Topic: OCD

Author Alison Dotson Tells Blisstree The Truth About OCD—And If Girls Gets It Right

Author Alison Dotson Tells Blisstree The Truth About OCD—And If Girls Gets It Right

There’s been a flurry of attention about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, or OCD, lately, largely because the HBO show Girls. Hannah Horvath, the character played by Lena Dunham, has struggled with the disorder for the past few episodes, making OCD a topic of conversation for bloggers, critics and casual viewers alike. While some critics have called the appearance of OCD in Hannah’s life unbelievable, others have praised the show for its nuanced, realistic portrayal of a young woman with the anxiety disorder. To learn even more about what it’s like to live with this condition, we talked to Alison Dotson, author of Being Me with OCD: How I Learned to Obsess Less and Live My Life, a book for teens due out this October. Alison tells us more about life as a young woman with OCD (and no, it’s not all hand washing and light flicking). More »

I Live With a Hoarder and I Don’t Recommend It

I Live With a Hoarder and I Don't Recommend It

It’s all well and good to recreationally and voyeuristically watch compulsive hoarders do their disturbing thing on national cable TV (A&E’s Hoarders, TLC’s Hoarding: Buried Alive), but it’s quite another thing to actually live with a hoarder. I should know. I do. Well, sort of. My husband isn’t a hoarder (more like neat freak). Neither is our cat (who’s just fat). I don’t know about our soon-to-arrive in-utero baby, but I’m hoping that he or she won’t emerge with any reality-TV-worthy hoarding tendencies.

No, the offending party is our landlord of several years, who lives just one floor below us in what was originally the parlor floor of a 19th-century brownstone building.

By all appearances, this person seems completely “normal.” Our landlord is (as far as I know) an upstanding citizen with a very respectable job (aside from being our landlord), and interesting creative and cultural hobbies outside of work. He’s well-dressed. We even belong to the same gym. More »

Hoarding: Emotionally Unhealthy — and Potentially Deadly

Hoarding: Emotionally Unhealthy -- and Potentially Deadly

Last night’s season finale of Hoarding: Buried Alive really made me mad. Not because I particularly care that Maggie, a mother of three almost-adult children, chooses to live in filth and squalor with dangerous (and potentially deadly) furniture avalanches poised to happen at any moment. (Although I did feel sorry for her.) And not because no one can walk through Maggie’s house; they literally have to tunnel through it. And not because she has hundreds of chairs stacked all around her house (often at great heights), and yet no one is able to actually sit on any of them — ever.

I got mad because Maggie is literally putting her 19-year-old son Justin’s life in jeopardy. And I’m not talking about the severe emotional trauma that can result from living with a hoarder (including but not limited to: anger, depression, anxiety, OCD, isolation, fear of bringing friends to the house, abandonment issues). Though she’s certainly contributing to that. I’m referring to the fact that Justin suffers from a condition called spontaneous pneumothorax, which means that at least one of his lungs has collapsed and may well collapse again in the future. When your lung collapses, it’s wickedly and searingly painful. You feel like you can’t breathe (because you can’t). You often need major surgery, an extended hospital stay, a painful chest tube, and hopefully, morphine, which is exactly what happened to Justin. I know these details because one of my sisters lives with a rare, terminal lung disease called LAM, which has caused both of her lungs to completely collapse and require major surgery more times than I care to count. Which is also why Maggie’s refusal to accept and deal with her hoarding problem really pissed me off. More »

TLC’s Extreme Couponing Is No Friend of Earth Day

TLC's Extreme Couponing Is No Friend of Earth Day

Have you seen this new TLC show called Extreme Couponing? Episodes are 30 minutes long, and I caught most of one last night. (I told you; sometimes I watch a lot of TV, though usually while I’m doing other things.) It’s part reality show, part addiction analysis, and part strangely fascinating yet terrifying window into the way some people choose to live their lives. (Much like Hoarding: Buried Alive, another TLC reality show that had its season finale last night.) But Extreme Couponing is certainly no friend of Earth Day, Week, or Month. I mean, seriously, who needs 200 plastic mustard bottles in their home at one time?

For some reason, I always associate people who are very into “couponing” (I didn’t know it was a gerund) with being into crafting or scrapbooking. While I was growing up, my mom, a hardcore knitter, would occasionally present a coupon or two to the check-out lady at our grocery store (I’m one of eight children), but only if the coupon was worth at least $.75 or a dollar. (Mrs. Egan didn’t have a lot of time to waste on anything less.) And, now that I think about it, my mom did store her scant coupon collection in a kitchen drawer that also held Scotch tape dispensers, several pairs of scissors, colorful rubber band, and gum. But oftentimes there were more packs of gum than there were coupons. Which is why my mom would never make it onto an episode of Extreme Couponing. More »

6 Celebrities Who Are Honest About Their Depression to Help Others

6 Celebrities Who Are Honest About Their Depression to Help Others

Look, Catherine Zeta-Jones isn’t the only Hollywood superstar to make a public statement about the fragile state of her mental health, and she likely won’t be the last. While I applaud CZJ for not equating being diagnosed with bipolar disorder with shame or negativity, long before her recent revelatory statement to the press on her way to rehab, there have been plenty of other luminaries who’ve taken advantage of their high-profile nature and used the unfortunate circumstances of their depression to help eliminate the societal stigma surrounding it for the benefit of others. Click through our gallery of Hollywood celebrities who have been brave and honest enough about their depression in an effort to help those who feel they have no voice battle their own mental health issues: More »

10 Ways to Tell Someone the Painful Truth

10 Ways to Tell Someone the Painful Truth

Painful truths are always difficult to tell and hear; if they weren’t, they’d call them no-problem-o truths. I recently had to confront this dilemma in the form of telling someone close to me that their breath has been chronically very, very bad for a while, and that I’m worried about this issue for health reasons, and would they please consider making an appointment with a dentist and/or regular doctor ASAP? The reason I felt that I needed to tell this painful truth wasn’t because I was smelling the offending breath all the time. (I wasn’t; the other person and I don’t live in the same state.) It was because chronic bad breath can be a sign of advanced tooth decay, which can lead to serious infections of the blood. (Bad breath can also be a sign of ongoing reflux.) I love this person, so I don’t want this person to die. And I certainly don’t want them to die of a totally preventable blood infection. Now, this kind of painful truth truly is tough to navigate and negotiate; and I’m not sure if being emotionally close to the person makes spilling the goods (or bads) easier or harder. (I ended up spilling mine via email, which seems to have worked fairly well so far, but we’ll see.) Still, I wanted to ask a professional for their take on this touchy subject. Enter M.D. and board-certified psychiatrist Dale Archer, who talked to me about when and how to go about breaking bad or really uncomfortable news to someone you care about. Plus, he gave us ten techniques to help make telling a painful truth a lot more bearable for the other person — and ourselves. More »

Having Trichotillomania and OCD Does Not Mean You’re Crazy

Having Trichotillomania and OCD Does Not Mean You're Crazy

The other day I asked you a serious question. Poll: What’s Your Nervous OCD Habit? (Most of you gave serious answers like leg-shaking, followed by hair-pulling, and then nail-biting.) Personally, I’ve played with, tugged on, and actually pulled out my hair to varying degrees since I was little. (And over the years I’ve noticed that lots of the women in my family do the very same thing.) I guess because I don’t have bald spots (yet!), I never actually thought of this quirky little compulsive hair-pulling habit as trichotillomania (cool name, less-cool condition), but apparently it is — at least according to a mental health expert or two I’ve consulted in the past. But because I know that this is an area of expertise for Dr. Dale Archer, an M.D. board-certified psychiatrist, I wanted to get his take on just what our bad, nervous, OCD habits like trichotillomania mean for our overall state of mental health. (Also, I wanted him to tell me that pulling my hair doesn’t make me crazy, which he kind of did! Thanks, Doc.)
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Poll: What’s Your Nervous OCD Habit?

Poll: What's Your Nervous OCD Habit?

Full disclosure: I have my fair share of bad, nervous/OCD habits that are anxiety-related. I have an eyebrow thing, a hair thing, and a re-checking door locks thing (only at night, and only in certain places). Oh, and then there’s that leg thing I do. However, I prefer to think of these as charming idiosyncracies. A close friend of mine does this weird OCD ritual when he eats dinner out in a restaurant which involves flicking his hand a certain way three times after every bite. (I guess I shouldn’t call his habit weird, though; I mean, remember my eyebrow thing.) The point is that we all do odd habitual things at certain points in our lives for whatever reasons (stress and anxiety among them). We’ll be talking more on Blisstree in the near future about OCD-related habits (including an upcoming post about trichotillomania with Dr. Dale Archer), but in the meantime, now that I’ve shared a few of my infamous, let’s say, quirks, it’d be nice if you did the same by taking our poll. And you have the luxury of remaining anonymous. But whatever you do, don’t let our little poll make you more anxious and nervous; we’re just here to help.

Sorry! This poll is now closed.

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