It Sounded Better in My Head

It Sounded Better in My Head

by Tim and Mike Bernard

 My name is Tim Bernard and I struggle with OCD, Anxiety and Depression. I thought I would share my story with ADAA hoping that my experience will help someone seek the resources they need and make them feel less alone. 

My father and I wrote IT SOUNDED BETTER IN MY HEAD — a fictional account of my mental health journey and my personal growth through music.  In a country, where it seems the majority of our youth are silently struggling with mental health, I think our story will resonate for a wide population as we all suffer together. It’s heartbreaking, heartwarming, and hilarious all at once.  

Below is the Forward outlining some of the strategies that helped me. 

I have to admit, as much as I've loved all of my father's books and tried to be as encouraging as I can with each one he's written, the prospect of him writing one so close to home and personal was a little terrifying for me. But as I laughed and cried the whole way through (and experienced the rollercoaster ride of anxiety that came with it) I realized he was giving me the opportunity to share my story and open up about the struggles I've learned to manage for the last 6 or 7 years. So I thought I  could share some things that have worked for me in dealing with OCD, anxiety, and depression.

1. Therapy

I’ve discovered after nearly 7 years of working with different therapists, each of whom had very different approaches to OCD and anxiety management, finding the right fit is sort of like online dating. It requires time and dedication, but once you match with someone you feel comfortable with and who allows you to let your guard down, the reward is well worth it. More generally speaking, what has been most helpful is opening up about my struggles. Whether it’s confiding in a therapist, your family, or your friends, the more people you let in, the more empowering it becomes. You quickly find that sharing your demons with others encourages them to do the same and even share their troubles with you. And if you take anything away from this story, it should be the realization that everyone is going through something. The isolation and loneliness that anxiety, depression, OCD, and any mental health struggle seems to perpetuate becomes a bit less convincing.

Misery loves company, but company is empowering! Talking through your struggles with someone who can sympathize is great, but those who can empathize with your specific struggle can be incredibly enlightening and open your mind to this fact even further. And that won’t happen unless you truly open up. Regardless of the specific condition you’re dealing with, the struggle is universal.

 2. Meditation

Consistently meditating, even when you’re in the best headspace, has also helped ground me in the present when my thoughts are overwhelming. My current goal more than anything is to be as present as I can be, as consistently as possible. Meditation allows me to ground myself when I’m inundated with intrusive thoughts, fears, and worries. I use Headspace and the Daily Calm, but there are tons of resources out there. I’ve meditated on the NYC subway, in the shower, on a yoga mat in the gym, in Central Park, and in my bedroom. Anytime and anywhere you can take a few minutes to re-center, breathe, and get as present as possible, will be extremely helpful.

3. Productive distraction

I can honestly say that without the outlet of music, I would be in a much darker place than I am today. I’ve managed to pour the emotion, fear, and hopelessness of my mental struggles into my music and never could have imagined that such a personal process would resonate on the scale that it has. It has not only gotten me through some dark periods in my life, but has also expanded my community and given me opportunities to talk to other people dealing with the same fears, emotions, and struggles that I am. Music essentially serves as my journal- it’s become a catharsis for me and the most effective way to articulate how I feel and what I’m going through mentally in a meaningful way. But any hobby, craft, or activity that allows you to pause the world around you for just an hour or two a day will work wonders for you. Change whatever isn’t working. For me this meant cutting out alcohol, going to the gym, stepping outside of my comfort zone, letting people know when I wasn't okay. For the longest time, the lofty goal that I held on to was happiness. But life is going to throw you curveballs at every turn and my goal has become building my skills and mindfulness abilities to the point where I can deal with them in a productive and healthy way. And to be PRESENT for all of them.

Here's one final thought.

I used to be angry with my condition and wish it away, but I learned that it makes me who I am and I’m slowly learning to love it. There is no magic pill that is going to cure me of the mind I was born with, but there are methods to learn to live with it in a healthy and a fulfilling way. I in part owe my passion, relentlessness, and deeply caring qualities to my OCD and while it’s caused me a great deal of pain and suffering, I’ve also become a stronger version of myself and I am grateful for that. This battle is far from over and I would be lying if I said I don’t have days that feel unbearable and I ask myself “am I ever going to be okay?”. As I write this, I’m faced with all sorts of negative thoughts about if it’s good enough, if anyone will read it, etc. But that comes with being vulnerable and putting yourself out there when it’s the hardest to do it.


Tim Bernard music

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