Friday, June 3, 2011

It's Time...The OCD Post

Well dear readers one thing I have always tried to be with you is honest. This blog...while being an outlet for sharing information about gay rights and marriage equality, is also about the personal lives of our family and lately you may have noticed that the posts are becoming farther and farther apart. In part, this has been due to the fact that we lead rather busy lives but...I have also been suffering from a prolonged period of writers block. While I have always agonized over my writings, I have never before had such a hard time looking out at the world and finding inspiration to talk about...I just can't feel the fire.  This is because there is something in my mind that has literally dominated my thoughts for a couple of months now that pushes everything else out of my mind...and something I have only just begun to deal with....I have OCD. Circumstances have become such that I feel I need to talk about much for myself as for those who may need to hear this.

Bear with me...this going to be a long one..

I have been diagnosed and begun treatment for my OCD though It has been wreaking havoc in my mind..and life...for more than six years. I have been scared to death to write this post for a very long time. I have written, rewritten, and deleted the words many times already. People with any form of mental illness suffer from so much stigmatization and I am just as afraid of writing these words on this page as I was to come out as gay for the very first time. You fear judgement because you already judge yourself and you fear losing the support of those you let in, even though you are doing nothing more than opening a door to let them see you more clearly. My hope in telling my story is to help others who may be suffering in silence as I have educate others by sharing my experience.....and to slay the dragon that has been  holding mythoughts and words hostage and robbing the joy from life.

The first thing you should know is that OCD is a brain disorder that can have many different symptoms depending on each individuals psychological makeup. It begins in the part of your brain that controls your fear response. For reasons yet unknown to science, that part of our brains is stuck in the "on" position and our brains are constantly being flooded with fear messages. How those messages manifest depends on the person. Here are just a few of the ways OCD can screw with you:

Checkers:....Some people repetitively check the locks on their doors and windows  because they are never sure...100% certain...that they are locked and any doubt means that it may not have been done and someone might get in and kill them and their family. The constant checking is a way of trying to assure protection for them and those they love. It is the same with people who obsessively check their stove knobs to make sure they are off and that they are not going to burn the house down. Still others constantly check to make sure that they have every item that they Will ever need for any contingency that may ever happen in life before they can leave home for the day. Any or all of these rituals can torment the sufferer and keep them caught seeking that feeling of 100% assurance for hours before they can move on. To just walk away is tantamount to the anxiety of feeling as if they really had been responsible for causing those things.

Some of us count....The OCD tells them that their are "bad numbers" and "good numbers" and that the good ones have protective qualities while the bad ones can lead to harm. So the sufferer may count silently in their heads trying to end on a "good number"...either to protect themselves or someone they love. This usually happens in their heads and those around them have no idea what is going on because it is all happening in their head while they are going about their regular day. Some people may count objects in the room...or the pages in the books they read...or anything that life requires they interact with.
We are all familiar with Contamination OCD from shows like Monk. People with Contamination themes will fear touching everyday objects for fear of catching...or giving someone else...a disease, or spreading a contaminate that they fear. Contaminates can be anything...germs, semen(yes its true), battery acid. feces, HIV....whatever your OCD latches onto. People with contamination themed OCD may have a panic attack if required to sit in a chair in a doctors office or shaking a business clients hand...or receiving a simple hug from a friend.

There are many other forms, like hoarding... but one thing that needs to be understood is that OCD uses what's most important to you...what you love..and uses it against you. A person can have more than one symptom and furthermore...a symptom that might torture you for ten years can fade away and then morph into a whole different set of symptoms. It really does not fight fair.

My personal symptoms are intrusive thoughts of a religious nature that constantly challenge whether or not I am a good person. I have had Blasphemous thoughts about GOD that I can not control and has left me wishing I could unscrew my brain for a while just to find relief. It is hard for me to give specifics but I will do my best not to shrink from it. I have seen people with a variety of differing kinds of OCD break down and cry when describing the thought process of why they do what they's horribly embarrassing to face it say the words out loud. While you know that what you are feeling isn't real or rational...your brain is constantly sending you the message that if you aren't alarmed. something bad will happen..or that you might BE bad. In my case...and to give an example of something that is happening right in this hand is resting comfortably on my mouse...yet some part of my brain keeps trying to draw attention to my middle finger and because the back of my hand is pointed "up" the thought tells me that maybe I am flipping GOD off.....something I would never...EVER do. And yes...that is the type of irrational thought that is typical of pair that up with a adrenaline hit of fear and a persistent doubt that defies common sense and you may be getting the picture.

At this point it's o.k. to go ahead and laugh. you made it this far, you deserve a break. I sometimes refer to myself as a nutball because I have to laugh or I will break under it. I have been fighting OCD for about six years on my own. I did not tell my husband because I was too ashamed. No one knew because I could keep it all in my head where only I had to be tortured by it. It is only in the last three months that I have opened up..first to my husband..and then to get help. Doing so has helped me see how far back OCD really goes in my life and how I inherited it from my family. I had come to the realisation that I simply could not be alone in my head with it anymor. The most often heard quote I hear is, "why don't you just stop?" If only it were so easy. We have tried and continue to try everyday, but imagine it like this...take something that matters to you almost more than life itself. Now imagine that someone invisible keeps putting a picture of that someone being tortured in an unimaginable fashion and then tells you that this is happening right now...unless you go check the stove knobs, or check the front door lock, or wash you hands, keep every scrap of paper, pray in an exact way, etc. You might feel alarm yes? The mere chance that what you see in that image MIGHT be true is enough to keep you engaged. That's how it is with OCD. It uses our inability to 100% disprove our obsession as a justification for the fear...and thus the ritual that it demands to counteract the fear.

For me, that ritual has been prayer. It began when hearing other people say the very common phrase "Oh my GOD". I had been raised in a home in which that phrase was taught to be wrong with a capitol "W" and saying it would earn a harsh reaction...first from my parents..then the intimation that GOD was angry with me. Today as an adult I can't tolerate that comes with a flash of fear. The OCD thought is that if I don't do something to oppose that action...taken by someone else...than I am complicit in it. Now, I hold no judgement for that person...what I am experiencing is OCD telling me I need to feel responsible and do something about it or I will be punished. Irrational...yes...OCD?....totally.

And to those who claim that this is an indictment against religion should stop for a second and ask themselves if checking door knobs is an indictment against doors or if obsessive hand washing is a condemnation of personal hygeine. It's OCD, not religion. OCD grabs us wear it's going to hurt us the those things that  mean something to us. Our worth as a human beings...the protection of our families...our safety in the world..these are all things that OCD uses precisely because they mean so much to us. It begins with a part of our brains that wont turn off, that's the biological it touches our lives depends on what motivates us as individuals. Some people obsessively doubt their partners fidelity or whether or not they really love their family. OCD will grab anything and shove it into your brain repeatedly until you can't function anymore.

The treatment for OCD is usually a combination of meds and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. For reasons of my own I don't wish to go on meds...I admit that I am afraid of them. I am afraid of the big ups and downs in mood that some people report, I am afraid of the many side effects(including lack of sex drive), and finally..I am afraid to find relief through artificial means. If I am taking the meds, then is it me that's getting better or the drugs fabricating a new me that would vanish the moment the meds were stopped?...that's a question I can not answer. However, everyday that goes by and I fail in beating this thing, it brings me a little bit closer to accepting the meds as an option.

 CBT(Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) in a nutshell, involves facing what we fear with the goal of desensitizing yourself to the fear. Our prayers, lock checking, organizing, and washing are all forms of protecting ourselves from something that frightens us very deeply. They serve as a form of protection and as a result provide a very short term relief from the obsessive fear...that is, until the obsession is triggered again and the cycle starts over ensuring a nonstop torture ride that the sufferer can not get off of without help. The key with CBT is not to run away from our fears, which is what performing the compulsions represent...but to run toward them. For Contamination people that may mean touching a doorknob without washing for a few minutes after ward and gradually working up the scale of stuff that scares the shite out of you until OCD has nothing left to scare you with. For me it means not saying the prayers that may say something blasphemous....or writing out my fears and reading them out loud to myself(this is my current homework). I have been really struggling with doing this because I don't want to do something that actually IS wrong....oh well, no one said recovery would be easy.

My prayers have been a way of trying to tell GOD that I would never do things like I detailed above. Yet, no sooner is one prayer fired off than a new "bad thought" takes it's place and I feel like I have to do it all over again. It's crippling my ability to live my life and the time spent saying silent prayers in my head is time I am not talking to my husband...who does not quite grasp the "have to" feeling that OCD creates in us. There has been much resentment because of how much I am in my head doing this. Time spent in prayer keeps me from being the dad I really want to be. The stress has made my memory absolute crap. Even though I am not locked away in a room, I am locked away in my head. Everyday I feel ashamed of this...I sometimes literally want to remove my head to stop feeling constantly afraid of things I can never prove to be untrue. These obsessions even run counter to what I really believe spiritually...yet it's all my children will see as an example and that is killing me.  And even though I have to deal  with this, I am profoundly grateful for the life I have been given. I would not give up the love I know because of some stupid thoughts I can not get rid of that tell me every day that I am only worthy of hell. I just have to ride out the bad moments and remember that it's OCD....and to leave the judgements behind...especially if I am not always strong enough to fight it off.

Lately there have been alot of people around me who are asking themselves suicide questions. You know the kind that say "why am I alive?", "Wouldn't it make me feel better to be dead and do the world a great big favor?" In a word...."NO!" Those conversations are why I am writing this. So many people are suffering and looking to that as a way out of pain....I get it. I am lucky to have the advantage of a husband who loves me and kids I adore and want to protect. But there are times in our lives when we all feel as if we are more a drain on the world and those we love than a light within it...nothing could be further from the truth. Some days we may have to fight....and our happily ever afters may not be perfect...but we keep moving on for that day when we can not imagine leaving and missing out on something truly amazing. Those moments do happen. I have been there before, I am there now, and I know that I will be there again...feeling awful is only a short vacation in between.

I hope that this post helps people realise that there are people who may struggle with mental illness all around you. They may be your coworkers, parents...or friends. Knowing that does not make them broken or something to fear. Its just life..and the stuff that happens to us all. I hope it helps those who suspect that they have a problem like OCD to realise they are not alone and it's o.k. to talk about it. I hope it helps people understand that no life is perfect and even imperfect lives can contain a lot of love and reasons to enjoy and be thankful for life. I hope it helps others learn a little more about OCD. I hope it helped me take a step closer to slaying the dragon that has kept me from thinking about anything else but what it demands. I am done fighting him alone....but I am not done fighting.

Until next time dear readers.....


  1. I wish you peace. It was very courageous of you to share this post with the world. I've had a student this year who is diagnosed with both OCD and ADHD. He's a wonderful child and reading this gives me even more hope for him in his future.

  2. I've got it too. But it is manageable without meds. Mine used to be really bad (everything had to be at right angles from the edge of the desk, vacuum rug marks had to be perfectly even). It's baggage but it's baggage you can unpack one behavior at a time and it gets lighter with each piece you remove.

  3. O my Bryan
    That was an incredible post for you to write, Congrats on actually posting it...
    I use to work with a young women that I thought may be OCD but never really got up the nerve to ask her in case I insulted her for even thinking it... it was the little things that made me wonder... she just had to have all the boxes that were stacked on the pallets totally straight she use go behind me a re-straighten the boxes cos I hadn't done it properly .... other people use to complain about these little things but I just thought that they made her who she was. So in hindsight maybe she has a form of OCD but other people at work were very critical of her 'quirks'.
    anywoo wonderful post and stay strong in yourself

  4. Stay strong Bryan. You rock for sharing this. :) Have you ever experienced OCD and depression as linked? I was diagnosed with depression, then later some form of OCD, as if I can't complete X,Y,Z (not comfortable sharing) it seems, I get into a spiraling negative thought pattern that I can't break out of and wind up pretty deeply depressed.

    Anyway, congrats on this post. Hang in there!

  5. Bryan thank you for sharing this post! It has such a great message to the world and I can truly understand what you mean about the fear that comes along not only with having a Mental illness but along with sharing about it with others.

    I can also relate to your desire not to take meds for it, as well as your fear of the different side effects that drugs can have on you.
    I my self had to face the consequences of my fear of letting any one in on my own mental illness and my refusal to take medications to control it. Lucky I did not harm my self, but I did end up being given a choice by my family to voluntary check my self into the hospitals mental health department (well more like a I do it voluntarily or they would call 911 and have me involuntarily committed) because of an episode of bipolar depression that had me in a state of suicidal obsession where I had already activity planed a couple ways of doing it.

    It took being hospitalized to finally get me to even allow my family (parents and brother) in on this and to even my self except that this is something that I'm going to have to deal with and that Drugs are going to have to be part of it, and that allowing the drugs to be a part of it is a way of me being in control of the illness. It also is forcing me to come to terms with the fact that this is going to be something that I'm going to have to take medication for and work to control for the rest of my life.

    You sound like you are much further down your path dealing with OCD, then I am on my path of dealing with my Bipolar disorder, as I am just starting down the path of therapy and starting down the path of medications as well.

  6. You are so brave in so many ways. I cannot express how grateful I am to even have this small connection to you and your life. You can get through this. You will get through this. I have faith in you.

    A few things to remember, you are not alone. You are loved, you can get through this.

    I'm manic depressive. I have been in and out of treatment and on and off meds for years. I have cut myself, I have attempted suicide, I have been in a mental institution. I have has good experiences and bad experiences with medication. With various therapies. I've found that the best treatment for me is being self aware and meditation. Taking control of my disease rather than it controlling me and being aware enough to know when I am no longer able to control myself and that I need to seek outside treatment.

    There is hope. Thank you for being brave enough to share this.

  7. You are so brave for sharing this. I am a new reader of yours, and I so admire you for delineating your experiences. I suffered from horrible OCD as a child for years, and even though I'd say it's far less intrusive nowadays, the disorder still manifests its way in sneaky ways. As a young kid, I would obsess over my thoughts, plagued by whether I was a good person or not. I would pray for hours, and if I didn't pray "right", then I would start over. I had horrible (sometimes laughable) blasphemous thoughts. I was raised Mormon, and the pressures there really triggered the disorder.

    Thank you for being so honest, and so real. I believe that anyone with the strength to so eloquently share their story must have the strength to improve their quality of life. I'm cheering for you.

  8. Wow, just when I thought I had a lot in common with you, Bryan, I read this, and I can add one more thing to the list. Thanks so much for sharing! I am paying myself a compliment, but I do see so much of myself in you, and I see a lot of my one best friends in Jay.

    Anyway, I had pretty severe OCD around the ages of 11-14ish? I know how torturous it can be...I had not just one thing I would become fixated on but about 3 or 4, but the main one was being afraid of things catching on fire (even when there was no logical reason for something to catch on fire, and I knew that). And I never had any sort of traumatic event with was all seemingly random. I was actually just talking about this with a friend a few days ago, too -- parallel lives. Anyway, at that young age, I could literally move a little bit in my bed, and I would think that there was too much friction that may have caused a spark. I'm glad you understand the whole compulsion to do something even when you know, logically, that it doesn't make any sense. I would literally have to wave my hand back and forth over where I thought there was too much heat. Yeah, it totally sucked and was exhausting. I never took meds for it, and I eventually outgrew it...and was fine for several decades. If you ever want to chat about this, I'm totally game. You can also contact me via facebook. (Matthew in NYC, the ap on your movie). I imagine you have seen Obsessed on TLC(?)

    Thanks again for your courage, and I am hoping things only get better for you in the coming days, weeks, months, years! :)

  9. Thank you for sharing this, you are very brave to talk about your illness. I have a couple of friends who have or had a diagnosis of OCD(they count(ed)). I also have Family and Friends with Bipolar disorder, Anxiety disorders, and Depression. Mental illness from my experience is relatively common. Not everyone has one but its not hard to find either. My friends and family talking to me about their illness gave me a better perspective on it. You are now serving this community in such a way.
    I found a flyer for a support group called the Icarus Project for those with Bipolar Disorder that wanted to handle their symptoms without medication, maybe there is something like that for OCD.
    You guys are never far from my thoughts and prayers. For whatever it means from someone on the other side of the Continent, I support you.

  10. My heart is so full of love and admiration for you now.You are so courageous to share this with the world. I believe you will help so many others who are also struggling. You take telling the truth to another level. I'm so glad you decided to tell Jay about this. Maybe when you can talk about your OCD with him, you won't feel so helpless. I'm sending a big big hug and lots of love from the Netherlands to you. Maybe it will help just a tiny bit??

  11. Thank you for sharing this. Although I do not have OCD and I am not gay, but watching your videos and reading your blog makes me stronger as an individual. I hope that our obvious support and continuous love makes you Bryan feel stronger as you make us feel. I wish you peace and I know that eventually you will fight that beast!

  12. I normally despise ads, but some folks ran an ad over here about mental health, and I thought you might appreciate it. I think it's great.

  13. Oh, Mon Ami,

    This was so difficult on so many levels to read for me. In case I have never told you, I admire you. I always have. Just for being the great, wonderful, and beautiful person that I've always known that you have been, are, and always will be.

    I am sorry to hear what you have been dealing with, but I, like I always do, have been playing Monday Morning Quarterback and reviewing things you have said to me over the years... Things that were clues, but I was just to obtuse to help you.

    I know that you can easily recall when I was in the hospital ten years ago or so. My diagnosis was PTSD and dysthymia. I frequently will tell people about the depression that I always deal with, but I never talk about the fact that I can't handle large crowds, big cities, or crowded stores. I go so far as to shop at the latest time possible to avoid everyone if not anyone. If I do go in a store during normal hours, I'm constantly tracking people around me. Making sure that there is plenty of room between them and me. If I have to go through a large group of people, I do so as quickly as possible, imagining that I'm back in Junior High and getting squished in the crush of people. My claustrophobia and vertigo have gotten worse of late, but I just try to find ways of dealing with it. Can be as simple as closing my eyes in a tight place, or focusing on something else.

    I cried a couple of times while reading because my depression has gotten the better of me of late and I have been making plans. But I like the thought that this is just a vacation gone bad. Only problem with that is that vacations have an end point. But I digress...

    I am glad to hear that you are trying to work through this without medication. YOU ARE STRONG ENOUGH FOR THIS & YOU & I KNOW IT. Cognitive Therapy helped with my depression. Still helps when I sit there and analyse the why and what caused the adverse reaction. (Got vertigo looking over the railing on the second floor, don't do it again. Which sucks if you're talking to a friend coming up the stairs behind you...)

    Anyway, my point is sometimes the harder road is the better one taken. From my experience, medications can leave you feeling "stoned" or have other, more severe side-effects. The cognitive therapy is and has been a very effective tool that, with time, can help you live life as "normal" as you want.

    You are sooooooo blessed to have the loving husband that you do and the cutest children ever that love you just like you gave them a loving home and family... Oh, wait, you did.

    My love and prayers for you and yours as always.

    DRSM - The first girl you ever gave away....

  14. Dear Bryan, first let me just send some warmth and love your way. :)

    Thank you for such an honest and brave posting. Please don't let fear separate you from those you love. (Oh no! He's becoming a Yellow Lantern!) Even if they can't understand how you feel, they can still give love and support.

    Please take the advice of your therapist and maybe see another one, just to get different options for treatment.

    I wish you peace and happiness.
    Love Bob

  15. My dear Bryan,
    You are not alone. I am a doctor teaching in a medical school and more often than not, it's kinda good for me to be OC in a lot of ways. I have learned to harness this energy, making it work for me, instead of making it a hindrance to overcome. My first step was acceptance, just as you have, that it will always be a part of me, in my work, in my relationships and just about all aspects of my life. Easier said than done you might say, but like my own acceptance of being gay, I thoroughly decided to embrace it. It is who I am. We may have different approaches in how to deal with being OC and you are very, very luck indeed to have the love and support of Jay, your kids and your family as this is where we differ; I had to deal with this on my own. I pray that you may continue to have their love and support as I do so for you, many thousands of miles away.

  16. Bryan, thanks for sharing your diagnosis and challenges with OCD. It just make me love you more. Sending positive thoughts and love your way, and to Jay and the kids to for their love and support of you!

  17. Thanks Bryan. As you know my partner Dave is a psychologist. I'll run your letter by him and let's see if he has some suggestions... Hugs!

  18. Hi Brian, hmmmmm. Welcome to the journey. That's what it is, a journey. It's not a desease, it's something that either out lives you or you out live it. Don't look for a cure, look for control, look to deal with. I'm not sure CBT is the answer and if you find it's not see a counsellor who's humanist theory based.

    The bad news is, your not going to be the perfect dad. The good news is, no one is. The really good news is you start being a better dad when you realise that you can be better. I watched the video jay's video about his father, the really sad thing is that if only is father could have realised he could be a better dad. But your there, you've already said to yourself, you can be better.

    Find your way, Brian. Find who you are and what you want to be and never stop growing and never stop believing that we are a species that is flawed. We are nowhere near fully cooked yet, so, ya know, give yourself a break occasionally. Just say to yourself or to others "I'm not fully cooked yet".

    You and Jay reach out to so many... I'm on face book under Holly Anne
    Grainger. My own videos on you tube are under the name hollytg. Contact me if it helps. Holly xx

  19. Bryan – Congratulations on being brave enough and open enough to publically reveal another side of yourself to the world! I hope that in doing so you found some relief in the knowledge that you’re no longer alone in dealing with OCD; you now have thousands of people praying for you and giving you all of the support they can. I’m actually surprised that you’ve kept this to yourself and from Jay for so long – the person I’ve come to know is strong enough & honest enough with himself to come out at an early age, and brave enough to share his life with the entire internet. Please don’t be ashamed of this or feel that it’s a stigma – you just have some biochemicals in your brain doing something they’re not supposed to – you wouldn’t be ashamed if you caught the measles and were a little chemically “off” for a little while, right?
    You and Jay are such beautiful people and wonderful human beings that I hate to think that you’re suffering inside after all the love that you have given to the world around you. You really are a good person – I only wish that I could be half the person you are – you’ve created an environment of love for both Jay and two great kids who would have a very different life without you. Your videos sometimes have me in tears after seeing what wonderful, open and loving people you are; it renews my faith that there is good in this world.
    As a fellow gay man and OCD sufferer, I applaud you for engaging in therapy and taking the first steps to overcome the influence that OCD has over your life. If I had a nickel every time someone said “oh, just let it go”….
    Like you, I did not want to become reliant on medications to manage OCD – I felt like I would lose my identity and everything that made me who I am, I was afraid of becoming someone entirely different with a brain floating in a soup of medication, but after years and years of resisting (and seeing the continued effects that OCD had over my life, friendships, jobs, relationships, and enjoyment of life) I finally accepted the use of medication and found that it was the OCD that was creating an artificial version of me. Medication helped to remove the OCD cage and free the real me from the prison of my head. I began to feel that I had emerged out of a dark cave into the sunlight again and give the change to be me again. I admit that finding the right medication was not a fun, quick, or easy process. I am extremely sensitive to every medication side effect imaginable and for a long time believed that meds were worse than OCD itself, but finally with patience and the support of a very loving and supportive partner, I’ve found peace in my own head. Please give your therapy a fighting chance, but don’t completely discount the help that medications can offer – there’s no reason to keep suffering, especially when you still have so much to offer to the world.

  20. Hello everyone, Thank you for your overwhelming support and thoughtfull input. I was scared as hell to hit the "publish" button on this one and when I woke up this morning I was terrified at what I might find....Instead, I was blown away. As I read your statements of support I admit to getting a little teary..oh hell...i cried...i'm a big baby...get over it. It was amazing how many of us are suffering similar things and yet no one talks about it. clearly there are more of us out there than we imagine and it makes me wonder how many other people are out there trying to carry there burdens alone because they are too embarrased to admit to them for fear of rejection.

    I wanted to be able to address every comment because you all had something insightfull and helpfull to offer...but now I find myself a bit overwhelmed. Thanks to have all given me something to think about.

    The good news is that getting this off my chest did indeed uncork all that bottled up psychic energy and break up the writers block a bit. :D

    Thank you more than these words can ever convey..

  21. Thank you for posting this. I too have OCD. I was finally diagnosed with it after trying to commit suicide as a teenager. I've been on medication since age 19 and it's been the best thing for me. I'm now 30 and life is good. I still have intrusive thoughts at times but have learned techniques to deal with them. I'll be on medication for the rest of my life and I'm ok with it. Do I tell people that I have OCD? No. Because like you pointed out, there is a stigma associated with it...especially in the world of adoption. Someday, when we're done adopting, I may be open about my OCD but until then it's not something that I can publicly talk about. I'm glad you are!


  22. I remember having this kind of condition when I was a kid.

    I would touch things, for example, stair handrail, 5 times, before I can start walking down the stairs. If I didn't touch it 5 times, something bad would happen to my family. So for a period I would crazily but secretly repeatedly touch this and that.

    Another condition I had, which is quite disturbing, was I would do a scary face to a mirror to scare myself off at night. Otherwise again, something bad would happen to my family.

    I had this big mirror in the middle of my house where I used to live. At night, I would stand in front of the mirror and made the scariest face (like a ghost face) I could. That would send a shiver down my spine and I would run away so fast because I was so scared of myself. But that was the only way I could save my family from bad things.

    I knew then that my behaviors didn't make any sense whatsoever. I mean... they're obviously not logical. But still I couldn't help myself.

    Now, I don't have that conditions anymore. I don't remember exactly what made them go away. One of the reasons was probably I just didn't care anymore. It probably reached to the point where it became so ridiculous that I was like... fuck it.... if bad things were going to happen, let them be. I can't possibly take responsibility for everything that might happen. So fuck it.

    Yeah... maybe that helped. The fuck it attitude. Or maybe I was just distracted by other things in life which were new and equally crazy. I don't know.

    Anyway, I wish you the best, Bryan.

  23. Powerful message for all - those in your situation - and for others to be aware that SOMETIMES we cannot "see" what is affecting others. While I have Multiple Sclerosis - sometimes I appear "normal" whatever THAT means - but at times, I am unable to function at the same level as I have over the past 19 years since my diagnosis.
    I, too, have personally taken the guilt - it is MY FAULT - I SHOULD be able to DO as I have always done. I have experienced the judgment of others, "Well, he was FINE yesterday - why is he not around today?" I do not wear a cast that others can see - no bandage as symbol of my disability to others that I am dealing with a medical condition that I would not wish upon anyone else.
    BUT, like you – I have to face my situation - MS - what has been placed upon me and I must in fact do so whether there is any support from others there or not. Do not rule out medication - and do not take the word of any one medical professional that “abc treatment” is what you need to do in dealing with your medical health. EACH of us are different, each situation must be carefully dealt with AND monitored every step of the way.
    I thank you for your words, brave to take the path of sharing with others what we sometimes fear most about ourselves. Your message here has brought me the courage to continue to fight in this thing we call life – after all – that is all that is important.

    Maybe a bit hokey – but listen to “THE CLIMB” – such a powerful message about never giving in to what individually challenges EACH of us the most.

  24. Bryan, thank you for sharing with us, your readers, what you're going through. I'm sorry that you've suffered alone for so many years. I'm so glad that you've taken the risk to share and can now get support and help--first from Jay, then from your therapist, and finally from all the readers who might not know you personally but have come to care deeply for you and your family. Bottom line: this is hard, but you have an army of people cheering you on.

    Yes, there's a stigma to mental illness, but each time someone puts a human face on the diagnosis, that stigma erodes just a little bit more. Thank you for being willing to do that.

    Finally, Bryan, I wish you peace in your spiritual life. From this and previous posts, it sounds as though there is a lingering sense of being judged and found wanting left over from your childhood religious training that crops up and makes it a hard for you to just rest in the knowledge of God's love and acceptance. I hope those voices quiet and you find peace.

  25. When I recently discovered your blog (with the videos!), I took an instant liking to your whole gay family. I am not going to enumerate all the things that make me admire you immensely. I’ll just mention your commitment to social equality. Your hot hearts, Bryan and Jay, want all people to be happy. And now, Bryan, I admire your courage! Thank you for sharing this health issue. In this way its stigma will gradually wane.

    Back in the 1980s, because of a long-lasting traumatic experience allowed by carefree doctors (and apparently by my proclivity) I developed a hand washing habit to avoid feeling dirty. My life was miserable. I continued to work, so sometimes my first meal was in the evening. I was referred to a shrink, an important figure at a hospital, who apparently had no idea what he was doing to me, and – as I discovered later – apparently played the games that alcoholics play. Painful years went by and nothing changed. I was too tired and confused to look for some other solution. Then, by an extremely happy coincidence, I was offered cognitive behavioral therapy in the Netherlands. A gay-friendly church paid for it. (I was among the exceptions that could speak English in my country, Poland, at that time.) I am not exactly religious (any more), but the assistance I got from the straight Dutch people and the resulting recovery was something of a miracle. After six months spent in the Netherlands I could go back to life. I do not even want to think what would have happened to me without that help.

    Bryan, you have motivation and strength, you have a loving supportive husband and access to well trained and responsible professionals. Thus, as I can see it, you will learn to take a more relaxed attitude, while remaining the responsible man that you have always been, and conquer the beast.

    You and your beautiful family are always in my thoughts. Peace. Torr

  26. Hey Bryan. This is awesome that you can tell us this on the world stage, and I don't look down on you. Many of us have OCDs that people never even think of. Mine, to me, is one of the weirdest.

    I have to have everything feel equal. Say if i tap my desk with my right index finger, I MUST do it with my left, or tap something that would make my left finger feel the same as my right. I told you it was weird. Right now I am sitting with my left leg hanging off my bed and my right leg holding my computer up. To make my leg feel the same, I squeeze my muscles constantly, without even realizing, just to make it feel the same.

    Also, if I am walking say in the parking lot at a store, and I walk over the paint on the cement with my left foot, I MUST walk over the paint with my right foot. Thats not a feel thing, but for some reason I am OCD about it. I have gotten used to it, and have masked it while in public, but when I am by myself, I notice myself doing it most.

    The first person I told was my best friend in high school. So I had been pretty much been living with it since I cant remember. Her reaction was to make fun of it, but like all things people dont understand, they will criticize. Ive gotten used to it. But even my partner doesn't fully understand everything about it, mainly because I hate talking about it because it makes me feel dumb. :-/ Owells. Thanks for sharing!


  27. Bryan:

    Thanks for your honesty. My husband has OCD, manifested in his case by hoarding. We have a number of mental health conditions in our family, which in some cases we do treat with medication. The medication decision is a difficult one, I know. In my case (depression), it was definitely the right decision. In my daughter's case (cyclothymia, a mood cycling disorder, and anxiety), it's not as clear cut, as the meds have difficult side effects, and we haven't quite figured out the right combination.

    You may worry that medication will mess with the essential 'you.' Think of diabetes: going on insulin may change the 'essential you' (a diabetic) but that doesn't mean you don't treat your diabetes.

    I also echo the wish that one of your other readers said, that you may find some spiritual peace.

    Are you aware that there is some evidence linking the condition of OCD to the Group A Streptococcus bacteria infection (the bacteria that causes strep throat)?

  28. It's just like coming out, isn't it? You fear the reactions of others, that they will judge you and fear you. That said, thankfully I don't have OCD but I am gay, and I've known people who had OCD. Be strong - lean on Jay when it gets to be too much, and don't be afraid to cry. It really does make things better (along with a little wine, IMHO). Posting this is just like posting a coming out video - it helps others to see that an everyday person, who in every way looks perfectly normal, can have such a secret, and that it need not be a secret. I look forward to seeing more posts from you and more videos from you guys - a perfectly normal family.

  29. Also, this post card was posted at Post Secret this week.

    The video it came from is here.

  30. Hi bryan..i found out about you guys depfox channel less than a week ago and i m hooked. It is very interesting to see the family dynamic and the love and affection that are proud to be shown to the world. I think i might have watched almost all your videos posted on your channel..hahaha. Anyway, i appreciate you all for bringing in new perspective and give me something to ponder. It is definitely refreshing. Also you guys are very brave in showing the Utubers a part of your life at this moment in times. Peace and Love!

  31. This book has helped me in ways you wouldn't believe:

    "Brain Lock: Free Yourself from Obsessive-Compulsive Behavior"

    Best of luck.

  32. Dear Bryan
    The first thing that comes to my mind after I read this post is: YOU ARE WONDERFUL, and brave, and open-hearted. This online confession IS INDEED a huge step. But knowing you and Jay from your blog and vlog I am almost used to these steps you both take very-very often. So first of all – thank you for walking the walk.

    Bryan, I can’t even tell how deeply this post touched me, ‘cause it went really-really deep. You do everything, and I mean everything, right. Yes, you’ve got OCD. Yes, you keep praying out of fear, but Bryan, you also spread LOVE and human every-day-wisdom AROUND THE WORLD! Just think of the scope. It is not only your family and the foster kids who are hugely blessed. We ALL ARE. I feel blessed here in Germany ‘cause you both do what you do there in California. Please keep fighting the thought that everything you can give to your children is this OCD, mental father. ‘Cause your personality and character do not end at OCD. They go way beyond it! And GOD knows it and cherishes it. He cherishes YOU, he knows you and your every struggle and I am more than sure that His scope of understanding human nature is much-much broader than yours and mine and everyone else’s, ‘cause we all are HIS. He LOVES you, even when you have those “blasphemous” thoughts. Your every post demonstrates huge love and respect towards life. And GOD is life. He made you live to find delight IN YOU. So please do not worry when those words or repetitive thoughts come to you. God IS at your side, in those very moments. Give this irrational shame to Him and let it go trusting that HE DOES understand. You are NOT worthy of hell. How can you be when you do His work day and night and let Him shine through you?

    “But I’m not done fighting” is the right attitude. God isn’t done fighting for you either. Feel free to write me too, ‘cause it’s important to me that you and your family are doing great or at least well. I know someone who’s very close to me is fighting OCD and a couple of other things. And I know the toll it takes. It took me 2 months to persuade the person to do something about it. So, it is indeed great that you actually do something about it. You WILL get better and better. Amen.

  33. Ok, sorry. I know it was really long time since youbwrote this post but i neeeeed to comment.

    I have anfriend who have OCD the counting kind, and I know what it is. With that said I just wanna give you loads of thanks for sharing this, because it's strong to admit something like that about yourself.

    People have debated as i've been to psychiatrists and doctors about whether i have aspergers syndrom, anxiety syndrom and I think i have paranoid scizofrenia.

    But the thing I really want to say is that it is important that we share these things. Because if someone is struggling with some kind of mental illnes they might get an opening to start talking about it. So they can get help to.

    Love to you and your family, you are all great!

  34. Thanks for sharing this -- as a fellow OCD'er, everything you've written sounds dead-on and familiar to me. And congratulations for "coming out" and seeking support -- that's incredibly brave, and difficult, to do.

    One note on meds -- and obviously, every case is different, and what works for me might not work for you, but for whatever one person's story is worth -- I found that they helped tremendously. After trial-and-error with a few drugs with, um, un-fun side effects, I wound up on Wellbutrin, which seems to control the unwanted thoughts without the side effects. It didn't fabricate a "new me" so much as it just let me be me, without the OCD that was robbing my partner and my friends of my full attention. The first time that I was able to simply stop a thought cycle from occurring -- to step outside the endless loop of "yes, but what if...?", say, "this is ridiculous, and I don't need to think about it anymore", and move on -- felt like lifting a one-ton weight off my brain.

    (I also, for what it's worth, recommend a book called "The Imp of the Mind" -- which describes the experience of OCD so acutely that simply reading it was a tremendous comfort. You may already be getting this experience from whatever treatment you're getting, but to read a book that says, over and over, "actually, the thing you find freakish and embarrassing is a very common experience that a lot of people with OCD have had", was ridiculously helpful.)

  35. Hi Bryan,

    A very brave post on your part. I wasn’t previously aware you ever posted on OCD until I saw on the visitor log on the left of the screen that another reader had looked at it, so I decided I might as well have a look myself. Wow… given how busy you are with your blogging, the Depfox channel, promoting your movie, raising 5 children now and life in general, this is a tough thing to have.

    I for one don’t think any less of you at all. I’m not even surprised you have it or the form in which it has manifested, given the exceedingly brutal upbringing you’ve apparently had at the hands of gay-bashing preachers and the culture as a whole. The one thing that DOES surprise me is that apparently you’ve been suffering from this only in the last six years. You just as easily could have been plagued by this since early adulthood. Yet you weren’t….

    Since your OCD blog is several months old, you’ve probably moved on and have no reason to look back for current comments made to such old posts. You’ll probably never see this anyway.

    With the higher activity level you have now, that has to increase your general stress level and I wouldn’t be surprised if it indirectly made your symptoms worse. I do hope, however, that isn’t happening and that you actually are feeling better now.

    Contrary to what those OCD demons in your head may be telling you, from all that I’ve seen of you in video I think you’re one of the best people I’ve ever heard of and most anyone would be enriched to be in your presence. You have every objective reason to feel good about yourself. You’ve touched so many people and are widely loved for it. Anyone would be privileged to have you as their friend….

    Wishing you happiness, good fortune and inner peace….