A few months ago I approached Iam1in4 to partner up to do spots on my podcast to talk about mental health. This was because I had, a few months before, had to start talking to 4,000 plus people about my OCD. Why?
Let me explain by going back even more months. So, if you are keeping track of the months, we are about a year and half before I approached Iam1in4. My OCD was actually getting much better. My ‘rituals’, as they are called, were almost non-existent. I was getting much better about cleaning my house which had been taking up huge amounts of my day. It was now down to the average amount of cleaning any person might do. But there was one thing I couldn’t get over: shaking hands with others.
By the way, I still can’t get over it. I still don’t shake hands because it triggers me a little bit. I only mention this to stress that mental health is not a video game or a book, it is ongoing, yet success stories happen every day. Now I am not afraid every day of whatever germs or imagined horribles live on my socks. I am successful.
But not shaking hands was not exactly what bothered me. It was avoiding social situations which required shaking hands. Being in entertainment, these situations happen constantly.
Just tell people
It was my therapist who made the simple suggestion, “Just tell people.” This was a startling realization to me. I could just say to people, “That makes me uncomfortable.” Well, I started to do it, and at one point at some hug or handshake I realized something else right in the moment. I turned to the person to refuse the handshake and said, “I have OCD and shaking hands bothers me.”
Well, suddenly there was nothing to worry about. I felt no more weird saying “I have OCD” than I would feel saying “I have a pecan allergy.” I was going to write “peanut allergy” in this example because peanut allergy sufferers constantly have to tell people but I actually do have a pecan allergy. (It may not be as powerful an example because pecans are hardly in anything, but it is an example true to my life.)
If it’s mentionable …
Being an entertainer I was inspired by two people: Mr. Rogers and Todd Glass. They are both titans of mental health and entertainers who championed the phrase, “If it’s mentionable, it’s manageable.”
So, that in mind, I decided to start telling my 4,000 listeners that I had OCD whenever it came up. I took the time not to be funny about it but to share a bit of my real life. This may seem natural, but to me it was a very new thing. I don’t even talk about how I exercise in my art. I don’t talk about my dating life and I barely talk about what city I live in. So to start talking about my mental health to my fans seemed out of left field.
But what made me proud to pair up with Iam1in4 was that OCD should be something even more mentionable than your diet, or your spouse, or what size shoes you wear. It all goes back to comfort. For me, entertaining people is about making people comfortable. So the discomfort of handshakes was soothed by mentioning my OCD and I was determined to bring that casualness to my 4,000 listeners and more.
Let’s say it out loud
I am so glad you are reading this because you too obviously care about mentioning something to make yourself comfortable. And, more importantly, you care about creating a world where anyone can mention what they need to.
My show ‘Let’s Start a Cult Podcast’ is a comedy show. Humor for me is a natural thing because I want everyone around me to feel themselves. That’s a hard challenge when one doesn’t feel oneself in the face of mental health. So say it out loud, tell people, and if you get nervous or think they’ll respond badly, just remember me and the 4,000 people who talk about it every week!
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