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The Friday Five - 5/14/21

5) OCD Is Not An Adjective


I absolutely loved the conversation I had on this week's episode with Alegra from Obsessively Ever After. Sharing our vulnerable accounts of our struggles and triumphs with OCD was so cathartic. We talked about the scariest aspects of our illness including hit and run OCD, sexually intrusive thoughts, the deceptive feeling of hallucination, and so much more. If you are a sufferer of OCD or know someone who is, remember a few of the following things:


  • Phrases such as, “I’m so OCD,” which are often used to describe a fleeting feeling someone has about needing to clean, organize or be somewhere on time, can minimize the immense hardship and burden endured by those who suffer from actual OCD. Refrain from using "OCD" as just a common adjective. It is so much more complex and multi-layered.

  • Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) is the main and most effective form of therapy for OCD. If a doctor does not practice this form of treatment, they are most likely not the best fit for someone who truly suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

  • However bad the obsessions and/or compulsions are, IT WILL GET BETTER! It is absolutely highly possible to recover from OCD and live with a much more mild and manageable level of intrusive thoughts and compulsions. Many sufferers of OCD who were once debilitated by the illness now live very full, successful, happy lives.


4) Ways to help someone who’s struggling with mental health issues:


  • Remember that suggestions are not necessarily helpful. Oftentimes people rush to make suggestions as a means to fill in awkward silences. But just sitting with someone, listening to them or embracing the silence and being present is such a beautiful, powerful response. If someone asks for your opinion or recommendation and you truly feel knowledgeable enough, then go ahead and offer it. Otherwise, it's usually best to avoid unsolicited advice or suggestions.

  • Instead of asking generalized questions such as, "how can I help?” try to be as specific as possible. Some good examples of what to ask instead are: “Would you like me to help you schedule any appointments or brainstorm ideas for next steps?” “Would you like me to take your kids for a bit while you rest and take some time to figure some things out?” “Is there something we could do together right now that would make you feel a bit better, like watch a movie or take a walk?”

  • If someone is really struggling, an amazing way to help them is to spend time researching on their behalf, gathering resources, and putting a little folder, kit, or care package together. Drop it off for them (mailbox is always good so they don’t need to worry about interacting). That way, most of the work is already done, and they have one less step to worry about.


3) Some favorite resources to follow or check out for further mental health awareness:


The Motherhood Center (maternal mental health)

Motherhood Understood (maternal mental health)

Glennon Doyle’s Podcast, We Can Do Hard Things

TED Talk - Andrew Solomon, The Struggles Of Mental Health

On Being Podcast

Todd Baratz (Instagram)

Therapy For Black Girls (Instagram and Podcast)

2) A Perspective On Sex and Anti-Depressents, By Leah Carey

I was in my mid-teens the first time a therapist told me she thought I would benefit from antidepressants. But for 15-plus years I resisted her and multiple other therapists who said the same thing because I was brought up in a home that said, “If something is wrong, work harder! Taking a pill is a sign of failure.”


At age 32, the realization that I was in serious trouble finally pushed through the haze of denial. I couldn’t “work harder” because I was so depressed! But I was also afraid that an anti-depressant would ruin any possibility of having pleasurable sex (which I wasn’t having anyway, but that’s another story lol).


What I didn’t understand until my brain chemicals stabilized on the meds was that depression was making it impossible for me to connect with people in a way that would allow me to have pleasurable sex. I was emotionally vicious with myself, and that is not the basis for the kind of stable, loving relationship that supports a connected sex life.

Yes, my sex drive has decreased a bit since starting the anti-depressant. But I’m more present and available now for the sex that I’m having. That, in turn, allows me to have more connection and pleasure. I would much rather be on the medication with a lower sex drive than not on the medication and unable to sustain a relationship at all.


While everyone should meet with their doctor to decide whether SSRI’s are the best option for you, it’s so important to understand that medication is not a sign of weakness or failure.


Especially during the pandemic, when life has been so hard for so long, you are allowed to take care of yourself in whatever way feels best to you. Despite what we are often told, this choice doesn’t have to mean sacrificing your sexual connection in the process.

Leah Carey is a Sex and Intimacy Coach and host of the podcast Good Girls Talk About Sex (www.goodgirlstalk.com). Join her for an evening of no-holds-barred girl talk in her monthly PJ Parties on Zoom (www.leahcarey.com/pjparty) and use the code “MARTINI” for $5 off! For information about coaching visit www.leahcarey.com or find her on Instagram @goodgirlstalk.


1) Date Night Questions: This week’s questions are for couples in which one or both partners struggle(s) with anxiety and/or any other mental illness. They are meant to be asked and answered by one partner, and if applicable, the roles should be switched so that the other partner has the chance to answer. Feel free to add your own questions and take the conversation in whatever direction feels natural. However, it’s important to try to both create a space of love, support, safety, and empathy throughout the discussion.

  • How does anxiety manifest throughout your day? What are some ways in which you think anxiety affects your body physically, as well as your thoughts?

  • What are some ways you struggle from your anxiety (or insert whatever word is best suited) that are not apparent to most people, the "invisible struggles" which even I might not realize?

  • One way you feel supported in life right now is:

  • Something I do that helps to ease your fears and calm you?

  • Something specific I could practice more and work on to help better support your mental health is:

  • In whatever ways feel honest and natural, describe how are you presently feeling in life about each of the following topics (also fill in a few more that might be personally affecting your partner):

Sleep

Therapy

Self-care

Medication

Support

Family

Connection

Sex

Joy

Peace

Hope

  • Is there a book, podcast, movie, or something that has really helped to comfort you and heal from your struggles that you would like to share with me so I can even better understand your journey?

  • What words do you need to hear from me right now to help you feel more supported, seen, heard, and understood?

If you and your partner benefit from these questions, then you would absolutely love our new Date Night Questions ebook, which includes 12 diverse, in-depth topics, small bonding challenges, relatable anecdotes and so much more! Click here to take your communication to a level of even greater connection. The book also helps support us to keep producing valuable content, and we thank you for your support.


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