See Them Before They Go Away

Today, February the 16th, my paternal grandmother died. I can’t feel but guilt. I am incapable of feeling sadness as I am happy for her, because she was in a lot of agony for too long. However I cannot kick that feeling of guilt. And as I am writing this, that feeling is causing me to tear up.

Why am I feeling guilty? I know the answer to that. I haven’t seen her or visited her in quite some time. It’s not that I didn’t love her. I loved her. She was an amazing person. However, the problem is within me. More like, the problem is me.

Regardless of wherever I am going, as soon as I know or even think about going out, I get anxious. Any sort of going out gives me anxiety. Its levels differ from day to day, but nevertheless, it is present. I get a bad, sinking feeling in my chest. It could be described as a cross between fear and nervousness. There is no reason whatsoever for me to get that. I am not scared of the outside. I don’t fear people. Au contraire, I love being outside and I adore people. But I cannot help the feeling I get. In such cases, I would think about how much I rather be on my own, in my comfort zone.

Every time I thought of going to my grandma’s, I would get struck by anxiety. The thing is that I am not forced to go. It is something I want to do. That’s why when anxiety hits, I don’t feel obliged to leave home, because it has nothing to do with work, necessity, sickness, or having to meet someone I have an appointment with. What I am trying to say in so many words is that in some occasions when I feel obliged to go out – because going out in these cases is necessary for me to maintain life and living – I would push through the pain and tolerate the meanness of the anxiety. Many times I also start getting obsessions before going out or while I am out. I don’t know why it happens, but it does.

Whenever I thought of going out and visiting her, anxiety would strike, and I say “Not today. Today I can’t. I’ll go soon for sure.” That’s the biggest lie I tell myself “I’ll definitely do it later.” So I end up not going. “Soon” comes and I push it to another “soon”. I kept on doing that until she died. And now I hate and blame myself.

What I want to make clear is that these feelings are crap. They are total bullshit and tricks played on us by us. Just don’t trust everything you feel. Sometimes conscious and rational thinking will cause much more discomfort, but it will give better results to you in the long run (when you start getting used to disregard anxiety), and to everyone around you, all the time.
If you want to go out and the idea seems right, don’t let anything physical or abstract stand in your way. Time will never go back, and you will end up with sorrow and regret.

That was a piece of my mind, wishing a peace of mind to you all.


Do I Wish I Didn’t Have Issues

The answer to that question is complicated. If it were a yes/no answer, it would have been such a short post.
My experience with OCD and depression has been tough so far to say the least. Most people who have gone through exam periods will know what worrying and anxiety feels like. So it is not that hard to fathom what anxiety disorders are about. The only difference is that the former example’s anxiety is rational and justified, while the latter’s isn’t and stays with the sufferer for a longer periods of time.

I am grateful I do have OCD. As weird as that sounds, it’s perfectly normal to me. If I were given the choice to live without the aforementioned issues, I really really doubt my answer would be yes. In all honesty I don’t know how to live without them. They are an integral part of me. They have become something I am used to and accustomed to feeling. I think they made me suffer from Stockholm Syndrome. However, this is not the main reason. There is another reason which is not going to sound logical but it is really how I feel.

The relatively illogical reason is as follows. I always thought that because I have OCD, there is someone out there who doesn’t suffer from it because I took on the part of having the illness. I keep thinking that it’s okay I am feeling depressed because I took that burden of someone else. I also feel like if it had to happen, I’m happy it happened to me, that is because I know me. I don’t have to worry about someone else. I tend to worry and feel guilty when I know someone has an illness or is passing through tough times. I’m not saying this so I could be called a gentle and kind soul, or a very caring person. I don’t care about these labels. It is just how I truly feel, and I felt this should be said.

I know me better than I know any other person. And I feel that I can handle what I am passing through. I think that everyone (to a certain extent) feels he can do or control things better than others. I have decided long ago that I wasn’t going to quit. I have passed through periods of utter despair where I truly believed that nothing will be better and I was in a very dark place. There was times when I lost the will to live. I just wanted my existence to cease. But that promise I kind of made to myself kept me going. Anyone who has had experience with severe depression will tell you that at any given time, suicide is a thought. Even if you wouldn’t do it, the thought is there and it is pretty normal to have it. However it wasn’t something I would do it to myself or to anyone around me. As hard as it was I kept myself from doing it. I don’t know why but I did. I can’t think of a single reason, because in such types you care about nothing and no one; not even yourself.

That’s just how I feel, and how I reason things. Call me weird, unorthodox, abnormal; I am all these things and that is pretty normal to me.

That was a piece of my mind, wishing a peace of mind to you all.

The Day I Hit on a Girl !!!!

The following is based on true events. That’s how things happened. I was going to see a person in an office, both of which shall remain unnamed. I knocked on the door with three of my fingers (or was it two? Or did I ring the bell?). A girl’s voice told me to “come in”. I came in. I asked her about said person, she told me said “said person” wasn’t there. I was a bit annoyed because that meant my job was going to be delayed. I told her I will see said “said “said person”” on the day of the event. Thanked her and left. As all that happened I was having a thought in my mind. I was thinking “this girl is kinda cute”. She had nice eyes and that’s the first thing I look at. As I was in the elevator and then leaving the building, I started thinking that I will never see this dudette again in my life. There was no way I could get to know her better in a social outing so I said to myself “Why don’t I ask her out?”.

So basically I had a feeling of “I have nothing to lose” mixed with “Let me not regret not doing it later” topped with a little bit of anxiety sprinkles. I have had several of these thoughts before, but not feeling comfortable enough and having an anchor of anxiety pushing me down, made me never dare do such things. The feeling would be so intense that I didn’t feel I could live with myself afterwards because of all the anxiety, thoughts, and scenarios I would make up and obsess about afterwards. To make that uncomfortable feeling clearer to you lovely humans, consider the following: The weather outside is frightful, and the bed is so delightful, and then you feel like you have to go, Oh no Oh no Oh no. That uncomfortable peeing sensation is the uncomfortable feeling, while staying in bed is the comfortable one. But these days I am all about conquering those feelings. So I decided what I was going to do.

I picked up my balls and reentered the building (don’t get me wrong, I had two basketballs with me, they dropped on the floor, and I had to pick them up). I pressed the elevator button with my right hand index finger (or was it thumb? Or did I take the stairs?). I went there and was a few meters from the door. This time I had no pretext to knock on the door. I had nothing to start with. It was just one thing I wanted to ask, and it had nothing to do with anything. I went forward then backward, and my heart started pounding. I said “Screw it I’m doing this (in Arabic, in my mind)”.I knocked on the door. At that point I could feel my teeth sweating. She said “enter”. I entered and said “I know this may sound weird, but do you want to go out sometime maybe drinks or dinner?”. She said “No, sorry”. I said “Your loss, I’m half Nigerian. My nickname in high school was Raja the Tripod”. Okay, Okay, I didn’t say that, I said it’s okay and left.

This was probably one of the proudest moments of my life. Believe me with someone with anxiety and obsessions, this is huge. It doesn’t matter that she said no. She might find me ugly. She might be afraid of strangers. She might have a boyfriend. Or the thought I always go to when I get rejected, she’s probably a lesbian.

So what is to be learnt from this experience can be summed up in the following sentence. Ok I lied, it’s in the sentence after this. Whenever you feel that irrational uncomfortable feeling, just go on and do. The only way to break fears and uncomfortable situations is to do the thing that causes them in the first place. So if you feel like you’re uncomfortable doing something that you rationally know might be – or is- good for you, just know you’re on the right track and go do it. That’s the only way we break our fears and get out of our shells.

That was a piece of my mind, wishing a peace of mind to you all.

Fighting Back: The Road to Emotional Bliss

The worst feeling I have ever felt. Worse than giving birth. Worse than being hit in the testicles….with a chair! That feeling I am talking about is the one a person gets when he fights back, when he doesn’t comply with the obsessions and tries not to think of them. It sounds simple enough. Oh no it isn’t….It’s tough. It’s hard. It’s tiring….paralyzing….debilitating….but it is the only way out. In the short run it sucks so bad it makes you feel so much better in the long run.

I am writing about this as I have been going through this recently. I have done it before but not this intense and not on such a broad scale; I have been exposing myself and fighting my obsessive thoughts and behavior. I’ve had to have an increase in my medication dosage in order to help with the fight. The medication cannot (in my case that is) do all the work; cure you and let you stop getting intrusive thoughts and being obsessed. The medication at first provides a stepping stone and a launching pad, and then becomes an agent responsible for giving the person with OCD an extra push. The individual with OCD has a lot of work to do, depending on how far he is in his obsessive behavior. This is a fight of epic proportions. It’s one fighting one’s self; his own thoughts, and his own feelings. And to see results you have to suffer. And suffer you shall. It’s the only way out.

I start heavy breathing; I feel like my lung is going to come out of my ass. My heart starts beating faster than a cheetah on cocaine. Tiny droplets of sweat start forming on the top of my forehead. I feel a warm sensation in my chest and a knot in my stomach. I get fidgety and I start to nervously shake my foot. I start getting thoughts that only get worse by the second. I keep on thinking or wanting to think. I start feeling like the walls are getting closer and tighter. Important things start to seem unimportant and trivial. I start feeling a dark feeling; an unpleasant, unwelcomed feeling. I’m now anxious and depressed. I can’t control that when it comes. What I can do is fight back. I just don’t give the obsession the time of day. I don’t give it any attention; I just treat it like a Raja in a room filled with cute girls (don’t laugh at my misery). It sounds pretty easy. Au contraire!!! It really is the absolute opposite.

You get the obsessive thought. You say I’m not thinking about it. At first it starts easy. Every second it gets harder and harder. It reaches a point where it tries to force you to think of it. It makes you feel like if this isn’t resolved, it is the end of the world, and your life will never be the same, and you will always feel gloomy and depressed. It goes on to hijack your whole thought process. Your whole mind. Your whole brain. You can’t think of other stuff. The thought is lurking in the back of your head. It never wants to leave, and it seems as if it will always bother you unless you resolve it by thinking or doing its compulsion. You feel paralyzed. Getting out of bed seems so hard, discomforting, and damn scary. You don’t feel like eating, talking to anyone, getting out of the house, or even taking a shower. Even if you wanted to use the bathroom for when nature calls, you keep pushing it back until your bladder is about to burst. Doing anything while having a thought lurk in the background of the mind, will give you more depression as you feel like you want to enjoy what you’re doing but can’t. You feel like you are wasting your time and emotions. That’s the trick the mind plays. It makes us think the end is near and gives us doomed thinking, all in order to let us submit to the obsessions. This intense and severe discomfort is normal when fighting back. Believe me it won’t last forever. When I fought back it first took months to feel better, the second time it took weeks, then days, then hours, and now some take minutes. The time to get over it and feel normal depends on how severe the thought is and how much time of day you have given it.

In closing I say don’t succumb to the thoughts. The thoughts YOU DO NOT generate should not be allowed to take over. Fight them. You may lose sometimes, but fight nevertheless, even if you broke down while fighting it; the time spent from when you started fighting to when you broke down is so helpful in the future. Baby steps. Believe me every second spent fighting will help. Just be ready to go through hell because that’s what it feels like in order to cross to emotional bliss.

That was a piece of my mind, wishing a peace of mind to you all.

OCD and Romantic Relationships (Part two)

I have obsessed about several girls. I have stood next to their bedroom windows. Followed them wherever they went. Broke into their homes and smelled their clothes. I have also made shrines for them in my bedroom. Hey Hey…none of what I just described is real. I did not – I repeat – DID NOT have stalking-like obsessions. I didn’t obsess the way some creeps or psychopaths in the movies do. My obsessions were of the type that I thought I had romantic feelings for those girls. The thoughts gave me the impression that I have strong feelings for a certain girl. I start obsessing about how it feels being with her and talking to her. My thoughts weren’t of any sexual kind. They didn’t tread on the bizarre and weird. Although I did have arguments with my imaginary girlfriend; I told her that I felt like she’s not really there for me (if you did not get this one, please review your life choices so far).

On several occasions, my mind bombarded me with thoughts that were based on real things but were of no real value. But when one is an obsessive individual, and doesn’t know that it is a disorder, these obsessions seem real as real could be. I fell in that trap and got sucked into thinking a lot as well as into disillusionment. It was not easy. On the one hand I thought I had feelings for a certain girl. On the other, I could do nothing because of my “romantic anxiety” (refer to my previous blog post “OCD and Romantic Relationships (Part 1)”). Just like in bondage sex, my hands were tied. It was a vicious circle. I thought I liked someone, and then I felt like I couldn’t do anything which in turn increased my obsessive thoughts about that certain someone. The vicious circle went on to become a vicious snowball which only grew bigger – and a lot more depressive – with time until I became overwhelmed with an avalanche of annoying feelings.

None of the girls I obsessed about, as it turned out, did I have true romantic feelings for. The thoughts were filled with lies and half truths. I found that out later, after medication and therapy, which allowed me to have moments of clarity where I was out of any obsessive thought and in a rational and logical state of mind that took reality as is. These were the moments I found out that the only girl I think I have truly liked (and probably still do) has never been subject to my obsessions in the aforementioned manner. But the conclusion of this post doesn’t have a happy ending. I was too late and took so much time to realize what I truly felt that 5 years have passed and she’s now moved on and engaged. Honestly I’m completely okay with how things turned out (*starts crying* I want her so baaad *sniff*). Would I like to be with her? Does a guy with a lisp have a problem saying lisp? Hell yes! (I really dislike he who invented that word. I have a lithp…a lithp…thon of a bitch!!) However what I feel, is causing me no discomfort or annoyance at all. That is because it is far away from my obsessions, so I can treat it and deal with it with total control. You never know when my dreams will come true and a girl will come on a white horse, and I will finally have a horse.

That was a piece of my mind, wishing a peace of mind to you all.

Going to the Psychiatrist

Popping my therapy cherry, so to say, was a very difficult thing. I first dabbled with the issue in the summer months of the year of our lord the two thousandth and eight. I took two appointments with two different doctors. I went to a total of zero sessions. Every time I got cold feet. It was something so far outside my comfort zone, as if I had to travel to another zone, so much that I wasn’t really ready to take that ride. It is as if this new zone was Japan, and my brain was saying: “let me Tokyo out of going”. However in 2012 that all changed. In the four years that came between, a lot had happened that made me reconsider taking that long ride. My comfort zone wasn’t comfortable anymore. I was packed and ready to go.

Seeing a total stranger is unnerving enough. Well how does telling them your most inner thoughts and feelings sound like? I think that some leave that as the penultimate choice. I know I did. I was in a much worse place than I was in 2008. These things never heal with time. I got more addicted to the reassuring feeling that comes with complying with the compulsions. But soon the addiction, just like any addiction, turned from sweet into sour. I went deeper into depression, something I started having long before 2008, and most probably due to my disorder. It used to be anything but okay; however it was still something I could live with. The pain was tolerable to a certain extent. But now the feeling was unbearable. The pain was too much and it crept into everything. It is as if the topics in my life started getting infected one after the other. I used to say “I am going bananas” (that’s what I used to tell my bananas before leaving the house). That is when I realized this is not normal. It isn’t something I want to keep living with. I wanted to feel happy and calm on the inside.

That’s when I decided that the uneasy feeling I’ll have from talking to a stranger is much better than the uneasy feeling I’m having on a daily basis. I was desperate. I didn’t want to keep living like that.

If I go back in time with the knowledge I have now, I would definitely have gone to my appointment in 2008. I would have even gone as early as I started feeling something different (no it wasn’t puberty, I know the difference because I know when puberty hit; I was twenty four. It was a Monday.).

I hate to sound like a wise person, or someone who likes to throw advice like pies in people’s faces, but bear with me. If anyone is feeling a bit of discomfort that is either justified or out of nowhere, trust me see someone. Just like going to France, there’s nothing Toulouse (baaaam, pun!! I’ve been dying to use it……Guys… guys? Where did everyone go?). There are a lot of professional people out there that are easy to talk to. I know a good number of them if anyone needs a referral. I have been to – as well as know – so many psychiatrists, psychologists, and therapists, that I now have a membership badge and a family discount card. So believe me just go. If you are feeling that something is out of place call an expert. And if you have this feeling that’s keeping you from going to see someone, in my opinion, this is one of the signs that you really need to go. Believe me these people have the tools (medication and/or therapy) that will, and good God I mean they WILL help. Believe me, I know.

That was a piece of my mind, wishing a peace of mind to you all.

Funny Obsessions are not Funny

I am not fishing for compliments. I am not in need of attention (I do have a lovely cuddle buddy). I am just stating the following as I have received the feedback from most people I have encountered.

Some may find me funny. Some may not. It’s okay. I’m totally fine with it (screw you, you can go to hell). But when I was deeply indulged in my obsessions it was anything but. One of the things I obsessed about was the fact that I wanted every single person – and I mean every single person of whom I knew or didn’t – to find me funny. I also wanted them to like me. I was obsessed with being accepted and found humorous enough so that people would actually want to spend time with me. Trying to be funny was the only thing I can do as I had a face suitable for a radio show and a voice suitable for a silent movie.

I used to get so anxious talking to people that I once asked a cab driver “so what do you work?” I said things that I regretted while (not after, while) saying. You might catch me saying nonsensical stuff, things that might seem out of nowhere. Things like “I love scotch tape”. “My favorite planet is the Moon” (I knew later it wasn’t even a planet). Things even I go “huh?” after I said them. As if I had no brain. It would have been much easier if I had made a bunch of noises instead of words; they would have made the same freaking impression.

I used to – I still do but I used to too – talk a lot. I talked more than….more than….someone who talks a lot (could not for the life of me find a suitable analogy). I always felt I needed to hog the spotlight. I wanted to be the one who, after everyone leaves home, was talked about in a positive sense and applauded for his humor. I used to spew anything that came to mind.

The thing is I always felt – and still feel sometimes – like I am the one responsible for the entertainment, and if I weren’t then I would start losing friends. I was a self appointed jester. Whenever I went out with someone I felt the anxiety of the situation. I felt that I had work to do, so it was never fun for me. I used to work hard (not like male pornstars. Got it? Hard….sexual innuendo?) I always felt like there is a bar above people’s heads that indicates their satisfaction with me the more it is filled. And I was the one who had to fill it. I was the one to make the decision when it was filled and when it was lagging behind, by listening to my obsessions and what they dictated. When that going out was done, I would sit alone and revise the whole scenario, including their expressions, both facial and verbal. I would also start obsessing about the minute details and grimaces and associate a negative attribute to each. Oh they didn’t think I was funny enough. They think I was lame. They think I am a pushover. They can’t wait to leave. They won’t go out with me again. And when we used to go out again, I would think all these things over again and sometimes might feel like they are doing that just not to hurt my feelings and that their going out with me is out of sympathy or because they don’t know how to get out of it.

So basically it was a mess. So if anyone out there is feeling social anxiety, know that it’s alright. It’s all in your head. Just try to let things go. Don’t obsess and don’t self-doubt. Believe me if people don’t like you the clues are very clear. Don’t try to read between the lines, because there’s nothing there but crap.

That was a piece of my mind, wishing a peace of mind to you all.

Depression and Life by Suicide

This is going to be my darkest post so far. It deals with death. Not the physical state of being dead but the mental one as well as wishing to die in order to end the pain. People with mental disorders wish death upon themselves or even commit suicide not because they don’t want their lives to continue, but because they want their suffering to end. Suffering is a very big word some might think, but believe me it still underestimates what one passes through and cannot convey what it is to truly have a mental disorder push someone into depression.

To me depression feels like sitting alone in a dark room where the walls touch you on both sides and your head hits the ceiling. That’s not just it. The walls seem to be moving closer, tightening you ever so more. Thinking of anything may bother you and cause you greater sadness. Even if you think of a happy thing, the simple notion that you are unable to feel happy for this happy thought makes you go deeper into depression and despair. In its essence, depression is a vicious circle. The more you try to get out of it, it pulls you deeper. Just like quick sand, the more you try, the deeper you go. The only solution is to let someone pull you out of it. But for depressed people, asking for help isn’t as easy as it looks. That’s when their thoughts push them toward ending their life.

Mostly people who suffer from depression tend to have suicidal thoughts. A number of these individuals go through with it. People feel that nothing will make them feel better. They think this is the end. Depression causes one to lose interest in almost everything especially the things he likes and enjoys. Losing interest makes life not worth living. Imagine you lose joy in eating, in going out, in talking to anyone. You basically lose interest in living. This makes people go toward something that seems easy and doesn’t need more than one person to accomplish. It’s the only thing they think is the solution. It’s the easiest. It’s the quickest and to them, the most efficient. It’s not a coward or selfish move. It’s a desperation move. It’s the last shot (no pun intended). It seems to them like through suicide they will finally live without pain.

In my case, I think most probably depression was caused by obsessive behavior and intrusive thoughts. It was as if I lost control of my thoughts and my brain was dictating what I should be thinking of. It almost always dictated I think of the negative side of things. Almost all things. Negative thoughts cause negative feelings and with time, depression. It’s a very difficult thing knowing that you cannot trust your brain and don’t have control over it. The brain controls itself and you can do nothing but watch and feel like crap. That’s when my thoughts of “I want to die”, or starting to think of how much rest I might have have I been dead. Thinking of death is probably the only thought that generates good feelings, so logically it seems as the right thing to do.

So let’s not blame those who have killed themselves. Let’s not call them cowards. Let’s not call them selfish. Let’s not call them losers. They did not have weak personalities. They were warriors who tried to overcome a huge obstacle. Let’s instead learn from their death and work on helping people with depression. Let’s work on knowing that disease better and show every person in one’s life that he’s not alone, you might not know who might have depression. Let’s break the taboo and stop making fun of people seeing a psychologist, psychiatrist, therapist, or a shrink. And let’s stop belittling what they are going through.

This was a piece of my mind, wishing a peace of mind to you all.

OCD and Telling Others

“It’s okay, what you are feeling is normal”, “We all feel like this”, “Give it time it’ll go away”, “Stop being such a pussy” or “Man up”. If I had a single facial hair for every time I heard one of these sentences, I’d have a fully grown manly beard by now. These are probably the worst support or advisory remarks a person dealing with OCD and depression, or mental illness in general, could be told. No it’s not okay, it’s not normal, not everyone feels like this, time will only make it worse, and no it doesn’t mean I’m weak if I feel this way. And finally I am not a pussy, I have never felt like a cat my whole life.

I am not blaming anyone. I’m not even blaming myself. It’s just how things were. Trying to open up to others was such a hard feat that I thought so much before doing. I tried telling a lot of my close friends but not once, not a single time, was I met with support or understanding. Again I am not blaming anyone. If I didn’t have what I have, I might have had the same approach. It’s just the lack of understanding and awareness that is very difficult to deal with. Having understanding and support (as well as a support group or system) would make life so much easier for people with mental illness.

It is very difficult for a person with a mental illness to come out and say it publicly and let it be known to people close to them. It’s very difficult without taking the prevalent stigma associated with mental illness. It’s very difficult without some people’s view that the mentally ill are crazy or attention seekers or even wimps.

I was always the smiling guy. The happy-go-lucky guy, who seemed liked he had no care in the world. I would always be met with “You? No way!! You are always laughing and being silly and happy”. There’s a book by Ross Szabo and Melanie Hall whose title captures this perfectly. It’s called “Beyond Happy Faces”. Three simple words that capture the hell out of most people’s experience with mental illness. Not every “happy face” is a happy face and a happy life. I wasn’t even happy if I ordered a Happy Meal (Dear McDonalds, who can I talk to in order to get my lifetime supply of happy meals after this free plug for your delicious healthy burgers. Even our health minister would eat there; provided he brings his own food).

Even after I started treatment I kept my case on the down-low. I never felt comfortable sharing except with a select few. Even with them it was never easy. Then something happened that would change this for me. A very beautiful childhood friend of mine, whom I had known since we were very young, mentioned an organization whose main goal was to break the stigma. That organization is called Embrace (it’s a fund at AUBMC). You know the cliche saying that says “the day that changed my life” well that was it. It was a process that helped me day by day get to the openness I am having today. Some might say it is too much, and I should keep things to myself due to the aforementioned prevalent stigma and stereotyping which may lead to less job opportunities for me. I really, seriously, honestly don’t care about that. I don’t care if I never get a job opportunity in my life, I know I can do many things to make ends meet even if barely, because for once in my life, I am happy. I feel like due to all this I am sleeping better at night. I am content. I am grateful. I am enjoying the small things in life. I can read a book, go out, meet people, do so many things while being happy on the inside, not just putting on a happy facade.

My goal in life is for people who are still suffering alone to be able to come out and talk more freely, and know that they are not alone, there are others. Believe me it’s gets better when one becomes part of a whole.

That was a piece of my mind, wishing a peace of mind to you all.

OCD and Religion

Religion doesn’t cause OCD. OCD causes religion. Wait, before you hook the rope and tighten my noose, hear me out, I mean read me out (unless someone is reading this to you, then disregard the second sentence). What I refer to here (and will refer to in this post) as religion isn’t the moderate minding-my-own-business religion. It is not the moderate practice of religion. And by religion I don’t mean the widespread definition of religion that which worships a deity or several deities or none whatsoever. I actually mean the definition of the word which is “an interest, a belief, or an activity that is very important to a person or group” according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Basically religion in the sense that it is a way of life.

My OCD has been very loyal to me since a very young age, never leaving my side till this day. This is why I can be positive making the first statement I did; religion doesn’t cause OCD. I had OCD long before I started caring about religion, God, prayers, fasting, and other beliefs. I was raised by nominally Muslim parents (my father is Shia, Mom is Druze, so I’m half a Durzi; so when I die only my legs will come back. Got it? Reincarnation joke? And the Druze community hates me now). Both don’t practice. They have their own sets of beliefs. We were never raised on their beliefs. My brother and I were given the freedom to make our own beliefs. That’s how awesome my parents are.

My troubles started when I finished university and went to Switzerland. It was a totally new life, new people, new culture. I had to wash my own clothes, which I did after I ran out of things to wear; you might have seen me buying groceries in a Tuxedo, as I had nothing else to put on. In the land of the Swiss, I was all by myself. All the anxiety and issues I had in my head that had to do with my social life and friends was fading away gradually. My mind now had nothing substantial to obsess about. That is when I started having religious obsessions.

Mind you I wasn’t religious when I set foot in Switzerland. I did have my beliefs but religion wasn’t in my top priorities going forward. I started having thoughts that I should focus on my religion. I felt that I was being ungrateful. I felt something was missing. The thoughts were strong and wouldn’t subside until I read something that had to do with religion. I started reading, asking questions, going to websites, among other things. I would send emails and get replies. How to do this? What is this? Why is this like that? I had so many questions and got a flood of answers. Every question has so many different answers, and every answer creates so many obsessive thoughts.

I reached a phase where I would do things I wasn’t completely convinced with, but did them anyway to calm down my anxiety. It had nothing to do with heaven or hell. Nothing to do with reward or punishment. Basically it had nothing to do with God.
There was a time when I started considering not shaking hands with girls and even implemented that for a while. I am not saying it is wrong or right, I’m just saying that it is something I didn’t believe in and wasn’t convinced by. But I did it anyway in order to calm down the thoughts. God forbid I saw a hint of flesh on the TV, I would turn my head so quickly, it would almost fall off my shoulders. Going to the bathroom was my number one problem (got it? a poop joke?) My number two problem was…..also going to the bathroom (ok no more poop jokes). I would doubt the way I took a bath. Did I get enough water? Did it cover my whole body? I would spend tens of minutes in the bathroom just as a compulsive reaction to my obsessions. Then during prayer I would sometimes repeat the same thing several times maybe. I would doubt things I just did. Things I just said. I would start feeling heat in my chest, and a cold, shivering sensation all over my beautiful soft skin. I start feeling sweat form on my forehead. My heart starts beating faster. My breath becomes heavy. Overall it’s a slightly sucky feeling. I had no chance but to give in to the demands of my captors. So I would repeat, and doubt, and think, and say what if. Even after I finish from a certain practice I would revise what I have done and try to find calmness in answering my obsessions. All I can say – now that I am at this stage looking backwards – is that I lost a lot of time. I can clearly remember the things I used to doubt, and think to myself “how in the blue hell did I let this silly crappy thought control me, and how stupid was I to think that?”. But when one is in the middle of an obsession, good luck trying to think rationally, or even just think.

That was some time ago, I am now a different person. That took time and a lot of rational thinking, but that’s a topic for another day hopefully.

That was a piece of my mind, wishing a peace of mind to you all.