get it from?

I guess you buy it at any supermarket or grocery store. Yummy. But here’s a great Virgin Bloody Mary recipe for you! 🙂

Suan Mei Tang

I am not sure if I have ever mentioned this on my blog but I grew up in Chinatown. And I simply adore Chinese cuisine so no wonder why Suan Mei Tang or Sour Plum Drink – eeeeeh its English name does not sound too convincing to be honest – is one of my favorite non-alcoholic drinks.

Source: The Woks Of Life

Suan Mei Tang is a deep magenta colored drink made from sour plums, hawthorn berries, dried orange peel, licorice root, dried hibiscus and rock sugar. Sounds delicious, does it not?

Where to get it from?

Well, that is a difficult question because it really depends on where you are in the world. I think you will most probably be able to find the ingredients at Chinese grocery stores (if there’s any in your neighborhood) or if not: Amazon is always the answer. (Sounded like a paid ad but believe me, it was not. Was just trying to be helpful)

And the recipe: Suan Mei Tang (The Woks Of Life)

Tonic Water

Another well-known drink on the list. And well, as I mentioned earlier I absolutely, 100% adore gin & tonic. But tonic on it is own is fabulous too!

Source: Benson HE

Hmm… and what else to say? I love tonic water because it’s easily accessible and it has a very particular bitter taste that I am sure most of you are familiar with.

Oh yes, and recipes? I do not have any. Maybe one thing I could mention is that I normally mix it with sparkling water but again, I guess I am not the only person who does that.

Kvass

Are you a beer person? If yes, I am sure you will like kvass.

Kvass is a fermented Slavic & Baltic beverage commonly made from rye bread and I have always had the impression that it tasted like a sweet, non-alcoholic beer. Or well – non-alcoholic, it depends on perception I guess as it’s not fully alcohol free but it’s alcohol content is negligible (0.5 – 1%).

Source: https://www.svoimirykami.club/

Where to get it from?

Kvass is a popular drink in many Central & Eastern European countries. So if there’s any Russian or Ukrainian grocery store in your neighborhood, I am pretty sure they will have it on stock.

Or if not, here is a recipe: Easy Bread Kvas recipe (Natasha’s Kitchen).

Peppermint Tea

I love all kinds of tea but peppermint tea is definitely my favorite. I just love its refreshing taste and the fact that I enjoy drinking it all year long. A cup of iced peppermint tea is a wonderful summer drink but when you drink it hot, it will also be a perfect treat on a cold winter’s night.

Source: Healthline

And let’s not forget to mention that it’s caffeine free which is obviously not a bad thing when you suffer from OCD (like I do) or from any other anxiety disorder.

Where to get it from?

As for my experience, peppermint tea is pretty easily accessible all around the world. So you’ll most likely be able to grab it from your local supermarket or grocery store.

Recipe: How To Make Peppermint Tea Properly (Hot & Iced)

Soda Water & Lemon

This one is probably the simplest item on my list but I just love it. I have never been a great fan of traditional lemonade – reading this post you may have already noticed that I am not very much into uber sweet things.

Source: https://livfitness.ca/

So, I make my own “Mark style” lemonade which is nothing more than a huge glass of sparkling water with a table spoon of lemon juice added to it. Easily accessible, healthy and simply delicious

What Are Your Favorite Non-Alcoholic Drinks?

This post was about my favorite alcohol free drinks but every person has their own taste so please tell us about your favorites in the comment section! 🙂

Further Reading

Need Help With Alcohol Addiction?

More From Mark Wester

Disclaimer: I do not own any of the images in these photos.

I Hope You’ll Die Next Time :)

Quite a shocking title but please carry on reading!

In light of the recent suicide prevention day, I would love to talk about a Hungarian movie that I think is definitely worth watching. As you may have noticed, I do not normally post film reviews on my blog – ’cause it’s actually difficult to write one without any spoilers in it. But then, as I am a mental health blogger from Hungary, I really feel that I should talk about this film.

I Hope You’ll Die Next Time 🙂

was released exactly 2 years ago, in September 2018 and I have watched it quite a few times since its initial release – especially since it’s been recently made available on Netflix.

Now, the title of the movie is pretty shocking on its ownwho on earth would put a smiley face at the end of such a sentence? Well, I’ll not tell you the exact reason why it is there as I really do not want to drop a major spoiler but all I can say is that the smiley’s there for a good reason: this is a movie about teenagers living in Budapest, the Hungarian capital and just like any other teenagers in the world, they normally use emoticons while texting each other.

Image from: Port.hu

So, what the movie is about? You may have already guessed from the title that it’s about suicide. But it also talks about other problems of teenage life such as cyberbullying, relationships with friends and parents, love and sex. And well, there are pretty interesting topics, aren’t they?

Synopsis

I Hope You’ll Die Next Time 🙂 tells the story of a Hungarian high school girl, Eszter, who is just like any other teenage girls – she loves manga, does cosplay and she has a crush on her English teacher – okay, I am not entirely sure whether having a crush on one’s English teacher is considered to be average but I guess it’s happened to some of us in our high school years. I mean ,I too had a crush on one of my teachers.

I know it may sound pretty much like a Hollywood romcom. But it’s not. Eszter’s life seems to be pretty happy but obviously something bad needs to happen. And in her case, things will start to take turn for the worse when her English teacher (Csababá) announces that he’ll leave the country for a foreign job.

Will Eszter forget him? Of course, she won’t. And I guess it will not be a major spoiler if I tell you that our teenage protagonist starts a sexting relationship with her ex-English teacher – who’s actually married by the way – and that’s when things really start going out of control.

Well, I will not carry on with the story but I think it’s pretty obvious that this whole situation will not end well. And by the end of the movie, you’ll also learn why the movie’s title is “I Hope You’ll Die Next Time”.

Oh and I think I should also mention about the beautiful visuals of the movie and about its great pastel colours (just love the atmosphere!). And another thing that I loved was that it includes video calls, text messages which make the whole thing look more realistic.

And at the end of the day, the most important thing is the message of this movie. The characters have a seemingly perfect life, living in one of the prominent Budapest neighborhoods but this doesn’t mean that they do not have their own problems such as bullying, self-esteem issues and other mental health problems. And parents often realize that there’s a problem when it’s already too late….

Director:
Mihály Schwechtje

Writer:
Mihály Schwechtje (screenplay)

Starring:
Kristóf VajdaSzilvia HerrCsaba Polgár

Where To Watch?

The movie is available on Neflix and also on HBO Go – but as far as I know, their catalog varies greatly depending on your region.

Other Movies To Watch

I am a movie addict. And when I do not know what movie to watch, I will normally check blogs or websites about movies. One of my favorites is: Assholes Watching Movies – I love that they have very strong opinions and they’re not afraid to share them! So if you’re wondering what movie to watch tonight, just check out their blog and I am sure you will find tons of ideas. 🙂

Your Suggestions

If there’s any movie that you’d like to recommend, please do not hesitate to share it in the comment section! 🙂

More From Mark Wester

Does Keeping Yourself Busy Help With OCD?

I have been thinking a lot about this question lately and I realized that there’s one thing that I got completely wrong – I used to think that keeping myself busy was the only way to fight OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) and I guess I have kind of “overdone” it.

Please do not get me wrong, I still think that staying busy is one of the best ways to cope with OCD but it will only work if you do it in combination with other techniques and if you do not overdo it like I did.

So, what do I actually mean by saying that I have kind of overdone the whole thing?

Let me tell you my story. How it began – and how it ended.

As I mentioned in many of my previous posts, I was diagnosed with OCD in my late teens. While I do not actually remember the exact day when my OCD started (’cause I guess it has always been there in the background) I will never forget the day when I felt it was going out of control. I was a senior in high school and my class was having a particularly long holiday as we were supposed to be preparing for our final exams.

I guess having a long holiday is probably a positive thing for most people. Well, for me it was not. I was very anxious about getting into college so I had pretty much finished my preparation for the finals by the time our break from school started. Which meant that I had a month off – a whole month to think about all the crazy stuff that was going on in my head! Now, that was a terrifying thing for me. I was worried about my future and I did not know what I wanted to do with my life. And in addition, I also had OCD. A perfect recipe for disaster.

As I could no longer deal with the things that were going on in my head, I decided to seek professional help. I have already published a few posts about how I got diagnosed with OCD and what kinds of thoughts I was having so I really do not want to go into more details in this article.

Related reading:

Being Scared Of Having Too Much Free Time

Now, one thing I definitely need to mention about is a conversation that i had with my therapist who told me that keeping myself busy could help a lot. And who also made a few suggestions. Like – I could find a part-time job. Or go out a bit more often.

Well, I gotta tell you that I listened to her advice! But I guess I kind of misunderstood what she meant. Because for me, finding a part-time job meant working 40-50 hours a week and going out a bit more often meant going out every single night.

At the beginning of my OCD journey, I did not feel that there was a problem. Staying busy actually helped me forget about all the scary things going on in my head and it was just a great way to escape from my OCD monster.

So, after a few months of long working hours and parties, I started feeling that things were going in the right direction. The only thing that I was concerned about was a new fear that I had developed – the fear of having too much free time. Because I remembered what it felt like when I had to stay at home and did not have anything to do. And this fear was the beginning of a new chapter.

Fear Of Losing My Job / My Friends

My “busy new life” was just perfect – except for one thing. I started obsessing over losing my job or my growing circle of friends.

And that’s when my attempts to keep myself busy became an obsession. Doing some extra work or going out with friends was no longer about distraction – it was a compulsion just like lock checking or other repetitive actions people with OCD tend to do.

I felt that I couldn’t say “no” to any invitationbecause what if people will be upset with me? What if they will never want to see me again? I was just unable to say “no” to any request at work because you know..what if they fire me? And taking a day off work or spending a weekend without going to any social events were just things that I didn’t even dare to imagine.

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When Things Go Out Of Control

After a while I arrived to a point where I felt that I was just losing it. By saying after a while I mean a few years – ’cause that’s how long it took me to take up enough activities and to commit myself to do so many things that it was just impossible to handle.

So, after years of living a busy life, I started to feel that it just couldn’t go on any longer. And at the same time, this realization was also a great shock to me – for the first time in many years, I felt that I did not need to stay busy for keeping my OCD under control. And that was an amazing feeling!

The Aftermath

Now, I think you can guess that the story is not over yet. I cannot just simply undo the last decade and run away from the people I love and from my responsibilities. But I have been improving – I am trying to say “no” a little bit more often. Of course, not like literary but in my own, overcomplicated way.

I have become a little bit less proactive – but I think compared to most of the people I know, I am still pretty much a workaholic. Well, there are things that will never change.

And I focus more on my family and on my real friends – I know this will sound pretty ugly but you know how it is, there are people who come and go – and there are those people who’ll stay in your life. Back in the past, I used to attend every single social event that I was invited to. Nowadays, I spend more time with my “inner circle” and I try to make a little bit more time for myself. And over the years, I have learnt that the people who are really important in your life will not stop talking to you just because you did not go out with them last Thursday!

Why Exactly Now?

You may ask how come I decided to write about this topic. Well, you might have noticed that this is the first post I published after a 2 weeks break. There’s been a lot of thing going on in my life the last 2 weeks so I really needed to talk about this topic!

Conclusion

1. Keeping Yourself Busy Helps With OCD

At the end of the day, my personal experience is that keeping yourself busy is a great way to keep your OCD under control.

2….But Don’t Overdo It!

But just like with anything else – you shouldn’t overdo it. And I know it is hard to find a balance, so if you feel unsure about it, the best thing you can do is discussing with your therapist. So, do not be like me!

3. Stress Can Make OCD Worse

If you have a lot of things to do, it’s more likely that you’ll be stressed. And stress does not help OCD at all.

4. You Can Not Run Away From Yourself

Staying busy cannot be your only way to cope with OCD as there are moments in our lives when it’s simply not possible. Like, just think about the recent restrictions due to the pandemic – if this happened years ago, I think I would have lost my mind.

Further Reading