In episode 77 I chat with Harris Goldberg. Harris is a director, writer and producer. He co-wrote the comedy Deuce Bigolow: Male Gigalo, and in 2007 wrote and directed the film NUMB, inspired by his own experiences of mental health.
I had an interesting chat with Harris about many topics. We talked about using comedy as a defence mechanism, ERP, ERP advice, fear of death, depersonalization disorder, OCD triggering depersonalization, why do I have OCD vs how do I recover from it?, pushing against anxiety with ERP, and how the uncertainty of Hollywood can fuel OCD. We also discuss why Harris writes himself into his films, lifestyle changes, daily yoga, nutrition, guilt, why living a pure kind of existence was a compulsion, opening up about mental health in Hollywood, why the media gets OCD so wrong and the importance of being kind to yourself. Enjoy!
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I want you to please know that you are never alone, there are so many people who really do understand what you are going through
I often find myself awake at night with my eyes full of tears, crying out to God asking him, “Why? Why do I have to lie here in panic, why do I have to spend every waking second of my days full of anxiety?” We can ask God that question all we want, but the whole time the answer is right there in front of our eyes. What’s the answer? The answer is that life is full of battles, hardships,and trials, life is not perfect and it was never meant to be. The sooner you realize that, the sooner you can stop asking the question why and start accepting the battle that you were given to fight, even when you feel as if you can’t fight anymore. God only gives you what you can handle and with knowing that, you can know that you can conquer any hardship that comes your way.
This past year I was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Anxiety, and Depression. I think I always knew from a young age that I dealt with these disorders, but it wasn’t until now that I decided to do something about it. If you let these disorders go unhelped they only get worse and you eventually find yourself crying out for help.
Hello My Name is Martin Garcia and I’m 20 years old (College Student). It all started in January of 2017. I was watching the show “The Excorist” and I remember in that show there was a daughter killing her mom and it was a cliff hanger and I finished the whole season of that show. After watching that show, an hour later I was watching some wrestling and I got hungry and I go to the kitchen and now it’s like 2 in the morning and I didn’t want to get yelled at by my parents so my plan was to get something to eat and run to my room. I go get an orange, since I don’t have nails, I took a knife because I didn’t know how to peel it. I’m going to the hallway and I see my parent’s room because it’s rarely closed and I was thinking “why is it closed?” and I just had a thought, one of me killing my mom and I had this feeling where I only get it when I want to do stupid stuff like jumping from couches and doing wrestling moves, and I got that daring feeling to do that to my mom so then I got scared because I first thought I was possessed but then I shook it off because I thought it wasn’t real, so next I called my girlfriend and she tells me it’s real. That’s when it really started because I didn’t sleep that day and it just was in my mind. I was waiting for it to go away but it didn’t and it lasted a while before I told my parents, it literally lasted a week before I told my parents and then the next day was the worst ever. I ended up in the emergency room and I talked to the crisis team and they helped out a little. There were days when I couldn’t take it because I had the urge to do it and I would cry at times because my life went through hell, I would still go to school but there is times when I couldn’t because of my head hurting and thoughts but I toughed it out.
So after that I went to Psychiatrist and had offered Prozac and Olanzapine and Honestly that made me feel worst, so I told him to change it to zoloft and he did. I felt a lot of better but I ended up changing psychiatrists and she put me on zoloft but more dosage. Its been better lately because I have the support of my girlfriend, she got me through it and gave me hope.
In episode 68 of the podcast I interviewed Shala Nicely. Shala is an anxiety disorders treatment specialist in Atlanta, co-founder of beyondthedoubt.com and co-author of the forthcoming book, “Everyday Mindfulness for OCD”.
I got Shala on the show to answer some of your ERP questions. I asked the community what their ERP questions were. 36 people answered, with a collective 78 questions. This is part one in answering these questions. Enjoy!
11 years old. 5th grade. That’s when it all started:
I would wake up at 5:50 on the nose. Not a minute before, not a minute after. I’d dash into the kitchen and begin making a pot of coffee for my mother. I would prepare everything the night before– the filter already filled with fresh coffee grounds, the water container already filled to the line, the spoon perfectly aligned on a fresh napkin. While waiting for the coffee to brew, I would prepare and eat my breakfast. When the coffee was finished, I’d pour it into a cup and place it to the right of my mother’s “spot” at the kitchen table, with the handle perfectly aligned to the right. By 6:05, I HAD to be finished in the kitchen and on my way to my next morning task. I’d get dressed, brush my teeth, make my bed, curl the tips of my hair, and run to the living room to start my next morning ritual. At exactly 6:30, I would turn on the television and watch QVC (the home shopping network). The show was so structured, which was appealing to me. I was fascinated as to how they could talk about one single item for an hour straight, without it seeming too repetitive or mundane. The show brought me an odd sense of comfort, which is why I let it into my life every single day. At 7:20, I would grab my backpack, head to the car, and mentally prepare myself for a day of school.
To start my day in the classroom, my pencil would be placed horizontally on the top of my desk, my composition book to the left, both perfectly aligned, of course. I sat next to the same girl all year long. She was eccentric—in both her personality and disposition. I respected her, but she was a complete mess and it drove me nuts. She’d spread her things all over her desk, would leave a mess, and fidget and chew on things. I was constantly reaching over and organizing her desk for her. Surprisingly, she never said a word. Although we were opposites, she understood me, and I understood her. We were “different”.
I am learning that I CAN have thoughts I CAN have emotions…
My Story…So far! I think back to when I was a pre teen & there is so much happening, not only physically but also mentally… This is when I first recall OCD happening to me. I was around 12 years old & I began to count & touch doors, handles, count my steps, turn off the T.V. at the “right time”. I had no idea what was happening, it all seemed innocent to me back then just a little quirk I had, I just wanted to get that “right feeling”, no big deal. As I got older and into my later teen years I will never forget this feeling… ever. I woke up one sunny morning & it was like I was HIT by a Bus (Which I actually was years later, lol!!). I had this feeling of anxiety/sweating/tightness in my whole body…All from one single THOUGHT…Am I homosexual because I did that “thing”???? Prior to this thought I had never been attracted to the same sex… Ever. It was just a thought in my head, that’s all… But for some reason it would not leave me.. It hung around for months on end, every waking minute it was there, I would try & resolve it by looking at men out in public to “check” & see if I was attracted to the same sex but that just made matters worse, I would sit and look at magazines with pictures of Men to see if I was attracted to them… It was all so confusing & scary & stressful.. before this thought my life was just going along fine, usual life stuff. How could a single thought turn my life upside down for months??? I look back now to that morning of “the thought” and with all my OCD experience and think… I was Truly living in my head… I was nowhere to be seen, just a shell of my former self, walking around the planet earth trying to find an answer out of this nightmare, only to go deeper down the “Rabbit Hole”!! The more I tried to scratch my way out of the hole the deeper I fell, every time I reacted to these thoughts & try and make sense of it all my Brain would throw another one at me.. Hey Scott what about this one?? I would try & figure that one out only to lead me onto another thought & completely forget about the first thought that popped into my head! Eventually this obsession left me, how I can’t recall? There was a brief period where I thought I was back to the old me… But I still had those underlying “quirks” of touching, counting & turning off the TV at the right time, no idea that I was keeping the OCD Beast alive in me for bigger & better things to pounce on & make my life hell again. Around 23 yrs old I went globe trotting for around 2 years, my OCD was still there unbeknownst to me, I just continued on with my “Quirks” of touching, counting, etc while I was working & traveling the World and the OCD booger not really bothering me much…. I found myself living in London England for a while with some friends, I had a job as a Gardener. It was a fun job UNTIL one day I was cleaning out a commercial garden & came across a Hypodermic Syringe… I didn’t really think much of it at the time until about 2 years later when I was working as a Gardener again back in my Homeland of Australia… Working away one Sunny morning, cleaning out a garden bed I was pricked by something prickly, usual gardening, it happens almost daily… Then all of a sudden my Brain throws up a thought…WHAT IF IT WAS A NEEDLE AND I CATCH AIDS!!!!! In an instant my Brain was going crazy with “what if’s”… Down the “Rabbit Hole” I went again, trying to scratch & kick my way out of this one…Only to find myself deeper down that Hole once more..! This Obsession has been my Nemesis over the years coming & going for the last 15 years of my life, when I was first triggered back on that Sunny morning while Gardening I began on a path of Checking, Coping, Controlling. Having HIV Blood tests A LOT over the years, I have lost count! I have to say it’s been at least 6 years since my last test, I am still alive believe it or not!!
As an OCD sufferer myself, it’s only really gotten to this point of overly obsessive and compulsive behaviour in the past two years. I realised it was OCD last year, after constantly beating myself up about being obsessed with embarrassing things. I experienced very mild OCD when young, with “do this or that would happen”, but it faded and I never really took notice. It’s only when it took the form of disturbing and distressing thoughts did I realise something wasn’t right. Even though the thoughts didn’t instigate any compulsions at first, the compulsions eventually became a way of relieving the distress brought on by these thoughts. And as you know I’m sure, as soon as I thought I was over something, the OCD has already jumped to another part of my life. For one period I didn’t want to sit on the tube, the next period I couldn’t get out of bed because I couldn’t rid a thought. Often the thoughts are hard to shake because they make me doubt my beliefs. Which is the hardest part to overcome.
Over the past 2 weeks I discovered The OCD stories on the podcast app, and it’s changed my life. I can’t even list the positive messages here as there are so many. The guests who share their experiences – from onset to recovery – really have brought this way of life into perspective. For some time now, to get my mind away from thoughts and compulsions I have written poems at times that my mind would usually wander (the underground, buses, a queue etc). They’re really true to what I go through, and now I know what many OCD sufferers go through as well. Sometimes there’s a light, and then there’s a slump. But it’s all about focusing on long term recovery. While small steps to start with are hard, the most powerful thing is to know that beneath all the OCD malarkey I know who I am and what I believe in. It’s then up to me to use that power and stop the compulsions.
almost one year after beginning recovery, but I have learned to discard them and accept them for what they are—OCD.
Before my onset of OCD, I had suffered from debilitating depression and a generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), a common trend for a recent college graduate without a clear path. Covering up depression was something I had done for years, while my panic attacks followed a near-perfect circadian rhythm as I laid down to sleep, out of earshot from any potential listeners. Nobody knew about the depression and GAD, but when I got OCD, the effects were immediate and painfully obvious to everyone around me.
Two Christmases ago, I went on a trip with my best friend and her family. We were eating out at a wonderful Italian restaurant, gabbing and laughing with my second family. Suddenly I look across the table at my best friend, thought about how nice she looked, then suddenly the thought hit me: she looks beautiful. I must be a lesbian. I immediately dropped my fork and sat there paralyzed while all the blood drained from my face and my stomach began tying itself into knots.
These feelings simmered unrelentingly for the next six months while my OCD thickened everyday. Every detail, conversation, action and relationship in my life leading up to that point was examined endlessly through this new lens. Here are just a couple of the millions of intrusive thoughts that took over my life, dictating my every word and action.
I can’t step in my closet to pick out clothes because then I would officially be “in the closet” and therefore I am secretly gay.