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  • Writer's pictureShriman Visahan

Interview with Gigi Manchego

We interviewed Gigi Manchego as part of our new series, OCD Fighters. Check out the interview below!

So, today we have a chat with Gigi Manchego! She's an author, mother, wellness warrior, mental health blogger, barrister and an online activist. Oh, and she also has OCD, which she is no longer afraid and has tamed it; the way she manages her responsibilities and smashes her goals is out-of-the-world! It was liking to talking to Wonder Woman and she herself didn't realize how incredible she is.

Read below and know yourself why is she a superhero.

There are different types of OCD and their intensities are on a broad spectrum as well. Could you tell us a bit about your condition and perhaps, give us an example on how this affects your daily life?

I have a type of OCD called “Pure O” which is primarily obsessive thoughts surrounding the things that cause me the most distress. I don’t horde, line stuff up, wash my hands excessively, count etc. It’s all paradoxical thoughts about subjects that I find the most disgusting. The intensities vary depending if I’m sick or stressed out or see a trigger on tv or other media. For example if I get sick I have a OCD health flare. I will think of the most horrible disease to die of and I loop on that “stuck thought” excessively until I perform my ritual of googling my symptoms-

Which calms me at the moment but then exacerbates the situation.

OCD is a kind of disease which alters the way you think and perceive things at a very fundamental level. People have said that their altercations in thought, when examined afterwards shocked and had scared them. Have you had any such instances?

The scariest aspect of my condition are the paradoxical thoughts I have that go against my ethics and morals- for example: when I’m stressed I obsessively loop on the things in life that scare me the most- women who kill their children, people who perform mass shootings,  people who kill them selves- anything that surrounds violence, homicide and suicide. All of these things I find horrible and the worst offense against humanity- but in times of my flares I loop all day about these things- before I got a official diagnosis I thought I was going insane. I thought I was having these thoughts because it reflected some paradigm shift like I was becoming someone who was having these thoughts because I was inherently evil and just hadn’t known it for 40 years.

You said that you have the "Pure O'' type of OCD. How did you combat this and what sort of medical assistance did you seek?

Last year I started going to a OCD specialist that has me participate in Exposure Response Therapy. I have to put myself into the discomfort of all of the most scary gruesome thoughts I have and habituate to them until I’m not distressed by them anymore. It’s a hard process but it has helped make daily life much more manageable again. I also participate in meditation, journaling, exercise, Buddhism practices and QiGong. The one thing I won’t do is participate in a psychotropic medicine regimen. The side effects are intense and life long so I wanted to manage my symptoms holistically and without the use of synthetic brain chemicals. Although it’s taken much longer to do it without meds I find myself being very pleased by the progress I’ve acquired without medical intervention.

The public responds to mass media communication efficiently. Sensitization of the audience is very easily achievable when movies and TV shows have lead roles with such conditions. What is your take on that?

This is an excellent question! I’ve never seen Pure O represented clearly in any medium very well. Probably because it the more unknown of the umbrella disorder. Mostly, when I do see OCD displayed in tv and movies is downplayed or made light of. It’s also so stereotypically portrayed...washing hands and lining items up. Or when people throw “you’re OCD” around because they are organized etc. really doesn’t reflect the intensity of the disorder. The closest, clearest demonstration of OCD I’ve seen on film is in Aviator- a bio-drama about Howard Hughes and As Good As it Gets. Jack Nicholson’s character was spot on in many ways. Otherwise we are not well represented in any media mediums. That’s why many think we are participating in this disorder for attention. NOT THE CASE.

Okay, you have been given a lamp and you rub it. Ta-da! A genie pops and you get one shiny golden wish. Your wish has to make the lives of people with OCD better. What do you do?

If there’s one thing we need to make life better for all people managing any mental health disorder is affordable, easily accessible mental health care. If you can’t afford a psychologist and psychiatrist or can’t afford a prescription for medication to help manage your symptoms you’re at a loss and are set up to suffer. Everyone no matter, economics, creed, or color deserves a shot at living well- a balanced mental health state should be obtained by all not just the elite that can fork up the money for it.

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