Derek | OCD, Anxiety, Depression

It wasn’t until grad school that Derek first noticed his obsessive compulsive tendencies. Diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) in his mid 20’s, he describes it as an overactive imagination, where he can see catastrophic incidents happening in his mind’s eye, or begins having intrusive thoughts, like living in an alternative world. He initially became aware of his struggle with OCD because his worries about his cats getting out led to compulsively checking if his cats were safe and inside. He imagined that if his cats were found outside that they would be tortured, and the concern turned into checklists that he would compulsively check and recheck before he felt able to leave the house. Soon he was unable to leave the apartment unless he had both checked his checklist and also photographed each item from the list being done so he would be sure that his cats would be safe while he was away.

While he was in grad school he also began having trouble focusing and went to a psychiatrist and was diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and then he was put on medication for it. Unfortunately that medication gave him panic attacks and he was switched to antidepressants which made him lose all self-control. Because of this, he lost faith in medicine and began trying other modalities of therapy to alleviate his symptoms, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) which he described as helpful coping mechanisms. Through these therapies he has learned how to control many of his intrusive thoughts and is able to utilize a mental checklist rather than obsessively checking a paper checklist. While his OCD mostly manifests in obsessing over checking on those he cares for, he also tends to subconsciously chew & pick at his lips and nails.

When the OCD manifested, so did anxiety and depression. His struggle with anxiety can be so bad at times that he has a hard time driving on highways, and while he is currently medicated for OCD, ADHD, and depression, he still experiences depressive episodes at times where he becomes apathetic with no motivation or care about anything. During these episodes he will watch or play the same shows and video games on repeat, hiding in the basement and isolating. In order to help manage his OCD and depression, Derek began cooking which activates a creative side of him. When he’s depressed he craves a fancy meal and hyper-focuses on cooking, which becomes a healthy outlet for him; he is able to throw himself into meal preparation and distract himself from his intrusive thoughts and depressive impulses.

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