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‘I Think It’s More Common Than We Realize’

Bob Levey/Getty Aly Raisman

Aly Raisman is opening up publicly about her struggles with OCD for the first time.

Speaking with Dax Shepard and Monica Padman on the Armchair Expert podcast Thursday, the two-time Olympian discussed her experience with the disorder.

“When you say you have OCD, I like that — I mean, I’m sorry you have OCD, but I mean it makes me feel like I’m less alone in that because people don’t really talk about it a lot publicly, at least what I see,” the gymnast said after Shepard, 45, mentioned that he also has OCD.

“But I struggle with it, too,” Raisman, 26, said. “And I learned recently — like I always thought OCD was I have to touch this x amount of times or I have to do this x amount of times before I leave the room, but I’ve also learned that OCD is classified with like ruminating thoughts or obsessive thoughts or catastrophic thinking. I have that.”

“I’m really trying to work on that right now because our minds sometimes go to the worst-case scenario,” Raisman continued, adding that it can be difficult for people without OCD to understand that kind of thinking.

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“I feel like for people who don’t understand it, they’re like, ‘Just don’t think about it.’ I’m like, ‘It does not work like that!’ ” Raisman shared. “It’s so hard because I’ve been trying to really educate myself on the way that our minds work just so I can help myself, but also just so I can better talk about it and better understand it on a personal level with my family or my friends, but also just on a public level as well.”

The gold medalist said that she finds learning about the mind “fascinating,” because “so much of the time, our minds don’t really realize what’s made up and what’s real.”

“That’s what I struggle with so much, is that fight or flight response where it could be something so small and my body is reacting as if like a tiger is trying to eat me,” added Raisman, who has been candid in the past about attending therapy.

“I think it’s more common than we realize,” Raisman said of OCD, adding that the conversation was “my only time ever talking about it in an interview, so I’m really glad we’re talking about it because I know a lot of my friends struggle with it. I know a lot of people struggle with the ruminating thoughts and the catastrophic thinking.”

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“It, in my opinion, relates to like trauma and PTSD,” Raisman said. “Unless you’re getting to the root of the problem of why you are not feeling safe or out of control, you’re going to keep having OCD and it’s going to manifest into other ways