I chatted with ocdmaestro on Instagram to ask him about the artwork he creates to express and capture his experiences with OCD.

Mark: What inspired you to start making these drawings?

Andreas: I don’t know really… I’ve always been sketching and drawing and it was a nice relaxing thing to do. Also, it was a good way of expressing some difficult feelings and moments. I’ve studed photography and worked as a photographer. I’ve also studied to be a teacher in arts, so I’ve always been very graphic and esthetic.

And in some way, I needed something to do each time obsessions got too hard. I used to text my therapist all the time but I didn’t want to disturb her.

In the beginning, I managed to post the stuff without interruption, but I’ve had my battles with some posts…

Mark: Notebooks are probably the world’s most convenient and popular therapists. What have you found challenging with some of the posts?

Andreas: My issues have always been doing stuff a certain amount of times. So some of them have been posted “a few” times. Post and delete until it’s right

Other than that, I don’t mind posting, even the most embarrassing stuff I’ve done… Feels good to share. And people have been telling me it’s helping them as well 🙂

The whole experience for me with Instagram has helped in the sense that I get out of the OCD-bubble and also that I meet people who actually know what I’m talking about. One post you wrote was exactly what I was thinking.

Mark: That’s one of the complex things with social media and recovery–it’s so helpful to share, personally and for others–but social media can quickly suck us into compulsions. It’s a great place to practice.

I really like how you capture experiences in your drawings that I could identify with. And the range from the massive drawings to the small ones in your notebook capture the diversity and textures of thoughts I’ve wrestled with over the years. Can you tell me more about the large “Patience” drawings. Are those on walls in your home?

Andreas: No, they’re actually too big to find a frame for. It will be too expensive for me at the moment.

When I made them, it was actually OCD therapy in some way. Because there are so many things in the drawings it’s impossible to keep track of every intrusive thought that comes along. It would be impossible to start that kind of drawing over and over again… Haha.

Mark: Ah, it’s always frustrating when OCD interferes with doing the things we love. But great idea to do something impossible to redo. You may have invented a totally new form of therapy! Impossibility Art Therapy (IAT).

Andreas: Yeah, exactly! 🙂

When I worked as a photographer, the digital format totally made everything a huge mess… I shot frame after frame after frame. Sometimes having to use certain shutter speeds and apertures because of the numbers.

I also have synesthesia. Each letter and number has a certain colour for me. It’s always been like that. Do you know what it is?

It’s not a problem but it makes it easier for me to remember numbers and colours associated with the numbers, which makes the OCD very happy…

Mark: Yes, I’m familiar with synesthesia. That is interesting and totally makes sense how it would complicate compulsions around numbers and letters. Does it affect your drawing?

Andreas: Yeah, I mean, let’s say I see something outside that green + green. That would totally get me started on 7 + 7, which means 14 (going to the doctor), or cancer. I think that’s why I’ve done most of them in black and white on Instagram. Unless I mix some colours, like I did with this one:

Then it all evens out.

It sounds so fucked up when I describe it. I gotta stop that. A couple of years ago I was in really bad shape. Now it’s better.

Mark: Haha it all sounds normal to me! One of my favourites that you’ve posted stood out partly because it has red in it. This one about relationships:

And you mention being terrified of how and where you’ll tell your story. Can you tell me more about that one?

Andreas: Haha. That’s good. I don’t remember. I think I used red because of love. But maybe I was thinking about the fear as well. But that’s gonna be tough, I think. To tell someone next time. That’s why it’s so important to educate people about OCD.

Mark: That’s a challenge that comes up often. Usually I find that the date is just as worried about telling some story of their own. Or when I go on dates, they actually just want free therapy with drinks 😛

The education part is so important. Which is why it’s great you’re doing what you’re doing and helping people see OCD through a creative medium. You also do drawings on your successes with recovery, like the movie theatre one. I like that you’re showing all of the sides to this.

Andreas: Yeah, thanks. I’m much better than before. But each time OCD hits you, you’re back to square one. Even if I know I shouldn’t think like that and that I’m better now.

Also, I met a girl for a while after separating with my ex and when I met her and spent time with her, I didn’t do any compulsions at all. Of course it was a “new thing” and nothing was associated to OCD with her… yet. But also because i was in such a good mood with her. Love is all you need… Seriously, I think so. You have to try and bring love in any way into your life. Whether it’s a person, or a big screen tv, or a new hobby, that doesn’t matter! Just be nice to yourself. In a lot of ways I think it’s important to do stuff that makes you feel good. Cause then you’re not as vulnerable to the OCD. It’s all a big circle and when stuff are in sync, it all gets better!

Mark: Relationships are powerful things.

It’s amazing to see that so many people around the world, in different cultures, are having the same thoughts and taking that same journey of recovery. So thanks for sharing that!

One last question: can people buy your drawings?

Andreas: I don’t know, not yet. But maybe I’ll work something out. People have been asking.

Mark: I would definitely buy one. 

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