Howie Mandel doesn’t shy away from talking about his OCD diagnosis — and how his wife Terry Mandel inspired him to get help.
“I’d have my children and my wife spray everything down and not touch things. I wouldn’t take things that they were handed. I would remove some of their toys that I saw touch the ground. I was making their life miserable,” Howie, 67, explained to Today.com in a Thursday, October 12 interview. “My wife just gave me an ultimatum. She goes, ‘I can’t do this anymore and I can’t have the children do it anymore. And if you don’t get help, that’s it.’ So it was an ultimatum that made me ultimately go to therapy, and I got diagnosed [with OCD].”
Howie revealed that having a diagnosis was “comforting,” however, he still didn’t feel fully ready to talk about his mental health.
“I was embarrassed that I had this problem, and when you have a mental health problem, there is a stigma,” he shared, adding that he started medication and therapy to help cope with his OCD, but he still struggles at times. “The inability to control your brain with these obsessive thoughts and the compulsion to fight them is far more prevalent in somebody with OCD. [Other] people have weird thoughts that go through their head and then it goes away.”
Following his diagnosis, Howie said that he now has a lot of tools and resources to help him — along with his wife Terry, 68 and three kids: son Alex, 34, and daughters Jackie, 39 and Riley, 31.
“[Terry] has been nothing but supportive,” the comedian gushed to the outlet. “It’s important to have people around you who are there for you. That’s key, but they don’t know to be there for you if you don’t talk about it.”
Although Howie battled with talking about his OCD when he was first diagnosed, he now wants to help break the stigma surrounding the common mental health issue.
“They say that misery loves company. I don’t know that I’m thrilled that one out of 40 people have OCD, but it makes my mission even more prevalent,” he explained. “I know how painful it is. I don’t want people to go through what I go through, and a lot of people go through worse. The more people that are open about it, the more people that talk about it, the wider that safety net gets thrown for all of us.”
This isn’t the first time Howie has been candid about his mental health. In March 2022, the actor shared that he was not diagnosed with OCD and ADHD until he was an adult so he struggled growing up.
“Back in the 1960s, when I was growing up, my symptoms didn’t have a name, and you didn’t go to the doctor to find out. So, in my case, they were called ‘Howie Mandel,’” Howie told ADDitude magazine at the time. “Thankfully, my parents accepted all of my quirks and differences. I have the best family — everyone shows me nothing but love, support and strength. Even with all that, it can be hard — sometimes terrifying and dark — to manage the symptoms of my disorders.”
If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988.