OCD FAQ: Is OCD chronic? 

No. But mental health is.

It was July, 2010 and I had just a couple weeks left to stay in Canada. My summer was spent scouring for my first job after doing my Master’s Degree. A few interviews and over a hundred applications later—and I never felt so far away from getting anything close to a job. I knew after the first couple months of searching and not getting anything, that it was going to be a tough ride. I was worried about not getting a job, but even more worried that I would have to leave Canada. That meant breaking up my relationship with my then-girlfriend, now my wife (yay! there’s a good ending to this) Daniela

Those few months were some of the most stressful I’ve had in my life, mostly because I was so afraid of failing. I felt sort of let down that all my years of hard work in school didn’t secure me a job. Having a degree shouldn’t necessarily equal a job, but I sure thought it would’ve been easier. But 2010 was one of the hardest years of the recent economic depression, and I had to cope with the fact that I might not get what I wanted. It was safe to say the future was pretty unknown and everything looming around us.

I applied for almost everything that my designer’s skill set could be applied to. After awhile, it didn’t matter whether it was an internship, part-time, or full-time—I was just trying to stay and get something going. So I’d treat every day searching for jobs like it was a job itself. I woke up early, brushed up my resume, followed up with ones I applied to weeks before…but there’s only so much you can do with that after a point. I started doing what was perhaps even more important, now that I look back on it. 

Those few months, while full of fear of failing—were also probably some of the most creative ones I had. Every day, after I was done applying to jobs, I made sure I did two things: exercise, and work on something completely new. Daniela and my family were big supports to me with this stuff, and I’m so lucky to have them encourage me to this day. I made music, photographed, drew, wrote, painted—and sometimes combined a bunch of that stuff together to make new things. Somehow, having this huge amount of stress gave me a huge amount of inspiration. I guess I found a bunch of ways to show that through in my work at the time. I remember every day feeling completely exhausted from the stress and creativity, but it definitely made me feel a little more ‘alive’ than being caught up on reconfiguring my resume all the time.

On my last week, I applied to a job I never thought I’d get because I had spent that time doing so many applications and trying out new creative stuff, that I thought it didn’t matter. Near the end of the week, I ended up taking the job—just in the nick of time. Maybe it was timing, maybe it was luck, but I ended up getting something that kept me here in Canada to start building the life I wanted. And while I think my fear of failure was a bit overkill, I think it was necessary to push me to do things I wouldn’t normally do. I was reminded that feeling out of control, and a little vulnerable can be good to inspire you in new ways. And that sometimes it’s worth even that little period of frustration I had, to make something beautiful happen later in life.

- Matt

photo by Gurbir Grewal

Recovery is a lifestyle, not a lobotomy or a magic potion. It’s not a terminal destination. Taking care of your physical health is something you can do every day just like taking care of your mental health is something you can do every day. You wouldn’t expect a person to go to the gym once, transform into a bodybuilder, and never have to visit the gym again. That’s not how physical health works. And it’s not how mental health works, either.
I recently read a post where someone said they had no idea they were depressed until they started treatment so It got me thinking, how does one know? Is It only possible to be sure after going to a doctor or are there some "universal" symptoms like with physical illnesses? Sorry to bother but reading that post freaked me out a bit, I already suffer of ocd and could never stand the thought of facing another mental illness
everybodyhasabrain everybodyhasabrain Said:

Chasing certainty about illness is a typical OCD symptom. But it’s possible to recover from OCD and put that behind you, so since you already know that’s something you’re struggling with, that’s an issue you can take steps to overcome.

Rather than focusing on what’s wrong or what could be wrong, it can be effective to focus on where you want to go. Pouring your energy into what you want to see instead of what you don’t want to see can be a much healthier and more positive experience. On the path to achieving your goals and going where you want to go, you’ll overcome challenges along the way, like OCD, but that’s just a challenge to overcome. It’s not something that defines you and it’s not your destination.

You’ll always have mental health, just like you’ll always have physical health. And depending on the context you live in and the decisions you make each day, your physical and mental health will vary along a spectrum. If you go to a doctor and insist on getting a diagnosis for some mental illness, they’ll give you a diagnosis—that’s what they do. But you’ll still just have mental health, like everybody else, and no diagnosis or any other label has to be a barrier to where you want to go in life unless you let it become one.

- Mark

Beat OCD Tip#11: Have Feelings

Learning to experience feelings and not judge them or try to control them is an incredibly useful skill to learn on the recovery journey.



White matter is one of the two components of the central nervous system and consists mostly of glial cells and myelinated axons that transmit signals from one region of the cerebrum to another and between the cerebrum and lower brain centers. White matter tissue of the freshly cut brain appears pinkish white to the naked eye because myelin is composed largely of lipid tissue veined with capillaries. Its white color is due to its usual preservation in formaldehyde.

White matter is composed of bundles of myelinated nerve cell processes (or axons), which connect various grey matter areas (the locations of nerve cell bodies) of the brain to each other, and carry nerve impulses between neurons. Myelin acts as an insulator, increasing the speed of transmission of all nerve signals.

Image: White matter structure of human brain (taken by MRI).

Ugh beautiful

It’s a brain roadmap or a jellyfish that lives in your skull.

Rome wasn’t built in a day and recovering from an anxiety disorder is not so quick either.

If you’re building a city, you want to have a logical sense of direction and progression. You first make sure you have power and water. Then you decide where different types of buildings go. You build the foundations, the framework, and ultimately the building goes up. You repeat this multiple times and with great urban planning you can find that you’ve built a city that flows very nicely, that you can move around in easily, and one that is resilient in the face of storms and earthquakes, hopefully!

But the city didn’t start out that way, it took time. It took steps. Small steps at first, and then larger and larger steps when you had a nice foundation to work with.

Recovery from anxiety disorders works the same way. You can think of it as building up good habits and helpful behaviors that will ultimately allow you to weather whatever storms will pass through you. But a resilient you, just like a resilient city, happens in steps. You build upon these steps one at a time until you realize that you don’t need to rely on compulsive behaviors or excessive thinking to help you along anymore.

When I started recovery, I thought I had to just stop all my unhelpful behaviors that made me feel safe and in control all at once. What ended up happening is that without a sense of direction or recognizing exactly how intensive it is to cut out compulsive behaviors, I just found myself in a whirlpool of constant anxiety and heightened uncertainty. Constant. I felt way worse than before, and I even started developing NEW unhealthy behaviors because of this. I began to think something was wrong with my body and maybe I was deficient in some brain chemical that was preventing recovery from working and making me worse than before.

Months of feeling like this went by before it dawned on me that I might have bit off more than I could chew at once. Cutting out rumination and food avoidance, my two biggest compulsive behaviors, at once while also cutting out small compulsions was just way too difficult. The constant anxiety made it difficult to even properly break ONE compulsive habit. I made the decision to start small and work on one unhelpful compulsion at a time, which made recovery totally manageable and not overwhelming while still being challenging (which is a good sign!)

Doing so made me realize that I had not built any foundations. My city had no power or water. The buildings were being built on dirt. Some buildings were scattered in random locations, half-finished. This is what recovery felt like when I tried to do everything at once.

So now, I’m working on my foundations. The steps get bigger and bigger, but my ability to take the next step gets better and better. Build a city you would want to live in. Be the person that you know you want to take the time and patience to become.

- Kamran

I remember reading in a book that successful people actually fail more than unsuccessful people. They try more times, until they eventually succeed, I think was the logic behind it.