Tag Archives: anxious

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



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.




Letting Go

I have been having a bad month of anxiety & OCD, I feel like I have completely relapsed and the intrusive thoughts have become so intense that I am back to square one. My intrusive thoughts have caused me so much grief and sadness that all my tools I have learned have somehow slipped my consciousness and I have been in the belly of the beast.

At times I feel in control, and other times I feel completely overwhelmed by anxiety and worry. I thought to myself if this continues I don’t think I can function properly, and the urge to want to just stay in my room indefinitely provides me with comfort. As if quarantining myself would somehow lead to me being free of anxiety.

I forgot that I have dealt with this monster many time before, and the idea of  a quick fix or a “cure” just does not exist. I forgot that in order for this to become easier and better I have to force myself to face it head on and push myself through hard work. I forget that I now have to incorporate this into everyday life, it has to become a lifestyle change. Just like going to the gym is hard work, I have to exercise my mind and implement all my tools that I have learned.

The thoughts become so loud, that it can become self consuming the key is to not have any judgment NO MATTER how intense and unpleasant the thoughts may be. It is the balance between accepting the discomfort and loving the self that will ultimately free the grip of anxiety.

Anxiety exists regardless if it is invited in, and my fundamental flaw in my current approach is that I have re-entered the cycle of wishing and praying that my anxiety could just vanish. The notion of that is counterintuitive to my growth, because it assumes anxiety is capable of vanishing everyone has anxiety it is part of being a human being. The sooner I accept that as truth the less power anxiety has. The sooner I embrace anxiety, and stop going to war with myself the sooner I can feel a beautiful inner balance.

Discipline is so important when dealing with anxiety, the discipline to know that it is just anxiety, and the discipline to proactively use tools such as meditation, journals, mindfulness etc. will ultimately create an automatic thought response to counteract anxiety.

Going back to the example of the gym, at the beginning the idea of going to the gym can be so daunting,  especially if you have not gone in years.  The first few weeks seem excruciating, and many people quit never to come back because of the intensity and emotional obstacles they face. But if you stick through it eventually you’ve created a habit and your routine automatically incorporates going to the gym as a natural part of your day. You also start to feel better, enjoy it and even desire to go. This is the same idea for anxiety, the beginning will be so much work, and extremely uncomfortable and intense but eventually it will become an automatic part of your natural life.  A big lesson I learned is during good times I have to keep putting the effort in, just because I feel amazing does not mean I can just revert back to not working hard, that was my downfall this time and I have now been able to catch it. It is easy to slip back into old ways of thinking especially when things have settled down. The motivation for change decreases as the intensity of suffering decreases.

Consistently working on being present and mindful will create a beautiful inner happiness that glows and circulates throughout the entire body. The simple yet complicated practice of letting go…without fear or ruminating.






Amazing OCD Podcast!

I came across a beautiful couple Julie and Andy, who both dedicate time out of their life to host a podcast around OCD and Anxiety. This has been a wonderful resource for many people, and makes you realize that other people are also going through what you are. The stories of the guests will leave you inspired and encouraged. I really love their podcasts, not only do they interview people who personally are suffering with anxiety, but they speak with professionals and loved ones of sufferers giving a broader understanding of the disorder.

The link to the podcast is:



Video Journal


I suffer with anxiety and to elaborate more I suffer with OCD. In my previous blogs I speak about what OCD is, how it impacts someone, and what tools may help to combat the crippling anxiety. This week has been a tough week for me, I was experiencing a big spike in my anxiety, once the anxiety passed after a few days I was able to recalibrate and ground myself again. In this moment I wanted to create a reference point for myself for when my anxiety spikes again. I thought about how I was going to capture my ideas, and really communicate to myself in a rational way. I decided I was going to make a private video journal, in this video I would speak to my future self. I found this extremely effective because now I have a moment in time where I can refer back to and guide myself through my anxiety. Seeing myself so grounded and resilient to anxiety is truly empowering and has snapped me out of anxiously thinking. In the video I talk about my past few days of being suffocated by anxiety, I then move on to explain why it is so important to just accept the thoughts for what they are and not allow myself to label or “argue” with my anxiety. I go on to say how important it is to realize that I will never know anything with complete certainty, I wont even know what will happen 5 minutes from now. This was important for me to capture because a huge aspect of anxiety is the “what if” this happens and constantly wanting 100% certainty that it will not happen. Once that certainty is achieved at a level that my anxiety is content, it moves on to another subject matter and there in lies the vicious cycle of anxiety and obsessively wanting to achieve reassurance. In the video journal I remind myself of all the tools I have to tackle my anxiety, and I also address what anxiety is and why I am actually the one in the drivers seat not my anxiety. When anxiety takes over essentially “I” as the driver become the passenger, and it becomes very difficult to reassume the position of driver in these moments. I would highly recommend creating a video journal as a guide to help during times of anxiety provoking situations. It not only helps with combating anxiety, but it also is a great catalogue of showcasing personal growth.

Great Article about Mindfulness!

I wanted to share a great article and initiative by students of a Pittsburg university!

Students get their zen on at mindfulness fair

Will Miller | Senior Staff Illustrator

Andrew O’Brien / Staff Writer
March 27, 2017

Following the instructor’s lead Saturday, a group of students on yoga mats on the second floor of the University Club breathed deeply as they assumed happy baby and downward facing dog poses in unison.

The assembled yogis transitioned into tree pose, poised with one foot rooted on the ground and the other flat against the side of their straightened legs, hands pressed together in a prayer pose, arms stretched as high above their heads as they could go. Yoga — a spiritual and physical practice that originated in India — can strengthen the connection between mind and body by encouraging mental awareness, practitioners said Saturday.
The yoga exercises were just one part of Pitt’s Center for Mindfulness and Consciousness Studies’ second annual Mindfulness Fair Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the University Club building.

About 400 Pitt students and community members attended the event, which offered talks, family-friendly mindfulness activities including sculpting lotus flower tealight holders, yoga and tai-chi demonstrations as well as free food and various informational tables. The fair also included meditation lessons, a mindful eating workshop and a panel discussion between parents about how to teach children to be mindful.

David Givens, a Ph.D. candidate in Pitt’s department of religious studies and the associate director and co-founder of the Center for Mindfulness and Consciousness Studies, sat behind one of the informational tables distributing information about the CMCS.

Given the increasing proximity of finals week at Pitt, it’s a good time for students to learn to exhale.

According to the American Psychology Association, meditation is the most well-established form of mindfulness. A novice meditator might sit for just five minutes a day, eyes closed and focus their full attention on breathing in and out.

Concentrating on the simple, natural process of inhaling and exhaling diverts attention away from anxious thoughts and depressive rumination. It should come as no surprise that mindfulness and meditation can help those with mental illnesses.
“People find mindfulness personally and practically fulfilling,” Givens said. “A lot of evidence and reports indicate that practicing mindfulness helps reduce stress and helps boost energy levels, focus and concentration.”

A 2011 study from Duke University found that mindfulness “increased subjective well-being, reduced psychological symptoms and emotional reactivity and improved behavioral regulation.”

Mindfulness is all about living in the moment. Practitioners focus all their attention on their immediate surroundings, allowing errant thoughts to drift in and out of their brainspace.

Though mindfulness can be useful for anyone, from any background, it is a key part of religions worldwide. People seated at tables throughout the room distributed brochures about more well-known religions, such as Buddhism, and less common faiths, such as Eckankar — a new-age religion that emphasizes personal spiritual experiences as a way to get closer to God.

Mary Diodati from O’Hara Township has been practicing Eckanar for 42 years. She came to the fair to learn about other spiritual groups.

“Mindfulness brings out individuality,” Diodati said. “It brings people in touch with who they are, and shifts their focus away from trying to control other people.”

While Diodati and many others turn to mindfulness for spiritual fulfillment, some, like Pitt senior mechanical engineering major Sean McCarthy, place a higher value on the emotional benefits of practicing mindfulness.

McCarthy meditates for 20 minutes a day, and said it allows him to better understand and react to his feelings.

“I’ve reached profound moments through meditation,” McCarthy said. “You can get to the point where you’re not just being pulled around by your emotions, you’re making a choice how you react to something.”

In one of the fair’s featured talks, “The Science of Overcoming and Mastering Mental Illness via Mindfulness,” Pittsburgh-based ADHD coach Tom Menditto explained that practicing mindfulness can help treat conditions like depression and attention deficit disorder.

Engaging with his audience and all but ignoring his PowerPoint, Menditto shared stories of his personal experiences with mental illness.

“I’ve gone through this myself,” Menditto said. “I know what it’s like to suffer through depression and anxiety … when I wanted to kill myself, learning to love who I was was what brought me out if it.”

He described deep insecurity, anxiety, depression and suicidal urges he faced earlier in life, but said he’s reached a point of self-contentment through his practice. He encouraged others to embrace the parts of themselves that make them different.

“You are not who society tells you you are,” Menditto said. “Stop trying to be like other people. You were born a certain way. Be that way.”