Radio host suffers with OCD

Amazing story written by Trevor Dineen of CBC speaks about his personal struggles with OCD.

By Trevor Dineen

When I walk into an airport bathroom, like I did last week on my way to Vancouver, I hear the flushing, running taps and hand dryers. But I also hear something else.

“You have to pump the soap 25 times and then wash your hands 25 times. Don’t miss any numbers. Don’t skip any pumps. Oh and do that whole cycle 25 times and then you can leave.”

Now why on earth would I do all of that?

“Because if you do, you won’t die.”

Welcome to the inside of my brain. I have obsessive compulsive disorder. I’ve had it for over 15 years. And to be honest, it almost took my life.

When I was 22, I basically lost everything because of it. One day my brain decided to start telling me that if I did these small compulsions, I wouldn’t die. So I did, because honestly, I didn’t want to die. But then these small compulsions got bigger and the routines got more complex.

The next thing you know, it was taking me 90 minutes to get in and out of a bathroom. It would take me 75 minutes to get into bed. I’d have to walk around cars 25 times when I got out of them. I had between 200-300 compulsions that took up four to five hours of my day.

I quit my job, dropped out of school, and pulled away from all my friends. I was wasting away, mentally and physically. A year and a half went by and all I did was get worse. Finally my parents found me collapsed and crying on their basement floor. It was Christmas Eve and and I had just finished doing all of my routines and compulsions in front of my entire family and relatives.

It was my rock bottom.

My mother, Carol Dineen, eventually opened up to me about how terrified she and my father were in those moments. “Watching my son deteriorate to the point where we knew if we didn’t get you help, we were going to lose you,” she said. “I knew that in my heart. That’s why it was so important to find you help.”

Trevor Dineen (CBC)Help, in my world, came in the form of Dr. Willows. He’s a psychiatrist at Seven Oaks Hospital in Winnipeg. He’s the one that saved my life.

When I had the chance to revisit him recently, he told me, “You presented with the perfect illness. You came in with everything people say about OCD. Because you had everything. Remarkable obsessions, very time-consuming compulsions and hours upon hours of routines.”

Without him, and the months of cognitive behaviour therapy that he guided me through, I don’t know where I would be today.

But it’s not gone. I still have compulsions. They rear their ugly heads whenever I get stressed or I’m concerned for someone I love. But overall, they’re much more manageable now. I know I’ll always have them. A handful or more will always linger, and I have to be okay with that. It’s just become a part of who I am.

And it’s a part I’m okay talking about. Because at the end of the day, I hate the idea of anyone ever feeling as lonely and as scared as I did. So hopefully, this helps. Even a little bit.

Anxiety Canada

Canadian Mental Health Association

OCD Canada

Book Recommendations:
Freedom from Obsessive Compulsive disorder: A Personalized Recovery Program for Living with Uncertainty (updated edition), by Jonathan Grayson

The Boy Who Couldn’t Stop Washing: The Experience and Treatment of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, by Judith L. Rapoport

When Once Is Not Enough, by Gail Steketee and Kerrin White

Stop Obsessing!: How to Overcome Your Obsessions and Compulsions, by Edna B. Foa, and Reid Wilson


It is hard to put in words the distress that OCD causes; it is this weight that follows you around everywhere you go. You can’t escape it, and you can’t run away from it. Throughout the day and night these echoes of thoughts, images and sensations are there with you, the story line so vivid and crippling we fall surrender to its demands. All moments are slightly stolen because your there but your OCD is also there with you.

There has been so much I have lost to OCD, so much I fear because of OCD. I try to beat it and overcome it, but there are days where you are overwhelmed. It is important to remember that OCD does not define you, and even though our minds have turned on us we can live with this monster.

The struggle is real and ongoing; it is hard to explain how your mind can become your biggest hurdle in life. The dark lens of OCD alters reality, and forces us to want to maintain control.

It is so scary to take risks, and to feel brave enough to trust yourself and that this is just OCD. For me my OCD has manifested in a few different forms, but the best way to describe it is imagine watching a horror film over and over again in your mind, but this isn’t any normal horror film all the characters in this story are the people you love and care dearest for. You can’t do anything to stop it, and are forced to be subjected to this torture. The people you would do anything for you would sacrifice anything for you have to live with being bombarded by never ending thoughts and ideas that you can’t protect them and if you don’t engage in certain behaviour they won’t be safe. Even when you are told this is a disorder this is what the disorder does a part of you still is afraid that what if it isn’t? What if they are wrong and there is real danger? You have to ask yourself has what I have been doing worked so far? Am I happy? Maybe I should take the chance that nothing bad will happen and this is just OCD, and every doubt I have is also OCD? It is so hard to take that leap of faith but it is worth a shot to try, I still every morning have that struggle between doubt vs taking a risk. The days when I chose risk always turn out more fulfilling but it is hard to remember that when doubt feels so strong.

I have decided that life will be filled with challenges, uncertainties and pain. But along the twists and turns there will be these beautiful moments, connections and experiences that make it all worth it. We can either let OCD rob us of those moments or accept that it is going to be painful and filled with uncertainty but it is better then letting OCD win.

“In order to write about life first you must live it” – Ernest Hemingway




Dr. Steven Phillipson is a leading expert on OCD his work with patients has provided an immense amount of progression for OCD treatment. His website is full of a wealth of knowledge for suffers. I have provided below an excerpt from his article “Choice”, I encourage you to visit his website and read through the articles posted.

In both the treatment of OCD and in living a disciplined life, there is no word more important than “Choice”

by Steven J. Phillipson, Ph.D.
Center for Cognitive-Behavioral Psychotherapy​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

It is unfortunate that our schools do not teach us that our brains are comprised of many systems, some of which operate with considerable independence from the others. The independence of these systems is reflected in the way individuals suffering from OCD respond to episodes of extreme anxiety. Like all human beings, those with OCD have a strong basic survival instinct and are likely to experience great distress at the prospect of leaving a perceived threat unresolved. However, when what they experience as a threat is actually a function of their OCD (and therefore, is essentially the product of misfiring brain circuitry), they still react to this perceived threat as if their very lives were in danger. A conflict of independent systems also can affect those who do not have OCD. For example, a person may have the goal of exercising, but when the opportunity to do so presents itself, she may find herself thinking, “I’ll begin tomorrow.” Similarly, when tempted, someone whose goal is to save money may find himself thinking, “Yes, but this sale is so tremendous! Look at all the money I’d be saving!” The point is that we can only make disciplined and values-based choices that challenge instinctive or self-defeating urges when we are mindful of the contradictory agendas presented to us by our brains.

 To date, the focus of my writing has been on educating sufferers and professionals alike about the various forms of OCD and the methods of behavioral treatment I have found to be effective. In contrast, this article attempts to identify the essential qualities within the patient that contribute to the success or failure of treatment. In my discussion of this subject, I will give considerable attention to such concepts as agency, mindfulness, and autonomy. Agency can be defined as the faith we have in our capacity to respond effectively to challenges in our lives. Mindfulness is the non-judgmental awareness of an experience in real time – that is, as that experience is unfolding – and an acknowledgement of our responsibility for the choices we make and/or the beliefs or perspectives we endorse in relation to that experience. The willingness of patients to be accountable for the choices they make has a profound effect both on the recovery process and the achievement of their goals in life. And finally the term autonomy refers to the choices and actions of the “Gatekeeper,” the “I” or “me” who, based upon his or her goals and values, makes the final decisions on matters of importance to the individual.

The conscious, independent behavior (physical or mental) of selecting, making and or acting upon a decision when faced with two or more possibilities: the choice between good and evil, skilled and unskilled as well as, fight or flight.

• A range of possibilities from which one or more may be selected.

• A course of action (mental or physical), object, or person that is selected or decided upon and summarily put into effect.

This writing is a call to arms! Its purpose is to inspire readers to come to terms more honestly with the choices that will be required if they are to achieve their goals in life.

Continue reading at:



nOCD is a great app to use during treatment with or without a therapist. I have been using it for over 6 months now and have really felt the impact the app has. It allows you to input your triggers, track your progress, do exposures and even share it with your therapist. I would really recommend this app to anyone who is suffering with OCD, it also gives you the encouragement to get through those tough exposures and delay the compulsion. What I also like most about the app is that you can look back and truly see your progress and if things have become less triggering for you.

The link is below:



Dr.Jonathan Grayson


Dr.Jonathan Grayson is an expert in the field of OCD, he has contributed tremendously in patient treatment. This a beautiful explanation of how it feels for someone who has OCD. It can be extremely difficult and uncomfortable opening up to loved ones about the disorder, especially since there is a lack of understanding in the mainstream media. This video is a great way to have someone engage in having a preview of what a sufferer experiences.



The Horror of Thought Spirals

OCD can be extremely sneaky, a common fear I have is “what if this isn’t OCD”? “What if I am wrong, and I actually have something to be worried about”? or “even if there is a 0.000000000001% chance of this terrible thing happening, I am not willing to take that risk”. This type of doubt is extremely common with OCD, we get to a place where we finally have our thoughts labeled as OCD and before we know it we have OCD telling us that well what if your wrong…and the thought spiral starts all over again.

OCD is a disorder that revolves around uncertainty and doubt. A sufferer gets trapped in these thought spirals, because the discomfort and anxiety caused by not being 100% certain. This pushes the sufferer to carryout compulsions to feel relief. A tool that can be used in these moments, is reminding yourself of the following:

  1. No one can predict the future
  2. Life is uncertain (that is the nature of how the world works)
  3. This is OCD *Even when OCD makes us questions whether this is OCD taking that leap of faith that unequivocally this is OCD will help tremendously from getting sucked into the thoughts
  4. Remind yourself that you don’t want OCD to take more away from your life

It’s extremely hard to do this, especially in moment of intense fear and anxiety. OCD can make us question who we are, what we are capable of doing and take away from precious moments and experiences in life. Taking the leap to trust that I have OCD and this is how the disorder works will help create distance from the thoughts. The ultimate goal is to get to a place no matter how uncomfortable, no matter how risky we do not cave and forget that this is OCD.

I try and incorporate this in my meditation every morning, to try and anchor myself before the start of the day. I find even putting a reminder on my phone through out the day that comes up encouraging me to not do compulsions has also helped.

Just remember that OCD is separate from you, and the thoughts, fears and uncertainty is OCD so the second we have doubt that too is OCD.



Great Article about Louise Casemore

Ghost River's solo show, OCD, brings affliction out into the light

Writer, director and performer Louise Casemore is adamant conditions like Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and addictions are no laughing matter. She does concede, however, that they can be approached with humour if handled carefully.

In 2015, Casemore created and performed in a show called OCD for the Edmonton Fringe. It was awarded Edmonton theatre’s Sterling Award for outstanding new Fringe work and was Theatre Alberta’s pick of the Fringe that year.

Casemore says her goal in creating OCD was always “to bring a light touch to a heavy subject.”

She said she was prompted to create the show when she noticed a growing trend of treating mental illness and addiction far too casually.

“I noticed a T-shirt that defined OCD as Obsessive Christmas Disorder.

“A friend who had battled alcoholism said he was annoyed that people threw the term addiction around so lightly when he understood what it really meant,” recalls Casemore who had battled Obsessive Compulsive Disorder when she was a teenager.

“I wanted everything to be perfect, which produced some tics and compulsions that were pretty annoying for other people. Back then, sitting down to a meal with me could be pretty exasperating. I’d be rearranging everything on the table.”

She also knows people battling OCD who can’t drive a car and can’t sustain a relationship “which is why I was very cautious in creating my show. It needed to respectful and honest.”

Her solo show is based one-third on her personal experiences. Another third was created from extensive research on the disorder, including interviews with doctors, therapists and sufferers.

“The final third is pure fiction and that’s where I could really bring in a comedic touch.”

She says her show is “much more than me just standing on stage speaking a diary. It’s storytelling and performance and it has some poetry in it.”

She also points out, though there is definitely structure to the show, it is loose enough to allow people to react or even interact if they feel the need to and they definitely have.

Casemore jokes that since its premiere at the 2015 Edmonton Fringe Festival, she has toured OCD to “dirtbag bar basements,” cavernous concert halls and everything in between.

“I’ve wanted to bring it to Calgary, but I just haven’t had any breathing room.”

Casemore has been busy as the artistic associate for Ghost River Theatre, as well as the artistic director for her own company, Defiance Theatre.

Ghost River and Defiance will present Casemore in OCD at the West Village Theatre (2007 10th Ave. S.W.) Feb. 1-10 with a pay-what-you-can preview on Jan. 30 at 8 p.m. nightly. There will be a 2 p.m. matinee on Feb. 3 and an 8 p.m. student performance on Feb. 6 with a talkback following that show.

Tickets are $25 with $20 tickets for artists and $15 tickets for seniors and students.

Tickets and further information are available on

Politician Who Missed Work Because of OCD

Politician Who Missed Work to Secretly Treat His Mental Illness Releases Touching Video


Simmons explained that in early 2016, he experienced a significant “flare up” of OCD symptoms, and chose to enter residential treatment. This was the second time he had entered treatment for his OCD, the first being his senior year of high school. He said during his time in treatment in 2016, he focused on re-learning tools to control the effects of OCD.

“That treatment helped me to leave full and successful life for more than a decade, graduating college, serving in the House of Representatives, starting a family and more,” he said.

Politicians aren’t typically known for being open about their mental health, and few have. One notable example is Patrick Kennedy, a former Congressman from Rhode Island who wrote about his personal experience with mental illness and addiction in his book, “A Common Struggle.” Still, Simmons told The Mighty, OCD wasn’t easy for him to talk about in such a public way — and he contemplated for several months before releasing the video.

“It’s a very personal issue,” he said in the video. “It’s also an illness most people don’t understand. They think OCD is what they see on TV or in the movies. For some people, it is. But in many cases, it isn’t. It’s an anxiety issue. For example, for me, it sometimes causes me to withdraw, even from family and friends.”

But he also brought up how living with OCD has been a positive thing — and that he hopes to bring more awareness to the issue going forward. “My OCD isn’t something that stops me, it isn’t something that stops millions of other people inflicted with it,” he said. “It isn’t something that stops me from working hard for you and leading a full life with my family and friends. I’ve worked successfully for years while addressing it and will continue to do so in the future.”

No matter what side of the political aisle you’re on, we hope more politicians — and more people from every workforce — feel comfortable coming forward about their mental health struggles. No one is immune to struggling with a mental illness, and even leaders and people in power deserve to take time off for mental health treatment without shame.

Simmons said the reaction to the video has been overwhelmingly positive, and for other people contemplating opening up about their mental health to an employer, his advice is this:

My suggestion would be take your mental health seriously. Make it the number one priory in your life. If you work for a good employer, they’ll understand. I wish I could tell you most employers will be understanding, but I can’t. All I can say is take your mental health seriously. It’s the most important thing in your life.

The Challenge

The importance of challenging ourselves, even when anxiety is at its worst. We all know that feeling, of an intrusive thought coming in you try to get ignore it but it just gets louder and louder and louder, like an alarm clock that wont turn off. You try your best to not listen to the alarm, but eventually you snap and want to break the alarm clock to stop the incessant beeping. Unfortunately, you can’t just turn off thoughts, or break them and the more you try not listening to them the worse they get. The solution to these thoughts seems backwards, but welcoming and accepting the thoughts actually helps relieve the anxiety being felt.

For example:

Say you have a thought that something terrible is going to happen, you keep playing scenarios out in your head the plot always ends in a horrible terrible outcome. You become so engrossed that your heart starts to beat so fast, you begin to tremble, maybe you carry out compulsions to try and relive your anxiety and before you know it you are having a full fledged panic attack. You try so hard to ignore the thoughts, you might pray, cry or beg them to stop but they just become worse and worse, until you are on the floor trembling in fear. Eventually the panic attack subsides, and your anxiety calms down, until the next intrusive thought enters and the cycle starts up all over again. Now let’s go over this same exact situation but try a different approach, the intrusive thought comes in but this time you allow it in, you even welcome it in, this time you acknowledge its presence and you do not react. The key thing here is not reacting, no matter how intense, no matter how awful the outcome your mind is presenting you. You DON’T react, it might seem so scary, but being brave and allowing yourself to feel the anxiety come on and not fight it will prove to your brain that there is nothing to actually be afraid of. Overtime the more we react to a thought, the more our brain becomes hardwired to think that we need to be afraid of that thought, and the more that thought pops up starting a never ending cycle of fear and anxiety. The moment we decide to let go, and not be afraid of our thoughts, and allow them to be present without reacting no matter how painful resisting the urge of wanting to just completely give in and freak out (like breaking the alarm clock) is worth enduring the temporary pain for the long term benefits. This will help reverse the ingrained fear response. How to do this? It is much easier said then done, the suffocation and intense fear can be so consuming it sounds terrifying to have to sit alone and welcome the anxiety in, but the less you react the quicker the thought gets bored and leaves – you are not providing any energy to fuel the thought. Lets go back to the analogy of an alarm clock, the alarm clock is beeping this time you welcome the alarm clock in, you don’t react and you even accept the uncertainty of not knowing if the alarm clock will ever stop beeping. You are not resisting it and you are not trying to ignore it, you simply are okay with having the alarm noise apart of your life. Overtime you have become so comfortable with having the noise in the background it gets quieter and quieter, you even forget it is there at times. That is the goal with intrusive thoughts, you have to accept the uncertainty and be okay no matter how intense or horrible the thoughts & feelings being presented to you are, even if your mind tells you that you are wrong to be okay with the thought because something BAD is going to happen!!! Try your hardest to resist the urge to react, think about all the times you have been through this and nothing bad ever happened, take that risk even just once, it will be worth it. Think about all the time you gave in to its demands and the time and energy and pain it has caused you, and again NOTHING bad happened….anxiety is a monster and it may never go away but you can learn to coexist with horrible a roommate.