Howie Mandel opens up about living with OCD and anxiety, says comedy helps him cope

The “America’s Got Talent” judge, 65, has spoken publicly about having obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) in the past. The condition is marked by having intrusive, unwanted thoughts that can manifest as phobias and lead to repetitive behavior or compulsions as well as anxiety, according to the Mayo Clinic

Speaking to People in a recent interview, Mandel explained that, although he’s been open about his condition, he’s never fully revealed how low he can get when his condition impacts him. In particular, he tends to worry about his wife, Terry, and their kids, son Alex, 31, and daughters Riley, 28, and Jackie, 36.

In normal times, he would simply focus on the fact that his family was fine. However, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic last year, the star says his OCD was kicked into overdrive. 

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Howie Mandel opened up about living with obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Howie Mandel opened up about living with obsessive-compulsive disorder. (Mike Windle/Getty Images)

“There isn’t a waking moment of my life when ‘we could die’ doesn’t come into my psyche,” he told the outlet. “But the solace I would get would be the fact that everybody around me was okay. It’s good to latch onto okay. But [during the pandemic] the whole world was not okay. And it was absolute hell.”

Mandel explained that one of the biggest things he’s learned about himself is that finding laughter in his dark moments is perhaps the single best thing he can do for himself. 

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“My coping skill is finding the funny,” he revealed. “If I’m not laughing, then I’m crying. And I still haven’t been that open about how dark and ugly it really gets.”

He went on to note that finding his place in the comedy community saved his life in many ways. His thoughts on the matter echo those he’s made in the past.

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In an article for ADDitude Magazine in 2018, Mandel explained that he’s managed to find the right projects, such as “Deal or No Deal” that allow him to work without triggering his symptoms. 

“Doing a scripted television series is tough, because my disorders make it difficult to write or read a script. I can do it — I was in St. Elsewhere back when — but it’s challenging,” he explained.

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