Speech in Barcelona 12 May 2010

Speech in front of psychology students at Ramon Llull University, BCN, 12/5/2010

This time the speech used a question-and-answer format, where questions raised by the students were responded to, in addition two poems were read.

QUESTION: Please describe us a typical (working) day for you.

ANSWER: I get up between 6:30 and 7:00 in the morning, have a shower, get dressed and leave for work. This is the ideal situation or “normal” situation. If I wake up in a bad state (eg feeling unclean, depressed or anxious) rituals such as multiple times verifying if I took the right papers with me, if the lights have been unlit, if the door has been locked properly etc can last 15 to 20 minutes long (whereas if all goes normal, this takes less than 3 minutes). It has occured occasionally that I arrived late at work or was forced to take a taxi to be in time, not because of oversleeping but simply because the rituals took too long and I lost too much time with that.

I work from 9:00 to 18:00 normally, however work is often interrupted by extended handwashing rituals in case I wish to remain clean for events in the evening after work. Sometimes time (up to 1 or 2 hours) can be lost on visiting private non-work related sites such as newspapers, travel guides etc – this is usually to distract myself from OCD problems or from depressive moods. I tend to compensate the time lost by voluntary overtime, which means I often work much later than 18:00. I am very open about my OCD, Asperger Syndrome and depressions, and am lucky most colleagues (a few exceptions exist) and superiors are understanding and tolerant to my specific situation.

In the evening I will spend time on hobbies such as writing emails, writing or performing poetry, watching sports games, listening to music (and soon I hope to add Hebrew lessons to this list of activities). Sometimes I wish to be clean for these activities, which causes stress during the working hours.

QUESTION: What are your hobbies?

1) arts : writing or performing poetry, listening to music, writing articles
2) sports: watching football, groundhopping (= photographing as many different stadiums as possible, currently the tally is over 1300 varying from amateur team grounds to famous stadiums such as Camp Nou), swimming in sea when weather allows it (the sea is to me a metaphor for freedom, allowing to leave worries aside on the mainland and feel totally liberated when far from the beach and seeing only water surrounding me)
3) learning Hebrew: a hobby I hope to start from this week onwards (interest comes from both my desire to relocate to Israel for several years, and because I find it a beautiful and highly poetic language)

I shall add that I could groundhop, attend football games, travel, etc more if I were not so often emotionally exhausted because of OCD. When someone joins me it is easier to be distracted and enjoy the event. However, I need a lot of time alone and personal space (more than the average person) and feel suffocating when someone comes too close emotionally. You cannot expect someone to distract you whenever you need it but leave you alone on any other moment ; because of that my prefence generally is to enjoy my hobbies on my own, even when the distraction from OCD tends to be lower then.

Interest in having a girlfriend and desire for artistic collaborators somewhat contradicts with the desire to be alone frequently, finding that balance without somehow going too far and feel suffocating is hard. This does trigger a desire for isolation.

QUESTION: What is your prefered form of psychotherapy?

ANSWER: I believe in conversation orientated therapy which is based around lots of talking: trying to replace irrational thoughts and fears by rational thoughts, trying to use the power of the brain. Cognitive behavioural therapy with homework attached to deadlines has not worked well for me yet (although this is purely a personal experience and not speaking for autistics or OCD sufferers in general).

Important is that the psychotherapist is reachable by SMS or email whenever it’s needed (without taking abuse by constantly sending messages) so that I know that when there is some major worry or important message, I can email him/her and know that I can expect a response or expect it to be discussed in the next session. To be able to reach the therapist outside of weekly therapy hour is very important in my opinion.

Additionally, I believe contacts with other sufferers can be very useful as you can learn from each other’s survival techniques. Also I would like to somehow include arts therapy in my therapy, although this has not been tried as yet.


Session finished by reading two poems:
– “Cambrils”
– “By the Sea (I got a house)”

Total length: approx. 25 minutes.