OCD, Depression, Anxiety
My name is Andrew.
I deal with O.C.D., anxiety, and depression.
I started noticing it mostly when I was in Grade Eight, around there. I went to a psychologist for about a year, once every two weeks, and we went through behavioural therapy. I also take Prozac and there’s lots of breathing exercises, which I do when I start to feel anxious.
If I was talking to somebody I could never keep eye contact. Never ever keep eye contact. I look off into the distance and I’d line up two points of something, like let’s say the corner of a table and the corner of the T.V. And then I have to move my head and cross those two points. And so line the two points up and then I’d look from another angle and then I’d line the two points and then look back and line the two points up in my vision and I do that with literally everything and I don’t know why I would do it but I just have to do it over and over and over again. I’d be moving my head all over the place when I was talking to people and I couldn’t have normal conversations with people because I’d be doing that thing where I’d line up two points in the distance. Now being on the medication, I can talk to people, look them in the eye and it also helps me just be myself. All Prozac is, is it stabilizes your serotonin levels, I think. So, it’s not making me somebody who up I’m not, it’s just regulating my serotonin levels and making me be able to be myself.
When I was a lot younger, maybe about ten or even when I was like six or seven, I went through phases where I couldn’t eat. Just something my mind was telling me I couldn’t eat because I was going to choke on food. So I’d starve myself because I wouldn’t be able to eat because I’d try to eat and then I’d wouldn’t to be able to swallow because I’d think I was going to choke on it. And then throughout hockey, I’d always get nervous when I was younger, maybe eleven or twelve, I’d get sick before hockey games because I’d be nervous. I thought I had stomach problems. So I got tested for stomach problems and all that. They all came back, and I was perfectly fine.
Then once I started skate boarding in Grade Eight, my life turned around. My social life got better, I wasn’t having as bad anxiety, my obsessiveness all turned towards skate boarding. I was able to think clearly and have fun and do whatever. But then slowly after about two or three years of skateboarding, around Grade Ten, my obsessive thoughts started coming back and the same thing where I would be nervous and would get sick would come back. I wouldn’t be able to go to school anymore so I had to come up with something new. What helped me there was, and I got very depressed during that time period and I couldn’t leave my bed and then I started flying model airplanes or building model airplanes which was a hobby I had when I was a lot younger then I picked it up again. Then all my interest went to that and that kept my mind busy. I was able to live more my normal life. And then around the same time I started taking my medication, talking to my psychologist and everything turned around from there. I also started getting into fishing around the same time and that, fishing, and then took over.
Then the summer before first year university came around, I decided to quit the meds because I was going out and partying a lot. I wanted to be able to drink more without worrying about mixing it with my medication. So I quit the medication and then within the month of quitting the medication, all my obsessive thoughts came back. My anxiety came back. I couldn’t, wasn’t able to, do anything. Throughout the first three/four months of university, it was a struggle every day. I didn’t want to leave my bed or do anything. I still skateboarded occasionally but I just wasn’t all there. Then I started the meds again halfway through my first year of university and within about a month, or month and a half, everything turned around. My social life got better; I was hanging with people more and feeling better. I’ve been on the meds ever since then and still seeing my psychologist occasionally, two or three times a year, just to check up. And things have been going amazing ever since.
My object is my skateboard because my skateboard has had the biggest influence on my life. That’s where all of my, most of my, friends have came from is from skateboarding and all my life, like my friends I’ve known since before high school, are from skateboarding. And even though I don’t do it much anymore, it brings back so many memories and stuff. Starting to skateboard was the first point where I noticed all my rituals, O.C.D. Rituals, were still there but my anxiety and my depression got better because I was able to enjoy life so much more when I started skateboarding, just when I started before high school. And then after that, there are the model airplanes, which I’ve been in and out of. But then fishing has now taken over and that’s what I’ve been doing for the past three/ four years. So I make fishing lures and all that. My fly tying desk, where I make flies or fishing lures or whatever you want to call them, that’s my safe space because it’s something that I’m passionate about, fly fishing. I cannot actually be fishing and I can still have something to do with it and enjoy it. While you’re making a fishing lure, you’re thinking about where you’re going to use it, when you’re going to use it. You’re thinking about how to make it properly and you can zone everything else out and just focus on what you’re doing. And it helps keep the bad thoughts, or anxious thoughts, away.
Emotional Regulation Disorder
What is your name?
My name is Diana.
So what are you dealing with?
I’m dealing with, to sum it up, emotional regulation issues.
And what does that entail?
That involves kind of difficulty I guess with keeping my emotions from sort of taking over and clouding my judgment and affecting decisions I make and making things more difficult I think than they need to be some of the time.
How long have you been dealing with it?
I don’t have to say probably the last ten years, but probably a little bit longer than that to a different degree I think.
What have been your coping strategies for it?
My coping strategies are ones that I just found out about after going to counseling actually. Previous to that I would say I had very poor coping strategies, or possibly none. Limited abilities in that direction, but I think after I went to see my counselor I find out there’s very specific things you could do like slow down your thinking. I have a chart that I went by that I found useful at first to sort of retrain the way I dealt with things that were hard for me and so I would write down and stop myself from kind of going to with the reaction and try to think through it. I could still react the way I wanted to but at some point the thinking has to kick in and that sort of helps you work through it faster and I guess in a better way.
So with counseling what kind of resources they provided you with or any other kind of guidance from any other kind of organization that you’ve sought help from?
Well I think that the only the only thing I actually accessed would be mental health counseling services at the local hospital and that was pretty much it also. There’s also one on one session with the psychiatrist and that was he was working with the counselors just it was kind of on the recommendation of somebody else actually but it was actually I found it really beneficial overall.
I think that I had a bit extra help with regards to my counseling. I had a social worker that was involved and they were able to explain some of what I was going through, which meant that the counseling I think went along a lot smoother and quicker because I didn’t have to be the only one telling the counselor what was actually happening. So I was really appreciative of that. I understand that the worker was very was communicating with the counselor regularly and that took a lot of the pressure off for me and I think when people are in stressful situations it can be very hard, if not impossible, to explain what exactly is going on in their life at that time. So I’m actually very grateful for that person’s involvement on my behalf.
Would you say that anything really triggers what you’re dealing with?
Specifically, I would have to say sometimes noise, just noise actually. But in most cases it would probably be other people and their reactions to things. Certain situations are worse but I’ve never really thought of it. It would be generally be some situation that I wouldn’t probably be in control of and possibly other people getting excited as well.
So what are future goal or ambitions? Or things that will help you toward getting to a good place if you’re not already there?
So I’d say my future goals are to sort of stick to, or constantly reference the material and the information I was provided with, and try to keep on an even keel, I don’t know how else to describe it. So that I’m not constantly being dragged down by, I would have to say, negative thinking ultimately. It’s about going forward and carrying on and using coping strategies and instead of letting things get you down or drag you down. And if you do, find a way to get back up fairly quickly. And I don’t I think it’s unrealistic to expect to kind of beat it every day or even do well sometimes with it every day but, overall I think it becomes easier and the more you practice, maybe even thinking in a different way, the easier it becomes. And so you have better days and you just practice better coping skills and it just gets easier. I think it takes a while and I think it probably took me about a year to actually change from thinking so negatively and I didn’t realize until I was kind of in a certain situation where this became so important that that I didn’t realize how my thinking was making it all so much harder.
Do you think you can live positively while dealing with something so negative?
Yeah I think that it’s possible to live positively with in actually quite a negative situation because it’s actually very dependent on the way I guess thinking and dealing with each day and I think it’s you know you could look at it as being as yourself as being in a very tough situation but I think possibly in comparison to other people in other countries it may be highly dependent on the way you are viewing your situation. And I think too for myself, sometimes writing down what exactly was bothering me was a big eye opener because at times I would say eighty percent might my attitude and other times it was really a tough situation actually, but not always. I think the key is to sometimes just examine it a bit and examine your day and maybe look at whether your attitude is clouding your experiences or putting a negative twist on it when it maybe doesn’t have to be quite so negative.
I think I’ve made a choice to sort of go forward in a different way. And so yes I have to say so because it’s easier. It’s just easier.
So you do find that you do you do you try and approach it positively?
Yes I do try to approach it positively whenever possible but, I also don’t get down on myself when I’m unable to do that, but I try.
If you could give people any type of advice when dealing with any type of situation what would it be?
I think the advice I would give people is not to get discouraged if you are actually not happy with the counseling or the counselor or people you’re talking to or with. I would just say don’t give up and don’t get discouraged. There are other people out there experiencing something similar to what you’re experiencing, if not the same. Just keep trying. I think sometimes it can be a case of just getting the right counselor, the person understands you or what you’re trying to say if you’re not a good communicator, I know that can be really tough. But I think if you keep trying to get yourself around people or a person, I think it just takes one actually, to help you work through your stuff and just don’t give up.