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Overcoming OCD & Depression: My Personal Journey and Recovery by David B. White - HTML preview

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days I had with OCD.

 

All of us, at different times in our life, have succeeded at being a great parent, a musician, an athlete, an artist, or whatever.  Many live here in the United States, which is the land of opportunity and prosperity, and where you can accomplish whatever you want, no matter your
gender or creed.  So from this day forward, why not go after your dreams,
instead of being a tiring pessimist.

Many of the people with whom I have worked with have always said that they cannot
believe the energy I have and the smile I continually have on my face almost all of the
time.  

 
I have done a lot of things in my life. I’ve was a high school football
reporter for the Sun-Sentinel newspaper in Miami, Florida and later for a
newspaper in Fair Lawn, New Jersey.  When I lived in sunny South Florida, I
worked for the Florida Panthers during their inaugural season, in community
relations. I have worked for the Washington Redskins and still work today
with the Philadelphia Eagles, as a full time seasonal employee. I worked
for large companies such as MCI Telecommunications and for the Marriott
Corporation in sales and service, and I have always been able to provide for
my loving family. My optimism and zest for life allowed me to do a lot of things in my life.

We all are writing our own chapters of our lives, and we need to learn to
pat ourselves on the back once in a while for all we have done.  Once you
have healed from your depression and or OCD, go after life because, as you
know, opportunities will not just knock at your door. You have to make them
happen.

Learn to get out and smell the clean air. Lie on a beach and close your eyes
and listen to those waves crash. I have done this for over twenty years in
Avalon, New Jersey, which is the beach where I go to cleanse my soul.  We all need to 
have a place of peace and serenity that we can think about life and things we

want to accomplish. 


If you have a boat, take it to a lake, river, or a bay. Watch the fish jump,
and become one with nature.  Look up at the shining sun and the birds on
the banks and just take it in.  Go on vacation (I suggest the Florida Keys)
and see a world that you have never seen.  If you have a hobby get engrossed in doing

It and forget about the stresses of your life.

 

If you see a pretty woman or a handsome man, tell them you love the way they look. After all, who hates compliments?  Learn to be a great parent and love your babies because they are a piece of you.  Excel in sports, music, acting, working in human services, or whatever is your
passion.  Always remember that when your life ends they will bury you in
front of loved ones, and you’ll be in the ground for a very long time.

I can be an example to you, in that I had OCD as badly as some of you may
have it, and I was able to weather the storm.  At times it’s very hard, but
you will make it.  You may be depressed or really struggling in life, but be
your own captain of your beautiful and sturdy ship.  Either you can sink the
ship or drive the boat through the turbulent waves and sail into the sunny port, called
life.

                                Chapter 5  Regular Doctor Appointments

“Heaven never helps the man who will not act”- Sophocles

Because of the many years I have worked in Employee Benefits for carriers
and as a consultant, I have realized so much about the importance of good health
and mental health.  At work and at play, unfortunately, I have seen many
people struggle with drug addictions and serious medical issues, and seeing them, has
saddened me greatly.

 

I played in a football league in my hometown, and I went through the suicide
of a popular guy, who played quarterback for our team. I played on our
offensive line and protected this guy, and I was with him two nights before
he took his life.  I remember talking with him that night, asking him if he
was OK, and telling him that if he needed to talk with someone, then he
needed to do it.  I knew that he was struggling a little with the loss of a
girlfriend, but I never dreamed he would leave this world two days later. It was

my first experience of knowing someone closely and having them take their own life.

He was diagnosed as being bipolar and committed suicide during our season.
Then, within a month, his brother did the same. His brother, who also suffered from bipolar,

had two young children and a great wife, but could not deal with the death of his beloved

brother.  I attended both of their funerals and was an extremely sad time in my life.

These were two good-looking guys who were both great guys. They both made
great incomes, they had many good things going for them, but they choose
suicide.

I will never forget that time in my life, and more recently some other
people with whom I worked have chosen suicide. These men were somebody’s
son. They were somebody’s friend. I just wish that they had gotten the help
that they needed so that they would still be with us.

According to Dr. Jose Manuel Bertolote, a mental health official at the
World Health Organization in Geneva, some 20 to 60 million people try to
kill themselves each year but only about one million of them succeed.

Dr. Bertolote, also mentions that enough people succeed yearly in killing
themselves that more die every year from suicide than from war and murders,
and this sad fact is part of the reason why I’ve written this book. If you can get the help

you need and not wait, you can recover from depression but you have to be the one to

do it. 

We have a serious issue, and it has to become a priority to let people
understand that they can get help instead of committing suicide. One group
that is at particular risk for suicide is medical professionals such as
dentists, doctors, and veterinarians, because they have access to lethal
dosages of medications and know how to handle them.

Over the years, I have talked with a lot of friends and work associates, and
when they have struggled, I have not hesitated to push them to talk with
a psychologist or a doctor to understand their feelings and to take steps
toward feeling good again.

In my job, I ’ve worked with many employees at local companies and at
companies throughout the Mid-Atlantic region of the US, and have had many of them tell
me that they had not been to a doctor in years. Everyone should check in with a doctor

yearly for blood work and tests to make sure they are functioning OK. 

I remember being at a meeting at a manufacturing plan, when a gentleman stood up and
said “Insurance companies should pay me for the cost of insurance because I
have not been to a doctor in twenty years.”  I looked at this gentleman who
appeared completely worn out and extremely overweight and thought that this
was a guy who needed to see a doctor more than anyone else in the room.

He is like a lot of men,  in that they have to be half dead before they will
step through the door of a doctor’s office. It has also been my experience
that a lot of men have their pride and they believe that going to a
psychologist or to a doctor would show weakness, but this just is not true.
I really think that anyone, man or woman, suffering with health issues and
or mental conditions, has an obligation to himself or herself, to see a doctor
yearly.

I probably look at doctor’s appointment and a psychologist differently than
a lot of my male counterparts do because of being raised predominately by my
Mom and my sister, Heather.  They have always been women who made OB-GYN and
doctor appointments regularly and have really taken responsibility for their
self-care.  I am glad I was trained to take care of myself from a young age
because that training made me able to ask for help when I really needed it
later in my life.

Scheduling a yearly physical to check in with a doctor is so important to
maintain your optimal health. Particularly if you are working through depression

it is so important to have your medication updated if needed and test run on your body.

Plus, it is so important to look over your medications, and to be certain that you are taking the proper dosages for your condition because your mental health and your physical health are the
most important gifts that you have.  Whenever you go to the doctor, it is
good to ask for flu shots or cholesterol checks, heart evaluations and blood
panels to make sure you are functioning well.

I have talked with many people with OCD and other mental conditions who are
scared and confused on how to address their situations with their doctor.  I
know that until I opened up with my doctor years ago I was afraid to talk
with him about my sometimes bizarre thoughts and behaviors for fear that I
might be institutionalized or something. Most doctors if they are good people, will be there

for you and understand your fears because of going thru it with others. 

As a child, I went to the doctor countless times because I was a
hypochondriac and would sometimes truly believe that I had different
illnesses. This behavior is common among people who suffer with OCD because
they need assurance and reassurance that they are going to be all right. As I have grown

a lot of this has gone away but I do like to check in with my doctor to check in.

I swear, as a child I had cancer, brain tumors, heart problems and other
illnesses and was constantly assured that I was young and OK.  Doctors would
check me and ask why a kid as psychically fit and athletic as I was, would be
so preoccupied with being ill.  I could not always explain my actions, and
sometimes the fears and anxieties with my OCD would get the best of me. This preoccupation

with my health was the thing I obsessed most about with my OCD.   I would always seemingly apologize to the doctors and tell them that I did not know why I felt the way I did. Then, they would make me feel OK, until the next time I would go to see them.

As a part of your self-care, I strongly recommend to everyone that you see a
doctor regularly, even though you may be feeling better if you are on
medication or in therapy. Checking regularly with your doctor or psychologist will help you
continue to progress on your recovery.

Over the years, since I have not been suffering from OCD, I’ve noticed on
checkups that my blood pressure is way down and my whole body feels
great.  I have forced myself to eat better and to work out regularly, and
if you can combine those steps with your therapy and medication, you will continue to heal and to feel wonderful.


Chapter 6

Cognitive Behavioral Psychotherapy

“The only medicine for suffering, crime, and all other woes of mankind is
wisdom” - Thomas Huxley

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a form of psychotherapy that emphasizes the
important role of thinking in how we feel and what we do.
Cognitive-behavioral therapists teach that when our brains are healthy, it
is our thinking that causes us to feel and act the way we do. Therefore, if
we are experiencing unwanted feelings and engaging in unwanted behaviors, it
is important to identify the thinking that is causing those feelings or
behaviors and to learn how to replace this thinking with thoughts that lead
to more desirable reactions.  

During sessions of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, a psychologist can help a
person to realize that when he is feeling good mentally, he will realize
that his thinking can control the way he acts and feels.  The psychologist
will also work with someone with OCD, to help that person realize that when
he has unwanted thoughts, he can control what he is thinking so that he can
feel good again.

Many people with OCD, realize that they are obsessed with troubled and
horrible thoughts and that they are checking things and worrying all the
time. If a person is not comfortable with taking medication daily, she can
try Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, to see if this can lessen her OCD
symptoms.

Many people who will confide in a loved one or a spouse or friend do not
think that a psychologist can help them. I offer my experiences as evidence
of the value of talking with a mental health professional, and I strongly
urge everyone with OCD to talk about it, to stop feeling fear or
embarrassment, and to accept the fact that OCD is a disease. Without outside
help, a cure is almost impossible. So, talking with a family member or loved
one can be the important first step in admitting to yourself, that you are
hurting inside and need some help.

Talking with a loved one, spouse, or friend can also be highly valuable
because it can lead learning to talking with a therapist. Then if the therapy does
not work, the OCD sufferer can consider being put on medication, if that is needed.

Everyone’s makeup is different. Everyone has had different circumstances
that have brought on OCD, so what might be best for one might not be so good
for another. Whether it is Behavirol therapy or medication as long as the OCD symptoms

get better that is what is the most important thing.

I would tell anyone that therapy would always be the better alternative to
medications because of some of the side affects of SSRI’s.  But, as I
expressed before, I am not a doctor or psychiatrist, and those kinds of
decisions should be left to trained professionals.

When I was younger, my therapist used psychotherapy at different times.  It
allowed me to talk comfortably about my different, conflicting feelings.  
When I was not always comfortable talking about my OCD with family and
friends, I was able to confide in my therapist. My psychologist worked hard with me

in therapy, to learn to replace my unhealthy thoughts with positive and good thoughts.

I felt that some of my thoughts were a little crazy and weird, and those
thoughts and concerns were not the easiest things to talk about with the
people closest to me.  I was always comforted when I would ask my therapist
if he dealt with people who thought like I did, and he would say that of
course he did.  That would allow me to realize that I was not the only one
fighting this battle in my life.

I know when I was able to talk to a trained professional about my scary
feelings, I was always comforted that I could tell someone some of my fears
without being judged. He would then work with me, using psychotherapy, to
help me learn to control my thoughts so that I could control my actions and
behaviors.

I remember that during some of my sessions, I would sincerely feel that I was
dying of cancer or some form of a brain tumor because I feared death so
much.  My therapist explained that I was a hypochondriac and that I was too
young to be obsessing about my health.  He worked with me to understand that
I had been to the doctor and was in perfect health and that I had to help my
brain understand that. I would repeatedly under my breathe tell myself that I was healthy

and would be OK.  Once I said that enough I would seem to feel better.

One part of my brain would be saying that I was an athlete and that I was
fit and “Why did I have to waste my life obsessing about being ill?” Another
part of my brain would keep thinking that maybe I was dying and that I
should be reassured that I was not.   I loved who I was and respected myself
but why I continually beat myself up mentally was something that I never
understood.  My therapist helped me to understand why I was acting the way I
was and that understanding brought me comfort.

My psychologist Bruce, was somewhat of a father figure to me because I was
not close with my own father while I was growing up. I truly believe that that
was probably some of the reason that I developed OCD and had some of the
emotions that I had in my youth. I learned to trust this other man in my life to direct