I get asked questions like this a lot when I’m doing presentations or Q&As on Twitch and YouTube. The simple fact is I’m not struggling with or managing or dealing with any of the mental illness diagnoses I had in the past. I’m not managing OCD or GAD or depression or addiction. And it’s been over 10 years now. I’m not using anything to do that. There was no special secret to that. I had to make changes with how I was interacting with experiences inside and outside of my head.
In the past, it’s like I made omelets by hitting myself in the face with the frying pan. It caused a lot of pain in my face so I thought I had a Face Pain Disorder. But then I learned it’s not necessary to hit myself in the face with a frying pan if I want to make omelets. And I also learned that there were other things I could make in life. So everything from the goals through the way of doing them, has changed. I could go back to hitting myself in the face with the frying pan but I would have to choose to start doing that again. Although I thought that was useful and necessary in the past, now I see that it’s much more useful to not hit myself in the face with the frying pan and I often don’t have to use frying pans at all.
It’s really been about learning how to approach mental health as a set of skills. Mental illness isn’t something that can just happen to me. It’s a way of interacting with experiences, inside and outside of my head.
Sometimes people are in situations where other people are throwing frying pans at them. Even then, I don’t think we should be blaming the victims and labeling them with a disorder. We should change the systems around them that are throwing the frying pans. Instead of seeing people as struggling with a problem, it’s useful to recognize that those systems attacking them need to change.
And one other way I know it’s possible to get over OCD and not just manage it, is that, from a scientific perspective, it makes no sense to say these things are chronic. There’s no biological anomaly in my body or my brain. There’s nothing testable. I have no symptoms. Saying that mental illness is chronic just isn’t a falsifiable hypothesis unless we have something concrete to test. And to prove it, you would have to monitor everybody diagnosed with OCD until they died. Are you just going to follow me around waiting for a relapse to happen? Creepy.
Telling somebody they have to manage OCD forever, could be a great business plan if you’re selling things for managing it, but it is not based on science.