Exploring and understanding OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)

When referring to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, there seems to be a very common misconception among society: that it is simply an odd or erratic behavior, which masks the seriousness of the illness. According to Wikipedia, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is “an anxiety disorder characterized by intrusive thoughts that produce uneasiness, apprehension, fear or worry (obsessions), repetitive behaviors aimed at reducing the associated anxiety (compulsions), or a combination of such obsessions and compulsions”. An individual suffering from OCD may exhibit odd or erratic behavior, but there is a reason; they are doing so to try and prevent intrusive thoughts or alleviate their anxiousness. The afflicted individual may act in this manner because they feel it will circumvent what they deem a potentially life-threatening or catastrophic event.

The repetitive actions that afflicted individuals makes are called compulsions and may take form in a variety of ways, but generally can be referred to as: a repetitive, compulsive action performed by the afflicted individual which usually adheres to a pattern. Some of the compulsions may be: constantly checking an object to make sure it is in order (adhering to a pattern), hoarding various goods (such as perishable items, news papers, etc.) and organizing them in a certain manner, adhering to a pattern (alphabetically, by expiry date, by weight, etc.) or; excessive cleanliness, stemming from fear of contamination (contracting germs). These are some but not all of the potential compulsions an individual may exhibit.

OCD is also usually accompanied with one of the other various mental illnesses (anxiety, depression, etc.) which has the unfortunate side effect of exacerbating the accompanied illness, making it quite difficult to diagnosis. If anyone feels as though they have been experiencing symptoms of OCD or any other mental illness, or even simply have further questions about mental illness in general, please contact your local Mental Health Association or a medical health professional

In closing, I would like to share with you all this video. It gives more insight as to what OCD really is and the ramifications it can have on an individual’s life.

Exploring life from the perspective of a homeless addict

While thinking about what to write today, I stumbled upon this video and thought it would be better than anything I could post today. This man has been homeless for 20 years. Please check out the video below – what he says may be of use to someone.

Exploring and understanding Depression

Often times, society is perplexed about what depression is and ends up correlating it with sadness, which is not only incorrect, but also hinders understanding what depression truly is.

As with all things, we must define what it is before we can delve further into understanding it. According to Dictionary.com, depression is “a condition of general emotional dejection and withdrawal; sadness greater and more prolonged than that warranted by any objective reason”. Depression is a prolonged state of mind, whereas sadness is an emotion, which can (and usually does) accompany depression. The feeling of sadness is completely different when a depressed individual experiences the emotion. It is amplified tenfold, to the point where the individual feels hopeless, dejected or eternally unhappy.

Depression is unique in this regard. Because it is a state of mind, it takes time to onset, meaning the individual has to be exposed to certain external stimuli to invoke a certain thought pattern. Some of these external stimuli are: loss of a loved one, isolation from friends/family/activities you enjoy, a particular argument with a significant other or even constant exposure to stress. After prolonged exposure to a certain stimulus, an individual starts to develop negative thinking patterns, becoming hyper-critical of oneself, setting unrealistic expectations for them self, which eventually evolves into the individual feeling jealousy, sadness, anger, anxiousness, hopelessness, etc.

Not only does depression impact the mental aspect of an individual’s life, it impacts their social life and physical well-being. When depressed, an individual may experience lethargy beyond anything experienced before, causing them to not want to do anything but stay at home and lay in bed. This causes social withdrawal, leading to poor self-care, adding fuel to the depressive cycle. Individuals can therefore be depressed for months, or even years if they do not seek assistance, which may lead to suicidal ideation or even suicide attempts. With this information, we can therefore ascertain that depression is not sadness – it is something much more terrifying and disturbing.

Depression is not inevitable; there are preventative measures one can take. Some of them are, but are not limited to: eating healthy and exercising, getting a proper amount of sleep, taking time out of one’s day to relax and analyze what has happened (managing stress), and allocating time to recreational activities (video games, friend outings, date nights, etc.). If anyone feels that they’ve experienced a prolonged period of intense sadness that isn’t what they believe warranted, please seek medical assistance. Depression is treatable if help is sought. Nobody needs to suffer in silence when there are treatment options available.

Exploring and understanding Anxiety

This week’s subject of focus will be mental illness – specifically the types of mental illness. We will be exploring several of them in depth; however, the first we will be covering is anxiety.

As with all things, we need to define what it is in order to be able to understand it. According to Webster, anxiety is “an abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear often marked by physiological signs (such as sweating, tension, and increased pulse), by doubt concerning the reality and nature of the threat, and by self-doubt about one’s capacity to cope with it”.  This definition in itself is a good explanation of what anxiety is, but it doesn’t explain why people become anxious.

Anxiety is always triggered by a certain stress in an individual’s life. Like all stress, if not dealt with, it can compound upon itself in the subconscious, manifesting into anxiety over time if not recognized and dealt with. When a stress manifests into anxiety, it is an experience quite unlike any other. The symptoms for each individual may vary, and they can be very debilitating. The most common symptoms are: feeling of impending doom/general uneasiness, sleeping issues, heart palpitations, muscle spasms/tension, cold/sweaty extremities and potentially dizziness. Other symptoms may include: feelings of going insane/losing your mind, derealisation (feeling detachment from reality/self or a continued perception of reality being “unreal”), suicidal ideation/tendencies, etc. As one can imagine, these symptoms can be quite terrifying. Usually when an individual experiences anxiety, they are unable to properly communicate their thoughts – they are so focused on the particular anxiety that they’re unable to focus on anything else. The key to combating anxiety is to manage stress efficiently so that it is unable to manifest into something that one cannot cope with.

To help manage anxiety, an individual should be aware of what is stressing them and why. As with all thoughts, anxious thoughts begin with an external stimulus. Being aware of what and why a thought is stressing you allows you to deal with it before it can manifest into something unmanageable. It should be noted that anxiety is never a flaw or personal weakness – it is merely a thought that has lingered too long in the subconscious. In addition to external stimuli inducing anxiety, drugs like alcohol, caffeine, marijuana or cocaine may also exacerbate certain anxious thoughts, bringing them from a dormant to active stage, or amplifying the intensity of a currently active anxiety. This is not to say that all anxiety is bad. Anxiety can help an individual out in dangerous situations, giving adrenaline for intense focus (think near-hit collision while driving).

If one feels like they are suffering from anxiety and unable to cope, awareness is not an immediate cure, but definitely a step in the right direction – please seek help from a medical professional. Medication and other methods have been proven to help treat anxiety. Awareness, although not a cure to anxiety, is a great tool in managing and preventing it. Practicing awareness isn’t a skill one masters over night – it may take months or even years for an individual to effectively utilize.

The science of awkwardness

This week’s final video will be from one of my favorite channels, a YouTuber who calls himself Vsauce. The video delves into understanding awkwardness and it’s relationship to society.

I thank all of those who have followed, liked and read this blog so far. If you have any comments or suggestions, feel free to leave them below.

Have a wonderful weekend and see you all next week.