My Obsessive Life

My Obsessive Life

by Dave Donahue

 In 2006, I was diagnosed with an immune disorder and had a bout of meningitis. Previously I had been a US Marine, a US Navy reservist and a commercial electrician. After I got sick and started to recover I started getting panic attacks and anxiety. It got so bad I ended up in the mental health section of the VA hospital. All of this reduced me from a highly motivated and confident electrician to a shell of who I used to be. Over time I realized that this is just a part of my life and that I needed to accept who I was, not what I was before. I relived a lot of trauma from childhood abuse and other things in my childhood that were scary or made me angry. While my life has changed, I noticed I became much more empathetic to those with mental disorders and even became more sociable. I also quit drinking alcohol and have been free of that for many years now.

I realized through therapy that I have always had anxiety and depression ever since a small child. When I was about 12 I used to pull out the hair on top of my head. I also performed rituals like not stepping on cracks on sidewalks or walking on the same side of the street home. I became successful as an electrician but would self sooth with alcohol. Once I gave that up, the emotions had to go somewhere but where? Sometimes I cry, sometimes I scream but in the end through meditation and using guided meditation for sleep I have found some relief. I am thankful that there is now awareness, much more than when I was younger that addresses these issues.

As far as therapy is concerned I have gone through a series of health and wellness groups through the VA In my personal life what helps me is to try and stay as active as possible to eliminate the negative thought patterns. Most of my anxiety comes in the morning so I try and calm my mind before I even get out of bed. I also bike to a local park and ride a couple miles, talk to a friend along the way and then walk at least 2 miles and I do this a few days a week. I reached out to ADAA because I am very interested in learning about others and how they deal with anxiety and depression and also coping with chronic conditions.

One of the most positive things I have done with regards to learning to accept and stop with the obsessive compulsive rituals when I am too in my thoughts is to go out and meet people. In the last two years I have met at least 50 people on my walks and bike rides and have made many friends at first just people in passing and now we have regular talks. This is my go to when things get tough for me, to get out and talk with others, We are all living the human condition I realized whether we are rich poor, healthy or unhealthy. We are all searching for happiness. And yet we do things to keep from feeling that way.

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