I am Royce White: Living and working with anxiety disorder

I am Royce White.

I am not 6’ 8. I can barely grow a beard, much less one of the epic varieties that White often sports. I’ve never been named “Mr. Basketball” in Minnesota, or anywhere else for that matter. In fact, my basketball career ended before I finished high school.

I’m also not a former top-five NCAA basketball player, nor was I the 16th overall selection of the 2012 NBA Draft. Royce White plays basketball better than most people on the planet. I’ve merely worked typical 9-to-5 office jobs, worked in publicity, and I’m a journalist with credits for ESPN, Wired, Esquire, Details, and many other outlets.

So it’s clear that I’m not, in fact, Royce White. Physically and financially, White and I are worlds apart. Despite these differences, however, in the one way that might matter the most, I am Royce White.

I’ve been dealing, mostly in secret, with a mixture of generalized anxiety disorder, panic attacks, and obsessive-compulsive disorder for nearly 10 years now (and probably even longer than that). My family knows. A few of my closest friends know, and (generally out of necessity) some former co-workers and employers know. I haven’t, however, been completely honest with most of the people that know me — the online community, the same community that, because of my anxiety, has become an integral part of my daily socialization.

Royce White’s battle with his employer, the Houston Rockets, over what accommodations they will make and what provisions they will allow him to have in order to feel “safe” at work while also dealing with his anxiety disorder, has made me painfully aware that I’ve been hiding. It’s time for me to step out from behind the anonymity of the Internet to give my thousands of Twitter followers and Facebook friends, the kind people who read my articles in various publications, and those that consider themselves my friends a chance to understand who I really am — a guy not all that different from Royce White. We’re both trying to navigate the professional working world while also dealing with serious anxiety disorders.

I am not just Royce White. Royce White is also Scott Neumyer. And he’s also anyone else with the same problem.

You never forget your first.

The first time I can remember consciously having a full blown panic attack — the kind of panic attack that isn’t just a fleeting few moments of anxiety, but one that turned my body into a viscous fluid, barely able to stand and form coherent sentences — I was in the upper deck of Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field waiting to see Bruce Springsteen. Moments later I was sitting in a bathroom stall at one of the country’s newest sports stadiums with my head between my knees, sweating from every pore of my body.

Everybody has anxiety. It’s one of nature’s greatest tricks. It keeps us alive, alert, and ready to brace for impact in the case of dangerous situations. It’s one of the most important things your body can do and it’s helped humans survive for many years.

This was not that.

This was what happens when your mind and your body start going haywire, firing synapses, blasting adrenaline through your veins, and causing your fight-or-flight response to start binging out of control even when you’re in no immediate danger. That is what happens during a panic attack.

How you react to that first instance of panic determines just how deeply you’re about to slide into a panic and anxiety disorder. Once you decide to internalize that attack — once you ingrain that harried moment of maximum anxiety into your brain — you become sensitized. Personally, it makes me feel like my head is in a guillotine and, at every moment of every day, the man in the black hood might cut the rope.

I worry that something is going to happen and that something is probably going to kill me. I worry about being unable to stop that nameless something from happening. I worry about every single thing I do and every single move I make, wondering if the slightest change, feeling, emotion, or mistake could make that terrible, nameless, faceless something happen.

I worry about worrying.

And then it just starts going around and around in a circle. A (seemingly) never-ending fucking circle that goes round and round and round and round and round and round and round.

An old adage often attributed to Albert Einstein states, “Insanity [is] doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” This is what it feels like to have panic and anxiety disorder. Only you’re never really expecting different results. Instead, you’re always expecting the same result: worry. At times, you literally feel like you’re going insane. It could be generalized anxiety, agoraphobia, or some other specific form of anxiety in the spectrum, but the feeling is the same. It feels like a lonely, hopeless, worry-filled hell.

Now you know what I worry about, and what Royce White worries about.

White doesn’t like to pin his initial introduction to anxiety and panic attacks to one specific moment, but much has been made about his experience one day as a 10 year old. After running wind sprints during basketball practice, his best friend collapsed right in front of Royce. Watching his good buddy on the court, drooling uncontrollably, and then riding alongside him in the ambulance on the way to the hospital, where he would be saved from a heart condition, certainly had an impact on White, but he’s not ready to say that’s the moment when his anxiety began.

Photo Credit: USA Today Sports Images

“It’s tough for me to just say that it’s that incident,” White said during a lengthy phone conversation, “just because I know so much now about anxiety disorder. I might have been predisposed to [my anxiety]. That’s how far along the science has come for anxiety. My mom deals with it. My grandmothers dealt with it. There’s a lot of alcoholism in the history of my family. Those things are all prevalent. But the incident did happen. I’m just not comfortable with putting the information out there that that’s where it started.”

Most anxiety sufferers can point to their first internalized panic attack, but once you start to recognize that you live with an anxiety disorder, it’s easy to look back at your life and see many different moments growing up that you never thought twice about when they happened and think, “Ah, that was probably a panic attack.”

Looking back now, I can point to dozens of moments throughout my childhood that, if they happened now, I’d instantly call them panic attacks: the time in second grade when I broke down crying, during class, because 8 x 10 and 40 x 2 couldn’t both possibly equal 80; the way I refused to sit on a certain side of the car in the backseat because it “just wasn’t right”; and the time at baseball camp eight hours away from home at Virginia Wesleyan College when I spent an entire night vomiting into an industrial-sized garbage can that my roommate dragged in for me before he left the room to sleep on the couch in the lounge. At the time, I blamed it on the chicken fried steak I’d eaten for dinner (a food that I, to this day, still can’t even look at on a menu without getting a little nauseous). Looking back, it was most certainly anxiety.

White can relate.

“I would start to feel sick to my stomach when I was a kid,” he said, reminiscing about his childhood experience with, what he now knows was actually, anxiety. “I would be so scared of actually throwing up that I would end up making myself throw up.”

What makes anxiety disorders so difficult to pinpoint and so misunderstood is that anxiety is an incredibly unique emotion. No two people with an anxiety disorder are alike — there is no obvious wound or manifestation. Each victim experiences different symptoms, handles the situation differently, and internalizes the attack differently after it has passed.

“Mental health is the most individualistic health condition on the planet,” White said. “It’s cognitive. There is no other health condition as dynamic because the brain is so unique to each person.”

“At one point,” White continued, “my anxiety had a lot to do with my own health and I was worried -from the event that I saw as a teenager at practice – that maybe I had a heart condition nobody knew about or my lungs were faulty. Or maybe I had some other type of illness that nobody would know about. You always hear about somebody finding out about their sickness once it’s already too late.”

Prior to having an anxiety disorder myself, I watched someone very close to me suffer through several years of panic attacks (before they pursued medication, professional help, and came out being able to manage their anxieties successfully), so I knew what anxiety looked like — or thought I did. What I didn’t know at the time, however, was that their anxiety would differ so greatly from what I would come to experience.

The Bruce Springsteen concert was supposed to be my reward for a job well done, a thoughtful thank you gift from a colleague and something that I’d undoubtedly remember forever. I do. I remember it as one of the most difficult nights of my life.

In 2003, I was 23 years old studying for my teaching certification and working as a substitute in the schools I attended as a kid.

I’d left a job in pharmaceuticals that paid well because I couldn’t pretend to be interested in chemicals and numbers and Excel spreadsheets any longer. I wanted to be surrounded by books and students writing and other teachers and learning and all the romantic clichés imaginable.

I spent my days wandering the halls, being the “cool sub” (mostly because I was young and let the kids get away with harmless things that most of the older substitutes wouldn’t tolerate) while also serving as assistant coach for the high school baseball team, the same team I had played on only a few years before.

After a successful season full of sunflower seed spitting, the head coach handed me a ticket to join him and his best friend at brand-new Lincoln Financial Field for a summer night with The Boss. He wasn’t just a fan of Bruce Springsteen. He was a Bruce fanatic, hard-core, and had seen The Boss live more times than I had years on the earth.

Photo Credit: USA Today Sports Images

I’d grown up rushing down suburban New Jersey roads in my dad’s brown pickup listening to eight-tracks of classic rock, but it had been a long time since I really listened intently to any Springsteen. I could sing along to “Born to Run” and a few lines of “Rosalita (Come Out Tonight),” but that was it. There was no way I could possibly hold court with Coach, so perhaps my nerves were already on high alert before we’d headed down the Garden State Parkway en route to Philly in my friend’s SUV. My goal was to try to have fun, but also make sure I didn’t ruin his night.

We arrived a few hours early, set up a couple of battered lawn chairs in the parking lot behind his SUV, popped a few beers, and listened closely to hear the faint sounds of the E-Street Band doing their sound check. So far, so good.

After downing the beers, I needed to pee. I held it in for a while then let the guys know and headed off on a slow jog toward the stadium. I ran perhaps a half-mile before finding the back of a line to the Porta Johns that was way longer than it should have been.

I waited 15 more long, increasingly painful and uncomfortable minutes before I was finally able to relieve myself. On the way back I met up with Coach and his buddy making their way toward the stadium.

Our seats were right along the edge of the upper deck. Perfect view. Great sound. And Bruce was just about ready to come out.

Yet as I sat down in my seat next to Coach, something didn’t feel right. It’s hard to describe the initial feeling, but now that I’ve experienced similar feelings so many times I can take a pretty good stab at it: I felt my hands slowly getting clammy. I felt disoriented and my vision began to blur. Flop sweat started to form at the top of my brow, and my stomach was turning. It wasn’t yet rolling so hard that I felt like I was going to vomit, but it was uncomfortable like the onset of motion sickness you might get trying to read while driving in the backseat of a car. I just wasn’t right.

“I’m going to hit the bathroom,” I told Coach before popping out of my seat and looking back toward the stairs. “I’ll be back in a minute.”

Coach looked at me and, seeing the beads of sweat now dripping down my forehead and into my eyes, sensed something was wrong.

“You OK?” he asked me. “You need anything?”

“Yeah,” I said. “I’m OK. Just not feeling the best at the moment. I think I just have to go to the bathroom.”

Maybe Coach thought I just couldn’t handle a couple beers and needed to hit the bathroom for a little drunken puke. Maybe he thought I was scared of heights. Or maybe he didn’t really care because his hero was about to take the stage. I can tell you with near certainty, however, that he didn’t know that I was having a panic attack. At that very moment, I didn’t even know.

I found the bathroom, claimed an open stall, sat down, and ripped off a few sheets of toilet paper to wipe away the sweat that was dripping down my face. I thought I’d use the restroom, feel better, and be dancing and singing in my seat in no time.

Still not feeling very well, I soon headed back out. I didn’t want to be gone for too long. I didn’t want Coach to worry.

As soon as I reached my seat, my head started to spin. I felt dizzy and started to lose a grip on my surroundings. I knew where I was, but I was beginning to feel that insular singularity that often comes with panic attacks. I was having trouble focusing on anything outside of myself.

“Scott,” I heard Coach say over the early guitar chords coming from the stage. “You sure you’re OK? You don’t look so hot. Too many beers?”

Of course that’s what he thought. He just assumed I was a lightweight. That was fine. It didn’t matter to me, as long as I didn’t screw up his night.

“Not really,” I told him, getting up from my seat again. “I’m going to hit the bathroom again. I’m not sure what’s going on.”

I rushed back to the bathroom, found the same stall available, swung open the door, slammed it shut and locked it. I sat down on the toilet — pants still on — and pulled out my candy bar-shaped orange Nokia phone.

“Hey,” my girlfriend (now my wife) said when she answered my call. “Aren’t you supposed to be at the concert?”

“I am,” I told her. “I’m in the bathroom. I’ve been in here a couple times now. I’ve spent more time in here than out at my seat.”

“Why?” she asked, not yet sounding that concerned or worried.

“Denise,” I said as quietly as I could while still loud enough for her to hear me, “I think I’m having a panic attack.”

Royce White is certainly not the first athlete to suffer from panic attacks or generalized anxiety disorder. Former broadcaster and Pro Football Hall of Fame coach John Madden very famously, hated to fly so much that he ended up riding around the country in his Madden cruiser, an RV that cost more than many single-family homes. The difference with White is that he’s the first athlete to demand certain accommodations as a player in the NBA.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

White wants to drive to as many games as possible so he doesn’t have to make 98 panic-inducing flights during the season. He also wants specific conditions met, conditions that, if they come to fruition, will set a brand new precedent in sports. He wants the Rockets to view his condition as a chronic illness and he wants to determine his treatment according to his own needs, not those of the team, conditions he has pressed for since being drafted.

White’s main sticking point is the mental health protocol that he wants in place. White wants an independent doctor to be the one that makes the call day in and day out as to whether he is fit to practice, play, or train, a doctor whose primary concern is White’s health, and not the Rockets’ record. He doesn’t want the team’s doctor to make the call.

The Rockets are reticent about providing such a provision. Not only would it create an additional expense to pay for an independent doctor, it also leaves the daily status of one of their players in the hands of someone not in their employ. White has no issue with the team doctor — the same doctor who can clear Jeremy Lin to play if he has a bad ankle or declare James Harden unfit to play due to a broken leg — determining this physical condition. White, however, wants an independent and impartial doctor to determine his mental condition, whether or not he is able to play, practice, or fly. And never before in the history of the NBA (and possibly all of organized professional sports) has such a protocol been put in place. To no surprise, Houston has balked at the idea.

The 2012-13 NBA season began without White suiting up in a Rockets jersey. He had yet to play a second before they suspended him on Jan. 6, 2013 for “refusing to provide services.” Twenty days later, White and the Rockets mutually agreed to put their differences aside for the time being while White reported to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers (of the NBA Development League) on Feb. 11.

White debuted for the Vipers on Feb. 12 against the Maine Red Claws. He played 18 minutes and grabbed eight boards, scored seven points, and had four assists. Still, the issues were far from resolved.

“It’s not resolved and that’s the truth,” White said to me afterwards. “I’m a straight shooter and I’m sure there will be more stories in the future, but it’s not resolved. What we did is that we signed an agreement that said we were going to scratch all the fines and everything that was going on. We were going to start over fresh. I took less money, obviously, because the season had gone on a little bit. I took, I think, $500,000 or $600,000 less than my regular contract, for this season. We said we’re going to reset and, on paper, acknowledge that I have an anxiety disorder and we’re going to acknowledge that anxiety disorder is a disability and needs to be reasonably accommodated.”

But what about White’s sticking point, that oh-so-important “mental health protocol” and the independent doctor?

“As far as the protocol that I kept preaching about, it was to my understanding – and this is part of the reason I came down to join the Vipers – that if I came down and showed that I wanted to play — because there was skepticism about whether or not I even wanted to play anymore — they would start to work on the protocol that we discussed. It hasn’t happened yet, but I’m very hopeful that it will. The Rockets and the NBA know that I’m very firm and I’m not going to forget about it.”

And White has not forgotten. On March 21, he announced via Twitter that he would no longer play for the Vipers. He missed three road games but then returned for their final six regular-season (home) games.

On April 5, White played 34 minutes for the Vipers against the Austin Toros and showed flashes of just why the Rockets gambled on him with the 16th pick in the 2012 draft. White’s line? 28 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists, 4 steals, and 1 block.

A performance like that is the very reason that White’s situation is so divisive. He clearly has the talent and ability to play at the highest level, but his steadfast refusal to play under conditions that he feels are “unsafe” is making life hell for everyone — White, the Rockets, and the fans.

Provided that White sticks to his plan of not playing during the Vipers’ playoff schedule, he will have played a total of 16 games in the 2012-13 season averaging just over 25 minutes per game, 11.4 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 3.3 assists.

“The NBA drew the short straw,” he said, “because they’re not just going to be able to give me a Xanax and say, ‘Here, go get on a plane,’ because I’m not taking no damn Xanax because I know it’s addictive. That’s something that I shouldn’t have to do in order to play basketball.”

So far, however, it seems the Houston Rockets believe otherwise.

While I successfully made it through the entire Bruce Springsteen concert, and actually ended up enjoying it quite a bit, that August night in 2003 is the last live concert I’ve seen and the last time that I’ve been in a large sports stadium. It was also the beginning of the end of my teaching career.

When school started again in September, I had no plans of quitting. My panic attack at the Springsteen concert over the summer was a terrible night for me, but I hadn’t yet internalized it to the point of becoming afraid of every waking moment. I moved on and for the first month of the school year I continued to substitute teach.

Sometimes anxiety begins over the most miniscule things. For me, it was the day when I was substituting for the high school’s gym teacher and the gym was too full to use for my class. I had to take my students to the school’s library, tiny and already packed with students.

Photo Credit: USA Today Sports Images

That slight change set me off completely. Halfway through class, as I sat at a table while the kids enjoyed a free period, I began sweating. Nearly every single symptom that I experienced in the upper deck of Lincoln Financial Field began to course through my body as 30 students in my charge romped around the library.

I vividly remember sitting there while one of my students started talking to me. I usually enjoyed hearing about their lives outside of school, the crazy thing that happened over the weekend or who was hooking up with who. It was one of the perks of being the young substitute; I felt like they actually enjoyed my company. This day, however, I couldn’t focus on a word he was saying. My eyes felt like they were bulging out of my head and my mouth was so dry you’d think I’d just eaten a boxful of chalk. I was out of my mind with anxiety.

When the bell mercifully rang, I ran out of the library, down the hallway to the main office, told the secretary that I was sick, headed home, and dove under the covers on my bed for hours.

I never worked another minute as a teacher, substitute or otherwise. If we’re keeping score, I did end up passing my teaching certification test. I’d already signed up and paid to take the test, so I thought I might as well take it anyway. I ran into an old high school classmate at the testing center, had a panic attack two minutes before the test began, aced it anyway, and went home knowing I’d never teach.

“This is not only a really fascinating topic,” sports psychology expert and coach Bill Cole tells me, “but I think potentially groundbreaking. I think it could turn sports on its head.”

Cole, a former tennis professional and Division I tennis coach has worked with athletes for years. He’s had golfers with the yips, gymnasts experiencing “blocking,” and players from every sport dealing with choking. He has heard and seen nearly everything possible in the sports psychology world. Yet even he thinks Royce White’s situation is uncharted territory.

“Normally, institutional sport is one of the last bastions of really institutionalized abuse, in a lot of ways,” Cole said. “Maybe discriminating against people with mental difficulties is one of those arenas. So maybe White is doing everybody a really big favor by putting the spotlight on it and, at the minimum, making people think about it.”

That’s precisely what White thinks.

“This is actually going to be a great thing for the league,” White said, “and a great thing for me and my career. There’s going to be a lot of stories coming out of this where people go, ‘Ah, if they had that protocol when this person was in the league, maybe they wouldn’t have had issues or dropped out.’ I’m not just talking about a phobia of flying. I’m talking about alcoholism, drug abuse, sex addiction, and many other things.”

From what White tells me, he has plenty of athletes in all sports in his corner.

“So many athletes have contacted me and told me to keep doing what I’m doing,” he said, “athletes of old and athletes that are still playing today. They told me how they ended up dealing with [their anxieties] by drinking or some other way. I had athletes that told me, ‘I was scared of flying too, but I ended up taking Ambien, and then I had to check myself into rehab because I couldn’t get the sleep without the Ambien.’ When you talk about taking 98 Ambien a year, that’s not safe. We know that now. And things like Xanax. That’s not safe. The NBA actually banned benzodiazepines because it’s so addictive.”

Benzodiazepines, like Xanax, are psychoactive drugs widely prescribed to treat a variety of metal and physical health issues, from insomnia to anxiety. They can also be addictive as hell and cause a host of health issues themselves. Even SSRIs (selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors), drugs like Paxil, Zoloft, and Lexapro, that work in a less dramatic way to, in layman’s terms, rebalance a chemical imbalance in the body and help with managing anxiety and depression, can have annoying, strange, and sometimes severe side effects. The decision to take any of these drugs is not like taking a cortisone shot to fix a sore knee.

Trust me, I’ve tried many of these drugs before finding one that works best for me on a daily basis (Zoloft). Paxil did nothing for me. Lexapro showed no positive results when I tried it. Even the generic form of Zoloft (Sertraline) was akin to taking nothing at all. The worst, however, was a period of several weeks when I took Cymbalta.

After giving the medication a few weeks to work its way into my system (an unavoidable evil of all SSRIs), Cymbalta made me dizzy and gave me vision problems. My doctor started to wean me off the drug little by little (another unavoidable evil of taking SSRIs — you can’t just stop). The next week and a half I lay on the couch alternately shivering and sweating. At times, I had brief hallucinations and felt like bugs were literally crawling under my skin. Despite never having used an illegal drug stronger than marijuana in my entire life, I felt like what I imagined a “dope sick” junkie feels like during withdrawal.

What most people that call for White to stop “whining” and play, or hang it up and get a real job, don’t realize is that mental illness is just that — an illness.

“It took me a long time to understand that this was mental illness,” former Team Canada Inline Hockey goalie Kendra Fisher tells me during a phone interview. “This wasn’t just something that was in my head. It wasn’t something I chose from day to day. It was an illness and I was sick. I had to learn how to recover and get to a state of recovery that allows me to cope and live my life accordingly.”

As a young ice hockey goalie on her way up, Fisher was poised to join Team Canada until anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and agoraphobia got in the way. During tryouts, Fisher started to experience panic attacks and severe anxiety.

“I was ending up in the emergency room every day,” she said, “not knowing what was wrong.”

Fisher got to camp and ended up on a red-eye flight back home shortly thereafter.

“Unfortunately, before I left,” Fisher told me, “when I had gone to the coach and tried to explain what was going on and what was wrong, the question I was posed with was, ‘Is it going to help you any if you know you’ve made the team? Is it going to help you if you know that we want you to come play for Team Canada?’ That certainly made it a memorable moment, but unfortunately not for one I’d like to remember.”

The difference, however, between Fisher and White is that Fisher suffered in silence for years, never letting her teams know the severity of what she was feeling.

“I certainly wasn’t at the top of my game for a while,” she said. “It was scary. It was petrifying to be on the ice some nights. Goaltending is a lonely position and when you’re struggling with being alone and you’re spending all but three or four minutes active, on the ice, by yourself in that net trying to talk yourself out of panic attack after panic attack. It wasn’t something I allowed people to know I was going through, which made it more of a struggle.”

Fisher is now an advocate for mental health awareness and speaks regularly about her experience and struggles with anxiety and depression. She, like White, wants people to know, “It can be absolutely devastating, but it can also be coped with, and it can be something that you live with successfully.”

It took me nearly six months to crawl out of my anxiety-ridden bed and get a new job after I left teaching, six months of medication and exposure and cognitive behavior therapy and extremely supportive loved ones. But when I did get back into the workforce, I found myself, like White, struggling with how to navigate the professional world while also dealing with an anxiety disorder.

I’ve had two different day jobs in the past nine years. The first was an office job. All I had to do was put in my hours behind a desk, and clock out at night before heading home. Yet even that filled me with anxiety.

Every single time I saw my boss near lunchtime, I quivered in fear that he would ask me to hop in his expensive car and join him for a quick business lunch. It wasn’t the fear of actually going to lunch that I was afraid of, because I knew I would never go. It was the fear of having to tell the man who signs my paychecks, “No.”

After a year of dodging him, I finally scheduled a sit-down in his office and spilled my guts, telling him my anxiety disorder made me terrified to go to lunch with him. I told him that it wasn’t personal and that I’d be happy to have lunch right there in the cafeteria, or his office, if he liked, but dining out wasn’t ever going to happen.

To my surprise, he took it extremely well. He was understanding, kind, and supportive. That alone made me feel almost comfortable enough to go to lunch with him. Almost.

After leaving that job, I took another more suited to my condition. I started working from home for a company on the other side of the country — simultaneously the best and worst possible situation for me. Although it allowed me to focus on work rather than my anxiety, it also sheltered me from interacting with the world.

I lasted almost a year before I ran out of excuses as to why I couldn’t just hop on a plane to join them for meetings and parties and client introductions. Then I had the very same sit-down with my new bosses as I had with my previous one. Only, this time, it was on Skype.

Fortunately, my bosses were equally as amendable to my mental health situation. While they would love it if I could fly across the country in what I view as an enormous metal death-machine, they understood and were willing to work around it. I’ve been there ever since.

The first thing I thought when I read about Royce White was how I felt so much empathy for him. I knew exactly what it was like to have to deal with your job while also dealing with an immense amount of soul-crushing anxiety. I knew what White was going through. My first reaction was to defend him every time some sportswriter or fan told him to “just suck it up.”

I wanted to call him up and tell him to keep doing what he’s doing and to speak out because it can only make things better.

Now, after speaking with White, I realize that I didn’t need to tell him anything. He already knew, possibly better than I did.

Photo Credit: USA Today Sports Images

“My teams have always known about it, White said. “The University of Minnesota knew I had anxiety. The teams all knew about it. Coach Hoiberg, from the day I got on campus, made sure that I felt incredibly comfortable in communicating with him what I needed for my disorder. That is all he did and that is all he needed to do. That’s all anybody needs to do when dealing with mental health. Just have an open ear to what the person needs in order to cope. He’s the reason why I ended up taking a lot of flights when I was at Iowa State.”

And he’s right. From the moment I told my bosses about my illness, my situation vastly improved because only through dialogue and open discussion can people understand more about anxiety, depression, and mental health. Only then can they feel empathy, begin to understand, and even help.

Kendra Fisher said, “People are more supportive when you give them the opportunity to be supportive,” and she couldn’t be more right.

But where do Royce White, the Houston Rockets, the NBA, and even people like me go from here?

“I think we’re getting there,” White said. “The number one thing that was needed was recognition. The next biggest step is genuine action or genuine care. The next step is about how much is the NBA going to buy in? How much are the Rockets going to buy in?”

That’s the question we can ask of any employer, friend, family member, or fan. How much are they willing to sit down, educate themselves, and begin to understand that this illness (which you can’t see as you can see a broken leg or a twisted ankle) is something very, very real?

In the end, maybe that doesn’t matter to Royce White.

“I’m waiting to see what my next move is going to be,” he said, “because mental health will be a priority wherever I am.”

Or maybe, just maybe, for Royce White, me, and everyone else suffering from anxiety, it’s the only thing that matters. ★


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About the Author


Scott Neumyer is a journalist whose work has appeared online and in print for ESPN, Esquire, Wired, Details, Slate, Popular Mechanics, and many more publications. He lives in central New Jersey with his wife and daughter, and loves bacon far too much. You can read more of his work at scottwrites.com and follow him on Twitter @scottneumyer

‘I was scared of death’: Former NHL goaltender Kelly Hrudey’s daughter goes …

Kelly Hrudey used to catch his youngest daughter blinking, blinking one eye, then the other, and then both, and then blinking some more. She was about 11 years old at the time and the former NHL goaltender and affable Hockey Night in Canada host did not think too much about Kaitlin’s blinking since, when he would ask her about it she would shrug it off, say it’s nothing, Dad, or say nothing at all.

Kelly and his wife, Donna, chalked up the blinking to a phase, to just another one of those curious little things that kids do. Kaitlin, though, was doing other things. Begging off sleepovers with friends, complaining of stomach aches, missing school, barely eating and always wanting to be around her mother. And a little girl who loved nothing more than to dance, stopped wanting to go to her dance classes.

Hrudey family handout

Looking back on those years now the old hockey player can see all the warning signs, plain as day, of a little girl who loved to dance struggling with the onset of the anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder that she still struggles with to this day, and that the Hrudey family has never spoken about publicly until now.

“I remember having all these obsessive thoughts,” Kaitlin, now 20, says from Calgary during a conference call with me and her father, who was on the line from St. Louis where he was working the Blues and Los Angeles Kings playoff series.

“I was scared I was going to go blind. I was scared I had cancer. I was scared of death. Those thoughts would just stay in my mind, and they were real to me.

“And to me, the only way I wouldn’t go blind — or get a disease — was to stay at home, to stay with my Mom. And to me, if I kept blinking it meant that I wouldn’t go blind. To me, everything that was happening was real and when my parents would ask me questions, honestly, I just remember acting like I was sick even though I wasn’t.

“If I was supposed to go to a friend’s I would say they were people I didn’t want to hang out with anymore. I had all these random excuses, and my thoughts became so obsessive that I just couldn’t escape them anymore.”

The breaking point was the first day of school in 2005. Kaitlin Hrudey sat, paralyzed, in her mother’s car in the school parking lot. She couldn’t get out.

“She literally became a prisoner of her own thoughts,” her father says.

Donna Hrudey opened the phonebook and found a number for a psychologist. From there it has been a long, hard journey, with many steps forward and many steps back to get to today, where Kelly and Kaitlin are telling her story as part of RBC’s “Know the Signs” campaign in support of Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week (May 5 to 11).

“In the beginning I thought we were going to be out of the woods in no time, because I had no experience in any of this,” Kelly says.

There was no history of mental illness in the family. It was a crash education, and an ongoing one, and in the beginning it would involve marathon sessions with Kaitlin and her psychologist — plus hours more at home or over the phone if Kelly was on the road working — practising breathing techniques that the doctor had taught them to ease Kaitlin’s crippling anxiety.

Father and daughter might sit in the family room for two or three hours at a time. Breathing, all in an effort to get Kaitlin to her “safe zone,” which, in her imagination, was the garden out back of the house.

“She would lay down in the grass, in our backyard, and to get her there it took time — and the garden would be a drab place at first, but then she would start seeing flowers,” Kelly says. “And as we kept breathing and I kept talking to her she would see more and more colours — and we had two dogs — and they would be playing in the garden, and I can’t tell you what it was like to be able to get her to that safe place.”

National Post files

It would be four years before Kaitlin was, as she says, “having more good days than bad.”

“I still have those thoughts,” she says. “Lately I’ve been thinking I have a brain tumour, and I know it is irrational.”

Kelly and Donna have been together ever since they were teenagers. When they needed a shoulder to lean on — they leaned on each other. And they still do.

“All I was worried about in the beginning was helping Kaitlin,” Kelly Hrudey says.

There is a long pause.

“It’s hard,” the old goaltender continues, his voice breaking. “We’ve gone through some of the hardest things that you could ever imagine and I can’t tell you how close Kaitlin and I are because of it.”

It is not over yet.

Kaitlin’s illness is a life sentence. (In a small twist of grace her obsessive fear of death has meant she has never had suicidal thoughts). She went off to study at the University of British Columbia’s Kelowna campus last September. At first she was fine. Then she fell apart. The bad thoughts came back, about some horrible disease, and it could be a different disease every day. She stopped leaving her dorm room and within a month her parents were on their way to Kelowna to bring her home.

‘It will never be as bad as it seems in the beginning’

“Something really bothers me about the Kelowna experience, because I just couldn’t do it,” Kaitlin says. “I am much better than I was in the fall…”

“I decided to talk about this because I don’t want other kids to feel like they have to keep it in, or to feel like [having a mental illness] is something embarrassing.

“It is not. It took me a long time to realize that. And you are not alone. It gets better, and it will never be as bad as it seems in the beginning. And if I can just help some people…”

Help. That’s all Kaitlin Hrudey wants to do: help kids like herself, who are struggling. She is working at a retail store now, teaching dance classes, living at home. She is doing OK.

“Kaitlin has got such great strength,” Kelly Hrudey says, his voice wavering.

“I’ve met superstars. I’ve met celebrities. I’ve met all these people in my life, but what Kaitlin has accomplished and what she has gone through in her life to get where she is — it has been a long road — and I am just so proud of her.

“I am just so proud.”

National Post

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Student copes with anxiety, depression during time at Iowa State

Finals week is one of the most stressful weeks that college students go through in their academic life. But students who have anxiety disorder or depression have to endure it with many other challenges.

National Anxiety and Depression Awareness Week is May 5-11, 2013.

Danielle Levings, senior in psychology, successfully manages both anxiety and depression and has overcome obsessive-compulsive disorder.

“When I was 17, I was diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder. I went to therapy, and I got medication, and I beat that,” Levings said.

This finals week marks Levings’ last set of college finals, and she has made it through each one with preparation and focus on her personal wellness.

“I don’t believe in staying up [and] pulling an all-nighter to finish a paper because its not going to be good, and you’re not going to feel good,” Levings said.

Her biggest advice to students with anxiety is to take time out of every day for yourself.

“The main message is wellness; take care of yourself as a whole person, mind and body,” said Levings.

During finals week, students tend to become more stressed and anxious. There are facilities on campus that are here to assist students that are in need of guidance. The Student Counseling Services has people available to help students through tough times.

“My mortar or pillars of mental and physical healthy are: Sleep regularly (about seven to nine hours every night), eat regularly (three meals a day), and lastly, exercise at least five times a week,” said Dr. Carver Nebbe, psychiatrist and family practitioner at Thielen Student Health Center.

Levings first noticed that she had a problem with OCD during high school while at a waterpark. She did not want to touch the same tubes as other people, and it made her very nervous.

She went home and told her mom what she had been feeling and that she had a problem. She had obsessive-compulsive disorder relating to germs and diseases. She did not want to touch anything that had germs on it: for example, remote controls and door handles.

“[My mom] sat on her computer and compiled a list of therapists in the area and said, ‘No matter what it takes, I’m going to help you, and I love you,’” Levings said.

Along with her OCD, anxiety and depression also stemmed from a younger age.

“I had a difficult adolescence; I was bullied,” Levings said. “I was bullied in school because I was different.”

She was picked on throughout middle school and high school. Even her own teammates from the swim team contributed to the bullying. 

“My senior year I finally realized how toxic it was, and I said, ‘Enough,’” Levings said.

She took action about her conditions and has been taking medication for the last three years. She said she is doing great on them.

“If you don’t like something, you have the power to change it. You just have to find the avenue of which to do so,” Levings said.

Levings is graduating suma cum laude this year from Iowa State and going onto graduate school at Kansas State in the fall. She plans on studying to become a therapist.

“I want to make other people’s lives better,” Levings said.

Thunder’s Kevin Durant dismisses Rockets’ Royce White after Twitter trash talk

(Layne Murdoch/Getty Images)

Kevin Durant has responded to Royce White’s Twitter trash talk. (Layne Murdoch/Getty Images)

In advance of Friday’s Game 6 between the Thunder and Rockets, Kevin Durant dismissed Twitter trash talk from Royce White, who has yet to make his NBA debut after spending months engaged in a dispute with management over the treatment of his mental health.

Following Oklahoma City’s 107-100 loss to Houston  in Game 5 on Wednesday, Houston’s rookie forward wrote to Durant: “Y’all are looking SHAAAKYY BAAABYY.” That tweet followed another one: “That Thunder team just looked shook.”

Durant responded to the comments, which he said he hadn’t read, after Friday’s shootaround.

“Who is that?” Durant asked, according to The Oklahoman. “I haven’t seen him on the bench. I haven’t seen him on the bench. So, I mean, I’m not worried about guys that’s not even in our series. Ain’t that the guy that’s afraid to fly? Well I wish him the best, man, and if I see him next year I’ll let him know who were are.”

The Houston Chronicle reported that Durant didn’t view the comments as inspiration or bulletin board material.

“I don’t get fired up off stuff,” Durant said, according to the paper. “I get fired up just playing this game, enjoying the game. Like I said, I wish him the best. I wish he could have played and really felt this intensity for a playoff game, but I guess watching on TV is better.”

On Friday, White replied to Durant’s comments in a lengthy series of Twitter messages that included an apology, compliments for Durant’s game, blame toward the media for covering his comments and, finally, one more dig, this time at Thunder forward Serge Ibaka.

 Don’t let the media hype it, I’m just a anxious, hippy, humanist. I don’t even play. I meant no harm, You’re an amazing player! You guys HAVE been looking #SHAAAKYY lately, BUT, you played good. You’re right, [unfortunately] I could only view from home. For now!

It was a joking tweet that got in the media’s wheel house, now they ask you. #Propaganda… I was eating a cream sandwich. Bro…it should’ve never got to your ears, I apologize. my opinion matter about as much as any fan. Just sports media hyping it up! I’ll say for the record, (which doesn’t really matter)… I don’t think Serge could handle me in the open court, just IMO.

White’s initial comments to Durant on Wednesday prompted a number of replies to White suggesting that his comments lacked substance given that he isn’t currently playing for the Rockets. White laughed those comments off and defended his right to speak his mind.

“It’s ALOT of tough B-BALL fans on [Twitter],” he wrote. “I’m a spectator right now, I’ll say whatever the f— I want. Swing when you see me. … Do [people] ACTUALLY think if they tweet enough I’m going to change? ‘Never change when you’re winning.’ Say what I want… Freedom of speech.”

White, the No. 16 pick in the 2012 NBA draft, suffers from Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, panic attacks and a fear of flying. He was suspended in January for failing to report to the Rockets’ D-League team as he worked toward a resolution regarding treatment of his mental health. He was reinstated in late-January when team and player agreed to add an addendum to his contract addressing his needs.

In March, White prepared to leave his D-League assignment, saying that he was shutting down his season, before later returningAlso in March, White said that he believes executives with the NBA league office and the Rockets “want me gone” from the NBA because his campaigning for mental health awareness wasn’t convenient to their business.

Durant hasn’t posted on his Twitter account since April 23 and hasn’t replied to White’s numerous messages on the site. The four-time All-Star is leading the NBA in scoring during the postseason at 33.6 points per game. He finished with 36 points (on 11-for-23 shooting), seven rebounds and seven assists in 45 minutes in Game 5 on Wednesday.

The Thunder now lead the Rockets 3-2 in their Western Conference first-round playoff series. Game 6 is set for Friday in Houston.

Royce White takes Twitter jab at Kevin Durant after Rockets win

Royce White celebrated the Rockets' win on Wednesday. (Brian Babineau/Getty Images)

Royce White celebrated the Rockets’ win on Wednesday. (Brian Babineau/Getty Images)

The Thunder received some bulletin board material from an unlikely source after a 107-100 loss to the Rockets in Game 5 on Wednesday.

Houston rookie Royce White, who has yet to make his NBA debut after spending months engaged in a dispute with management over the treatment of his mental health, took a jab at Oklahoma City star Kevin Durant on Twitter Wednesday night.

“Y’all are looking SHAAAKYY BAAABYY,” White wrote to Durant.

Wasted: Eating Disorders are Worse Than Ever

Think anorexia went out with big hair and legwarmers? Think again. Not only are anorexia and other eating disorders still around, they’re worse than ever.

They seemed to come from nowhere. Descriptions of “wasting disease” appear as far back as the 12th century, but it wasn’t until the 1970s that, trickling through the cracks between huge news stories about Roe v. Wade, Patty Hearst and Pol Pot, we started to hear about a small number of girls—young,well-to-do girls from good families who had everything to live for, yet seemed determined to starve themselves to death.

And then they seemed to be everywhere. In the 1980s, television specials covered eating disorders—primarily anorexia—with intense and morbid interest. New Haven native Karen Carpenter’s death from heart failure brought on by anorexia in 1983 fanned the flames.

But then, like a successful virus, eating disorders mutated. They diversified by age, gender, method, geographic location and class, spreading from the small original pool of rich, educated, adolescent girls living in the First World to males, very young children, athletes, middle-aged mothers, island populations. And ironically, with that loss of focus came the misperception that eating disorders were on the wane.

Not so.

“Eating disorders are still a big problem—much more of a problem than they were in the ’80s, for sure,” says Jennifer Smith, who was the director of the Walden Behavioral Care clinic in South Windsor for its first six months and is now a consultant. “It continues to be startling to me that it’s not more in the forefront of people’s minds.”

According to research by the National Eating Disorders Association, nearly 30 million people in the United States suffer from eating disorders. “These are not rare conditions,” says Margo Maine, a clinical psychologist who started the eating disorders program at Newington Children’s Hospital in the early 1980s, ran the eating disorders program at Hartford Hospital’s Institute of Living (IOL) for eight years and is now in private practice in West Hartford. “But despite the fact that eating disorders have grown in numbers and have started to affect people we thought were immune,we still don’t pay much attention to them. That, to me, is the mystery: How we have decided to accept that eating disorders just are, instead of realizing that they are a major public health problem.”

Despite their prevalence, in many cases those suffering from eating disorders have limited treatment options. In Hartford, until last year the only local choice was the IOL program. Though long-lived—opened in 1987, it was one of the first programs in the country—it is small, offering no residential component and serving only females and adolescent boys.

Center for Discovery New England, a residential home for adolescents with eating disorders, opened in Southport in September. Center for Discovery has 10 other facilities in California and Washington. All, like the Southport location, are housed in an actual home in a residential setting rather than in a hospital or clinic. The center has a small number of beds, and is open exclusively to girls and boys ages 11 to 17.

Closer to home, September also brought the opening of the Walden Behavioral Care eating disorders treatment center in South Windsor. Walden has four eating disorder clinics in Massachusetts, one of which offers residential treatment. The South Windsor facility, located in the Eastern Connecticut Health Network building, offers partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient programs for adolescents and adults.

Like most centers, Walden treats all types of eating disorders, both the classics—anorexia and bulimia— and the ones that fall, in medical parlance, under the term EDNOS, or “eating disorder not otherwise specified.” That includes anorexic and bulimic behaviors that don’t reach the established thresholds for official diagnosis—an anorexic who is severely underweight but has not lost her period, for example, or a bulimic who purges less than two days out of the week. One of the most common EDNOS is binge or night eating, which Smith says is “completely underdiagnosed and undertreated.”

Fortunately, binge eating disorder became a recognized specific diagnosis with the March release of the DSM-5, the latest edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. “That creates a higher level of recognition and the need for treatment, especially with the insurance companies,” says Stuart Koman, president and CEO of Walden. “But we’ve been treating this disorder for at least the last five years.”

Most people who are bingers or night eaters are over 40, and have been struggling with the disorder as long as they can remember. Some have gotten bariatric surgery,which is a dangerous procedure on its own, but much more so if the underlying psychiatric issue remains untreated and the patient continues to binge. “You can’t cure a psychiatric condition by surgery,” says SaraNiego, medical director of
the eating disorders program at IOL.

And then there is the “fat” stigma. While the frail frame of an anorexic incites concern and alarm, binge eaters are often dismissed as people with no self-control who “just haven’t tried the right diet,” Smith says. Because of that, binge eaters, like bulimics, often hide their disorders, eating in secret, often late at night after everyone is in bed.

But while the compulsive eating might be kept secret, the shame is all too public. Smith recalls one woman who “had literally been the poster girl for bariatric surgery.” She was an employee of the hospital that performed the surgery, and the hospital made up posters of her to show her dramatic weight loss. Then she gained the weight back. “Every day, she had to walk in and pass by those photos of herself,” Smith says. “Can you imagine? The daily humiliation she experienced was just intense.”

Up to 50 percent of people who are pursuing bariatric surgery and 20 to 40 percent of people who are overweight have binge eating disorder, yet treatment options are few.

To address this need, Walden recently added 1,000 additional square feet to the Connecticut facility, which will house a center for binge and night eating.

While some psychological disorders can be measured and medicated, eating disorders are a mysterious, multifaceted combination. Niego calls them a “bio-psycho-social condition.”

Though scientists have not established a causal link between any one genetic factor and the appearance of an eating disorder, there’s usually some kind of predisposition in the family, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, depression or bipolar disorder. Many have experienced some sort of trauma, from bullying to sexual abuse. And then there is the social aspect, which is illustrated most glaringly in the fact that in the last 40 years, eating disorders have proliferated to more than 40 countries worldwide. “It’s not a First World problem anymore,” says Maine. “It has totally globalized.” And that globalization has a lot to do with the globalization of media influence.

Medical anthropologist Ann Becker conducted a study in Fiji in the mid-’90s, just as satellite television was becoming available there. In 1994, when Becker initiated the study,which focused on how women responded to TV, “food was celebrated, a big body was seen as an advantage, and there was no talk of diets,” says Maine. In 1997, after three years of 90210, “all of a sudden there were eating disorders and dieting—women were not liking their bodies anymore. It was just amazing. As a culture, we have just become crazy about what a woman’s body should look like.”

Eating disorders have not only globalized, they have also infiltrated demographics previously considered “safe.” It used to be thought that if a girl made it though her teen years without an eating disorder, she would never develop one. But an increasing number of women who ate normally throughout adolescence are being diagnosed in middle age.

And those are just the ones that come forward—plenty of others fly under the radar. “Adult women with eating disorders don’t get identified in the health care system whatsoever,” Maine says. “Physicians are so immersed in the war on obesity that if a woman comes in and has lost weight, it’s only seen as positive.”

And eating disorders are less often a single diagnosis. “It used to be clean,”with kids diagnosed with just anorexia or just bulimia, says Paula Holmes, clinical program director at IOL. Now, she says, as much as 60 to 70 percent of people who are admitted to the program with an eating disorder also have a substance abuse issue, which makes them even more difficult to treat. And then there are the “drunkorexics”—kids who skimp on calories during the day so they can drink at night.

Eating disorders are not only varied, they’re also stubborn. “Eating disorders take some time to recover from, and you need a system of support that goes beyond any single level of care,” says Koman. “It may take three, four, five years, and they may go into lots of different programs in that time before they are able to extricate themselves from the series of things that are causing the eating disorder.”

Because of the dearth of nearby treatment centers, most of those multiple programs have been far from home, in Florida, California, Arizona, Oklahoma. Now, with more local options, for some, recovery is that much closer.

Anxiety disorders in children – Eco Child’s Play

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Anxiety disorders in children


A certain amount of anxiety is a normal part of childhood, and every child will go through different phases, which are usually only temporary and quite harmless.  Sometimes, however, when a child cannot get past his or her anxiety or the shyness, fear, and nervousness that is commonly associated with anxiety, there may be something more serious going on.


Research has shown that anxiety disorders actually affect one in eight children, and often go untreated.  Children suffering from anxiety are at a higher risk of performing badly in school, missing out on normal social experiences, and may even engage in detrimental behavior such as substance abuse.


When a child suffers from an anxiety disorder, it generally means that the problem is significant enough to require intervention; when the condition lasts several weeks or months at a time it is essential.  It is common for anxiety disorders in children to occur alongside other disorders such as depression, ADHD, and eating disorders.  Fortunately, there are a number of treatments and support options that can help children learn how to successfully manage the symptoms and enjoy a normal childhood.


Types of anxiety disorders in children


As with adults, there are many different types of anxiety disorders that children may suffer from.  One of the most common is Separation Anxiety Disorder, in which children have excessive anxiety and stress when they are separated from an important figure, such as a parent, or from the home.  Children suffering from this disorder may cry, refuse to go to bed, eat, or attend school during an episode.  Social Anxiety Disorder is also fairly common in children.  Those suffering from it usually have an intense fear of performance situations as well as social situations, such as parties and other gatherings, and express an extreme concern about humiliation.


Many parents are surprised to learn that Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, or OCD, is also fairly common in kids.  This disorder involves obsessions, or unwanted unpleasant thoughts that make children anxious, and may prompt compulsive behavior in an attempt to reduce those feelings.  Some children may engage in repeated hand washing, tapping, or checking objects.  Like OCD, depression is also common in children, though most parents are under the assumption that it only affects adults.  As in adults, children suffering from depression are persistently sad, withdrawn, and irritable.


There is hope for parents and kids


Like other medical conditions, children’s anxiety disorders can become chronic if not properly treated.  There are a number of treatment methods, ranging from medication and therapy to diet and exercise, to help manage anxiety in kids.  Before parents simply buy Plavix, or any other medication, they should discuss the possible side effects with their pediatrician.  Often, doctors will prescribe a combination of medication, therapy, and home remedies that will be most successful. Children suffering from anxiety should be given a well-balanced diet and avoid foods rich in sugar and caffeine.


Just because a child becomes worried or has a bout of anxiety one day doesn’t mean that he or she is suffering from an anxiety disorder, however, parents do need to pay attention and look for the signs that something may be wrong.  When a child is diagnosed with such a disorder, Mom and Dad must pay attention to their child’s feelings and stay calm when he or she becomes anxious about a particular event or situation.  Parents that recognize and praise small accomplishments, avoid punishing for mistakes, and exhibit flexibility usually have the most success in helping their kids cope with anxiety.


Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder in the Media

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder in the MediaSometimes, I overhear people casually using the term “OCD” (obsessive-compulsive disorder). They’re ‘OCD with being clean’ or ‘OCD with organizational skills.’

In fact, however, a real struggle with OCD is a manifestation of anxiety that creates an actual disturbance in one’s life.

Lena Dunham, creator/ writer/ producer/ star of the HBO award-winning series “Girls,” showcased the leading character, Hannah, (played by Dunham herself) in very raw and honest encounters with the illness toward the end of this past season. Hannah had dealt with OCD in high school. It resurfaced when she was faced with two significant stressors: trying to write an e-book in a short time frame, and dealing with the rocky aftermath of a breakup.

Whether the scenes illustrated episodes of relentless tics, counting, or a compulsive habit that brought her to the emergency room, “Girls” took on authentic territory that invited other OCD sufferers to feel less alone.

An article here on Psych Central characterizes obsessive-compulsive disorder as “recurrent and disturbing thoughts (called obsessions) or repetitive, ritualized behaviors that the person feels driven to perform (called compulsions).”

Unwanted impulses and bothersome images may also invade the psyche of a person with OCD. While compulsions are usually served to neutralize the excessive thoughts or obsessions, those acts may spark further anxiety since they become very demanding to maintain.

Allison Dotson’s recent article featured on the Huffington Post discusses how the OCD storyline on the series allows other people, dealing with the disorder, to relate.

“As someone with OCD, I find it refreshing to see this often-misunderstood illness portrayed in a realistic way on an acclaimed television show,” Dotson said. She remarks how OCD may be presented as a “charming slapstick character trait,” but “Girls” definitely wasn’t gunning for easy laughs.

“In the real world, OCD symptoms can rear their persistent head just as Hannah’s did under the pressure of a book deadline,” Dotson noted. “Mine certainly did – new obsessions would pop up at bedtime and stick around for months.”

Lena Dunham talks about her own experiences with OCD to Rolling Stone in their cover story, “Lena Dunham: Girl on Top.” She was diagnosed at age 9, after displaying recurring symptoms.

“I was obsessed with the number eight. I’d count eight times … I’d look on both sides of me eight times. I’d make sure nobody was following me down the street, I touched different parts of my bed before I went to sleep, I’d imagine a murder, and I’d imagine that same murder eight times.”

While she tapered off her medication toward the end of college (which produced unpleasant side effects, including extreme exhaustion and night sweats), she still takes a small dose of an antidepressant to alleviate her anxiety.

I have nothing but respect for Dunham, who shared her private (and sometimes dark) history with OCD to the public via “Girls.” A disorder that may be portrayed in the media as humorous or lighthearted now is receiving a bit more attention and awareness. Others who are faced with OCD’s symptoms may be able to connect to Dunham’s character, identifying right alongside her.

“These episodes of ‘Girls’ appear promising,” Kent Sepkowitz wrote in his article in the Daily Beast. “They are ready to show, I hope, that real mental illness is not eradicated by a pill or a better diet, by three visits to a shrink, or by a thoughtful walk along the beach.”


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    Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 27 Apr 2013
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OCD Treatment | How “OCD Rescue Program” Helps People Reduce Obsessive …

Seattle, WA (PRWEB) April 27, 2013

OCD Rescue Program is the newly updated OCD treatment method created by Rich Presta that promises to enable users to reduce Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). The natural method is based on the combination of new advances and psychological strategies, which can help users deal with anxiety, compulsion and obsessions. Additionally, the program will offer some essential ways that help users identify some OCD symptoms. Thanks to this new method, users will treat their OCD without using medicines, drugs or supplements. After the creator released the new guide, he received a lot of ideas from customers regarding their success with OCD Rescue Program. As a result, the website Vkool.com tested the guide and has completed a full review.

A full review of OCD Rescue Program on the site Vkool.com figures out that OCD Rescue Program is a safe and effective method that helps people decrease OCD quickly. When people purchase the guide, they will receive useful tips that help them lower this condition. In addition, users will get audio supplement series that are formatted in MP3 that they can listen to anywhere they want. Additionally, users will receive many Audios of the anxiety-free masterminds that they can listen to a lot of interviews with the creator about advice for lowering OCD fast. Moreover, people will discover the OCD Triad Audio system that is divided into three parts, which can help users overcome the problem quickly. Furthermore, users will receive some bonuses that are the anxiety helix report, some anxiety-free mastermind transcripts and the OCD Rescue triad audio system volume II, which support them to reduce OCD forever. Indeed, this is a safe and natural method treatment that enables users to decrease OCD permanently.

Sarah Arrow from the website V kool says that: “OCD Rescue Program is the new method that helps users reduce OCD naturally. The helpful method can help users save their time and efforts because they can do it at their own home. In addition, the program will give a 60-day money back guarantee if users are not happy with the result”.

If people wish to view advantages and disadvantages from OCD Rescue Program, they could visit the website: http://vkool.com/ocd-treatment-with-ocd-rescue-program/

To access the complete OCD Rescue Program review, visit the official site.


About the website: Vkool.com is the site built by Tony Nguyen. The site supplies people with tips, ways, programs, methods and e-books about many topics including business, health, entertainment, and lifestyle. People could send their feedback to Tony Nguyen on any digital products via email.

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/ocd-treatment/ocd-rescue-program/prweb10674614.htm

Truckee dog trainer discusses obsessive-compulsive disorder

TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. — Dear Carla,

We rescued our Lab, Harry, two years ago. Our vet thinks he’s about 4 years old. The problem is he compulsively chases shadows. We noticed the problem shortly after adopting him, but it seems to be getting worse. It’s especially bad when other dogs are around. Should we be concerned and if so what can we do to stop him?

Harry’s family

Dear Family,

I think you are right to be concerned. Dogs are subject to obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) just like humans. OCD is a medical condition where a dog engages in normal canine activities in an abnormally repetitive, frantic and self-destructive manner. There are many OCD type behaviors in dogs including, but not limited to, self-mutilation, compulsive shadow chasing and laser-pointer chasing. Fortunately, this condition can usually be controlled through behavior modification and possibly medication. You should consult with your veterinarian about the best course of treatment.

From a behavior perspective, I would start by trying to determine if there are specific triggers that lead to the behavior and eliminate them. Being around some dogs may make him nervous, but with others he is fine. If you can determine what dogs cause the anxiety, avoid them. It will help to keep his environment calm and predictable. Next, redirect Harry when he begins to chase shadows. Carry a favorite squeaky toy or a ball in your pocket and engage him in a game. You could also ask him to do something he knows well like “sit” or “lay down.” You will need to consistently interrupt the shadow chasing so he can learn new behavior patterns. In addition, adequate daily exercise is very important to relieve stress and minimize anxiety.

The one thing you don’t want to do is punish a compulsive behavior. Punishment is not an effective form of treatment and can actually increase a dog’s level of arousal and anxiety, which in turn can make the symptoms worse. Punishment can also interfere with a dog’s ability to learn new, non-ritualistic behaviors successfully.

The behaviors associated with OCD almost always worsen without treatment, so the sooner you get started the better.

Carla Brown, CPDT is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer and owner of The Savvy Dog Training and Education Center in Truckee. If you have a pet topic/issue you would like to see covered in the Ask the Trainer column, please email her at savvydogtruckee@mac.com.

Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Common in Parkinson’s – GoodTherapy.org

April 22nd, 2013


TherapyNewsPic71Individuals with Parkinson’s disease (PD) often have personality features that mimic those found in depression, anxiety, and even obsessive compulsion (OC). Behaviors such as extreme punctuality, perfectionism, rigidity, harm avoidance, and unwillingness to seek out novel experiences are common in all of these illnesses. New research has begun to explore whether or not any of these personality types are common in people with PD and, if so, whether any of these traits act as predictors of PD, or merely comorbid symptoms. To look at the relationships between PD and personality traits further, Alessandra Nicoletti of the Department of Hygiene, Public Health, and Neuroscience at the University of Catania in Italy recently conducted a study involving 100 clients with PD and 100 without. She evaluated the personality traits of all of the participants and found that OC was present in 40% of the PD participants and 10% of the non-PD participants.

Nicoletti noted that OC personality and Parkinsonian personality both present with similar cognitive and behavioral traits. She believes that even though there is an overlap in symptoms, it has not been shown that OC personality predicts later Parkinson’s. However, some research has suggested a predictive quality in OC personality for future OC. Nicoletti believes the shared traits present in both personality types are the result of similar neurological circuitry, rather than genetic predisposition to Parkinson’s.

The second most common personality type was depressive, accounting for 14 PD participants and four control participants. This personality is characterized by avoidant behaviors and negative affect, which can also be present in individuals with PD alone. Nicoletti added, “Considering the well known high prevalence of depression among the PD patients, we are aware that in some case distinguishing between these two conditions can be difficult.” She hopes that future work will examine this personality type and others more thoroughly in order to establish whether they provide an early indication of Parkinson’s risk or they merely exist as comorbid conditions.

Nicoletti, A., Luca, A., Raciti, L., Contrafatto, D., Bruno, E., et al. (2013). Obsessive compulsive personality disorder and Parkinson’s disease. PLoS ONE 8(1): e54822. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0054822

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