The problem is not to fight a bad situation, the real problems is what your OCD does after that situation. In the dire struggle to not let that moment come again or not make the same mistake, the fear, the guilt fuels your OCD to another level. I start doing stupid things on a repetitive […]Perils of living with OCD when something goes wrong..
Did you know that gay and bisexual man are 4 times more likely to commit suicide than the rest of the population? Or that LGBT+ are one and a half times more likely to develop depression and anxiety than heterosexuals?
June is Pride Month and I think this is the perfect time to talk about a very important topic: the mental health of LGBT+ individuals. There are a lot of great articles on the internet about the link between homosexuality and mental health issues (and about the reasons behind them), so I do not think I could possibly compete with them and write something better or something more helpful.
But there’s one thing that I can absolutely do: sharing my experiences as a gay guy and telling you what impact my sexual orientation has on my mental health and on my OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). And this post is not going to be about number or research data but more about the things that I have experienced and that I have been suffering from. And something that has always hurt me the most is internalized homophobia.
What is Internalized Homophobia?
When you tell someone that you were bullied for being gay, they will usually assume that it was a heterosexual person that attacked you. I mean, how could an LGBT+ individual be possibly homophobic? That just does not make sense, does it?
But would you believe me if I told you that throughout my life, I have received much more hatred from gay guys than from straight ones? And do not get me wrong, I do not say that because I had a few romantic relationships that went wrong. By “hatred” I mean a homophobic kind of hatred. Bullying. Verbal abuse.
If this all does not make sense to you, believe me: it did not use to make sense to me either. I just could not understand why some gay guys literary hate me for not being “straight-looking” or “straight-acting” while actual straight guys hadn’t really had any problems with that.
But then, I learnt about Internalized Homophobia. A complicated phenomenon that can manifest itself in various different ways.
Read more: https://www.rainbow-project.org/internalised-homophobia
There are a lot of LGBT+ people who grow up in a homophobic, discriminatory culture. Many of them learn negative ideas about homosexuality and same-sex attraction and these ideas can lead them to feeling of self-disgust and hatred.
There are gay people who hate themselves for being gay, some of them live in denial. Others project their hate and prejudice to another target group.
And finally, there are the ones who hate and verbally abuse the more open and obvious members of the LGBT community. Today’s story is about them.
Growing up in a bubble
When did I know I was gay? This is the question that I get asked the most often and the honest answer to it is that I do not exactly know. I think I have always known I was gay, I just did not know that it was called like that – I have always been attracted to guys but when I was younger, I used to think that every guy had the same feelings. Sounds strange, right? I literary believed that every guy on this planet had been either gay or bisexual.
When I was 12 years old, I learnt that my male classmates were not attracted to other men. So, that’s when I realized that I was gay. We could say that before that I thought I was just like anyone else but this wouldn’t be the right thing to say because I think that being gay does not mean that you’re different from other people. In my native language (Hungarian), gay people often refer to themselves as “others” but I just do not like this term because I think sexuality is a private affair and being gay doesn’t mean that you are less or more than other people.
Anyways, realizing that I was LGBT+ had been a life changing experience to me. I guess I do not tell you anything new by saying this because other people have probably had the same feeling. But I think I have been much luckier than many other people in my situation.
I think I would need to tell you about my background a little bit for you to understand why I say I was luckier than many other people. First of all, I was born into a very liberal society. I am from a very open minded family and I was raised in a multicultural neighborhood of Budapest, the Hungarian capital. While my country is not famous for being the most LGBT friendly place in the world, there are certain districts and social classes in the capital that are extremely open minded. My family has always been very accepting and I came out to them at a very young age. Their reaction was absolutely lovely, they never had any issues with me being gay and they have always encouraged me to be who I really am. And I will be always grateful to them for that.
And as for my friends and classmates back at school…Pretty much the same story. I went to a fashion school that has a reputation of being one of the most gay friendly schools in my city.
So I guess we can say that I literary grew up in a bubble. In a society where people loved me for who I was and where it was okay for me to wear long hair, black nail polish and to talk about whatever I wanted to. If I told you that I did not experience any homophobia during my childhood and teenage years, I would lie. There always were people who commented on things. Or people who told me that “I was fun, despite being gay”. But nothing extreme. Nothing that would make me cry or hate myself.
But of course, teenage years were over. And a lot of things changed in my life. I started a job and I broke up with my boyfriend. And I met people from another world. Those who had been living outside of the bubble.
The Bubble Bursts
Just before you read further. I just want to make sure that you do not misunderstand me. I do not hate people for being more conservative and I do not look down on other LGBT people for being born into less accepting societies. All I want is raising awareness on a subject that is not commonly discussed. Because I think it really is an important subject. (Also, one more thing – I grew up in Hungary, so I am not sure if my experiences are specific to my place of birth or if this is a completely global phenomenon)
Internalized homophobia is harming members of the LGBT community and it did have a terrible impact on my mental health but I am sure that my problems are not even comparable to the horrible things that “homophobic gay people” had to go through. Because if you hate yourself for who you are, that’s pretty bad, is it not?
So, when did my pink bubble burst? As I mentioned earlier, it happened right after high school. After my break-up, I decided to start dating. And that was something entirely new for me because I was in love with the same guy during my teenage years so I first went on a dating app when I was like 19.
And the first couple of seconds were enough for me to feel like a complete loser. I registered on a dating site because I thought I would find love and I was expecting to meet people who might or might not like me – which I think is a perfectly natural thing because there will always be people who don’t like you.
But I was totally unprepared for the amount of hatred that was waiting for me. I will give you a few examples of things one can see on almost every 3rd profile on a gay dating app (just in case you haven’t used one yet – and obviously I might exaggerate by saying “every 3rd” but you got the point…)
- “NO FEMS! (meaning feminine),NO FAGGOTS! NO FAT PEOPLE! PLEASE”
- “I am here to meet real men, not princesses”
- ” Can not understand why it is impossible to find a NORMAL, STRAIGHT-ACTING GUYS , these dating apps are full of disgusting fags”
- “Only straight acting please”
- “Straight looking guy here”
- “Straight acting guy looking for the same, no princesses and drag queens please”
- “Do not want any disgusting feminine guys”
And I could go on, but I will not. I think you got the idea. And seeing all this was extremely painful and shocking to me. Like it just made me feel like a loser and made me think about things that I had not thought about before. Such as: am I too feminine?
And I am not a drag queen and I am not overly feminine, there are some things that are stereotypical about me (I didn’t want to say “things that are gay” because I do not think they are) such as my love for fashion and certain words I use. And I used to wear long hair and I have always been into a more gothic look, but I never considered myself a “princess” to use the word many of these guys love saying. So, I really started feeling that I hadn’t been good enough and that I would never find love because nobody wants a guy like me. And I am not alone with this feeling, many of my friends told me that they had felt the same way. It’s a feeling of rejection by a community that is supposed to be accepting you. And especially after spending my life in a bubble, this whole thing was a real shock to me – like, if my straight friends were okay with my long hair and the way I behave, how come I get so much hate from gay guys?
And obviously, it’s not only about the dating apps because I just completely stopped using them after realizing that I just really do not want to see these hateful messages and profiles anymore.
But it’s the same when you meet “internalized homophobic” people in person. Some of my gay acquaintances told me not to act like a “f***ng faggot” or not to use a certain word because it doesn’t sound “straight”. Or another thing I have noticed is that many of these guys will also make faces when a more feminine guy walks past them.
And I guess it’s needless to say that all of these experiences made me feel more and more depressed and rejected. At first, I was trying to change myself. I tried to be “less gay” but I just realized that I did not want to. I felt good the way I was and I did not want to become someone else. Then, I avoided gay people at all cost because I was terribly afraid of getting hurt.
So, perfect recipe for being single. And a perfect way to finally become “homophobic” – because as I said, I was avoiding gay people.
You may ask if I am still like that. Well, not anymore. Not because the situation has changed but I have become stronger and I do not take it personally anymore. One thing that helped me was learning about internalized homophobia and realizing that these guys are not evil monsters. They were just born in societies that had been less accepting and they project their hatred and self-disgust to people who totally do not deserve it. And I really think they need some help – and with the world getting more and more open and accepting, I think internalized homophobia can also disappear from our lives.
I usually like giving some helpful tips in my articles. In this one I am not even sure what I could say. I just wanted to share my experiences and talk about a subject that is not commonly discussed or particularly well-known. And I really hope that reading this article will help all the gay guys who sometimes feel rejected by their own community.
I cannot believe that the lockdown is finally over. We’re all going through difficult times but thanks for God, there’s light at the end of the tunnel. This crisis has taught all of us a few lessons – one of the things I have learnt is that life is very short and fragile so we should really enjoy every moment of it. And that’s exactly what my best friend and me decided to do last week by celebrating the end of our months long lockdown in the beautiful Austrian capital, Vienna.
Just a little bit of a background info before you start thinking that we are totally irresponsible: we are from Budapest, the capital of Hungary that’s literary a 3 hours drive away from Vienna. Both Austria and Hungary have a relatively low number of new coronavirus cases and those who have been following my blog for some time probably know that I have OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) and Generalized Anxiety Disorder, so I guess I do not need to tell you that I am the type of person who tends to overthink everything and who takes every possible precaution to prevent any potential disaster. But anyways, today’s article is not about my OCD, it’s about my Vienna trip that I just want to talk about – nowadays, there’s a lot of negativity on the internet so it’s time to write about something more cheerful.
Why exactly Vienna?
Now, I am not a tour guide or something so I will not give you a complete list of reasons why Vienna is the perfect destination for your next city break. But I can tell you that it’s one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen with stunning architecture, cozy cafés and great museums. And another thing I just love about the city is its calm atmosphere that just helps me keep my OCD and my anxiety under control. Travelling is one of my biggest hobbies but as many of you know (or can imagine), it’s not always easy to explore new cities when you’re suffering from a mental illness. But Vienna is one of the most livable cities in the whole world with a lot of places where you can escape the crowds, clean and organized streets and very reliable public transport. And well, apart from this, we obviously should not forget about all the amazing sites you can see so let me tell you what we were doing during our trip.
On the first day of our trip, the weather was far from being fantastic. But if you’re in Vienna, bad weather will not stop you from enjoying yourself as you can always go to one of the city’s great museums. And we decided to go to Kunsthistorisches (lit. “Art History) Museum. It has a unique collection of masterpieces from Ancient Egyptian works of art to Bruegel and Raphael. And well, I guess we could say that the building itself is a sight on it’s own.
Of course, apart from admiring the building itself, we spent a great amount of time walking around beautiful works of art.
And well, my blog is mainly about my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder so if you wondering about what intrusive thoughts I could possibly have at a museum let me give you one example: I often worry about stealing a painting. I mean they are just so beautiful so I sometimes think it would be so great to have them in my room and then BOOM! my OCD will just ask me the typical “what if” question: what if you lose your mind and steal one?
Like I know this fear may sound just ridiculous and I really do not blame you if you laugh at it but it can be scary sometimes.
Anyways, as you could possibly guess, I haven’t stolen any paintings as I am still here writing my blog but I have taken photos of my favorite ones.
Walking around the city
One of the things that both my best friend and me enjoy doing while being on holidays is just walking around the city. And this was not our first trip to Vienna (guess we have been there at least a hundred times), so we already have our favorite walking spots, such as:
Walking in the Old Town of Vienna will always make me feel relaxed. It’s full of beautiful buildings and adorable little streets and it has a truly magical atmosphere that will help you forget about your daily struggles.
Going to a Patisserie
Vienna famous for its coffee houses and for it’s delicious cakes. So, we obviously had some. Do not want to go into details about the exact number of pastries we consumed because we are not proud of that.
One of the main squares and it’s full of life. And I should not forget to mention that Karlskirche (St. Charles Church), a beautiful baroque church and one of Vienna’s main attractions which is also in this square.
Ringstraße is a circular grand boulevard that serves as a ring road around the Inner Town of Vienna. And it’s just a perfect place for a walk so that’s where we spent most of our evenings. And if my article convinced you to go to Vienna, this is definitely one of the first places I’d recommend you to visit as many of the city’s famous buildings are on Ringstraße.
And well, all the photos in my post are taken by me, except for this one but I just had to steal this pic from wien.info as I think it’s just simply amazing.
I do not only have OCD but I am also a shopaholic. And Mariahilferstraße is the best (or the worst, depends on the way you look at it) place for shopaholics. It’s a beautiful street full of stores you can spend your salary at – and that’s what I did.
Donauinsel (Danube island) is not among the most famous tourist attractions of Vienna but I just love this place. I guess it’s because of all the beautiful memories I got from there. Such as, falling in love for the first time……
Anyways, before I get way too romantic to handle: speaking of memories – my friend managed to lose her public transport pass while walking around the island, so we decided to go back and look for it. It was obviously a pretty hopeless mission as the weather had been extremely windy but at the same time, it was pretty fun, we were like little Hercule Poirots trying to reconstruct all the crazy events that happened on that day.
And any OCD triggers on Donauinsel? Well, in my case yes as one has to walk across a bridge to get there (okay, you could also take public transport but I just love walking..) and as many of you know I have this fear of jumping off a bridge. I have learnt how to keep it under control and it did not stop me from going to my favorite places but it’s always in the background.
I guess I am not alone with this, but I have been a great fan of Sisi ever since I was a small child. So, we did not want to miss the chance to visit Schönbrunn Palace and its beautiful park (even if the weather hadn’t been the best as you can see it in this picture.)
Speaking of palaces: we went to Belvedere too. It’s another stunning palace in the city center and its garden is a perfect place for an afternoon chill – I can tell you that I got a great tan! Unfortunately, we had not had the chance to visit the exhibition (there’s a beautiful art collection housed in the palace with paintings of Gustave Klimt, Egon Schiele and many other great artists) as it’s only reopening on the 1st of July. But anyways, that’s a reason to go back…
Outside of Vienna: Burg Kreuzenstein
Even though we could never get bored of Vienna, we still decided to leave it for one day and explore the neighborhood. So that’s how we ended up at the beautiful Burg Kreuzenstein that’s only a short train journey away from the city center.
It’s a beautiful castle that makes you feel as if you were in a fairy tale. And well yes, we spent about 2 hours posing for gothic pictures as it really is the perfect place for that and we just love taking pictures.
And well, if you think this place could never trigger my OCD, you’re unfortunately wrong. I spent at least an hour worrying about a cigarette that I smoked – nothing creepy, I had been far away from the castle in the smoking area so absolutely no chance to do any harm but I was still worried to death about that particular cigarette because what if the wind blew in the wrong direction and what if a piece of ash set something on fire and what if I am the one to blame for the whole thing. Would never be able to forgive myself. Obviously, nothing terrible happened but I have arrived to a conclusion: never smoke cigarettes near historical sites, even if it’s permitted, it’s not worth it with all of the anxiety it could give you.
A Day Trip To Brno , Czechia
As the Czech border is pretty close to Vienna, we did not want to miss the chance to visit Czechia. So, we decided to spend a day in the beautiful city of Brno – well, that’s not a long time but we tried to see as much as we can, including Villa Tugendhat, one of the pioneering prototypes of modernist architecture and the impressive Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul. But there are so many more things to do in Brno so we definitely want to go back.
And speaking of Czechia: I do need to tell you that their beer is amazing, but I guess that’s something most of you already know 🙂
Just One More Salmon Sandwich
Now, let me tell you about the legendary salmon sandwich. My friend and me – the two freaks – fell in love with a salmon sandwich that we had for breakfast at a Brno café, so we just wanted to go back there to have some more. So far so good, the only issue is that we have almost missed our train back to Budapest. Because of a salmon sandwich. Now, thanks for God we could finally catch our train (we needed to call a taxi) but the fact that we preferred a sandwich over the way back home is pretty alarming.
The salmon sandwich in question:
Life is not easy if you live with a mental illness. And with this ongoing crisis it’s definitely been a difficult period for all of us. But one thing that we could learn from the past few months is to be much more grateful for everything that we have. The reason why I shared this post is not telling you that you should go ahead and travel through the world despite the pandemic, but to show you that there’s light at the end of the tunnel and there are places in the world where life is slowly returning.
As you know, there’s one thing that I enjoy more than writing my stories: reading yours. Please feel free to share your travel experiences/ thoughts in the comment section.
“We of the craft are all crazy. Some are affected by gaiety, others by melancholy, but all are more or less touched”
It would be difficult to imagine a world without art. Just think about what our life would be like if we did not have all the beautiful buildings in our cities, if we could not enjoy our favorite songs or if we could not spend time reading books or visiting art galleries. It would be a sad world, would it not?
I have been addicted to art ever since I was a small child and I have always enjoyed spending hours looking at paintings or exploring the art nouveau architecture of my city. Looking at masterpieces will always make me think of the amazing people who were able to create them. Art makes our lives much more enjoyable but at the end of the day, a painting is more than just a pretty image: its the artists’ tool to express themselves and it is a window to their soul. Looking at a painting will help you see the world through the artist’s eyes and I think that is one of the coolest things in the universe. And obviously, it’s pretty much the same thing with any other form of art, just think about literature – a good novel will always help you escape your reality and will take you to someone else’s magical world.
I often hear people saying that most artists are mentally ill. But are artists more susceptible to mental health issues? It is difficult to give an answer to this question even though this subject has been studied by psychologists and other researchers for centuries. There are numerous studies stating that there may be a link between mental health issues and creativity. According to Shelley Carson, a lecturer at Harvard University, the most typical symptoms commonly found among artists are substance abuse, depression, bipolar disorder and suicide. She writes in a chapter of The Shared Vulnerability Model of Creativity and Psychopathology: “In general, research indicates that creative people in arts-related professions endorse higher rates of positive schizotypy than non-arts professionals.” (Source)
Now, I am not a psychology researcher so I can not tell you whether Shelley Carson’s statement is right or wrong. There are researchers who say there’s surely a link between creativity and mental health disorders while others say there is not. If you ask my personal opinion, I would say there might be. But today’s article is not about trying to find out what the truth is or trying to convince you that my opinion is right.
Because at the end of the day, the most important thing is to accept other human beings the way they are and to raise awareness of mental health disorders (as many of you may know, I’ve been suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder for most of my life, so it’s an important thing for me!). So in this post, I will talk about great artists who have made the world a much more beautiful place by creating their masterpieces and whose art might have been inspired by their mental illnesses.
1. Edvard Munch – Depression, Alcoholism & Anxiety Disorders
“I was walking along the road with two of my friends. Then the sun set. The sky suddenly turned into blood, and I felt something akin to a touch of melancholy. I stood still, leaned against the railing, dead tired. Above the blue black fjord and the city hung clouds of dripping, rippling blood. My friends went on and again I stood, frightened with an open wound in my breast. A great scream pierced through nature.”
Edvard Munch – (1863 – 1944)
This was Edvard Munch’s description of the despair behind his most famous painting, The Scream. And I guess most of my readers know this painting as it is one of the world’s most iconic images. And well yes, that is also the profile picture on my blog so I do not think my little secret will surprise any of you: Edvard Munch is my favorite painter. An artist that I have always admired and I could always relate to.
The Norwegian artist once wrote that sickness, madness, and death were the black angels that guarded his crib – his childhood was overshadowed by illness, the early loss of his mother and the dread of inheriting a mental condition that ran in his family. He suffered from depression and from anxiety disorder – well, that is an umbrella term, but I have not been able to find out what exact anxiety disorder he had, probably because a lot less was known about psychology in his time (or it was more difficult to get a diagnosis) but based on his quotes that I have read, I think he might have had panic disorder.
Munch went through many tragedies in his life and he suffered from severe mental health problems. The story of his life is heartbreaking but at the same time, I have always found it extremely inspiring. He is an artist who could beautifully express his feelings through his paintings and who used his dark experiences to create something magical.
– The long scream of Edvard Munch (Medium.com)
Vincent Van Gogh – Bipolar Disorder, Depression & Substance Abuse
“I am unable to describe exactly what is the matter with me. Now and then there are horrible fits of anxiety, apparently without cause, or otherwise a feeling of emptiness and fatigue in the head…At times I have attacks of melancholy and of atrocious remorse.”
Vincent van Gogh (1853 – 1890)
Who does not know Vincent van Gogh? His sunflowers and starry nights. Or the story about his ear. The Dutch painter was plagued by psychiatric illnesses throughout his life. Evidence suggests that he had manic depression (currently known as bipolar disorder), a chronic mental illness that affects many creative people. (Source)
Furthermore, there are theories suggesting that his preference for certain colors – such as his famous yellow – was also influenced by some medical condition. But this is a question that we will probably never be able to answer as the artist did not get a proper diagnosis during his tragically short life – he committed suicide at the age of 37.
Why did he cut his ear? He cut off his left ear after having a fight with his friend, Paul Gauguin, a fellow painter with whom he had been working for a while in Arles. It was an act of unconsciousness as later he could not recall anything about the event.
And one more thing about this topic that I feel I just have to tell you. I find it extremely tragic that the “ear story” is the first thing that a lot of people will think of when they hear van Gogh’s name. I know I may sound hypocritical as I have just shared this story but we have to bear in mind that my blog is about mental health issues so I think it’s safe place to talk about such topics. However, I really think that Vincent van Gogh should be remembered for the fabulous landscapes he had painted and for his beautiful colors that can make everyone of us happy. He never received recognition in his lifetime and he committed suicide at a young age because he thought he’d been a complete failure. I do believe there’s life after death and I hope that somewhere, this amazing artist knows how much the world adores his work.
– Creativity and Chronic Disease – Vincent van Gogh (Paul Wolf)
Paul Gauguin – Depression, Anxiety Disorder & Substance Abuse
“Civilization is what makes you sick.”
Paul Gauguin (1848 – 1903)
Civilization is what makes you sick – I just love this quote from Paul Gauguin and while I have always been a “big city boy”, I can totally relate to him. The French artist tried to run away from himself and try to find peace at the other side of the world, but he had to realize that his problems would follow him everywhere. And I think this is something that a lot of us have experienced. But in Gauguin’s case, his “escape” to Tahiti resulted in amazing works of art.
For Gauguin, painting was a way of coping with his anxiety attacks and depression. And his art did not only help him deal with his mental problems but enjoying them helps all of us escape from our daily reality and see the world through different lenses. I have always loved the exotic atmosphere of his colorful paintings – there’s just something magical about them.
Paul Gauguin went through a lot of suffering and he spent the last of his days in prison for political activism (he took the side of the islanders against the French colonialists). Weakened by excessive drinking, improper nourishment, and an overdose of morphine to treat the syphilis, Gauguin died of a heart attack at 54 years old.
– The Narcissist Who Painted Himself As A Yellow Christ (I do not particularly agree with this article but I do think reading about different points of view is important, that’s why I’m sharing it 🙂 )
Richard Dadd – Paranoid Schizophrenia
“Go and tell the great God Osiris that I have done the deed which is to set him free.”
Richard Dadd (1817 – 1886)
Note: Reading about Richard Dadd’s life can be an OCD trigger.
Richard Dadd’s first psychotic episode came whilst on a boat on the river Nile, where he thrashed around wildly and believed himself to have been taken mentally hostage by the ancient Egyptian God Osiris. Upon returning home to England, he began to believe that his father was the Devil, resulting him stabbing his parent to death, feeling to France and attempting to kill a tourist. He was committed to a psychiatric hospital (the famous “Bedlam”) where he created many of his famous masterpieces.
Looking at Richard Dadd’s paintings, it’s hard to believe that the artist actually painted them while spending over 20 years at a mental hospital. Paul Gauguin tried to escape from his problems and moved to another continent, while Richard Dadd did not have such an option – so instead, he escaped to a fantastic world of fairies.
– Richard Dadd: madness and beauty (The Telegraph)
Louis Wain – Schizophrenia
“Intelligence in the cat is underrated.”
Louis Wain (1860 – 1939)
I have always loved cats – I think they are absolutely amazing so I guess it does not come as a surprise that I love Louis Wain’s cat paintings.
The artist married at a young age, but his wife was struck down by a fatal illness. Peter, the black-and-white cat that the couple got as a wedding gift would usually sit on the ill wife’s bed and Louis would sketch and caricature the cat to amuse his love. – I have always found this story beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time.
After his wife’s death, Louis Wain found himself experiencing the growing symptoms of schizophrenia and used his art as a way of expression (just like the other artists in this list.) So that is how his beautiful cat paintings came into life. For me, the most amazing thing about Louis Wain’s art is that despite the fact that he painted millions of cats, every single work of art he created has it’s own atmosphere and even it’s particular style.
– Louis Wain’s Schizophrenic Cats (Schizlife.com)
People who have made the world more beautiful
The stories of these artists may be sad, but their artwork has brought joy to many of us over the years. It is not easy to live with a mental disorder but art is a great way of coping with your problems. And it’s not only about dealing with your own issues but also helping others. The artists in this list would have never thought that one day, their paintings will help millions of people and that they will be an inspiration to all of us.
As you know, there’s one thing that I enjoy more than writing my stories: reading yours. So please share your thoughts in the comment section 🙂
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
- 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.
– 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! 🙂
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.
– 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 🙂 ( It helps people struggling with different mental illnesses find a therapist.)
- Pure O: Living in Endless Fear
- OCD: a vicious cycle of doubt and guilt
- OCD: Living a lie
- 12 things that will help you overcome OCD
- Peace At The Bottom Of A Bottle – Alcohol & OCD
- Top 60 OCD Blogs
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! 🙂
“When all Americans are treated as equal, no matter who they are or whom they love, we are all more free.”–Barack Obama *** This is not a post to bash, humiliate, judge, deride. It is not a sermon to discuss right or wrong. So, it is my hope that you will not just click to […]Pride Comes In All Colors…
#love #beautiful #happy #like4like #fashion #foodporn #travelling
Some of the most popular hashtags and I think they perfectly show what social media is like and what challenges it has for all of us. For people who suffer from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (just like I do), for those who have other mental disorders – and even for those who do not have any mental health issues.
I grew up on social media and I think I will never be able to completely stop using it. I know it is not always the best place for me as it can sometimes be a place full of hate and superficiality but on the other hand, there are times when social media can be a real blessing as it can help you connect with your loved ones and at the end of the day, I think social media is a part of our modern life and it is not something that we can simply ignore.
And that is why I have decided to write a post about the negative side of social media and about how it can impact the mental health of someone who is suffering from OCD. For me it’s just the perfect time to talk about it because I have been spending a crazy long time on Facebook ever since the lockdown began and for the last few weeks I have been analyzing myself and I’ve been trying to find what are the biggest mistakes someone with OCD can make while using social media. So just keep reading if you want to see the conclusions I have arrived to! 🙂
Comparing Yourself To Your Friends Or Acquiantances
Your Instagram feed is full of glamorous and apparently happy and successful people who post pictures of their honeymoon or their latest business trip while you are sitting at home and having a cup of coffee (or in my case a glass of wine), wearing an ugly pair of trousers and your favorite old sweater. And you just keep wondering about what you have done wrong and you can not stop thinking that you are a loser.
I guess comparing ourselves to others is something that most of us do. So please do not think it is a sign of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. OCD starts when this “comparing habit” becomes an obsession. Something that you just cannot stop thinking about or cannot stop doing. And well, we have to admit that when it comes to comparisons, social media is just the perfect tool that allows you to compare yourself to others. It’s available 24/7 and you can spend hours checking your never-ending newsfeed and looking at your friends’ pictures while asking yourself why you could not be as successful as they are, as beautiful as they are…or as rich as they are.
And please do not get me wrong. The feeling that I have just written about is not envy. It is not like..you want all those people on your Instagram to be completely miserable. It’s closer to self-loathing. You just hate yourself for being lazy and for not being able to make your dreams come true or for not exercising enough so that you would get the perfect body you have always dreamed of.
But There’s One Thing We Often Forget About
People on social media usually show their best face. Now, just think about yourself. When you post a new picture, you will normally pick one where you think you look nice or at least acceptable. And most of us prefer sharing positive experiences such as going on holidays or having a nice dinner with our friends.
And at the end of the day, you never know the background. You will never know how many hours that perfectly looking person spent on taking that amazing picture in front of the Notre-Dame and you will never know how they felt at that moment. I can just talk about myself: I look completely miserable in most of my pictures because I just hate smiling so if you look at my Facebook, you will surely think that this guy is totally desperate but I am not. It is just my style.
And apart from the fact that the people on your social media feed are not as perfect as they look to be…..
Why do you care?
I mean..let’s suppose you’re less successful than many other people you know but why should anyone care about comparisons?
When you have OCD, it can be extremely difficult to stop thinking about your obsessions. And that’s why it’s better for you to try to stop comparing yourself to others as soon as you notice you’re doing it. I know, it’s easier said than done but we all know what a vicious circle OCD is.
First of all, everything depends on the way you look at things. Nobody is perfect so there are things you are better at and things that you are not too good at and that’s perfectly normal. No human being is better or worse than another one. We are all at the same level, we are just different and telling yourself that you are a failure just does not make sense. And it will especially not make sense when your opinion is based on social media.
Furthermore, would you be happier if you were much more successful than others? Honestly, I do not think so. Or well, I guess it depends on person but now I’m talking about my experiences – as someone who has OCD – and what I have noticed is that when I am happier than others, I will often feel guilty for being happy while other people are suffering so my final conclusion is really that comparisons just do not make sense. The only person you need to compare yourself to is you! All of us have achieved great things in our lives and we should not forget about that. Just think about who you were a few years ago and who you are now: I think in most of the cases, people will grow stronger as the time passes.
How To Stop Comparing Yourself To Others?
Now, I hope that the points I made above will help some of you. What I usually do is just telling myself that I’m a much better person than I was back in the past and that instead of comparing myself to others I need to compare myself to who I was in the past. And if this does not work and your comparing obsession “goes out of control”, I think the best thing you can do is taking a break from social media. What I have noticed is that Instagram has a particularly bad effect on my mental health and I have stopped using it completely.
Do not get me wrong, I really do not want to create a negative publicity – I am just being honest. For me, Instagram is the social media platform that will always make me feel bad. It’s not just about comparing myself to others because that’s something that I try not to do but….the whole “atmosphere”, the superficiality and the meaninglessness. But I guess all of us are different and everyone can find a social media platform that works for them! 🙂 So if you have any favorites, please share them in the comment section together with your thoughts/ social media experiences!
My first post after almost a month. And first of all, I would like to thank all of my readers who were missing me and in some cases, messaged me asking if everything had been alright. It’s such an amazing feeling to see that there are people out there who care about where you are and what you are doing ❤
And I am glad to tell you, that everything is alright. And I think I owe you an apology. It’s not a nice thing to disappear for so long and I am not even trying to find excuses. Especially that nothing special has happened in my life – so I guess this will probably be one of the most boring articles that I have ever written but I think I just have to write about my last 3 weeks before I post any other article. So why did I disappear?
A Lot Of Work
Yes, I have a lot of work to do at the moment and I think I am extremely lucky. One of my biggest fears is losing my job and thanks for God, it has not happened. On the contrary – I have been literary drowning in work and I am not complaining about that. But after finishing my shift, I just feel that I have no more energy or motivation to do anything. Especially that I have to study a lot in order to fulfill some of the new requirements, such as speaking German. But fortunately, things are now getting back to normal and I really hope I will have much more time to work on my blog ❤
P.S: One extremely positive thing about having a lot of work is that I do not have too much time to worry about others things. I am not sure if this has ever happened to you but I really have the impression that keeping myself busy helps me a lot in fighting my OCD.
Yeah…the famous writer’s block. And honestly, I do not think that I have run out of topics to write about but sometimes I get the feeling that I am just not good enough. Not sure if it has to do anything to do with my OCD, but I may have to. In the last few weeks, whenever I started writing a post, I would just get the feeling that it was not good enough or it was way too depressing and I finally decided not to publish it. When I heard about writer’s block, I did not think it would ever happen to me but it finally did and it’s a strange feeling. Like…..lack of self-confidence and lack of inspiration or the combination of the two. Anyways, thanks for God, I think this feeling is finally over and I cannot wait to publish a few new posts.
Spending A Lot More Time With Family And Friends
If you have been reading my blog for some time, I am sure you have noticed that I am a very social person and this whole lockdown made me even more social if we can say that. For the last few months, I have had to work from home which is a pretty challenging thing for me as I just love being around people, going for a coffee break, having some chat and going for a few drinks after work.
Now these are things that I have not been able to do for the last 3 months and that’s why I’ve been spending a lot of time talking to my friends on the phone or lately, going for long walks. And well, a week ago, my country (Hungary) eased the restrictions and last week I was finally able to go out with some of my friends which was a truly amazing thing.
This whole crisis has taught me to appreciate a lot more the things that I have and I really hope I will not go back to “my normal self” who takes a lot of things for granted.
I started dating someone back in January. And a few weeks ago, we broke up. It was a pretty short relationship but I’m a very emotional person and it was obviously not an easy thing to go through.
I Promise Myself
Writing a few words about how I spent my last few weeks made me realize how much I love writing so I promise myself that I will never stop doing it for so long.
How Have You Been?
As you know, there’s one thing that I enjoy more than writing my stories: reading yours. So please tell me about how you’ve been lately in the comment section! 🙂
Blessings & Thank you very much for reading ❤
Has it ever happened to you that you just had to check your sent emails to make sure you had not written anything stupid to anyone?
Well, I guess many of us might have had similar worries but it does not mean that all of us are a “little bit OCD“. Simply because Obsessive Compulsive Disorder – as you can see it in its name – is a mental disorder. So, it is something that you either have or you do not.
But what does having OCD feel like? Well, it’s pretty complicated to explain and I have been sharing my personal experiences ever since I started this blog. And in today’s article, I will talk about how OCD can impact your life at work.
First of all, I have to admit that I am in a pretty lucky position because many of my co-workers know that I have OCD and I can tell you that all of them have been extremely understanding. So, I have not really faced any kind of discrimination. Like, there are people who tell me things such as:
“Oh, I would have never thought you had OCD..you just look perfectly normal”
And I know this could be pretty offensive, but I think the reason why people say such things is that they do not exactly know what OCD is and not because they want to hurt you. So, I really do not blame them for that. Like…before my OCD diagnosis, I did not use to know what OCD was either.
Anyways…back to the topic.
What does it feel like to “work with OCD”?
I would like to share my own experiences with you – as someone who has been suffering from OCD for the last decade. Now, obviously we are all different so I really do not want to give you the impression that everyone who has OCD faces the same problems as I do but I have done a little bit of research on the internet and I’ve seen that there are quite a few people out there whose thoughts, feelings, worries and compulsions are pretty similar to mine.
Compulsive checking – better feel safe than sorry
Well, I guess it’s perfectly normal to double-check your PowerPoint presentation before sending it over to your manager. But OCD sufferers can take this “checking habit” to a whole new level. Like, when I send an email, I will just need to check it a few times to make sure that there are not grammar mistakes in it. And not only because I am a perfectionist but simply because my OCD forces me to do that.
Like, what if there’s a horrible grammar mistake in my mail and the people receiving it will think that I am not professional enough? Or that I am uneducated and that I am not good enough for this job?
And it’s not only about the grammar in my emails or presentations but also about many other mistakes I could have possible made.
For example, when I was working for an airline I was terribly afraid of booking the wrong flight for our customers. Like what if they wanted to travel to London, UK and I booked it for London, Canada instead? So, I would obviously need to check the booking a few times just to make sure I haven’t done anything stupid.
In the most extreme cases, I could even end up listening to my own call recordings. Just to make sure I haven’t said anything incorrect or stupid. Now, I know it’s pretty crazy..and may even be a little bit hilarious. And don’t get me wrong. I know that the things I do are not rational but that’s what OCD is like.
Reassurance seeking – am I good enough?
OCD is like a little monster that sites on your shoulder and whispers terrifying things into your ears. Like a negative inner voice that never wants to leave you alone. And one of the worrying things that this voice loves telling you is that you are not good enough. Now, of course you could tell yourself that it’s not true: you have a lot of experience, you are doing a great job and so on.
But one of the main features of OCD is doubt. So, even if you know that you are doing a perfect job. How could you be so sure? What if your OCD voice is right and you are a complete failure?
Now, this is when you just need to start seeking reassurance. In my case, this reassurance seeking means constantly asking for feedback. At the moment, I am in a pretty luck position – I do not want to go into details about my current job but I get a lot of feedback from the people I work together with (It’s part of the process). And receiving feedback is the favorite part of my job because it just helps me calm down and helps me convince myself that I am doing a good job. But sometimes, I have the feeling that the feedback I receive is not enough (believe me, rationally thinking, it is perfectly sufficient but try to explain this to my OCD). So, I will just start chasing people for even more.
Do they think I am a complete lunatic? Well, maybe..yes. I am that workoholic guy who is constantly worried about his performance. But do people judge me for doing this? Honestly, I do not think so.
Catastrophic Predictions – what if the world falls apart?
The reason why OCD people repeatedly check things or act on their compulsions is not because they like doing it but because they are worried a potential disaster.
In my case, this potential disaster is losing my job. Like what if I make a mistake and I will get fired? And what if I will never be able to find another job? What if I will be unemployed forever? What if I will end up in the streets?
And it goes on. If you have OCD, one of the biggest mistakes you can make is starting an conversation with your “inner OCD voice”. My piece of advice to all of my readers is trying not to answer your “what if” questions because it is like a loop. A never-ending story. Even if you give a perfect answer to one of those “what if” questions, another one will soon appear.
Intrusive thoughts – what If I go crazy and do something insane?
A lot of people think that OCD is a kind of cleaning disorder. Or that it’s only about repeated checking. But Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is much more complicated than that.
OCD sufferers have intrusive thoughts: unwanted thoughts, impulses or mental images that cause significant anxiety and stress. And these intrusive thoughts include a lot of things – honestly, I think it would be impossible to give you a full list of what these thoughts could possibly be but let me give you a few examples:
- what if I push someone off the stairs?
- what if I start shouting obscenities in the middle of a meeting?
- what if I throw my computer out of the window?
As you see, some of these thoughts look pretty crazy. And that’s the reason why they are so distressing. In most of the cases, you know your thoughts are irrational and you know you do not want to act on them. But do not forget: OCD used to be called the “doubting disease” and for a good reason. Because there’s always that “what if”.
Difficulty Concentrating – Mental Exhaustion
After reading all this, are you even surprised mental exhaustion is on my list?
People with OCD spend a lot of time worrying about their thoughts or performing their compulsions and this can lead to mental exhaustion. Sometimes, it’s just difficult for you to concentrate on your tasks because you’re just worried about not having locked the door or about any other terrifying thought (see above.)
Now, the severity of OCD varies from person to person. It can be mild, moderate and severe. But as we talk about a disorder, it’s having a huge impact on the sufferers life regardless its severity.
Procrastination – Lazy or anxious?
For many people, procrastination is perceived as pure laziness but I do not agree with that. Procrastination does not mean that you do not want to do anything – you just avoid a certain task.
And the reason why you avoid that particular task may be that you’re anxious about it and you just feel that you wouldn’t be able to complete it the way it’s supposed to be completed. So basically, you’re afraid of failure. Now I think a lot of people have this feeling and it’s not something specific to OCD but I still wanted to include it in my list.
Saying “Yes” – to Everything
I think assertive communication is one of the most important skills to learn for those who are suffering from anxiety disorders. Why? Because many of us are afraid of “saying no”. And do not get me wrong – honestly, I do not think it’s something specific to those who have OCD or Generalized Anxiety Disorder but it’s a pretty common thing.
I have always found it extremely difficult to say “no”. So I tend to say “yes” to every single request I receive even if I know I do not necessarily have the time for it. What’s the reason behind this habit? I guess I am afraid of hurting others or I’m concerned that other people will think I am not helpful or friendly enough.
What helped me to manage my anxiety at work?
- Having a To Do List
It just helps me be more organized and less worried about forgetting things
- Never try to answer the “What if” questions
One of the most important things: starting a discussion with your negative inner voice is the worst thing you could possibly do. So try not to answer any of the “what if” questions your OCD is asking you.
- Learning to say “No”
It’s important to learn how to say “no” to requests that you do not have time/skill for.
- Do not procrastinate but ask for help!
If you do not want to work on a specific task because you’re afraid of not being able to complete it well enough, just ask for help!
- And some other tips!
12 things that will help you overcome OCD
Set yourself free: How to break the vicious cycle?
Do not feed the monster! – 5 things that keep your OCD alive
Demons are real: Stop negative Self-Talk!
- Interesting articles from other websites:
5 Tips for Managing OCD at Work
How to Deal with OCD at Work?
Dealing with OCD on the Job
Your OCD experiences
As you know there’s one thing that I enjoy more than writing my stories. Please share your OCD stories/experiences and tips in the comment section!
About 30% of people with OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) have had a substance use disorder at some point of their lives. This is nearly double the rate of the general population. And I am pretty sure most of us can guess what the most commonly used addictive substance is: yes, it’s alcohol!
So, in today’s article I will try to explore why a lot of OCD sufferers turn to alcohol and I will share some of my personal experiences as I have had alcohol problems ever since my late teens.
Why Does OCD Increase The Risk Of Alcohol Addiction?
Alcohol Abuse As A Response To OCD
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is “self-medicating”. And I can tell you this from my own experience. First of all, I need to tell you that I did not start to self-medicate with alcohol because I thought it would solve my issues or because I did not want to see a therapist. My OCD started in my teenage years and honestly, at that time I did not use to know what it was as I had not yet been diagnosed so I used to call it “my insanity”. Okay, I know – this doesn’t sound alright but I have been suffering from this disorder for over a decade so believe me, I would be the last person on earth to ever make fun of it or ever call someone with OCD “insane” but in my late teens I really believed that I was just going insane.
Anyways, going back to the alcohol topic. I will probably never forget the first time I got tipsy – and not because it was that horrible but on the contrary: it was an absolutely amazing feeling. It would just help me forget about my horrifying intrusive thoughts, about my crazy obsessions and about my anxiety. It just felt like…a way out if you see what I mean. Cause at the end of the day, what does OCD feel like? It’s like a maze..or like a vicious cycle that you just can not break. Never ending waves of terrifying thoughts that you just can not run away from. And many of these thoughts are so bizarre that you’re just afraid to talk about them and you may even be scared to seek professional help because “what if they think you’re insane and what if you’ll need to spend the rest of your life at a mental hospital?”
So there I was: a teenager who thought he was going crazy and who did not know that the best solution would be to see a therapist. But there was one thing I knew: that being tipsy was a great feeling. So what do you think I did?
Well, you guessed that right. I started drinking. At the beginning of my addiction, I did not drink everyday – I would only drink when I felt stressed or worried about something. But then it soon started to go out of control and I just descended into alcoholism. Soon, I ended up drinking every single day. And I am not talking about having a glass of wine in the evening. No, drinking everyday actually meant downing a bottle of wine every single day of the year.
At this point, you may ask if I am still having a bottle of wine a day and I am glad to tell you that the answer is no. But I would be lying if I told you that I managed to overcome my addiction. Sometimes it comes back. Not the way it used to, but I do not want to be hypocritical and say that it’s over. Especially nowadays because of this whole lockdown situation. But I am trying to keep it under control as much as I can and I am getting better and better at it – and I will share a few techniques that work for me at the end of this post! 🙂
But first of all…let’s look at the second reason why alcohol abuse is more prevalent among OCD sufferers. And this reason is more like a theory that I’ve read about on the internet and in a few books so I’d rather…just present it as a question:
Does OCD And Alcohol Addiction Share A Common Cause?
Well yes, I am not sure whether there’s any actual proof that could support this theory but honestly, it wouldn’t surprise me if this was true as if you just think about OCD compulsions: people who’re suffering from this disorder usually have rituals (sometimes these are not even obvious as there are so-called “mental rituals”) that they just have to do.
Performing these rituals will just make them feel safe – and if you have OCD, you will probably know what I am talking about. It’s like when you just have to make sure that you’ve really locked the door or that you’ve really turned the gas stove off. Or sometimes the reason behind these rituals can be a kind of magical thinking. When you just need to blink exactly 3 times to protect your loved ones from a disaster.
So yes. I am really looking forward to finding more research data on this topic. But the logic behind this whole idea kind of made sense to me. Like I do not necessarily think that drinking is a compulsion – but having OCD can potentially make you more susceptible to addictions.
Does Drinking Alcohol Make OCD Worse?
Yes, it definitely does. Alcohol is a kind of sedative that affects the central nervous system. So drinking can actually reduce your stress and after a few glasses of wine, you will surely feel more relaxed and less worried but believe me, everything will get worse when you start sobering up. Not only because of having a hangover but because your fears will just seem to be more terrifying when you no longer feel the effects of alcohol.
How To Cut Down On Drinking?
Well, as you see I wrote “cut down” and not “stop drinking”. Why? Because I think it’s a better idea to do it “gradually”. I have already tried to suddenly stop drinking and in my case it was not really working as the withdrawal symptoms made my OCD much much worse. And when my OCD got worse, I would just start drinking again – and even more. Again, as I said earlier I am not an expert but what I worked for me was gradually cutting down on alcohol.
Things That Help Me (May Help You) Cut Down On Drinking
There are a lot of websites and book that share helpful tips to stop drinking. For instance, I have found this article pretty helpful 11 ways to curb your drinking (Harvard Medical School).
So I do not think that I could give you better pieces of advice than psychologists or university professors. That’s why instead of sharing general tips, I’d rather tell you about a few specific things that helped me cut down on drinking.
1. Tonic Water
Okay….I know…Do not freak out. I know it’s absolutely insane to tell people that tonic water can help them cut down on their alcohol consumption but for some reason, it did help me. I do not only like the way alcohol makes me feel but I also like the taste of it and enjoy the “process of drinking”. And maybe it’s just me, but I do think that tonic water tastes like alcohol. And you can drink it from a stylish glass with ice cubes. So it’s just a perfect alcohol replacement drink.
2. Keep yourself busy
Again, not sure if it’s just me but I do have the impression that when you’re bored, you’ll be much more likely to start drinking. So, why not going for a hike or visiting a museum (virtually, if your country is under lockdown – like mine)
3. Spending time on skincare
Reading this, you will think that I am crazy…or drunk (I am not). What does skincare have to do with alcohol addiction? In my case, spending time on skincare actually helps me forget about alcohol because I just feel much more relaxed after a peel. And also because I have always been a vain person (the dirty secrets of Mark…) and the idea of having beautiful skin keeps me motivated to cut down on alcohol.
4. Spending “alcohol money” on other things
Another thing that can keep me motivated to drink less is thinking about how much money I actually spend on alcohol and what other things I could spend that money on. Things such as traveling – which is my biggest addiction.
As you know, there’s one thing that I enjoy more than writing my stories: reading yours. So please share your thoughts and your own tips to cut down on drinking in the comment section! 🙂