Alec Baldwin is speaking publicly about his experience with obsessive compulsive disorder in order to encourage more people to be open about their mental health struggles.
The actor shared his diagnosis in a new episode of his podcast, "What's One More," which he hosts with wife Hilaria Baldwin. They chatted with Howie Mandel, who's been open for 15 years about living with OCD, and his wife, Terry Mandel, about the stigma of mental illness and coping strategies.
To start, Hilaria Baldwin called OCD a "very personal" issue for her and her husband "because we've been learning a lot about OCD over the past few years."
"OCD is something I personally struggle with," the former "30 Rock" star added. "I'm grateful to Howie for opening up at a time when few people were talking about this publicly, and there was even more of a stigma about OCD and mental health than there is today. It's through empathy, understanding and being kinder to one another, that we can finally remove the stigma and change the narrative."
Hilaria Baldwin then explained that they're "still very new to the journey of understanding what OCD is, but we're learning that by being open about our challenges, we find a community where we realize we are not so alone, and we can be a part of paving the way for more people to seek help."
Alec Baldwin also said that he's learning to track his OCD symptoms.
"Is germophobia the only way that that OCD was expressed, and what was the beginnings of when you started to track that and sense that?" he asked Mandel. "Because I'm going through this myself now. I am, like really seriously."
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Mandel then explained that his OCD takes the form of repetitive, intrusive thoughts that other people may be able to brush off, but he can't — for example, that his hands aren't clean enough after using the restroom or that he didn't lock the door when leaving the house.
After the podcast episode was released, Hilaria Baldwin shared a message of support for her husband and his openness.
"It was through opening up about my miscarriages with you that I learned the healing power of: I’m not in this alone. I’m proud of you, Alec, for having the bravery to do the same with your struggles with OCD," she wrote in part on Instagram. "Grateful for you, Howie and Terry, for our conversation on What’s One More. Your gift of sharing touches many and saves lives."
Baldwin hasn't spoken much about his OCD, but in a 2017 interview with NPR, he talked about some of his symptoms.
"I walked out of that house with almost crippling OCD. I'd be standing in the hallway of my apartment in New York, and the driver was downstairs, and I needed to get into the car now, right now, or I was going to miss my flight, and I'd be making sure that all the books were stacked neatly on the table in the entry hall of my apartment," he said.
"I'd be sitting there literally with my thumbs squeezing the books so all the seams were right and the books were stacked just so, and whoever was primary in my life would be looking at me like, 'You're kidding, right? You realize we're going to miss the flight.' I'd be like, 'Excuse me?'"
He connected his condition to growing up in a household with five siblings.
"I didn't realize it was all coming out of this house of mine, which was just a hurricane and a mess all the time, because my mother just didn't have the energy to clean up after six kids all the time," the comedian recalled.
OCD affects an estimated 1 in 100 adults and 1 in 200 kids and teens, according to the International OCD Foundation. The condition is characterized by obsessions, which are unwanted thoughts that trigger negative feelings, and compulsions, which are the behaviors used to get rid of the obsession. The exact cause of OCD isn't known, but research suggest it may be tied to differences in the brain and genes.