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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So to everyone out there fighting, welcome to the team. We’re all in this together.
I’ve always loved writing. There’s something great about getting your thoughts down on paper (or on screen as the case may be).
Unfortunately, my OCD has infused writing with a great deal of anxiety. This is because of my fear of plagiarism. When I write, my mind can become flushed with a major, blown-out-of-proportion, completely irrational fear that I am stealing someone else’s words and ideas. I could literally be typing down something that happened to me this morning, and part of me would doubt that it was my idea. Anytime I think of something super clever, a big part of me doubts that it was really original and often I am afraid to share it as my own.
This fits in with one of my main OCD worry themes: dishonesty. I hate the idea of stealing, cheating, or otherwise misrepresenting what is mine. This fear easily flows into the writing process. If I find an article that sparks an idea, I wonder if my idea is too close to what I had read.
I try to share my story at every possible opportunity through my writing or through talks, such as my TED talk
What do I write?
This should be an easy question, because as a writer, I should be bursting with so many ideas that I would never be able to complete all of them. But when someone asks me about my OCD, or I have to write a piece on it, I wonder…what part am I supposed to talk about? How am I supposed to convey the enormousness of my experience into whatever little space or time I’m provided? How do I talk about something that has been with me for as long as I can remember, that is as natural as breathing yet as unnatural as that choking, stifling loss of breath that occurred every time the obsessions became too much.
I was a very emotional kid, and being emotional and constantly absorbed in forms of escape that didn’t involve hitting any kind of ball was looked down upon when you were a boy. The OCD started out then, and grew with me. I was terrified of everything, constantly on the watch; filled with thoughts I had no control over, having to suppress urges and desires that were repulsive and destructive.