I follow Stigma Fighters and admire the courage of those who have “come out” before me and shared their stories. This is the first time I’ve gone public with this and in all honesty I am feeling levels of increased anxiety and vulnerability with literally every letter I type.
A firm believer in the idea that the secret to happiness in life is love and respect, with self-love and self-respect being the necessary catalysts to ever hope to receive love and respect from others, I think it is okay to finally be open about what I navigate each day and love and respect myself entirely without apology.
My specific mental issues revolve around OCD. This phrase is sometimes used by people who are really particular about something, but for those of us with more involved conditions it is a bit more to handle.
There are countless forms of OCD that can involve obsessions (symmetry, religious, sexual, etc.), fear of contaminations, causing harm to yourself or others, and other fears and/or obsessions.
I read a wonderful book by Lee Baer called The Imp of the Mind that was an absolute game changer for me.
I did so at the recommendation of an incredible therapist who specializes in OCD. She has given me exercises I do daily that have allowed me a different level of
functionality in my every day life.
My particular diagnosis deals with symmetry, counting, rituals, checking, repeating, ordering, arranging as well as fears about saying or doing things that are right or wrong.
To people without the condition, my issues can seem trivial. Just don’t do it. But it is not unlike being drunk, knowing that you’re
drunk, and trying to just be sober by willing it to happen. And when an episode or circumstances occur that flare up my condition, I can reach levels of anxiety that are almost paralyzing and my responses
are not unlike the responses of someone with autism.
I need to check everything I do (set alarm, lock a door, set a record button, etc.) three times. I cannot place my items at the grocery in non-symmetrical orders or out of categories and even re-aarange the items of people in front of me or behind me. I count two steps at a time up to ten and start over everywhere I go, and have for as long as I can remember. I have not stepped on a line or a crack in my entire life as far as I can recall.
My clothes all hang. All of them. And they all hang on a hanger that matches all other hangers in my possession. And they are arranged by color and type. Some of these seem silly, and truthfully I do try to find humour in some of it when possible as it is a part of the healing process. I can lose an entire day in a state of paralysis if there is too much “chaos” in my home or life.
The fear of saying/doing right or wrong causes me to be socially awkward at times. Never with any ill will intended or crossing my mind, I sometimes find myself saying or doing stupid things to ensure I don’t say or do stupid things… only to end up doing the very thing I try with all of my heart to prevent.
In addition to complete shut downs this can also result in deep levels of depression, self-doubt and numbness.
I think it is a generous gift that people like those on http://stigmafighters.com exist and are opening doors to awareness on subjects of mental illness. It’s a very difficult thing to go public with and it shouldn’t be. I think public awareness and understanding would greatly increase the opportunities for those with some form of mental illness to seek out support and live more fulfilling lives.
If anyone suffers from any of the ideas I’ve listed above I always have an ear to bend without judgment or conditions.
I encourage you to read the book Imp of the Mind, go through therapy and give yourself a chance to be who you want to be. I can be found @1michaelcoleman on Twitter or actormichaelcoleman.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Again, I am feeling incredibly vulnerable with this “share” but I truly hope it offers some level of community or hope or love for
anyone who feels similar “feels” to what I’ve shared.
Love and Respect,
Best known at this moment in time for performing the role HAPPY on
ABC’s ONCE UPON A TIME, Michael is a writer, voice-over actor, actor for stage and screen, and actorpreneur with decades of experience. Before his current series, Michael performed roles on Smallville, Fringe, Supernatural, Stargate (SG-1 and Atlantis), Dragonball Z, Inuyasha, Hamtaro, Hello Kitty, X-Men: Evolution and many, many more.