Now, I consider myself 90 percent better from OCD.
I am 38 years old and have been suffering with OCD for the past 17 years. When I look back in retrospect on my teenage years, I now realize I had small signs of OCD back then. I remember that I was very obsessed with making my homework perfect and doing a whole math project in pencil and then instead of erasing a mistake I would redo the whole assignment. I remember having the fear that I wasn’t perfect and what people would think of me if I made a mistake. Fast forward to 17 years ago because that’s where my OCD really started to get extreme. The event that triggered my OCD was when my father had his heart attack and almost didn’t survive. I was 21 back then. I then began to get the intrusive thoughts that if I didn’t do something my father would die. For example, if I didn’t put the turning signal in when I made a turn I thought something bad would happen to him. If I put the radio on a bad number (which I have issues with numbers) I would think my father would be injured or fall ill. My whole daily life became surrounded by numerous obsessions and compulsions about my father being ok and focusing and doing everything “right” to keep him alive and safe. This went on for 15 years. I would text him repeatedly throughout the day to see if he was ok. I then, for a period of about a year, went to therapy. I was embarrassed to tell anyone that I was seeing a therapist due to my fear of that negative stigma that I’m so called crazy.
I think the biggest piece of advice I have received over and over again by my therapist is that to beat the doubt disease you have to trust and have faith.
First I would just like to say thank you to Stuart and The OCD Stories website/podcast for helping me feel less alone during some very hard times. I have had OCD my whole life but it wasn’t until this past year that it has really incapacitated me. My earliest memories of OCD are from my childhood where I can remember feeling extremely guilty for small things that most other little kids probably wouldn’t even think of. I would have some thought like “maybe I love my mom more than my dad” for example and then I would spend hours dwelling on it and crying and confessing to my parents and begging them to forgive me. Another example is that sometimes when I was walking through the grocery store with my family I would see the cover of a swimsuit magazine or a pretty girl and I would feel interested in it (which is obviously very normal for a kid who is curious about the opposite sex) but that simple feeling of being interested in pretty girls would produce so much guilt and disgust inside of me that I would spend days on end thinking about what a terrible person I was and how I was going to go to hell. I come from a big Irish-Italian family so we went to Catholic church a lot when I was a kid and it was something that was important to my family so I bought into the whole idea of guilt whole-heartedly and it caused me a lot of anguish even though the things I was guilty and ashamed of were very normal. But I had no idea. I simply thought I was evil and that I had to go to confession every time I did something I considered bad. Despite these early feelings of extreme guilt and shame, I was still a pretty happy kid and it didn’t keep me from becoming a popular kid who was a very good athlete.
As I went on to become a varsity captain in baseball and basketball in high school it seemed like those early feelings of guilt and shame about weird, small things subsided a bit but what I didn’t realize was that my OCD had just transferred to a different theme. I got a girlfriend my Sophomore year in high school and we stayed together for three years. While there were good times with her, I was in pain for a lot of the relationship and often for very small reasons. I would see her talk to one of my friends and then get a thought like “what if she likes my friend” or “is she cheating on me” or “we’re not right for each other” and I would dwell on these thoughts for days and we would fight all of the time because of my doubtful thoughts. The relationship caused me so much pain because for some reason I could never trust her because of my thoughts and it looked like I was just an insecure guy but what nobody (including me) realized was that I was suffering from OCD.
This is what specifically worked for me and still does to this day (it’s been like 10 years!)
Okay relax dude, you’re not gay, trust me. This is just a hurdle you’re going to conquer. I did it and you definitely can too.
So I had this HOCD for like, I don’t know, 5–10 years!!!…It was horrid!..I even went to a ‘coming out’ group but was asking ‘how do I really know if I’m really gay?…This one gay guy was like if you look at another man’s ass and are like yeah…check that out.. But I was like, well that doesn’t do it for me but I’m still stressing out. I even made myself look at gay porn but still was not with it. I was seeing dicks everywhere at times, I was like Jonah Hill in the movie Superbad, it was not fun at all. Kind of funny now though.
I mean we can condition ourselves to like fucking anything really if we wanted to right? I’ve slept with many women since an early age so if anything I was like I could be possibly bi but it just didn’t seem genuine. I’m kind of an artist and my dad wasn’t around so much when I was younger so the mind tends to look for reasons and connections to tie into especially about everything you’re scared of. I went to multiple therapists, took self-improvement seminars…I wanted to be done with it!! Until I finally came to something that worked!! Here it is my lucky friends. Hope this frees you!!!! FREE AT LAST, FREE AT LAST…Try this shit out and welcome aboard of leaving that nonsense behind you…
A person’s recovery from OCD requires them to let go of the concept of certainty and embrace uncertainty.
My OCD story. I’ve made this post visible to those I feel know me or won’t judge me. I hope my story will educate those who don’t truly understand OCD.
For as long as I can remember I’ve always been a hypersensitive, worrisome and impressionistic person. I experienced my first OCD symptoms at the age of six. I have memories of myself lying in bed with my eyes closed, having unwanted and intrusive thoughts repeat in my mind. Most of these thoughts involved close family members, who I’d visualise as being harmed and tortured. This made me feel extremely upset, frightened, guilty and helpless.
At the age of ten I began engaging in a bizarre compulsion, one which had me spitting saliva everywhere I’d go. I’d spit mostly on my clothes and the floor, and this would be accompanied at times with a strange swallowing compulsion which I still carry to this day. A lot of my thoughts were still centred on harm and a feeling of entrapment, both of which made me believe I was evil and deserving of some sort of punishment. I felt that If I was to swallow my saliva something bad would happen to me or my family so I tried my hardest not to do this.
I had also become fixated on the number ‘four’. Everything I did was in fours and even to this day I still engage in this ‘four’ compulsion, although I try really hard not to. Some nights I would be doing actions such as turning off the light switch four times, over and over again until I felt I had got it right. It wasn’t a matter of just making sure I had done it four times, I also had to place my hand on the switch in a correct manner, with four fingers on the panel, upright and not downright. Even if I had made the slightest mistake in my hand placements I’d have to start over. This would last at least thirty minutes on average before I felt comfortable enough to move onto another action that requires the same ‘four’ compulsion to get me through my day.
So from my own experience I can confidently say that there is freedom from the mental prison that OCD can lock you in
It all started on the last day of 4th grade when a classmate accidentally sprayed 409 cleaning solution in my mouth. Or at least I imagined it was sprayed in my mouth. Either way, it was the starting point of my lifelong journey with OCD. That afternoon I was terrified that I would get sick, and thus began my obsessive fear of getting sick which would shape the following years of my life in extreme ways.
Soon I started obsessing over anything that could potentially make me sick. In 6th grade, I really hit my low point. My obsessive fear began to literally control my life. I had such high anxiety about getting sick that I would give in to compulsions that would temporarily relieve my worries. I felt compelled check and re-re-re-re-check things, to count to a certain (and ever increasing) number, to repeat words and phrases, to touch certain things- the light switch, the couch, the desk, the door knob, the table, the list goes on. But not only did I have to touch them, I had to in a certain order and a certain number of times, and the worst part was if I messed up, I had to start all over until everything was done “just right”. Everything was a struggle because I had developed such an intensive routine that I dreaded even having to begin my endless rituals. Eventually, things were so bad that I was pulled from school. My days were a blur, stuck in the prison of my own mind. At one point, I even said that I wanted to die.
My turning point came in the midst of this storm when my Mom found a pamphlet about OCD at our church and told my mom, “This is her.” I thank God that she picked up that pamphlet because it was the first step on a long and very difficult battle of overcoming OCD. Thankfully, this awareness led me to become connected with a great counselor who helped me to step-by-step stop giving in to my obsessive fears.
I wish I could stress
A little bit less
I can be a mess
I love to have fun
Just ask anyone
I’m queen of the pun
But pain in my chest
Breathe, I do my best
Body put to the test
Bad thoughts in my head
Sometimes I am led
Believed what they said
I know they’re untrue
Thoughts can’t make me do
Intrusive, not you
So, fight compulsion
Though feel revulsion
Hold back impulsion
Once upon a time in a land not far enough away, a girl was minding her business when alarm bells started ringing…
My OCD really, probably started in childhood, but for the sake of time, I’ll say it became “real” last September. I’d even consider it to be very mild in that my OCD episode lasted less than a week, and then it was gone. My first experience with OCD was hit and run OCD. I drove by a bicyclist, which is pretty common here in Western NC, and almost immediately, alarm bells started ringing. Not literally, but also sort of literally. I remember my brain telling me that I had to go back, that I had to make sure I didn’t hurt the guy, that I needed to check on him to make sure he was safe. Of course, I told my brain that was ridiculous and I refused to turn around. I mean, after all wouldn’t I know if I hit someone? My anxiety and the alarm bells just kept getting worse the further I drove. By the time I got home, my hands were shaking and I almost couldn’t breathe for the panic that was welling up inside of me. The logical part of my brain thought if I checked the passenger-side of my car, and I didn’t see anything like dents or scratches, then that meant I didn’t hurt anyone. So of course, I checked my car. And wouldn’t you know it, there was a scratch that I didn’t remember being there before. But really, how often does a person check their car for dents and scratches, especially on the passenger side? My brain went to anxiety overdrive. I remember walking into my house with what felt like a completely blank stare, because in my mind I had just hit someone and left the scene of an accident. How could I tell my husband what I had done? Or my parents or my friends? What would they think of me? Would they think I was a monster? What about the general public? In my small mountain town, the community crucifies (not literally) anyone who would dare harm a bicyclist. Would anyone believe me that I didn’t know I hit a person? I was so wracked with guilt, shame, and anxiety, that I made myself sick. I couldn’t eat anything, I couldn’t focus on my homework that was due that night, and I couldn’t sleep. I probably slept two hours. Every time I closed my eyes, I kept replaying the scenario over and over in my head. I was trying to find some proof that I didn’t hurt anyone. I kept telling myself I know I didn’t hurt anyone, but my brain kept asking me “Are you sure?” Of course, we can’t just click rewind on our lives to make sure we did or didn’t do something, so I gave in to it. I couldn’t be sure I didn’t hit the bicyclist. Although the anxiety subsided over the week, it was one of the scariest times in my life. I couldn’t understand why I was having anxiety and panic attacks, seemingly out of the blue. Of course, at the time, I didn’t know OCD was anything other than hand washing and/or counting. My husband and I had only been married for a couple of weeks when this happened, and I kept forgetting to take the “just married” sticker off my car. After this incident, I left that sticker on my car for a solid month, for fear that when the police inevitably showed up to throw me in jail, they might think it was suspicious that I removed something that could easily identify my car as the one in the accident. I checked local news sources every day to see if someone had reported a hit and run. I did this for about as long as I left the sticker on my car. I did eventually stop thinking about the hit and run that never was. Sometimes I can tell the story and be completely fine. Other times, my anxiety kicks and my OCD likes to ask “Are you really sure though?”.
My experience started when I was just a toddler, I had a massive stuffed animal collection and if anyone touched or moved it I would get a panic attack and begin to rage. I felt as if my world was going to end if they weren’t in a specific place, it progressed onto different topics as I got older. After my parents divorced I suffered from intrusive thoughts of me hurting myself. Not by suicide, but by smoking. My parents smoked around me all the time and I hated it, I had nightmares and thoughts of me smoking a cigarette and drinking alcohol which I also had an issue with.
I’d get thoughts of me stealing my mom’s cigarettes and smoking them. It was debilitating and terrible, after that came the thoughts of suicide and my own father wanting to hurt me. I’d text him and call him every night because I missed him after the divorce and I had to be sure I was okay and that he wouldn’t hurt me.
Another important thing to keep in mind is that if it feels like OCD, it IS OCD.
My name is Devin,
And I will never forget the day when it started and never relented. I was heading to class up at the university and had a strange, but distinct feeling of guilt for some reason. I thought to myself: “Ok… I don’t know why this is making me THIS bad, but whatever.” It persisted and persisted, and took all day to leave me.
As the years went on (that incident was about 7 yrs ago) I felt increasingly worse and worse about different things and never understood what was going on. In truth, it blindsided me and was a huge factor in me losing my faith at the time.
I had decided at the time that well if God was going to ‘make me’ feel this way, than forget Him. My loss of faith was more complicated than that, but this was a major factor in it. I constantly felt like if I wasn’t following each of the commandments right or perfectly, I was going to hell.
I would watch a show that had swear words or a questionable scene, and suddenly my mind would tell me I would be burning in an eternal pit of torment. I knew that maybe what I was watching wasn’t the best thing ever, but I didn’t understand why I was ‘made’ to feel so guilty about it!
To this day, I still feel horrible about doing things I shouldn’t, although now I know what’s going on in my mind, although it doesn’t make it any less horrible and tormenting. I am constantly checking Facebook posts to make sure I haven’t posted anything offensive, reviewing in my mind if I may have somehow offended someone. I am criticizing my wife when I feel like she does something I feel is dishonest and try to get her to repent of her ‘sins.’ After all, I want to save her too right?
You can expend precious energy chasing the holy grail of 100% certainty, or you can choose to settle for 95%, or 70%, or even 20% certainty.
When I was a graduate student, I worked for months to prove the main mathematical result in my dissertation. I struggled with this proof. I churned out pages of chicken scratch calculations. I manipulated equations in my head while I ate, showered, vacuumed, and exercised. I had math dreams.
Finally, I thought I’d nailed it. It was a large and hairy beast that sprawled over many pages. I showed it to my adviser and declared, “I’m 95% sure it’s correct.”
He raised his eyebrows. “Well, you’d better be 100% sure,” he replied.
That’s when I realized that he wasn’t planning to check it himself. He was just going to trust me. And then I started to worry. What if there was an error in my proof? What if the central result in my dissertation turned out to be wrong? Could they take away my PhD? And if I got a job based on work I’d done in my dissertation, could they fire me? Would my career be ruined?
I checked my proof carefully many times. But I still couldn’t be 100% sure it was right. I knew there could be a glitch in my logic that I simply wasn’t smart enough to pick up on, no matter how many times I checked. After all, how many times had I turned in math homework – confident that my answers were correct – only to find out later that there was a major flaw in one of my solutions? And the stakes were much higher here. I asked a classmate – someone a lot smarter than me – to check my proof, and he thought it was correct. But I knew it wasn’t his dissertation or his responsibility, so I couldn’t completely trust his assurances.