When a Friend Minimizes Your Experiences

When mental illness is a major part of your life, sometimes it's necessary to explain strange behavior or dropping off the face of the map.

When it's someone you don't know very well, you may just go with, "I wasn't feeling well." But when it's someone you're close to, you may want to vent a little or provide a better explanation. You're supportive when they're ill, so they'll support you, you think.

Unfortunately, it doesn't always work out that way.


OCD Awareness Week: October 9-15, 2016

It's OCD Awareness Week once again, a week to "promote awareness, education and understanding about obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and related disorders," according to the International OCD Foundation. Today is also World Mental Health Day.

And it's still pretty sorely needed, if the replies to this post on the Foundation's Facebook page are any indication.

Coping Strategies

3 Popular Meditation Apps at a Glance

I started working meditation into my daily routine back in February, mostly of the mindfulness variety. I'm going to just say this up-front: Meditation is not a replacement for therapy, medication or both.

I've been meditating all summer, but since I stopped taking my mood stabilizer (long story I don't want to go into, not a good idea for anyone without the guidance of a doctor), my moods are out of control. Meditation would have helped with the anxiety caused by my OCD, but exposure response prevention, guided by a therapist, was the only thing that actually helped me deal with all of the hang-ups my obsessions and intrusive thoughts had caused. Even with medication + meditation, I would probably still be pretty homebound without therapy.

I'm not recommending anyone replace effective mental health treatment with meditation. I do think it can be a useful tool for some people to add to the other coping skills we learn in therapy.

Coping Strategies

The Fear of Contamination

I haven't had a lot to say about OCD lately. Mine has been under control, and I can only write so many blog entries about how grateful I am for therapy and medication.

Midway through last month, I took in an emergency foster cat. She's very sweet and funny and playful, but when she first arrived, she had a case of cat flu and had to be isolated from my own cats.

And that's when OCD paid a visit for the first time in a long time.

What if it's rabies? it said.


Could OCD Be Turned Off?

There was some big news for OCDers this past weekend: Scientists discovered a specific brain receptor that could be triggered to cause OCD-like symptoms in mice, including anxiety and overgrooming.

And much more exciting, scientists also figured out how to "unstick" the OCD response in that receptor -- causing symptoms to disappear almost immediately.

Coping Strategies

Finding New Motivation with Pokemon GO

I have been battling some major motivation issues lately -- and losing.

I don't feel depressed, otherwise. I'm interested in getting out of bed and doing things. I want to. I'm not abnormally sad or empty. Once I can actually get moving, I am usually fine. But getting to that point has been a real struggle, and I've let some things (like this blog) fall to the side so that I can get the necessary things done.

Enter Pokemon GO.


Are We Over-Medicated or Are You Over-Critical?

I've talked about medication for OCD before; how I spent months trying to avoid it, how I tried to taper off after my first SSRI kicked me into a hypomanic episode, how I eventually came to terms with the fact that I'm one of those people for whom exposure therapy is not enough on its own.

That's not true for everyone. Some people can beat OCD with exposure alone. Others have no luck with exposure, but medication helps immensely. And some of us are helped a tiny bit by exposure and response prevention, but we need a little help.


Spread Love, Not Hate

This has been a heartwrenching week. On Sunday, a gunman walked into a gay nightclub in Orlando and opened fire. He killed 49 people and injured 53. First and foremost, of course, I desperately wish I could go and provide comfort to the families of everyone who lost their lives.

Every single time I read about a shooting in the news, my gut churns. With this one, however, my grief seems more personal, even though I didn't personally know anyone at Pulse. I went to my first Pride festival just a couple of weeks ago, and as a person with anxiety, I won't lie: I did have brief, fleeting worries about safety.

It wasn't, and I was grateful. And then Sunday happened.