OCD Recovery

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Friday, 31 May 2019

OCD Recovery

Jane shares five tips for succeeding in OCD recovery as a student.
– Jane May Morrison
For those of us who experience Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, our university experience can quickly start to feel downright nightmarish! However, there’s good reason to be hopeful about OCD recovery. Campus understanding of mental ill-health is improving, media depictions of OCD are raising awareness (see: Channel 4’s brilliant 'Pure' (1)), student health services (though busy) are better-informed on OCD, and every student can access resources like OCDAction’s 'OCD at University' (2).
Speaking as an (ancient, decrepit, 30-year-old) postgraduate, the changes to student mental health services over just the last decade have been huge. Things have improved! If you’re experiencing OCD symptoms, your chances of getting correctly diagnosed and directed to ERP (Exposure Response Prevention) therapy are better now than ever. ERP is the gold-standard treatment for OCD – the treatment you should be directed towards. It’s often considered a subtype of CBT (Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy). It can be done alongside GP-prescribed medication. ERP trains you to gradually confront your obsessive fears, without doing your usual mental or physical compulsions. In the long term, it can re-wire the brain (for real: it’s literally visible on a brain scanner). This can drastically reduce the intensity, believability and frequency of obsessive thoughts.
If your student mental health services don’t offer ERP, and you can’t find or afford a private therapist, you can still try self-directed ERP. However, it’s best to do this with guidance from an expert workbook (e.g. David Veale and Rob Willson’s 'Overcoming OCD') or a specially-designed app like nOCD (3).
Here’s 5 tips for succeeding in OCD recovery as a student:
1) Ask for support at your college/university’s Disability Services. Although mental healthcare varies between institutions, you’ll never know what is available at yours if you don’t ask. As a diagnosed case of OCD is a recognized disability, your university should make reasonable adjustments for it (e.g. extra time on essays or exams, an Independent Learning Plan, the ability to leave seminars early etc).
2) Do the regular ERP homework your therapist sets (even if you don’t want to!).
3) Go easy on yourself during the initial ERP period. It’s emotionally draining to push through high anxiety without your usual reassurances. Keep busy, but don’t volunteer for too many stressful extracurricular commitments; relaxed events that you can come and go from are better. Practice self-care. Keep your mindset strong with recovery-focused podcasts like ‘The OCD Stories’ (4)
4) Be selective about who you share with. Though OCD awareness is improving, flatmates and friends may still not fully understand the debilitating nature of it, nor fully acknowledge your amazing mental strength in fighting it off. They might think it’s just a harmless quirk, or crack hurtful jokes about how they’re ‘soooo OCD!’ themselves. They can even unwittingly trigger OCD anxieties with throwaway comments about your obsession topic. They’re not malicious – just misinformed. But there are good alternatives: OCD communities online, helpline support (5), university mental health groups, and many off-campus UK support groups (6).
5) Try to make lifestyle choices that help recovery, not hinder it. The newest evidence suggests brain inflammation as a factor in mental illness, and binge-drinking, insomnia and junk food are unlikely to help (7) (8). Many people with OCD report symptom flare-ups after heavy drinking. Nobody’s saying you can’t occasionally have a few pints, but if you DO decide the temporary buzz of getting hammered isn’t worth the OCD panic attack tomorrow, it’s 100% ok. You do you!
(1) https://www.channel4.com/programmes/pure (2) https://www.ocdaction.org.uk/resource/ocd-at-university (3) https://www.treatmyocd.com/ (4) https://theocdstories.com/ (5) https://ocdaction.org.uk/getting-support/help-and-information-line (6) https://www.ocduk.org/support-groups/ (7) https://www.psychiatrictimes.com/special-reports/introduction-inflammation-connection (8) https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/01/180111141637.htm
You can find more OCD information, advice and experiences here
Jane May Morrison is backcombed eco-goth, studying for a Human Geography PhD in the wonders of low-carbon energy/heat, at the University of Exeter. She also writes feminist fiction. Late-diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and OCD, she'd like to help make life a wee bit easier for others with these conditions. Find her on Twitter @JaneMayMorrison.
Posted by Student Minds Blogging Editorial Team at 10:41 Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to FacebookShare to Pinterest Labels: Advice, OCD, Recovery

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How an Innovative Therapy Technique Made Me Feel like a Superhero When I Was at My Worst

This is an interesting article I found on: www.psychcentral.com

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“Take another deep breath, hold it, and let yourself feel like you’re drifting and floating.”

The voice overtook me as I felt my body slip into that weightless feeling between consciousness and sleep. It was as if someone wrapped my body in memory foam and filled every corner of my mind with white noise.

“My jaw is slack.”

“My shoulders are relaxed.”

“My neck is loose.”

These were some of the phrases that I was told to repeat to myself in a recording made by my therapist and given to me during our first session together. Each one focused on a different body part, meant to make me feel warm, heavy, and unconstrained. This was the beginning of my biofeedback training.

Just Relax

I chose my therapist because he’s an expert in biofeedback, a psychology technique where a patient learns to control their body’s functions, like heart rate or palm sweating. Biofeedback was first introduced in 1969 as the crossroads of traditional whitecoat psychologists and those interested in a higher consciousness.

Before I could reach a higher consciousness though, I had to master just being relaxed.

A few weeks prior to my first appointment with him, I was trapped in a horror movie in my own mind. I couldn’t shake this one single thought that replayed itself incessantly for a week straight: that of the top knuckle on my right ring finger snapping backwards and breaking.

It’s a disturbing thought on its own to anyone who prefers their fingers in tact, but imagine it popping into your mind over and over — and over and over — until you want to check yourself into a psych ward. I was consumed. I could barely talk or sleep or work without wanting to slam my head against a wall. I was desperate for any advice, so when my dad recommended biofeedback, I made an appointment immediately.

The technique he employed in the recording is called autogenic relaxation. Through the self-induced relaxation akin to hypnosis, my doctor coaches his patients to cure themselves of ailments like depression, migraines, irritable bowel syndrome, high blood pressure and anxiety — my personal woe. Learning to relax your body was just the first part, though.

Anxiety by the Numbers

At my next appointment with my therapist, he hooked me up to a slew of sensors as I reclined in his plush leather chair. Three cold metal circles stuck to my forehead measured my muscle tension in millivolts, a small wire taped to my pointer finger took my skin temperature, and two more sensors on other fingers measured my sweat production. Once I was connected, the doctor quizzed me.

“Alright, count backwards from 1,000 by 3s. If you mess up, you have to start over. If you don’t get to 940 in 30 seconds, you have to start over. Ready, go.”

I’m sure my measurements immediately spiked. I’m terrible at math and to add a time pressure to them was beyond stressful. But I got through it. He did it again, but with higher stakes.

“Okay, now you’re going to count backwards from 1,000 by 6s and you have to get to 860 in 30 seconds. Ready, go.”

To prepare for my biofeedback training, my therapist was simulating an anxiety-inducing situation to see what my normal and stressful levels were.

During the following appointment, he again hooked me up to the muscle tension sensors, but this time instead of stressing me out, he walked me through the autogenic relaxation phrases from the recording. But this time, the machine I was hooked up to was now emitting a pulsing sound that correlated with my muscle tension level. The more tense I was, the faster the pulses.

As his voice coached me through the phrases, and then in the next appointments as I walked myself through them, I learned to listen to the pulsing and to my body to see what slowed the tempo. My muscle tension level started at around 4.0 millivolts and he told me some of his patients start out at as high as 10 millivolts. Each appointment, he set the threshold lower and lower on the scale and once I reached it, the pulsing turned off. Each appointment, I was learning to bring myself to a more relaxed state than the time before.

By focusing on the pulsing, I experimented with what autogenic relaxation phrases worked best for me, what my ideal relaxed breath is like, and even how to position my head and arms for optimal relaxation.

Put to the Test

I’ve struggled with anxiety for as long as I can remember.

As I walked into the doctor’s office during my fourth session, I laid eyes on someone from my past who brings me a great amount of anxiety. My heart rate spiked and my chest tightened. Suddenly, breathing became a difficult task. I immediately turned on my heels and hid in my car until the person left, but the anxiety followed me into my appointment. My newfound relaxation technique was about to be tested.

As I cleared my mind during the biofeedback training, I was able to turn the pulsing off, meaning I brought my muscle tension down to the threshold set by the doctor, but the second the stressful person popped back into my mind, the pulsing turned back on. Over and over I emptied my mind and filled it with the autogenic relaxation phrases and turned the pulsing off, but, again, it’d spike back up once I thought of the person.

Running into my past turned out to be a blessing in disguise; I was learning to control the stressful thoughts and ensuing physiological response with just my mind. It was hard work, but I knew it would be a skill I could turn to my whole life. If I could control my heart racing, maybe it’d be easier to quiet my disturbing thoughts.

In the sessions that followed, I learned to relax myself instantaneously and in any situation without the autogenic phrases, getting my muscle tension level from the original 4.0 down to just 1.7. I’m now able to take a deep breath, let it out, hold it, and find that perfect state of relaxation — like magic.

Biofeedback empowered me during a time when I felt shaken down to my core. I walked away from each appointment feeling like I have a superpower and for the first time in years, I feel like I can finally control the anxiety that seems to rule my life.

How an Innovative Therapy Technique Made Me Feel like a Superhero When I Was at My Worst

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Why my MA will be my new beginning

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Thursday, 18 April 2019

Why my MA will be my new beginning

In this blog, Alice talks about how even though her undergraduate experience wasn't the best, she's determined to have a more positive time studying for her Master's degree.
University wasn’t the place for me. I’m not saying it was bad. I’m just saying it wasn’t good. I didn’t care about the Mexican Revolution, religious symbolism in the work of J. L. Borges, or the exploration of the self and form in twentieth-century France. Likewise, I did not care about the difference between the pronunciation of “vu” and “vous”, “pero”, and “perro”. I did not care about getting an F in a relatively unimportant presentation. I did not care that my tutor declared my essay on feminism to be “decidedly mediocre”.
Instead, I cared about evenings in pubs, walks in the park and sessions at the gym. I cared about staying up all night watching films and reading books not on the syllabus. I cared about cycling from a bar to my friend’s house at 1am on a Monday morning. I cared about going to gigs, visiting photography exhibitions, and rummaging through Spitalfields market on a Sunday.
When it came to studying, I tried, but only sort of. Half an hour before class was due to start I would open my workbook and frantically scribble something down. In the evenings, I would read novels of my own choosing before embarking on (and then later abandoning) the set texts. As for the presentations, I would usually just miss those classes and carry the fail. Invariably, I would turn up to every class utterly unprepared, having no idea about what was about to be discussed, and caring very little.
At the end of my three-year degree (which took me five years to complete), I received a transcript of my results, telling me that I had received one fail, two thirds, 2:2s, 2:1s, and firsts – all of which averaged out into the most meaningless 2:1 the uni must have ever given.
What the transcript didn’t say was that, during my studies, I had experienced debilitating depression, unrelenting OCD, one terrible coming out, one terrible relationship, one terrible break up, and the onset of Tourette’s syndrome.
OK, maybe university was bad.
This year, though, I have a place on UEA’s Creative Writing MA, and I’m determined to go back to my studies.
But if my undergraduate was so tumultuous, why am I doing this?
The answer is simple: university is, for me, unfinished business. I need to go back: get consistently OK grades, stay on an even keel for the duration of the course, keep my depression and OCD at bay. There’s not much I can do about the Tourette’s, given that it’s both chronic and incurable.
It’s going to be hard. I have the stereotypical swearing kind of Tourette’s. I will be yelling out “fuck” in lectures. I will find it hard to concentrate. I will inevitably be a distraction to myself and others.
But, unlike my BA in French and Spanish, this course has been a dream for a long time. I will spend a whole twelve months doing what I love: reading and writing. Reading helped me through depressive episodes before, and getting my writing published since leaving university has given me a much-needed self-esteem boost.
And if mental illness has taught me anything, it’s to do what you love, and do it a lot.
So that’s what I’m going to do. I’m determined to go back, and I’m going to smash it.
Alice Franklin is a writer who happens to have Tourette's, OCD and autism. She writes at a leisurely pace, runs at a leisurely pace, and hammocks at a leisurely pace. Previously, her work has appeared in two Spanish short story anthologies, the online magazine Liars' League, and the Financial Times. Posted by Student Minds Blogging Editorial Team at 09:00 Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to FacebookShare to Pinterest Labels: Autism, Depression, OCD, Postgraduate study

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Four Steps to Manage Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

This is an interesting article I found on: www.psychcentral.com

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When I was a young girl, I struggled with obsessive-compulsive disorder. I believed that if I landed on a crack in the sidewalk, something terrible would happen to me, so I did my best to skip over them. I feared that if I had bad thoughts of any kind, I would go to hell.

To purify myself, I would go to confession and Mass over and over again, and spend hours praying the rosary. I felt if I didn’t compliment someone, like the waitress where we were eating dinner, I would bring on the end of the world.

What Is OCD?

The National Institute of Mental Health defines OCD as a “common, chronic and long-lasting disorder in which a person has uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts (obsessions) and behaviors (compulsions) that he or she feels the urge to repeat over and over.” OCD involves a painful, vicious cycle whereby you are tormented by thoughts and urges to do things, and yet when you do the very things that are supposed to bring you relief, you feel even worse and enslaved to your disorder.

The results of one study indicated that more than one quarter of the adults interviewed experienced obsession or compulsions at some point in their lives — that’s over 60 million people — even though only 2.3 percent of people met the criteria for a diagnosis of OCD at some point in their lives. The World Health Organization has ranked OCD as one of the top 20 causes of illness-related disability worldwide for individuals between 15 and 44 years of age.

Whenever I am under considerable stress, or when I hit a depressive episode, my obsessive-compulsive behavior returns. This is very common. OCD breeds on stress and depression. A resource that has been helpful to me is the book Brain Lock by Jeffrey M. Schwartz, M.D. He offers a four-step self-treatment for OCD that can free you from painful symptoms and even change your brain chemistry.

Distinguishing Form from Content of OCD

Before I go over the four steps, I wanted to go over two concepts he explains in the book that I found very helpful to understanding obsessive-compulsive behavior. The first is knowing the difference between the form of obsessive-compulsive disorder and its content.

The form consists of the thoughts and urges not making sense but constantly intruding into a person’s mind — the thought that won’t go away because the brain is not working properly. This is the nature of the beast. The content is the subject matter or genre of the thought. It’s why one person feels something is dirty, while another can’t stop worrying about the door being locked.

The OCD Brain

The second concept that is fascinating and beneficial to a person in the throes of OCD’s torture is to see a picture of the OCD brain. In order to help patients understand that OCD is, in fact, a medical condition resulting from a brain malfunction, Schwartz and his colleagues at UCLA used PET scanning to take pictures of brains besieged by obsessions and compulsive urges. The scans showed that in people with OCD, there was increased energy in the orbital cortex, the underside of the front of the brain. This part of the brain is working overtime.

According to Schwartz, by mastering the Four Steps of cognitive-biobehavioral self-treatment, it is possible to change the OCD brain chemistry so that the brain abnormalities no longer cause the intrusive thoughts and urges.

Step One: Relabel

Step one involves calling the intrusive thought or urge exactly what it is: an obsessive thought or a compulsive urge. In this step, you learn how to identify what’s OCD and what’s reality. You might repeat to yourself over and over again, “It’s not me — it’s OCD,” working constantly to separate the deceptive voice of OCD from your true voice. You constantly inform yourself that your brain is sending false messages that can’t be trusted.

Mindfulness can help here. By becoming an observer of our thoughts, rather than the author of them, we can take a step back in loving awareness and simply say, “Here comes an obsession. It’s okay … It will pass,” instead of getting wrapped up in it and investing our emotions into the content. We can ride the intensity much like a wave in the ocean, knowing that the discomfort won’t last if we can stick in there and not act on the urge.

Step Two: Reattribute

After you finish the first step, you might be left asking, “Why don’t these bothersome thoughts and urges go away?” The second step helps answer that question. Schwartz writes:

The answer is that they persist because they are symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), a condition that has been scientifically demonstrated to be related to a biochemical imbalance in the brain that causes your brain to misfire. There is now strong scientific evidence that in OCD a part of your brain that works much like a gearshift in a car is not working properly. Therefore, your brain gets stuck in gear. As a result, it’s hard for you to shift behaviors. Your goal in the Reattribute step is to realize that the sticky thoughts and urges are due to your balky brain.

In the second step, we blame the brain, or in 12-step language, admit we are powerless and that our brain is sending false messages. We must repeat, “It’s not me — it’s just my brain.” Schwartz compares OCD to Parkinson’s disease — both interestingly are caused by disturbances in a brain structure called the striatum — in that it doesn’t help to lambast ourselves for our tremors (in Parkinson’s) or upsetting thoughts and urges (in OCD). By reattributing the pain to the medical condition, to the faulty brain wiring, we empower ourselves to respond with self-compassion.

Step Three: Refocus

In step three, we shift into action, our saving grace. “The key to the Refocus step is to do another behavior,” explains Schwartz. “When you do, you are repairing the broken gearshift in your brain.” The more we “work around” the nagging thoughts by refocusing our attention on some useful, constructive, enjoyable activity, the more our brain starts shifting to other behaviors and away from the obsessions and compulsions.

Step three requires a lot of practice, but the more we do it, the easier it becomes. Says Schwartz: “A key principle in self-directed cognitive behavioral therapy for OCD is this: It’s not how you feel, it’s what you do that counts.”

The secret of this step, and the hard part, is going on to another behavior even though the OCD thought or feeling is still there. At first, it’s extremely wearisome because you are expending a significant amount of energy processing the obsession or compulsion while trying to concentrate on something else. However, I completely agree with Schwartz when he says, “When you do the right things, feelings tend to improve as a matter of course. But spend too much time being overly concerned about uncomfortable feelings, and you may never get around to doing what it takes to improve.”

This step is really at the core of self-directed cognitive behavioral therapy because, according to Schwartz, we are fixing the broken filtering system in the brain and getting the automatic transmission in the caudate nucleus to start working again.

Step Four: Revalue

The fourth step can be understood as an accentuation of the first two steps, Relabeling and Reattributing. You are just doing them with more insight and wisdom now. With consistent practice of the first three steps, you can better acknowledge that the obsessions and urges are distractions to be ignored. “With this insight, you will be able to Revalue and devalue the pathological urges and fend them off until they begin to fade,” writes Schwartz.

Two ways of “actively revaluing,” he mentions are anticipating and accepting. It’s helpful to anticipate that obsessive thoughts will occur hundreds of times a day and not to be surprised by them. By anticipating them, we recognize them more quickly and can Relabel and Reattribute when they arise. Accepting that OCD is a treatable medical condition — a chronic one that makes surprise visits — allows us to respond with self-compassion when we are hit with upsetting thoughts and urges.

Four Steps to Manage Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

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Challenges for Moms Who Have OCD

This is an interesting article I found on: www.psychcentral.com

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I have written before about the challenges children face, and the lessons they can learn, when one of their parents is dealing with obsessive-compulsive disorder. In this post I’d like to focus more on moms who have OCD, and the difficulties they might deal with. I won’t be focusing on postpartum OCD, but rather on moms who have already been diagnosed with the disorder and have been living with it for a while.

Some of the most common types of obsessions in OCD involve various aspects of contamination such as fear of dirt, germs, or illness. The person with OCD might fear the worst for themselves, their loved ones, or even strangers. If you’re a mother (and even if you’re not) you likely know that dirt, germs and illness are an inevitable part of childhood. How can a mom with OCD possibly take her four-year-old child into a public restroom?

Surprisingly, most can and do. Over the years I have connected with moms who have OCD who do what they need to do, despite their fears. By caring for their children, they are actually engaging in the gold-standard psychological treatment for OCD — exposure and response prevention (ERP) therapy.

And because ERP therapy works, these moms find that the more they bring their children into those restrooms, or allow them to play at the playground without trailing behind them with sanitizing wipes, or agree to let them spend time at a friend’s house, the less their OCD rears its ugly head. In short, they habituate, or get used to, being in these situations and accepting the uncertainty of what might happen.

Another comment I hear often from moms with OCD is that because caring for a child (or perhaps multiple children, and even a family pet) is time-consuming and never-ending, they are so busy that they don’t have time to worry about all the things OCD thinks they should worry about. If your baby has a dirty diaper, the dog is barking to go out, your toddler just found the finger paints, and you need to get to the grocery store, you don’t have time to fret over your fear of contamination. You just change the diaper, tend to the dog, quickly wipe your toddler’s hands, and get out the door. OCD might be protesting in the background, but you have no time for its silly demands. Again, great ERP therapy!

Of course, it doesn’t work this way for all moms, and for some OCD is in control. To these moms, I say, first and foremost, please get help from a mental health professional so you can learn to quell your OCD until it is nothing more than background noise as you care for your children. The truth is, if your obsessive-compulsive disorder remains untreated, it will affect your the well-being of your children. Their world will be limited, they will pick up on your anxiety, and they might even mimic your behaviors.

For moms who are struggling with OCD, please resolve to put your children before your OCD. Learn how to spend quality time enjoying them, not ruminating over all the things that might go wrong in a given moment.

The irony is that OCD wants you to believe that giving in to its demands is keeping your children safe, when in reality, your behaviors are likely hurting them. Modeling healthy behavior and how to deal with life’s challenges might be the best gift you ever give your children.

Finally, being a mom with OCD can feel extremely isolating. But you are not alone. Join support groups (online and in-person), talk to an OCD therapist, and accept the love and support of family and friends (but no enabling!). You and your children deserve lives not compromised by OCD.

Challenges for Moms Who Have OCD

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OCD and Autism

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I have written before about atypical presentations of obsessive-compulsive disorder in children, where I discuss how the symptoms of OCD are sometimes confused with autism, schizophrenia, and even Bipolar Disorder. I’ve also written about how diagnosing these various conditions can be difficult, as symptoms of each one often overlap. Sometimes it is easy to forget that we are talking about a whole person’s state of being, not just a specific diagnosis. No doubt people have manifested symptoms of these various illnesses long before the disorders were differentiated by names.

Still, a proper diagnosis is important to move forward with appropriate treatment, which varies for each above-mentioned disorder.

To confuse matters more, it is not unusual for someone to have comorbid mental health disorders — more than one diagnosis. As I discussed here, when my son Dan was diagnosed with OCD, he also received diagnoses of depression and Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) as well.

What doctors have recently confirmed is that autism and OCD frequently occur together. Autism and OCD initially appear to have little in common, yet studies indicate that up to 84% of people with autism have some form of anxiety and as many as 17% might have OCD. Additionally, an even greater proportion of people with OCD might also have undiagnosed autism. A 2015 study in Denmark tracked the health records of almost 3.4 million people over 18 years, and researchers found that people with autism are twice as likely as those without to be diagnosed with OCD later in life. The same study found that people with OCD are four times more likely than others to later be diagnosed with autism.

It can be tough to sort it all out. OCD rituals can resemble the repetitive behaviors that are common in autism, and vice versa. Also, people with either condition may have unusual responses to sensory experiences. Some autistic people find that sensory overload can readily lead to distress and anxiety, and the social problems people with autism experience may contribute to their anxiety as well. Anxiety is a huge component of OCD also, so it gets complicated.

How do we distinguish the two, or determine if someone has both conditions? It is interesting to note that people with both OCD and autism appear to have unique experiences, distinct from those of either condition on its own. Also, a crucial distinction found in this analysis is that obsessions spark compulsions but not autism traits. Another finding is that people with OCD cannot substitute the specific rituals they need with different rituals. Says Roma Vasa, director of psychiatric services at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, Maryland:

“They [those with OCD] have a need to do things a certain way, otherwise they feel very anxious and uncomfortable.”

People with autism, on the other hand, often have a repertoire of repetitive behaviors to choose from. They just need to perform rituals that are soothing, not necessarily a particular behavior.

More research is needed, not only in the area of diagnoses, but also treatment. The gold standard treatment for OCD is a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) known as exposure and response prevention (ERP) therapy, but for those with both autism and OCD, it often does not work well. Whether this is due to auditory-processing difficulties, cognitive inflexibility, or something else, might vary from person to person. Researchers are trying to adapt CBT for people with autism, and agree that a personalized variation of the therapy can be beneficial.

We have a long way to go in figuring out just how OCD and autism are connected. Just knowing that there is a connection, however, should help clinicians when they are diagnosing and treating their patients.

OCD and Autism

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OCD Treatment: More Important Than School or Outside Activities?

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Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an often misunderstood and complicated illness. It can latch on to anything that is important to us, and has the potential to totally devastate lives.

Still, so many people believe it is nothing more than excessive hand washing and the desire to keep things tidy. This could not be further from the truth. For the purpose of this post, I’ll be referring specifically to OCD in children.

When OCD makes an appearance in a family, it often brings about fear and confusion. For one thing, obsessive-compulsive disorder manifests itself differently in everyone. Truly, there is no end to the ways it can present itself in addition to the stereotypical compulsions mentioned above. A few examples include eating issues, refusal to leave the house, irrational fears of certain people, places, or things, and the inability to complete previously easy homework assignments. You name it, it just might be OCD.

Which leads us to the next issue that faces parents of children with OCD — getting a proper diagnosis. Misdiagnosis is common, which of course leads to the wrong treatment. Even when OCD is properly diagnosed, the right therapy, exposure and response prevention (ERP) therapy is often elusive. What’s a family to do?

For those lucky enough to receive a proper diagnosis and referral to good treatment, you’d think the children would be on their way to recovery. However, that is not always the case – I’m hearing from more people than ever who are in this situation. While various forms of intensive treatment (intensive outpatient, partial hospitalization programs, or residential treatment centers) are often recommended for their child, many parents are concerned that a commitment to intensive treatment will disrupt their child’s life. For example, Kate loves dance and she’ll miss some classes and the recital, Jake will miss a good chunk of fourth grade if he does a particular ERP program, and Ashley will miss a few social events and have to tell her friends what’s going on (or lie).*

Obviously, the children discussed in the above paragraph are not totally debilitated by OCD. Not yet, anyway. And it very well could be that they are balking at the idea of treatment. For children who can’t leave the house, or are not able to function to any extent in their daily lives, the decision to seek treatment is typically easier — they have already hit bottom. But many parents of children who are teetering on the edge don’t seem to want to take away the few things that still make their children happy, or “normal.”

As an advocate for OCD awareness and proper treatment for over ten years, I cannot stress the importance of getting the right help for obsessive-compulsive disorder sooner rather than later. OCD rarely gets better on its own, and once entrenched, is harder to treat. So, for all those out there who might be in this situation, please get your child the right help as soon as possible. Friends and activities will come and go. Even missing a significant amount of time in school can be made up. But a child who grows into a young adult with untreated OCD might very well be so disabled by the disorder that he or she can’t even hold down an entry-level job. Getting good treatment now will free your child from the grips of OCD and allow him or her to go on to have a wonderful life.

*These are not their real names.

OCD Treatment: More Important Than School or Outside Activities?

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Podcast: Improve Your Mental Health with Super Powers

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Life is tough. Life with mental illness is tougher. Life with mental illness on top of other conditions and life experiences can seem too tough. Today’s guest shares how she dealt with Tourette Syndrome, OCD, anxiety, depression, and many other things, by tapping into her own super powers. Perhaps you can, too.

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About Our Guest

Everyone has challenges but some people have more than others. Brett Francis knows this from personal experience. Only now she turns those challenges—her own and other people’s—into assets. Her mantra is “no one is broken” and she means it when she says “our struggles are not our fault.”

Her Not Broken® Radio show is heard on hundreds of stations throughout the globe; she is the bestselling author of Not Broken: How to Overcome Mental Health Challenges and Unlock Your Full Potential. In addition, she hosts the TV series Breaking the Barriers.

Some of the challenges that have made Brett a stronger person include Tourette’s syndrome, ADHD, childhood bullying, anxiety, panic disorder, OCD, an abusive relationship, a miscarriage and depression.

Brett’s mission is to educate individuals and society at large about mental health and why having mental health issues or a family member with them is a lot more normal than most people think. She wants to eradicate the stigma associated with mental health and disabilities so that those who are coping with such issues realize they are no different than having diabetes or some other common physical ailment. She advocates for greater education and awareness of these common problems.

mentalhealthspeaks.com

@brettspeaksnow

SUPER POWERS SHOW TRANSCRIPT

Editor’s Note: Please be mindful that this transcript has been computer generated and therefore may contain inaccuracies and grammar errors. Thank you.

Narrator 1: Welcome to the Psych Central show, where each episode presents an in-depth look at issues from the field of psychology and mental health – with host Gabe Howard and co-host Vincent M. Wales.

Gabe Howard: Hello everyone and welcome to this week’s episode of the Psych Central Show podcast. My name is Gabe Howard and with me as always is Vincent M. Wales. And today Vince and I will be talking with Brett Francis. Brett’s mission is to educate individuals and society at large about mental health and why having mental health issues or a family member with them is a lot more normal than people think. Brett. welcome to the show.

Brett Francis: Thank you for having me. I really appreciate you guys having me on.

Gabe Howard: Oh it’s our pleasure.

Vincent M. Wales: Definitely glad to have you. Brett, my first question is this: how did this become your mission? What happened in your life to push you in this direction?

Brett Francis: Yeah well, it was a long road, I’ll tell you that for sure. When I was 16, I was diagnosed with Tourette’s Syndrome and severe ADHD. And then of course, 17, I was rediagnosed with the same, but in addition, anxiety, OCD, panic disorder. Now that doesn’t mean that I only had anxiety when I was 17. Since I can remember. I’ve been struggling with anxiety and panic and mental health, mood regulation, all those kinds of things. And I think a lot of it was from being bullied when I was in high school. I was bullied very badly. I was shoved in lockers every day. And that really was the big start of it. You know, when I was seven years old, my parents said, Oh, just tell everybody that you’ve got Tourette’s Syndrome. Well, as you guys know, mental health is mis-educated or maybe not known a lot about, sometimes, or it’s a taboo topic, which we’re all working at bringing more awareness to it and making it less taboo and more of normal conversation. But Tourette’s is still one of those things that is very misunderstood. And so people would think, oh she’s going to be swearing like the girl on the movie or like the person in the movie. And so I got really ridiculed and bullied for my Tourette’s Syndrome for a very long time, shoved in lockers every day, and then when I was 15 years old, I was raped for my first time. And then, through that I did a lot of substance abuse and I really was starting to fail in school after my rape. And so I had a lot of mercy passing because the teachers felt sorry that I was being bullied. And at this time there wasn’t a lot of education about not only Tourette’s Syndrome, about mental illness. Parents did the best that they could, but it was still a really really big struggle for me. And so, when I turned 18 years old, very shortly after I turned 18, I actually got pregnant unexpectedly with my high school sweetheart and then at 19 I had a miscarriage at about four months. And then I hit rock bottom, and through all of this, after my rape, after some traumatic events in my life,and then again after my miscarriage, was the last attempt that I had on my own life, to take my own life. And so I’ve struggled through my whole life and still to this very day I have bad days. And I just want to bring… my mission has become that because I want to bring awareness to mental health and help people understand that it is normal, it’s just like having diabetes or you get a broken leg you get a cast. If you have mental illness, you try medication. You know, really working at normalizing that because I would’ve done anything for somebody to be able to relate to me and say, hey that doesn’t make you a screw up, like I felt a lot of my life, I felt very broken for a very big portion of my life. And that’s why I do what I do, not only because I’m passionate about it but I just know I love every minute of it. And that’s become my life’s mission.

Gabe Howard: I love that and I also love the way that Vin asked the question. It’s like we see that you’re a mental health advocate. What happened to you? And I say that to be a little bit funny but it really is true. I’ve noticed that people in the mental health advocacy space are either people like like me, I live with bipolar disorder, or people like you with Tourette’s Syndrome and anxiety and everything that we just learned about you; Vin, of course, has persistent depressive disorder and it really seems like either you or somebody that you love suffers from a mental illness in order to really occupy this space. And I’m hoping that some day I will walk up to somebody and say, Oh my God, you’re a mental illness advocate. Why? And they’ll say, because mental illness is serious. And I’ll be like well but you have it, right? No. A loved one? No, mental illness is serious. We need to help out. And that will just be like a great day – a great day.

Vincent M. Wales: That would be nice.

Brett Francis: I really look forward to that day, too. I mean just to hear, yeah I’m passionate about it… You know, you hear people, kids talk about being an astronaut, a geologist, a trained person. Or a veterinarian or six foot tall blond model. That’s what I want to be when I grew up, still, by the way, guys. [laughter] And where is the, oh I’m passionate about mental illness a I want to stop the stigma, just because I can. Instead of being an astronaut or whatever, I look forward to that day as well.

Vincent M. Wales: So earlier you mentioned Tourette’s Syndrome and how it’s so misunderstood, because as you pointed, out most people just think of it as the stereotypical swearing without any kind of restraint sort of thing. But it takes many other forms. Can you share some of those with our audience?

Brett Francis: So the swearing is actually called coprolalia and it only happens of 4 to 7 percent of people with Tourette’s Syndrome. So Tourette’s Syndrome is divided into a couple of different things. You have motor tics and then you have verbal tics. And then out of those each of those there’s simple and then there’s complex tics. Simple ones would be like hand jerks, sniffing, snorting, blinking your eyes, lip smacking, things like that. Those are really a lot of the common simple ones. And now when we get into the complex ones, that can be anything from, like I’ve had these where my tics are so bad that I feel like I need to echo the sounds on an action movie or something, or some people feel the need to bark like a dog or repeat themselves saying something, and they have to say it in just the right way and just the tone of voice. That one I actually know, like I said, from the sound effects in movies, or yell at the screen, or things like that. So it’s a lot of different, uncontrollable… and sometimes, I’m like, wow I didn’t know that my Tourette’s would want me to do that. You know, like you just have these new tics, they’re ever changing. So when I was younger I did have quite a bit of prominent verbal tics and I was yelling. I never swore, but in the middle of my sentences… they were… my sentences were like 100 different volumes. I’d be from screaming at the top of my lungs to like hardly mumbling. I had this one where I had to breathe all of my air out and I had to go, [heavy exhale] and breathe it all out to the point where I had nothing left in my lungs. And as you age and mature into it, you can either grow out of it or you can continue on with it. And it’s fairly mild because it’s worse than your hormonal years when you’re going through puberty and all that stuff. But as you mature into it, your tics kind of get solidified. There’s a few small ones and then there’s a few ones that are like moving, and so it’s sometimes every six months I’ll be surprised I’ll be like, Oh this one’s fun, you know? So it’s changing. And so sometimes it’s new but it’s also frustrating sometimes because you’re like, oh I just got used to the one that I was the new one that I had six months ago, now I have another tick. So and sometimes you go three years and you don’t have a new one.

Vincent M. Wales: Very interesting.

Gabe Howard: I did not know that either. Thank you. Thank you for sharing.

Brett Francis: You’re welcome.

Gabe Howard: You are the host of the Not Broken radio show, which is heard on many different radio stations throughout America. Can you tell us why did you name it Not Broken?

Brett Francis: Well, it actually followed my book. So my book is called Not Broken and that’s where I came up with “not broken,” because I spent a large portion of my life feeling very broken and going into psychologists, psychiatrists, counselor’s appointments, and even people in the general population, with the stigma I felt like a screw up and like I couldn’t do anything right. And I’m sure that you guys have felt like that before with your mental illness.

Gabe Howard: Many times, many times.

Brett Francis: And that’s not a good feeling to have like you don’t fit anywhere. And so the book and the Not Broken name was inspired by feeling like that for a lot of my life. So I say, whenever I talk about mental health, my slogan is “not broken,” because people with mental health challenges and disabilities are not broken. And they don’t need to be stereotypically fixed. That doesn’t mean that they won’t need to learn to manage or doesn’t mean that they don’t need help, but they’re not broken. You know, we don’t look at a person with diabetes as broken. We look at them as somebody who needs to manage that disease. And I think we should look at mental illness the same.

Gabe Howard: I couldn’t agree more. Thank you so much. I love that. I love that.

Brett Francis: Thank you.

Vincent M. Wales: Let’s talk about how mental health and physical health are linked. It’s something that Gabe and I have brought up several times over the course of our show. But I don’t think it’s ever been spoken about enough. Do you have any input on that?

Brett Francis: I’ll share a personal story. Recently on my spouse’s side, his nephew is 15 years old and he was hearing voices and he was scared that he was going to harm himself and other people. And so he said, like, I need I need help in voicing this. And we took him into the hospital and the hospital said, oh he’s hearing voices, but the mental health worker, crisis worker comes in and says, oh, he told me that he’s not worried about harming anybody, that he also promised that he wouldn’t harm himself or others. And we said, he’s 15 years old like he’s impulsive and he’s worried about that impulse may strike and that’s what it’s going to happen. It’s not like it’s premeditated. And so we really struggled because they wanted to see somebody for chest pains or a broken leg or there was a person in there that also they were treating for an overdose. They want to see the physical stuff. And I don’t think that it’s that they don’t take it seriously, I think it’s not 100 percent sure what to do in the hospital because there’s a lack resources. And so anyways, I basically sat down and I plunked my butt down in the chair and I said, look, we’re not leaving here until this gets taken seriously. He’s got a younger brother at home and he’s worried he’s going to hurt somebody or himself. And he’s hearing voices. And I said, he needs to be seen. He needs to be treated. And he needs to be admitted. And I said, we’re not signing any kind of liability release or self care plan or non self harm plan. So they get you to sign the papers and they tried to get him to sign them without anybody being present. And I felt like it was really not… like he wasn’t being taken seriously. Like I said, not at the fault of the people who work in the hospital because the nurses and doctors are amazing and they’re great at what they do and they care for people. And that’s incredible. But I just think that they really didn’t know what to do especially because it was a northern rural community. It was very difficult for them to know like they had to call the mental health crisis team and then the crisis team had to call the psychiatrist and then the psychiatrist finally said, Okay admit this 15 year old boy. And so I think that we really need to work at it and I was reading an article as well and in many states and provinces in the US, Canada, everywhere and all over the world, people that go into emergency rooms for mental illness are often discharged and those are the people that are back and they continue to come back because they continue to struggle. And so sometimes people know that they’re struggling mentally and sometimes they don’t. They go and talk like with me when I was panic disorder I would go into the hospital when I was younger for chest pains, thinking I was having a heart attack. Well it wasn’t a heart attack. It was my panic disorder. And so being a person that’s been dismissed in the hospital without things like that being taken seriously and then having to wait after you’ve been there four times because you’re having chest pains, then then waiting for 16 hours this is just a really frustrating thing. So having been in those shoes before in the emergency room for mental illness and with the lack of resources and education and the lack of the link that we’re talking about for mental health and physical health when the two go hand-in-hand. I mean if you’re depressed, the first thing I do when I’m depressed is I put on sweats and sit on the couch. Your personal hygiene goes, your mental health directly affects your physical health and vice versa. If I’m not feeling well physically, I’m not having a good day mentally, either, and I’m sure that you guys with your diagnoses, see the same thing.

Gabe Howard: Oh yeah it’s fascinating to me. You know physical health is your body and mental health is your brain. But of course your brain is IN your body. It’s fascinating.

Brett Francis: Yeah exactly.

Gabe Howard: You know we don’t have mental health, physical health, and then a separate stage for heart health, because we understand that the heart is in the body. It’s like everything is combined except for the way that we think and feel. And you’re right, it absolutely drives everything. People who are depressed are more likely to smoke, they’re more likely to overeat, they’re less likely to exercise, they’re less likely to build sustainable friendships or relationships. So that’s a support system. Everything just sort of spirals out of control from these thoughts and feelings that definitely have, a massive impact on our physical safety and surroundings and potentially – I always like to say potentially – the safety of those around us. And the fact that you knew what you were looking for and came in and said it and you still had some pushback is obviously something that we want to change. I like how you said we’re not trying to throw people under the bus or blame them. We’re just saying that we have to do better.

Brett Francis: Exactly. And those nurses and doctors were amazing and once he was admitted, they were great. But a lot of times the nurses on the E.R., ‘cuz he was put in a pediatric ward, they are not 100 percent sure how to handle it. He had a suicide watch nurse that was at his side 24/7 and they’re not entirely sure like what to say to him. They have to either do the steps of calling a mental health crisis team, well they were only in Monday to Friday 9 to 4, and then the psychiatrist wasn’t in until Monday and he worked Monday to Friday as well. So when you really have an emergency on a Saturday night, essentially that system -like I said no fault of anybody involved – but that system is… you gotta be in the hospital for two days or get discharged and come back on Monday or wait six months or a year to get referred to a psychiatrist and specialist. So it’s really frustrating being on the other end of that, being the person who’s experiencing it for themselves or for a loved one, being able to say, look I know that this is happening, especially even when I went and said like, I know what’s happening, still being kind of unintentionally given time to the dismissive and the runaround. I don’t think people were intentionally trying to brush it off. I just think they didn’t know what to do with it. So finally the psychiatrist was called after four hours in emergency.

Vincent M. Wales: Well, I think you’re experienced too also speaks to the tragic shortness of psychiatrists that we have right now. And you said it was in a rural area, which just adds to the problem there.

Brett Francis: Yeah, and then there’s less resources for counseling and stuff in the rural areas where people aren’t in the main center.

Vincent M. Wales: Exactly. Exactly.

Gabe Howard: We will see in a moment after we hear from our sponsor.

Narrator 2: This episode is sponsored by BetterHelp.com, secure, convenient and affordable online counselling. All counselors are licensed, accredited professionals. Anything you share is confidential. Schedule secure video or phone sessions, plus chat and text with your therapist whenever you feel it’s needed. A month of online therapy often costs less than a single traditional face-to-face session. Go to BetterHelp.com/PsychCentral and experience seven days of free therapy to see if online counselling is right for you. BetterHelp.com/PsychCentral.

Vincent M. Wales: Welcome back everyone. We’re here with Brett Francis, author of the book Not Broken. So what are, as you put it, mental illness superpowers?

Brett Francis: Well, mental illness superpowers, I actually kind of came up with that through building my career and speaking and things like that, where I realized I can actually use my mental illness to to an advantage here, like it doesn’t have to be always something that cripples me, it doesn’t have to be always something that makes me feel like garbage. It doesn’t have to be always something that I’m judging myself for or other people, I feel like other people are judging me for, it doesn’t have to be a downfall and it doesn’t have to be, so to speak, a fault that I look at. You know we all look at ourselves in the mirror and point out our own imperfections. People with mental illness look into their own minds and point out the flaws that they think they have and they judge themselves for it and we’re out own self-critics. So a big part of what I do is really embracing that mental illness and figuring out what has it brought your life. And initially people say to me like, what? Like what are you talking about? Like I live with depression I’m chronically depressed, how has that brought any benefit to my life? And one of my friends that has chronic depression, I said to her, I said, think of something that it’s brought, like who do you think you wouldn’t be, or what has it brought to your life? Well, it took her hours. So she finally called me back and said, You know, Brett, I’m a paramedic and I care for people for living and I don’t think that I’d be doing that without depression. And I’m really empathetic. So I’m really in tune as well with other people feelings, and I can provide empathy, I can be a good wife, and I can really understand where people are coming from and empathize with how they’re feeling and also pick up on it. And I said, Well what’s not great about that? So for me, one of the first things was, well, if I didn’t have OCD, I wouldn’t be organized enough to do my own thing. I’d be so scatterbrained, I wouldn’t be organized enough to be in business, to run a business, to write a book. You know I’m not saying I don’t struggle with those things. And that I don’t have bad days. But without the OCD, I wouldn’t be a business owner, without my ADHD, I wouldn’t be as creative, without my anxiety, I wouldn’t have the amount of energy that I do and the amount of passion that I do, without my Tourette’s Syndrome, I wouldn’t be who I am or what I am today and doing what I do today. If I hadn’t had the past of my bullying, my substance abuse, if I hadn’t had all those… I mean don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t wish those things on my worst enemy… But those things are what made me the person that I am today, sharing my story, the person that loves to change people’s lives, the person that loves to bring awareness to mental health and fight for the advocacy. I would not be that person had I not had my diagnoses. So that’s what mental health superpowers are.

Gabe Howard: I really appreciate that. Thank you so much. I like the way that you worded it and tried to tie it together. You know, sometimes I go the other way, where I say that there’s no superpower in mental illness. These are just innate skills that a person has that they’re able to use. And when I talk to people that say no no no no I’m turning my mental illness as negatives into positives… On one hand, I want to be like, No there’s no positive about mental illness, but on the other hand, I really appreciate the reframing. And this is why I am so glad that there are multiple voices out there because the reality is I’m kind of a realist, I’m kind of a pessimistic guy and that’s how I choose to deal with my symptoms and mental illness. But other people are more optimistic and they see things differently and they’re going to completely agree with you. And this is why I feel that all voices are important, because if you were the only voice, you’d never connect to me and if I was the only voice, I’d never connect to you. But thankfully, multiple voices allows everybody to feel connected and we’re all on the same side. So, so thank you.

Brett Francis: Thank you. I mean thank you for sharing as well. I would say I’m more on the optimist scale of that. However, my anxiety and I’m sure you guys experience that with your mental health as well, it’s almost like a Jekyll and Hyde type thing where one minute…

Gabe Howard: Oh yes!

Brett Francis: I’m an optimist. And then in a split-second and the snap of a finger, I can be the worst pessimist in the world and all life is going down the drain and I’m a failure and I’m always a waste of time and blah blah blah. You guys know the drill, right? It’s the snap of a finger and it can change in a split second. I can be the pessimist.

Gabe Howard: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Brett Francis: I could be Mr. Hyde, and it could just switch in a flash and it’s very frustrating sometimes. But I’m still back and forth and I yo-yo so much with my mood, with anxiety, that I know that there’s gonna be some sort of snap of a flash and I’m gonna be optimist Brett again in like the next millisecond or half an hour or the next day. You know, I know that that’s coming. So, that kind of gives me a little bit of hope because I’m like well I know that the optimist, resilient, stubborn Brett is in there somewhere, she’s gotta come out eventually. Just poke it a little bit, you know?

Gabe Howard: That is very cool, and I think this is a nice segue into self stigma. Because you talk about self stigma a lot and the different ways that it affects us. So can you talk about that a little bit?

Brett Francis: A lot of people really undervalue what they say to themselves and then they mean anxiety and all mental illnesses like it puts those doubts in your head where it’s like, I’m a failure, I’m not good enough, and it’s continuing to tell you everything that you can’t and won’t, or should haves and could haves. My counselor says, focus on the can dos and the have dones. But that’s not anxiety. So anxiety’s like this pestering… you know the angel and the devil sitting on your shoulder? It’s like the devil is there all of the time, just whispering in your ear that you’re not good enough. And so that’s a big part of stigma. And sometimes it’s easier to control and other times it’s not easy to control at all. You have this way that you feel you should be, and I think as human beings naturally, with or without mental illness, we have that self critic, where we try to make ourselves feel like we should be this or we should be that or we should have more money or we should have a better job or we should be married by now or all these things that we say the should haves. We naturally are programmed to think of that as human beings, like our society seems to always focus on, oh I’m not skinny enough, I’m not, I’m not well-off enough. And so we focus on the negatives naturally as a society. Throw mental health in the mix and we’re really giving ourselves a hard time. And so it’s just this continuing negative Nancy in your head. And so we give ourselves the self stigma where it’s almost turning into a double depression. So I don’t know if you guys have that or not, but like when you’re depressed, you’re like, oh crud, like why am I depressed? I shouldn’t be depressed right now. You get depressed about being depressed.

Gabe Howard: Yeah, guilt.

Brett Francis: I get anxiety about having anxiety. I’m like, why am I anxious right now? And then I start to overthink like why am I just anxious? So it’s anxiety about having anxiety depression or having depression. And it’s really this spiral. If you don’t stop it, it can get out of hand really really fast with that self stigma. So we give ourselves anxiety about having everything or it’s just a double negative. And so that’s a really big role that that my anxiety tried to play in my own mental health is it’s tried to give me anxiety about being anxious or feeling depressed about being depressed. And it just really gets us nowhere. And so we also undervalue the self care in that as well. So we forget to take care of our minds and our bodies while we’re going through that.

Vincent M. Wales: Yeah, sounds about right to me.

Gabe Howard: Not wrong at all.

Vincent M. Wales: Now that you’ve mentioned self care… There are misconceptions about self care out there. Self care, emotional well-being, all of these things. Can you talk about some of those misconceptions?

Brett Francis: I think one of the biggest misconceptions about self care is that it’s selfish. We hear this, you can’t take care of somebody to the best of your ability until you’re taken care of. I mean, why do you think when you go on a plane, the safety demonstration says put your own air mask on first and then help others. So when you are breathing properly your brain is more clear and therefore you can help other people put their mask on, such as children, other people that may need help, somebody that you’re with. But as soon as you have that breath of air and you get that oxygen flowing in into your body, you’re thinking more clearly because you’re taken care of. So that’s exactly the same reason why they tell you to put that mask on first for yourself and then help others. Because if we don’t take care of ourselves, we can’t give others our everything. We can’t take care of our spouses, our children, our friends, and be there for them as much as we could be with our own self care, so we’re giving ourselves or I guess losing not only to self care and all of its benefits but we’re also losing possible potential to be something more to somebody else that we love. Another common misconception would be that, I don’t need self care. I’m good. Everybody needs self care. People with or without mental illness. People with mental illness. We have to find out really what we’re. I mean the value money everybody. No one will be that it’s an on that important one. Another one would be that it’s not that important. Well it really is. And then the one along with selfish is that people think I need to take care of everybody else first and then I can take care of me. And then the last one I guess that I think is most common is that it takes a lot of time. Well no it actually doesn’t. You know talking about meditation, you can do that twice a day for 10 minutes. It’s literally the amount of time that you would spend going and freshening up and brushing your hair or something. So you go and you brush your hair. So instead of going to brush your hair or maybe you need to brush your hair, too, spend five minutes just meditating and breathing, people really think that it takes, oh I’ve got to invest three hours a day into going to the gym, eating right, all this stuff. And so people get very overwhelmed because they’re like, oh I have to start with three hours of self care in order get anywhere. It can start with like five minutes a day. So people really have that big misconception, as well. That’s how I felt, initially when I started reading self help books. After my miscarriage and my depression and suicide attempt, I started reading books. And I went, boy do I have a lot to do. Like, if I want to turn my life around, holy man, like am I ever gonna get there? And sometimes I still feel like that. I’ll go to see my counselor and I’ll be like, oh boy, I just wrote down 18 things that I think that I have to do. And so I’ll take that back to my counselor next time and she’ll be like, Brett, what are you doing? Like, these are not 18 things you have to do. The stuff we talked about is the things you need to check off your list and improve on yourself. There are things where we can eventually get to. Like, that doesn’t need to happen right now. And I’m like, well I’ve got a plan. And she’s like, that’s going to take you like half a working day to get them today. And I”m like, OK. Right. So let’s do the five or ten minute thing. Right. So we all I think do that when you get overwhelmed like, holy man, do I ever have a lot to work on before my mental health improves. Or do I ever have a lot to work on before I lose weight. And people just think that it’s going to be this long, drawn out, tedious task and it’s really not.

Vincent M. Wales: You’re absolutely right.

Gabe Howard: Makes sense completely. Brett, the time just flies by. Before we close out the show, can you tell folks where we can find you?

Brett Francis: They can go to my website at mentalhealthspeaks.com. I’m also on Facebook and Twitter, handle would be @brettspeaksnow.

Gabe Howard: Brett, thank you so much you were a great guest. We look forward to having you on the show again. It was absolutely wonderful. Thank you for being here.

Brett Francis: Thank you so much for having you guys and also for sharing your own personal lives with me.

Gabe Howard: You’re very welcome and thank you everyone for tuning in. And remember, you can get one week of free, convenient, affordable, private, online counselling anytime, anywhere just by visiting betterhelp.com/psychcentral. We will see everybody next week.

Narrator 1: Thank you for listening to the Psych Central Show. Please rate, review, and subscribe on iTunes or wherever you found this podcast. We encourage you to share our show on social media and with friends and family. Previous episodes can be found at PsychCentral.com/show. PsychCentral.com is the internet’s oldest and largest independent mental health website. Psych Central is overseen by Dr. John Grohol, a mental health expert and one of the pioneering leaders in online mental health. Our host, Gabe Howard, is an award-winning writer and speaker who travels nationally. You can find more information on Gabe at GabeHoward.com. Our co-host, Vincent M. Wales, is a trained suicide prevention crisis counselor and author of several award-winning speculative fiction novels. You can learn more about Vincent at VincentMWales.com. If you have feedback about the show, please email [email protected].

About The Psych Central Show Podcast Hosts

Gabe Howard is an award-winning writer and speaker who lives with bipolar and anxiety disorders. He is also one of the co-hosts of the popular show, A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast. As a speaker, he travels nationally and is available to make your event stand out. To work with Gabe, please visit his website, gabehoward.com.

Vincent M. Wales is a former suicide prevention counselor who lives with persistent depressive disorder. He is also the author of several award-winning novels and creator of the costumed hero, Dynamistress. Visit his websites at www.vincentmwales.com and www.dynamistress.com.

Podcast: Improve Your Mental Health with Super Powers

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