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Living with OCD
Episode 310th October 2022 • Embark Sessions • Embark Behavioral Health
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In this episode of Embark Sessions, Rob Gent joins guest Scott Harris to

talk about living with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Scott shares how

his OCD started, how challenges like anxiety and depression were a part of his

OCD, how relationships have been an important part of his healing journey, and

how he uses his experience to help others. Rob and Scott also dive into some

important insights on what intrusive thoughts are, how the cycle of obsessions

and compulsions works, and some of the top tips and tricks that have helped

Scott live with OCD.

Related Blogs:

Related Videos:

About Rob:

Rob Gent, M.A. LPC, is the Chief Clinical Officer and one of the founding members of Embark Behavioral Health. Rob has been with the company for 15 years and has led the Embark organization in clinical development and growth of numerous programs. He is the lead developer of the proprietary CASA Developmental Framework, which is pervasive throughout Embark’s programs.

Through his dedication to advancing clinical development, practice, and research, he has become a nationally recognized expert in the field. His specialization in clinical development is enhanced by his therapeutic expertise and has yielded such accomplishments as the development of; The CASA Developmental Framework, Vive Family Intensive Program, Calo Preteens, Canine Attachment Therapy-Transferable Attachment Program, and other specialized programs.

Rob’s dedication has led him to pursue his Ph.D in Psychology with an emphasis on development and attachment. He remains passionate about neurological, psychological, and physiological development and continues to focus on advancing research and the effectiveness of therapeutic interventions.

He resides in Tempe, Arizona, with his wife and two boys.

Connect with Embark on Social Media:

Have a question for our experts? We want to hear from you! Submit your questions to: askatherapist@embarkbh.com

Transcripts

Rob Gent:

Welcome everybody to another episode of Sessions.

Rob Gent:

Really excited today to have a special guest with us. His name

Rob Gent:

is Scott Harris, Scott and I met at Embark Behavioral Health. I

Rob Gent:

had just finished up a presentation, I believe that we

Rob Gent:

were doing with some of our staff and talking about

Rob Gent:

overcoming some of the stigma around mental health. And Scott

Rob Gent:

was gracious enough, we had known each other really well,

Rob Gent:

but gracious enough to stop me and come say hello. And then.

Rob Gent:

Yeah, so Scott we'll talk a little bit more about that. But

Rob Gent:

thank you so much for being on here. And I know we're gonna

Rob Gent:

talk a little bit about anxiety, but primarily talk about

Rob Gent:

obsessive compulsive disorder.

Scott Harris:

Yeah.

Rob Gent:

Yeah. And you are kind enough that part of the reason I

Rob Gent:

wanted to do this, that oftentimes we get experts on who

Rob Gent:

could share their expertise and talk about the facts and the

Rob Gent:

statistics, which is really great. We can do some of that.

Rob Gent:

But this is really about a personal mission for you.

Rob Gent:

Because I know you said, Rob, I, that's something I I've actually

Rob Gent:

have some personal experience with,

Scott Harris:

you know, I heard your message and the company's

Scott Harris:

mission to really break down that stigma that is around

Scott Harris:

mental health. And it occurred to me that I, other than some,

Scott Harris:

some person that I had dated in the past, I'd really never

Scott Harris:

talked to another adult about obsessive compulsive disorder.

Scott Harris:

And I thought, I can't be the only adult that has this, and

Scott Harris:

deals with this. And so I thought it'd be interesting to

Scott Harris:

talk about it publicly so that people get to hear that it's not

Scott Harris:

something that they're dealing with alone. And I really hope

Scott Harris:

there's some value for people in hearing this.

Rob Gent:

Well, huge value for us, Scott. So thank you so much

Rob Gent:

for spending time with us. I know our our listeners will

Rob Gent:

be... extract a ton from this. And thank you for having the

Rob Gent:

courage to share. And really, it's become part of your

Rob Gent:

mission, I guess, in in your purpose, you've working for us,

Rob Gent:

but wanting to help others.

Scott Harris:

Absolutely. I mean, I in addition to working

Scott Harris:

at Embark, I'm also a life coach. So personal development

Scott Harris:

has been a big passion of mine and being the best and bringing

Scott Harris:

the best I can, but also in becoming somebody who's

Scott Harris:

compassionate and accepting of who I am and acknowledging that

Scott Harris:

this is part of who I am, and helping other people to do the

Scott Harris:

same. And this is something I live with, it's something I deal

Scott Harris:

with. And I can be okay about that. And sometimes even funny

Scott Harris:

about it doesn't have to be a serious thing. Even though

Scott Harris:

sometimes it is.

Rob Gent:

I wonder

Rob Gent:

if many people who don't really understand or struggle with OCD

Rob Gent:

understand some of the loneliness that's associated

Rob Gent:

with it.

Unknown:

Sure. I mean, it's something that generally for

Unknown:

myself, and I'll just speak for myself, people don't see, you

Unknown:

hide it from people. And so it is kind of a self isolating

Unknown:

behavior. Because you have an obsessive thought, you have a

Unknown:

compulsive behavior that goes along with it. And then there's

Unknown:

also the bit that people don't often think about, which is the

Unknown:

embarrassment that you experience around that thing

Unknown:

that you do. So you know, an example of one of mine would be

Unknown:

checking my credit card at the gas pump did I put my credit

Unknown:

card back in my wallet, and then in my pocket, and that's

Unknown:

something that other people might see me doing? Or when I

Unknown:

drive away from my house, did I close the garage? And you know,

Unknown:

if I have to drive back and check the garage door, and my

Unknown:

neighbors still standing outside, and I just waved

Unknown:

goodbye to them. And they're wondering, why is he back, and

Unknown:

he didn't even get back out of his car, because I'm checking

Unknown:

the garage door. And so there is some embarrassment that goes

Unknown:

along with it. And, you know, sometimes I can laugh about

Unknown:

that. And other times, it's like, you know, it feels a bit

Unknown:

weird and cringy and, you know, I wish I didn't you know, they

Unknown:

didn't have to see me doing that.

Rob Gent:

Yeah, I really appreciate that Scott. Scott, if

Rob Gent:

we could, let's just we'll set terms and then if you wouldn't

Rob Gent:

mind, maybe we'll climb into and better understand your story.

Scott Harris:

Sure

Rob Gent:

Okay, so when we talk about usually the term is OCD

Rob Gent:

stands for obsessive compulsive disorder. Is there anything

Rob Gent:

where that comes to mind for you? Like what what defines

Rob Gent:

that? What really? How do you know when somebody has this?

Rob Gent:

it's interesting when I hear those words, because like

Scott Harris:

You know,

Scott Harris:

growing up and even into adulthood, I didn't consider

Scott Harris:

myself to have a disorder. Right, there's just this thing

Scott Harris:

that I did. And so even hearing that and putting those terms

Scott Harris:

around it is kind of helpful to me. So if I break it down into,

Scott Harris:

you know, the obsessive part. So there's some intrusive thoughts

Scott Harris:

that occur in my OCD. And that's obsessive thinking and for me,

Scott Harris:

it's okay. Did I check this? Did I do this? Did I put my credit

Scott Harris:

card in my in my wallet? Did I turn the faucet off, did I leave

Scott Harris:

the stove on? Did I close the garage door, and it doesn't

Scott Harris:

matter that I know that I did. That's the obsessive part about

Scott Harris:

it, for me is I know oftentimes that I did do that, and the

Scott Harris:

obsessive thought is continuing. And then there's the compulsion,

Scott Harris:

which is because I'm having this obsessive thought, there's some

Scott Harris:

anxiety around it, like if I, if I don't check it, the, you know,

Scott Harris:

the faucet's gonna flood the sink, and then you know, the

Scott Harris:

house is gonna get water all over the place, or the stove is

Scott Harris:

gonna catch fire. Or if I leave the garage door open, someone

Scott Harris:

might steal something. And then there's, then there's a

Scott Harris:

compulsion to actually act on that obsessive thought with an

Scott Harris:

action. So checking the stove, checking the, you know, the dial

Scott Harris:

on the on the stove multiple times, checking the faucet, or

Scott Harris:

checking the garage door, is the you know, the compulsion to

Scott Harris:

actually do something. And there's times when maybe I can

Scott Harris:

stop a compulsion, and maybe I have to act on it, or feel I

Scott Harris:

have to act on it. And I guess I've lived with the first two

Scott Harris:

words, without really acknowledging that it was

Scott Harris:

actually a disorder, or anything that I could do anything about

Scott Harris:

for quite a long time before I realized that it was.

Rob Gent:

So for for much of the time, you just felt like it was

Rob Gent:

just an automatic.

Scott Harris:

Yeah.

Rob Gent:

Not recognizing, gosh, this is a disorder.

Scott Harris:

Yeah.

Rob Gent:

Something well, so fascinating. Just really

Rob Gent:

quickly, I love how you're defining it. Thank you. So

Rob Gent:

obsessions. obsessive thinking is really the thought process.

Rob Gent:

compulsion. Is this need to act on that? I would imagine what

Rob Gent:

you're seeing is one usually follows the other.

Scott Harris:

Yes, absolutely.

Rob Gent:

You have the obsessive thoughts.

Scott Harris:

Yeah.

Rob Gent:

Then my anxiety is ramping up. And then I feel this

Rob Gent:

compulsion.

Scott Harris:

Yeah.

Rob Gent:

To act on it.

Scott Harris:

Absolutely.

Rob Gent:

One thing I heard that was really fascinating is that

Rob Gent:

you tell me if this is true. That process that cycle of

Rob Gent:

obsession, the compulsion. Once you act on it, there's relief.

Rob Gent:

But no pleasure.

Scott Harris:

Yeah, that would be true. There's no There's no

Scott Harris:

pleasure for me in that behavior. There's a relief from

Scott Harris:

the anxiety that I feel and a momentary momentary relief from

Scott Harris:

the obsessive thinking around it. But there is no pleasure in

Scott Harris:

it. Yeah.

Rob Gent:

yeah. It's interesting, because I think

Rob Gent:

most people think like, well, you're getting some sort of a

Rob Gent:

you so driven by it, there must be some pleasure in that, like

Rob Gent:

other addictions. But it's, it's not that

Scott Harris:

it's not it's not moving towards a pleasure. It's

Scott Harris:

moving away from an anxiety feeling is what it is, yeah,

Rob Gent:

Boy, that's a really great way to phrase it. It's my

Rob Gent:

anxiety is so intense that my obsessions of my compulsion,

Rob Gent:

it's just a little relief.

Scott Harris:

Yeah,

Rob Gent:

from that, but then the cycle is still there,

Unknown:

it's still there. And sometimes even when you check

Unknown:

something, that obsession will come right back. And you even

Unknown:

though you literally just checked something, you'll do it

Unknown:

again. And that's, you know, that's the obsessive part of it,

Unknown:

it doesn't make logical sense, even to me, it doesn't make

Unknown:

logical sense, but it's there. And in the absence of any other

Unknown:

way of dealing with it, the easiest thing to do is to do the

Unknown:

thing that you're compelled to do, which is to check the switch

Unknown:

or check the faucet. And I have found some workarounds with some

Unknown:

of these things, ways of handling it. For example, with

Unknown:

the garage door, there's some some neat devices and apps on

Unknown:

your phone that you can get that actually tell you whether your

Unknown:

garage door is open or closed. I have an alarm system on my

Unknown:

house. So we know every door and window is either open or closed.

Unknown:

So those are things I don't really worry about so much

Unknown:

anymore. If they made one of those for faucets, and that

Unknown:

would be wonderful. I'd be set.

Rob Gent:

Anxiety hacks.

Scott Harris:

Yeah, right, exactly. Maybe somebody will.

Scott Harris:

But

Rob Gent:

Scott, if you wouldn't mind take us back of I'm just so

Rob Gent:

curious. When did this start for you that I know the statistics

Rob Gent:

say that onset is usually between the age of 10. To age

Rob Gent:

20. I was sort of taken aback like wow, age 10 is pretty

Rob Gent:

young, but maybe is that resonate for you or

Unknown:

it does, I was a little younger than that, I would say

Unknown:

eight or nine when I first recognized it. And

Unknown:

interestingly, even at that age, I knew there was something kind

Unknown:

of off about what I was doing. So I had this way of running

Unknown:

when I was eight or nine where I would throw my leg back so that

Unknown:

my foot would hit the back of my my leg. And that impact was the

Unknown:

compulsion. Like I needed to feel that in order to relieve

Unknown:

the anxiety. And you know, even at that age, I knew this is this

Unknown:

is not how everybody else runs and I knew I was I felt

Unknown:

controlled even at that age, I could feel the controlling of

Unknown:

it. And because it was something so visible, I couldn't do it

Unknown:

without being noticed. And so I eventually stopped doing it.

Unknown:

Because my peers were obviously seeing it and making fun of me.

Unknown:

And I thought, Okay, I just need to stop doing this. And I found

Unknown:

a way to stop doing it. But then the anxiety obviously didn't

Unknown:

stop. And so it found other ways to come out as I continue to

Unknown:

age.

Rob Gent:

Boy, it's

Rob Gent:

such a great way to describe it. Because I don't think most of us

Rob Gent:

who don't struggle with this think about actually, you,

Rob Gent:

because of the social pressures, you're able to adjust the

Rob Gent:

behavior. But it was sort of just putting it above the top on

Rob Gent:

it, and it started ooze out in other ways.

Scott Harris:

Absolutely.

Rob Gent:

Especially as you got older,

Scott Harris:

yeah. Yeah, I found you know, my brain

Scott Harris:

obviously found other things to obsess over, and other concerns

Scott Harris:

to be anxious about. So as I got older, one of them was my

Scott Harris:

grandmother who lived next door and whether or not she'd made it

Scott Harris:

safely to bed. So my obsession there was, you know, is she

Scott Harris:

okay? Is she in bed? Did she fall, and my compulsion would be

Scott Harris:

to check. So before I went to bed, I need to make sure that

Scott Harris:

the light was off in her house so that I could then go to bed.

Scott Harris:

And if it wasn't off, then I would have to go in and actually

Scott Harris:

check physically that she had gone to bed.

Rob Gent:

So could you literally like it was hard for you to rest

Rob Gent:

or feel relief, or just enough peace to be able to even go to

Rob Gent:

bed yourself?

Scott Harris:

Yeah, it was very, I was very anxious if I looked

Scott Harris:

out the window, and I could see the light the light on, I

Scott Harris:

couldn't see into our house because she was next door to us.

Scott Harris:

So I could just see the light or no light. And that was my signal

Scott Harris:

as to whether I could relax or not.

Rob Gent:

So even early on in your life, you recognize I have

Rob Gent:

some anxiety have some interesting ways to deal with

Rob Gent:

anxiety. When did you first recognize like, oh, it might be

Rob Gent:

this thing called obsessive compulsive disorder?

Unknown:

I would say probably well, first of all, I'd say I

Unknown:

don't think I recognized I had anxiety until I was in my 40s.

Rob Gent:

Interesting,

Scott Harris:

and I think because I had lived with it my

Scott Harris:

entire life, I actually didn't recognize what it was. I was

Scott Harris:

just so used to working at that level of of anxious energy. And

Scott Harris:

with the obsessive compulsive component of it. I was probably

Scott Harris:

probably in my 30s when I started to recognize what that

Scott Harris:

was. And that that's actually and I didn't, you know, I

Scott Harris:

wouldn't have said I had OCD. But did I do some of the things

Scott Harris:

obsessively? Yeah. Now, you know, a few years on from that I

Scott Harris:

can say yeah, I do have OCD, absolutely. Like there are

Scott Harris:

things that I do that have totally consistent with that.

Rob Gent:

And you're able to really attach that to underlying

Rob Gent:

anxiety.

Scott Harris:

Absolutely. And I recognize when my anxiety level

Scott Harris:

is higher, because of something that's going on in my world, the

Scott Harris:

OCD is ramped up as well.

Rob Gent:

So those two go hand in hand.

Scott Harris:

Definitely. Yeah.

Rob Gent:

So if you wouldn't mind, Scott, I know we use this

Rob Gent:

term anxiety a lot in our society, what we could do like,

Rob Gent:

I always like to say, Well, I always ask people, what's the

Rob Gent:

difference between anxiety and depression? I always say,

Rob Gent:

depression is about the past anxieties about the future for

Rob Gent:

you. Could you describe like when you're saying using this

Rob Gent:

term anxiety? Can you describe what that is actually like for

Rob Gent:

you?

Unknown:

Yeah, I'd say as a baseline, like what I grew up

Unknown:

with, it was like, always there kind of buzzing energy, that I

Unknown:

feel like kind of around here. And in my stomach. I think I was

Unknown:

worried about a lot of things. And I come from a family of

Unknown:

worriors. So that's not surprising to me. And it because

Unknown:

it was constantly there. I never identified it as anxiety. But I

Unknown:

couldn't sit still without thinking about something that

Unknown:

needed to be done. Or, you know, what's coming next, what should

Unknown:

I be doing about this? What's going to break what's you know,

Unknown:

and so that that's really how I experience anxiety is when I sit

Unknown:

still, and I'm not still and my brain is not still. And I've

Unknown:

learned many practices to help myself with that. But I also

Unknown:

know that because of who I am and how I grew up, I'm somebody

Unknown:

that is going to have a level of anxiety most of the time. It's

Unknown:

not a level that is impossible to manage. I've experienced

Unknown:

anxiety that is debilitating due to some life events and that's

Unknown:

very different and I would describe that as plugging my

Unknown:

fingers into a socket. That's literally how that felt when my

Unknown:

anxiety was that high. But that's not that's not my day to

Unknown:

day that's you know, it's a low buzz of what do I need? What do

Unknown:

I need to Do what's going on?

Rob Gent:

The literature is very fascinating to me is that

Rob Gent:

there's a high degree or percentage of actual environment

Rob Gent:

and hereditary components to anxiety. Did you find that? You

Rob Gent:

said that I came from a family of worriers?

Unknown:

Sure. So my, my grandmother, who I was talking

Unknown:

about was a worrior, for sure. And that was kind of the

Unknown:

environment I grew up in, you know, I was very close to her.

Unknown:

And her whole commentary was about, you know, not doing

Unknown:

things. So don't do that don't, you know, try to avoid this. And

Unknown:

it's certainly in my, been in my parents conversation as well

Unknown:

worrying about things, you know, they grew up in the post war

Unknown:

era. And so there was a lot to worry about. And that's, to a

Unknown:

certain degree, their mindset. And so I think I certainly have

Unknown:

a component of that that's from the environment. And I'm sure

Unknown:

from previous experiences they've had my grandparents have

Unknown:

had too they've had actual things to worry about that were

Unknown:

real, you know.

Rob Gent:

Yeah. But you even noticed that well, that's,

Rob Gent:

there's some components of this that we share in common.

Scott Harris:

Absolutely. Yeah. I don't know, if anyone else in

Scott Harris:

my family has any OCD. Not I'm not I've observed but, you know,

Scott Harris:

it's we all grew up in the same environment,

Rob Gent:

right?

Scott Harris:

Yeah.

Rob Gent:

But maybe not the same behaviors

Scott Harris:

Yeah

Rob Gent:

to manage the anxiety. Interesting. That sometimes

Rob Gent:

oftentimes, when we look at the OCD literature, that oftentimes

Rob Gent:

it can manifest itself what we call co occurring or dual

Rob Gent:

diagnosis, stuff that oftentimes there's anxiety will present as

Rob Gent:

OCD, but sometimes there's substance abuse, there's mood

Rob Gent:

disorders, there's other things. Have you seen that? And others

Rob Gent:

are, you know, how does that sit with you? Is that a surprise at

Rob Gent:

all?

Scott Harris:

it's not a surprise to me. I mean, I, I'll

Scott Harris:

be very open about my own experience. Dealing with

Scott Harris:

anxiety. And what I was aware of when I was in my teens and young

Scott Harris:

adulthood was depression. And that was something that I dealt

Scott Harris:

with, on and off and didn't really have a way of dealing

Scott Harris:

with I wasn't back then in England, we weren't seeing

Scott Harris:

therapists, or at least I wasn't. And so there was no

Scott Harris:

treatment, or medication or anything like that. So I was

Scott Harris:

pretty much left to deal with it on my own. And my way of dealing

Scott Harris:

with it, when I was a young adult into adulthood was through

Scott Harris:

alcohol. It was the only way I found that could actually calm

Scott Harris:

my nervous system down. And when I was feeling really depressed,

Scott Harris:

it actually kind of numb those feelings enough for me to be

Scott Harris:

able to feel okay. And eventually the depression would

Scott Harris:

leave, and I could get back to normal life. But for sure, you

Scott Harris:

know that those two, you know, go hand in hand. Because when

Scott Harris:

you're dealing with something that is, as a child, you know,

Scott Harris:

you have no other resource and no other coping skills, it can

Scott Harris:

be quite unbearable to be dealing with anxiety and

Scott Harris:

depression, especially when you know, the depression is

Scott Harris:

persistent or severe. It's a really unpleasant experience to

Scott Harris:

deal with on your own

Rob Gent:

and mentioning the term alone, this term lonely. I

Rob Gent:

mean, I've, as a therapist for so many years, there's a

Rob Gent:

pervasive theme of whatever the diagnosis or whatever, there's

Rob Gent:

this underlying feeling of the loneliness is the hardest, the

Rob Gent:

hardest part, the separateness the feeling of being different,

Rob Gent:

or that shame creeps in. And just hearing your story, it

Rob Gent:

sounds like part of that it gets real cyclical. It's a snowball

Rob Gent:

effect.

Scott Harris:

absolutely does. Yeah.

Rob Gent:

It's gotta be incredibly difficult.

Unknown:

Yeah, I think, you know, when I look back at my, my

Unknown:

youth and my teenage years, you know, I really kind of pat

Unknown:

myself on the back for having survived. You know, I had a lot

Unknown:

of negative experiences growing up and was bullied in school for

Unknown:

a long time. And that was something that, you know,

Unknown:

really, with my depression, I think, might probably have been

Unknown:

the cause of a lot of it truthfully, I don't remember

Unknown:

feeling depressed before that happened, but I certainly was

Unknown:

afterwards. And it was very isolating because I was being

Unknown:

bullied at school for being gay. And it was at that time in the

Unknown:

80s. It was not something that I felt comfortable talking about

Unknown:

with anybody, my parents included. And so it was

Unknown:

something that I dealt with by myself, or not dealt with

Unknown:

because there wasn't a way to deal with it. Right. And so I

Unknown:

found, you know, at that time, it was for me alcohol was a good

Unknown:

way to deal with whatever I was feeling. And so that's what I

Unknown:

did.

Rob Gent:

I can't tell you how much I appreciate your

Rob Gent:

vulnerability and sharing. There's so many people out there

Rob Gent:

that don't understand the multi layered effect of this whole

Rob Gent:

thing. I feel alone and then I'm bullied. And then there's my

Rob Gent:

sexual orientation and all of that stuff, multiple layers on

Rob Gent:

this.

Scott Harris:

Yeah.

Rob Gent:

And yet you have the resiliency to persevere through,

Scott Harris:

it's, you know, I'm really proud of that. Part

Scott Harris:

of me that was at that age, you know, I can still remember it.

Scott Harris:

And it was a tough experience, like going to a school every

Scott Harris:

day, I had no means of getting out of that from the age of 11

Scott Harris:

to 18. And being bullied every day. And, you know, I had no no

Scott Harris:

support network, I had no one to talk about it, I never talked

Scott Harris:

about actually, because I was embarrassed about it. And so it

Scott Harris:

was a really traumatic experience. You know, we talk

Scott Harris:

about trauma. And oftentimes, I think people think of big, you

Scott Harris:

know, traumatic things that happen versus something that

Scott Harris:

happens over time every day. I always relate it to like being

Scott Harris:

in a prison cell, like I couldn't get out of that

Scott Harris:

experience, no matter what I did, you know, I was going to

Scott Harris:

that school every day for seven years until I graduated, whether

Scott Harris:

I liked it or not.

Rob Gent:

But can I ask what what gave you as a? How would

Rob Gent:

you determine it was it hope? I mean, I use the term resiliency,

Rob Gent:

but what allowed you because I would imagine so many teenagers

Rob Gent:

were seeing that sense overwhelms them. And then they

Rob Gent:

look at a horrible permanent solution through suicide.

Scott Harris:

Yeah.

Rob Gent:

Or whatever, I just. What allowed Scott to persevere?

Scott Harris:

it's a good question.I'm stubborn. I'm

Scott Harris:

really stubborn. And I was good at some things that that I think

Scott Harris:

helped me to, like, you know, there was some things that I did

Scott Harris:

enjoy at school. And I had some a couple of good connections

Scott Harris:

with some teachers that that I like, I didn't tell them about

Scott Harris:

any of this, but I liked them, I liked the subjects, and I had a

Scott Harris:

view have some view of a future. Like what I remember what I had

Scott Harris:

in my head was I'm going to get out of here, I'm going to go to

Scott Harris:

university and when I get there, I'm going to make sure that this

Scott Harris:

never happens again, is what was in my head the whole time. And

Scott Harris:

you know, I did at one point consider suicide because I

Scott Harris:

couldn't see a way out. And and I remember that was when I was

Scott Harris:

16 and I was two years shy of graduating. But I was close

Scott Harris:

enough to graduating that I knew I could get there. And so I

Scott Harris:

think for you know, I didn't have some of the resources that

Scott Harris:

are available today. I'm glad that there are resources

Scott Harris:

available today and organizations like ours that

Scott Harris:

help teenagers and adolescents struggling with the kind of

Scott Harris:

emotions and things that I was dealing with and situations that

Scott Harris:

I was dealing with so that you know there are ways for people

Scott Harris:

to address and talk about some of the real life things that

Scott Harris:

that we deal with as kids you know, it's it's a impossible

Scott Harris:

scenario for a child to try and deal with being you know, being

Scott Harris:

different and you know, having to address being gay in an

Scott Harris:

environment where it wasn't okay to be gay back then at all and

Scott Harris:

being bullied for it at the same time while not being able to

Scott Harris:

talk about it

Rob Gent:

While being anxious

Scott Harris:

Being anxious, yeah, and depressed.

Rob Gent:

Oh goodness.

Scott Harris:

So that was that was my life you know seven years

Rob Gent:

so leaving high school do you do you find the escape do

Rob Gent:

you find a new world?

Scott Harris:

I

Unknown:

escaped but I escaped into something else. So you

Unknown:

know, I escaped and I really I had such intent not to let that

Unknown:

repeat itself and by then I think the you know that habit of

Unknown:

using alcohol to numb my nervous system had already become an

Unknown:

addiction. And so when I got to university, it was really easy

Unknown:

to use that to you know, oh, you know, it's what we do we go out

Unknown:

we drink we party, it was Freshers week, you know,

Unknown:

everybody's getting to know each other. And I was so insistent on

Unknown:

you know, making the right friends because I didn't want to

Unknown:

be bullied by anybody. So I got in with the crowd of people that

Unknown:

did or the kinds of things that I would never have done as the

Unknown:

little innocent kid I was when I was seven or eight years old.

Unknown:

And you know, I found myself doing things that I wouldn't

Unknown:

otherwise have done and you know, drinking and taking

Unknown:

substances and

Rob Gent:

Was there

Rob Gent:

any worry, within that? I so appreciate this conversation.

Rob Gent:

Because here you have anxiety in here you have a tendency to, you

Rob Gent:

know, be anxious and want to make sure that you know

Rob Gent:

grandma's Okay, and all of the stuff in here you are involved

Rob Gent:

with stuff that's kind of dangerous.

Scott Harris:

Yeah.

Rob Gent:

I'm just wondering what's happened internally for

Rob Gent:

Scott?

Scott Harris:

Yeah, it

Scott Harris:

was a bit of what there was some turmoil, I remember the first

Scott Harris:

time I ever smoked marijuana, it was like a huge deal for me,

Scott Harris:

because I was like, breaking the rules. So far, from what I grew

Scott Harris:

up with, I'd never done anything like that before. And I remember

Scott Harris:

thinking to myself, like, this isn't, this isn't what I do.

Scott Harris:

Like, I didn't even like the taste of it, the smell of it,

Scott Harris:

but that's what we were doing in the room at the time. So you

Scott Harris:

know, my friends were there. And, and then, you know, with,

Scott Harris:

with drinking, with, you know, drinking to excess,

Scott Harris:

unfortunately, you know, you end up doing things that are also,

Scott Harris:

you know, things that you don't want to do and are embarrassing.

Scott Harris:

And then there's the anxiety that comes from that and dealing

Scott Harris:

with that that humiliation of, you know, what did I do? What

Scott Harris:

did I say? So it just, you know, it builds and, you know, what do

Scott Harris:

you do to deal with anxiety? Well, what you've been doing all

Scott Harris:

along to deal with that anxiety and go out and drink some more,

Scott Harris:

because that will take away the, the anxiety, yeah,

Rob Gent:

So the cycle really builds on itself.

Scott Harris:

It really does. And

Unknown:

you, you use that so much as a coping mechanism that

Unknown:

you perhaps miss out on some of the other coping mechanisms that

Unknown:

you could build, when you're at university, you know, through

Unknown:

social skills, and actually developing relationships with

Unknown:

people that can be a support for you, versus, you know, you kind

Unknown:

of as an alcoholic, you're more, you know, hiding away trying to

Unknown:

cope with everything on your own. And, actually, you know,

Unknown:

every time you feel bad, you're gonna want to use your, your

Unknown:

crutch, which is alcohol.

Rob Gent:

Yeah. It's a way to cope.

Scott Harris:

It's a way to cope. Yeah. And it was a way I

Scott Harris:

used for a very long time. And I didn't know what I was dealing

Scott Harris:

with. And there was a lot of judgment and, and kind of

Scott Harris:

shaming from myself over the things that would, you know, the

Scott Harris:

things I would feel like, when I was really depressed, like, I

Scott Harris:

didn't know what that was, you know, we didn't have a school

Scott Harris:

therapist back then we weren't taught about it. So, you know, I

Scott Harris:

just knew that I would have these episodes where it'd be

Scott Harris:

like, so sad that I couldn't be around people. And I would walk

Scott Harris:

away from people and shut myself away. And people would notice,

Scott Harris:

and I didn't, you know, I just felt so strange that, you know,

Scott Harris:

I was behaving that way. You know, my drinking, kind of some

Scott Harris:

people notice, but most people just thought I was the party

Scott Harris:

animal with of school. And I managed to scrape through with

Scott Harris:

good enough grades that I did Okay. But you know, it was it

Scott Harris:

was just a crutch.

Rob Gent:

One thing that I'd love for you to talk about is

Rob Gent:

that oftentimes, people want to appeal to your rational

Rob Gent:

thinking, like, it's an insight issue, like you just, you're

Rob Gent:

just not putting two and two together, Scott are like people

Rob Gent:

have this, what I think is interesting, especially knowing

Rob Gent:

you a little bit such a bright, just insightful human being.

Rob Gent:

That's not new. Right?

Scott Harris:

Right.

Rob Gent:

Like, I would imagine you had the insight the whole

Rob Gent:

time. But how did those two go together the insight, and yet,

Rob Gent:

you know, there's physiological emotional responses.

Unknown:

Sure. I mean, I would say, if I broke them up into two

Unknown:

things, so there's the, the OCD part, and the and the alcohol

Unknown:

part, right. So with the OCD, I used, what I know and what I

Unknown:

could teach myself about it. And so I tried things, like exposing

Unknown:

myself to the, you know, the stimulus over time, I would also

Unknown:

use, I used to travel a lot for work. And so when I was in a

Unknown:

hotel room, I didn't care so much because it wasn't my house.

Unknown:

So I trained myself to not care about when I was in a hotel

Unknown:

room, which gave me some safety. And it kind of lessen the

Unknown:

anxiety around the faucet and the door and you know, and then

Unknown:

I also think to myself, you know, well, if the House does

Unknown:

burn down, I've got insurance. It's not the end of the world.

Unknown:

So that worked for a while as a logical, you know, kind of

Unknown:

defense mechanism, but then I got a dog and it wasn't that

Unknown:

that didn't work anymore, because my dogs in the house

Unknown:

that's not you know, I can't logic my way out of that one.

Unknown:

Right. And with the, you know, with the addiction side of

Unknown:

things I've had people say before we you know, you can just

Unknown:

Stop drinking or, you know, if you actually try hard enough, or

Unknown:

it's just a willpower thing, it actually isn't, you know,

Unknown:

alcoholism is an addiction. And so when you really understand

Unknown:

addiction and where addiction comes from, it comes from, you

Unknown:

know, having behaviors, having anxiety underneath all of that,

Unknown:

and depression underneath all of that from, you know, whatever

Unknown:

reason whether we grew up in an environment that is abusive, or

Unknown:

whether we grow up in an environment, that's anxiety,

Unknown:

invoking or whether we're bullied at school, whatever it

Unknown:

is, you know, we end up with anxiety, depression, and a set

Unknown:

of feelings that are really uncomfortable. And you're going

Unknown:

to want to find a way to address those. So for me, logically, you

Unknown:

know, my, I've tried many logical ways of trying to

Unknown:

address alcoholism before I eventually found the final way.

Unknown:

You know, I tried changing, changing what I drank, drinking

Unknown:

on different days, you know, only buying this amount of

Unknown:

alcohol because that wouldn't get me you know, that drunk, I

Unknown:

would only drink on weekends and not on weekdays or never on a

Unknown:

Sunday, because that was before a workday. I didn't want to be

Unknown:

hungover. You know, every sounds

Rob Gent:

like you came up with strategy. Absolutely. But not a

Rob Gent:

way to really address the

Rob Gent:

core.

Scott Harris:

No, because it wasn't, you know, it wasn't

Scott Harris:

drinking, that was really the the underlying problem, the

Scott Harris:

underlying problem was how I felt about myself, and the feel

Scott Harris:

the intensity of the feelings. And some of it wasn't just

Scott Harris:

anxiety, depression, it was, you know, sometimes it was numb, you

Scott Harris:

know, from I think, from the bullying at school, the degree

Scott Harris:

of trauma that I experienced, sometimes I would just be

Scott Harris:

completely numb, and experience these states of, I guess,

Scott Harris:

dissociation where I felt so dysregulated, and I was unable

Scott Harris:

to make a decision. So I would sit on the couch and just just

Scott Harris:

sit there. And you know, I didn't know whether I was going

Scott Harris:

to go out and not go out. And I couldn't decide. And it was

Scott Harris:

really uncomfortable. And so that was something else that I

Scott Harris:

would drink over because I couldn't stand that feeling of

Scott Harris:

just that numbness and not being able to make a decision about

Scott Harris:

whether it was something as simple as whether I was gonna go

Scott Harris:

out.

Rob Gent:

So here's this bullying effect of feeling just

Rob Gent:

ostracized and rejected. And I mean, it must have been so

Rob Gent:

horrible, Scott, and where are you? Are the relationships in

Rob Gent:

your life that you rely on as a secure base? Is there people in

Rob Gent:

your life that helped to balance that out?

Scott Harris:

Absolutely. Yeah, I have a really solid network of

Scott Harris:

friends in my life today, who, some of whom experienced the

Scott Harris:

same things. And so we can relate. And that's really

Scott Harris:

helpful. Because when you can talk openly about these things,

Scott Harris:

you know, if you do feel anxious about something or you know,

Scott Harris:

depression comes back, knowing that you can talk to somebody

Scott Harris:

who knows what you're talking about is really helpful. And I,

Scott Harris:

you know, I have found a therapist, that they work with

Scott Harris:

that. I like to explore different strategies and coping

Scott Harris:

mechanisms for things and changing behaviors. I'm always

Scott Harris:

looking at, you know, which behavior works better in which

Scott Harris:

situation? So, you know, those are things I look at, but

Scott Harris:

definitely a friendship network has been really important.

Rob Gent:

Did relationships play a part in your healing journey?

Scott Harris:

I would say yes, definitely not as in a romantic

Scott Harris:

relationship, but although one of them did. So the one person I

Scott Harris:

dated who actually did have OCD was the first adult that I

Scott Harris:

experienced that I actually spoke about it because we, we

Scott Harris:

couldn't really avoid talking about it. Because we both

Scott Harris:

noticed each other's behavior.

Rob Gent:

I

Rob Gent:

wonder how that is being in a relationship.

Scott Harris:

It was, you know, what we ended up we kind of

Scott Harris:

joked about it, it was funny to us, because he would check one

Scott Harris:

thing, and I would check another thing, and we would kind of

Scott Harris:

laugh at each other. And we're like, alright, you check that

Scott Harris:

I'll check this and then we'd leave. And so when we could look

Scott Harris:

at it in that light, it wasn't a thing to be embarrassed about.

Scott Harris:

It was just, you know, something to laugh about. You know, I

Scott Harris:

think that really helps a lot. But the the friendships that

Scott Harris:

I've developed in the community that I've developed with people

Scott Harris:

that have an understanding of both mental health disorders,

Scott Harris:

anxiety, depression, and addiction, have been

Scott Harris:

tremendously helpful because it what really doesn't work is to

Scott Harris:

sit back and judge yourself or anyone else for what they're

Scott Harris:

struggling with. What works is to talk to somebody who actually

Scott Harris:

understands what you're talking about, and maybe has gone

Scott Harris:

through it as well. I mean, therapists are great. As I said,

Scott Harris:

I work with one, but working and talking with somebody who

Scott Harris:

actually has experienced what you've experienced or are

Scott Harris:

experiencing is, you know, it really helps you to know that

Scott Harris:

you're, you're not alone. And you know, plenty of people have

Scott Harris:

experiences and do, and there are ways to deal with it.

Rob Gent:

So I'm hearing what you say, Scott is that it

Rob Gent:

actually takes a multifaceted, you know, approach.

Scott Harris:

Yeah.

Rob Gent:

Therapists, great resource professionals, great,

Rob Gent:

but also a community of people who are in this are healing

Rob Gent:

themselves.

Scott Harris:

It definitely does. And I think one of the

Scott Harris:

dangerous things about anxiety and depression is it does

Scott Harris:

naturally lend itself to isolating and being on your own.

Scott Harris:

And that's definitely one of my go to behavious. I'm very happy

Scott Harris:

in my own company most of the time, but it can be to my

Scott Harris:

detriment, and so I almost have to push myself to, to go out.

Scott Harris:

And I think that's something that's really helped me

Scott Harris:

tremendously. And if one of those things worked on their

Scott Harris:

own, it would be wonderful, wonderful for me, it didn't, you

Scott Harris:

know, I, I trained as a life coach, and I've been doing

Scott Harris:

personal development work since 2008. And, you know, I know

Scott Harris:

about changing behaviors and mindset and, and it's a very

Scott Harris:

useful tool in many aspects of life. It did not address my

Scott Harris:

depression, and it did not resolve my alcoholism. So I knew

Scott Harris:

that that did not work on its own. And so I, you know, I

Scott Harris:

continued to search and I found, you know, another program that

Scott Harris:

did work for my alcoholism. And then I, you know, I found other

Scott Harris:

practices that worked for my depression. And I also found

Scott Harris:

that when I stopped drinking, my depression wasn't as severe and

Scott Harris:

chronic as it had been.

Rob Gent:

So when they talk about talking about alcohol

Rob Gent:

being a depressant,

Scott Harris:

yeah,

Rob Gent:

that's true.

Scott Harris:

It's absolutely true.

Rob Gent:

It numbs you.

Unknown:

Yeah,

Rob Gent:

there's relief in the moment. But, boy, that

Rob Gent:

exacerbated a lot of that depression.

Scott Harris:

Absolutely. Yeah.

Rob Gent:

So what I really value Scott, as you're saying is that

Rob Gent:

I use the term healing journey, because even the time that we've

Rob Gent:

gotten to talk and you stopped by my office, you talk about

Rob Gent:

getting better and healing, but you're managing it, it's not

Rob Gent:

this miracle, boom, my anxiety is gone. My OCD is completely

Rob Gent:

better. It's not that

Unknown:

it's not. And you know, from the day I stopped drinking,

Unknown:

you know, alcohol, my life started to improve in many ways,

Unknown:

physically, psychologically. But I was also doing other things

Unknown:

that helped build things like self esteem built friendship

Unknown:

networks, I became very involved in the LGBT community in leading

Unknown:

retreats and doing a lot of personal growth work. And those

Unknown:

things really helped me to learn other skills and get involved in

Unknown:

things that lifted my spirits naturally, they were things that

Unknown:

I love to do. And I met people that I like to be around. And so

Unknown:

that was another part of my healing journey was just

Unknown:

allowing myself to experience things and get out and meet

Unknown:

people. And I think, for myself, I feel like I'm probably going

Unknown:

to be on this journey until I'm not, you know, I think, anxiety

Unknown:

to a certain degree is going to be with me most of my life. But

Unknown:

it's in a manageable way. And I think with with the OCD, it's

Unknown:

something I continue to interest me because it's a facet of me

Unknown:

that I haven't really fully gotten my hands around ways that

Unknown:

I can minimize it. I've tried some things and I've dabbled a

Unknown:

little bit. And I'm curious to see you know, how far I can take

Unknown:

that and what else I can do to allow it to be there, accept it,

Unknown:

but also keep it to a minimum.

Rob Gent:

I'm smiling Scot because you said, we mentioned

Rob Gent:

this healing journey, and I'm smiling because I'm like, That

Rob Gent:

journey has molded you into this incredible person that you are

Rob Gent:

today. We wouldn't be sitting here having this talk. I just

Rob Gent:

wouldn't feel so fortunate to be able to share this with you and

Rob Gent:

you being able to share it a whole nother community without

Rob Gent:

the journey.

Scott Harris:

Yeah, it's

Scott Harris:

an incredible thing. This this gift we have called life. You

Scott Harris:

know, I There are many times in my life and I would not have

Scott Harris:

called it a gift. And I wouldn't relive my childhood for anything

Scott Harris:

in the world. But I also wouldn't give up the experience

Scott Harris:

I have because the amount of conversations I've had with

Scott Harris:

people, the people I've coached the people I've worked with, you

Scott Harris:

know and helped a, I find that that's such a blessing to be

Scott Harris:

able to share, you know what I've struggled with, to help

Scott Harris:

another human being overcome what they're struggling with or

Scott Harris:

you can sit with it. If they can't overcome it right now just

Scott Harris:

be there.

Rob Gent:

I really love how your journey of healing is really

Rob Gent:

integrated this whole service component, and giving caring

Rob Gent:

compassion to others. That's part of it.

Scott Harris:

It definitely is, I think, you know, from the day

Scott Harris:

I started becoming a coach and a life coach, I've always had a

Scott Harris:

desire to help people become free in whatever aspect of their

Scott Harris:

life they choose to. And I think working with Embark, it's kind

Scott Harris:

of brought that to another level or focused it a little bit more

Scott Harris:

now, on young adults and adolescents. And not necessarily

Scott Harris:

an age group, I would have said, I related to that much before

Scott Harris:

because I don't have kids. But I do relate to that young part of

Scott Harris:

myself. And I can you know, the minute I started talking to kids

Scott Harris:

and parents here, I immediately could relate to them

Scott Harris:

immediately, because that's exactly how I felt I know

Scott Harris:

exactly what you're talking about.

Rob Gent:

Yeah, it's amazing how many adolescents and teenagers

Rob Gent:

and even young adults just struggle with this feeling of

Rob Gent:

ostracized and bullied and just the profound shame and rejection

Rob Gent:

that comes with it feels hopeless.

Scott Harris:

It does.

Rob Gent:

And yet you were able to find some hope in your own

Rob Gent:

journey.

Scott Harris:

It does. And, you know, I'm grateful that I grew

Scott Harris:

up when I did, for some some reasons, you know, there wasn't

Scott Harris:

social media back then. So, you know, the, there wasn't cyber

Scott Harris:

bullying, and some of the horrific things kids deal with

Scott Harris:

today because of that. And I also am grateful that I have

Scott Harris:

been able to take what I experienced and turn it into

Scott Harris:

something that's useful, and feels good to me too. You know,

Scott Harris:

I feel like I'm, I'm not in a place where I look back at my

Scott Harris:

childhood, and I'm terrified by it, or I'm traumatized by it

Scott Harris:

anymore. Like I said, I certainly don't want to go back

Scott Harris:

there. But I can definitely use it to help other people.

Rob Gent:

Well, Scott, we're we're all reaping rewards from

Rob Gent:

your journey, and you've been able to do that. Just in

Rob Gent:

closing, what do you what are you looking forward to? In your

Rob Gent:

life?

Scott Harris:

You know, I'm looking forward to and this is a

Scott Harris:

bit of a vague answer, but I'm looking forward to what's next.

Scott Harris:

I'm very used to keeping myself very busy. And I think that

Scott Harris:

comes from being an anxious person. I'm used to leading

Scott Harris:

retreats and teaching and coaching. And for the first time

Scott Harris:

in my life, you know, just moved to Arizona, I haven't planned a

Scott Harris:

thing. So I'm actually looking forward to some downtime and

Scott Harris:

seeing what comes from that, you know, what new interests might I

Scott Harris:

find or people I connect with? Maybe it's more nature, but not

Scott Harris:

busying myself with things?

Rob Gent:

Great.

Scott Harris:

Yeah.

Rob Gent:

Awesome. So maybe one quick takeaway from what is it

Rob Gent:

you want everybody to know, something that you like, if

Rob Gent:

you're leaving here? What is it you want people to know?

Unknown:

Maybe you heard something in what I shared

Unknown:

today, that speaks to you whether it's OCD, anxiety,

Unknown:

depression, alcoholism, any of those things that we carry shame

Unknown:

and embarrassment about, these are things that so many millions

Unknown:

of people deal with, very quietly, often by themselves.

Unknown:

And you really don't have to. There are ways to talk about

Unknown:

this. There are people to talk with about these things that can

Unknown:

actually help and I'm one of them, and you're one of them.

Unknown:

And you really don't have to suffer alone in this.

Rob Gent:

And Scott's a living example of that.

Scott Harris:

Thank you.

Rob Gent:

Just so appreciate it. One thing for me, big takeaway

Rob Gent:

is that it might be OCD. That's the symptom. They might be

Rob Gent:

checking and counting and doing all of these other things and

Rob Gent:

have obsessions and compulsive thinking, but it's anxiety and

Rob Gent:

depression. Underneath that. It's multi layered effect of

Rob Gent:

trauma and all of these other things are really adding up and

Rob Gent:

yet there's hope to be able to resolve all that.

Scott Harris:

Yeah.

Rob Gent:

Scott, invaluable time. Being with you today. I've

Rob Gent:

just so appreciate it.

Scott Harris:

My pleasure.

Rob Gent:

Yeah. So everybody, thank you for joining Sessions.

Rob Gent:

Thank you to Scott. Please access us wherever you access

Links