It all seemed too weird, embarrassing, ridiculous to share with anyone but I am thankful to have the opportunity to share it here.
Someone recently reminded me that we all have our dark places, things that we are ashamed of. The following is a brief description of mine…
My story is connected to obsessive compulsive disorder. Specifically something called “harm ocd”. I discovered the name for it when I was 14 or 15, but the symptoms had been there for years. I can remember being a young child and having disturbing thoughts of harming myself or someone close to me. These thoughts would be accompanied by distressing images which caused extreme anxiety. Was i going crazy, losing my mind? Was I a danger to myself and others? Typically the thoughts would be about physically hurting/harming someone close to me (I did not want to hurt anyone, but feared that I would lose control and do so). I became afraid to be alone with others, to be around sharp objects/potential weapons, to babysit, etc. The avoidance did not work and the thoughts continued until I discovered a medication and therapy that worked for me (anafranil and ERP).
She has confirmed to me time and time again that no one in the history of OCD has ever actually acted on these intrusive thoughts
Like many, my OCD reared it’s ugly head when I was a teenager in the form of Pure O, or harm OCD. At the time I had no idea what OCD was, there certainly was no Google back then, and sincerely thought I was losing my mind. I certainly didn’t want to talk to anyone about the intrusive thoughts so I kept the torment to myself. I remember in the late 80s being in our kitchen with the Phil Donahue show playing on the tv and only half listening until I realized there were people on this show discussing exactly what I was going through. It was like an elephant being lifted off my chest and I cried many tears of relief as I listened to other stories and finally understood what I had was just a horrible condition that affected many.
I have thought at the worst times that I would rather have terminal cancer than this disorder, because at least only myself would have the chance of being harmed in that scenario. The cruelty of this illness seems to me to be one of the worst illnesses that can affect a human, but I know there is hope in the form of reaching out for help.
What I’ve learned from therapy is that I shouldn’t feel guilty for having these thoughts or feelings, because they do not define me.
My name is Lorena and I have been fighting OCD for 2 years and a half. I was 18 years old when my “first” intrusive thought made its appearance. I put “first” because it turned into an obsession, but since I began therapy I know everyone has intrusive thoughts here and there, but, us OCD sufferers, take them seriously.
My first obsession came after I had a nightmare, as soon as I woke up my body was filled with anxiety and my mind with a fear of being possessed by the devil. You see, “The Exorcist” wasn’t exactly one of my favorite movies.. and the OCD sure had a great time replaying countless of all the exorcism scenes I’ve seen. I went to talk to a priest who reassured me that it was nothing of that nature, but the thought still didn’t leave. I lived with this obsession for almost a year. I felt horrible because I would always pray, and if my prayer didn’t feel right or if I didn’t feel God’s presence I was doomed. I had to pray again.. It had to feel right.
I feel recovered from my OCD.
I am a medical doctor and have had issues with anxiety probably for the past 20 years. My anxiety went through the roof about 2 and a half years ago and I began experiencing panic attacks. I didn’t know I had OCD at that time. Eventually I saw a psychiatrist and began the process of diagnosing what is going on with me. I wanted to get help but I didn’t know how to describe what I was feeling inside. I was feeling ashamed of the thoughts that I had in my head. I had lots of harm and violence related images. I was feeling ashamed because I am a doctor and I had tons of intrusive violent images, I was getting scared with thoughts like: “What if I do that? What if I harm someone?”. I was beginning to feel disgusted with myself for having such thoughts and images in my head. And I didn’t know how to tell my psychiatrist. I thought that I probably just belonged in jail. Because I was feeling miserable and I wanted to get help I gathered all of my strength and talked to my wife and one of my friends, who encouraged me to talk to my psychiatrist. That is what lead to my diagnosis of OCD. I was started on a medication- clomipramine. And it helped with me become able to accept what is going on in my head. I began my own research on the internet and came across the book “The mindfulness workbook for OCD” and also the “OCD workbook”. I really liked the mindfulness workbook and read it few times to learn the concepts and start applying them. I also read through the OCD workbook mainly on the topics of ACT and ERP. I noticed a significant improvement with doing my own ERP. My OCD gradually quietened down and began to be just part of me but not controlling me.
I am coming to terms with the fact that thoughts are just thoughts
I have had OCD for 40 years.
In 1973, when I had my first intrusive thought (to stab my mother with a kitchen knife) up until 2005 (checking and rechecking moles to see if they were cancerous), I assumed I was just a weird worrier. After all my mother did it too so I figured it couldn’t be that abnormal.
But by 2005 the fear became so loud and the checking became so time consuming that I knew something wasn’t right. And the obsessions became more and more bizarre.
As most people do, I did research on the Internet. It appeared as if I might have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. There wasn’t a description of my specific obsession (and that worried me) but my behavior seemed to fit the OCD pattern.
I started seeing a therapist. I started seeing a psychologist. With their help I began to get better. Prozac helped too.
I told everyone all my thoughts presuming my baby would be taken away but he wasn’t… My first realisation!!!
My main OCD story starts in 2014 previous to that I had without really knowing it suffered crippling anxiety and worry (I just presumed we all worried in the same way about the same things) I also had self confidence issues which I dealt with by developing an eating disorder (control) in my early teens.
I met my husband to be at 17 which helped me gain a lot of confidence. I managed to overcome my anorexia apart from a few blips along the way, I went to college, uni got a job we got married. One thing that I couldn’t do was drive. I had past my test first time at 20 then never managed to get behind the wheel again properly for years, I put it down to a phobia initially but now I know differently, (in my mind, I had run someone over, killed them, gone to prison and shamed my family before I had even put the key on the ignition!!!).
During these years I had no idea I was suffering from mental health issues until 2004 a big one hit me out of the blue. I was a happy newly wed, new house, new job and desperate to start a family one night I was watching tv and there was an advert for pampers. I didn’t think anything of it, the advert finished and a different advert started then an image of a young boy naked entered my mind, my life as I had known it ended there and my 12 year battle with OCD started. I panicked ‘why did I think that?’ What’s wrong with me, I must be a monster a peadophile… I went into major panic, ruminating, over thinking , every horrible thought you could possibly imagine went through my head it was impossible to live with and I wanted to end my life. If it wasn’t for my husband I wouldn’t be here. I took the meds and engaged in CBT although it was hardly explained to me properly and was not diagnosed with OCD at the time. I slowly got my self together ( I say that loosely) but lived on the edge with crippling intrusive thoughts avoiding children at all costs for the next 7 years or so, and on and off meds but had no counselling after the initial sessions in 2004, at the same time I was grieving for the family I could not have (in my mind there was no way I could be or deserved to be a mum). My life felt miserable.
At the end of 2013 , I was so unhappy about not having a family but still crippled by the what if’s that my husband and I decided that we needed to try, I think my biggest motivation was my age and that l would soon be turning 40. We got pregnant a month after finally deciding I was so shocked at how quick it was and I was petrified. Towards the end of my pregnancy I did receive some counselling but unfortunately not the right kind and my midwife and doctor were both anti meds. I was so anxious about my pregnancy and having a baby that my mind was going into overdrive all sorts of worse case scenarios…so I had already decided I was giving the baby up.
Let me be clear: I believe that OCD will probably always be a part of my life here on earth, but it will not be a part of my life in heaven.
OCD has been a part of my life for almost as long as I can remember.
As a kid, I was terrified of a burglar breaking in to our house or of a person close to me hurting me in some horrible way. Both of these fears (as with most OCD obsessions) had absolutely zero ground to stand on.
My first bout of depression happened when I was 10 years old. I remember thinking that I didn’t like myself much at all. My mom, who has been a huge support to me through my journey, noticed that I was down and asked if I wanted to make sure that I was a Christian. I did, and even though I’d said the sinner’s prayer as a preschooler, this was a significant part of my journey as a Christ-follower.
Compulsive checking became a major problem in middle school. I was obsessed with the thought that maybe someone was hiding in my closet or under my bed. Or maybe there was a bomb behind the bedroom door and it was up to me to make sure that everyone was safe. What if I turned the light switch off with wet hands and that started an electrical fire? Or maybe I’d sinned and hadn’t asked God for forgiveness.
My name is Eric Ray Kupers. I’m 44 years old and live in Oakland, California with my husband and our 3 dogs, Doodle, Bubbles, and Abe. I’ve had OCD since I was a child. And even though I have been in therapy with a steady stream of therapists for over 30 years, both my parents are therapists, and I’ve done extensive experimenting in countless personal growth modalities I wasn’t diagnosed with OCD until I was 19, and didn’t find out about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) or Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) until my early 30’s.
The pain of OCD has at times felt unbearable, and I’ve tried just about every kind of therapy and spiritual practice I could find. And yet, through it all, I’ve managed to build a life that I love. I’m in a deeply fulfilling long-term relationship, and am a dance/theater/music artist, a tenured professor of dance at Cal State University East Bay, the director of a professional, experimental performance company, and part of a community of soulful artists and loving friends & family.
OCD has been so deeply interwoven into my life and my sense of myself, that it seems I can’t really write my OCD story without writing my whole life story. I started working on my entry for The OCD Stories website, and am already on page 10, and not even out of my teens! So, I decided to share a summary of my OCD journey. I seem to have a lot to say, as now my summary has also gotten quite long. My sense of this is that I’ve kept my OCD a shameful secret for so long, that as I start to share my story more publicly, it’s like a dam is breaking down and layers upon layers of experiences are flooding forth. So, please feel free to read or not read as much as you’d like. I’m going to continue writing the full story, and will make it available for anyone that’s interested, as soon as it gets a little farther along. Maybe it will become a whole book one day!
It’s a mental illness, and a nasty one. It will take your loved ones, your success, your hopes and your dreams. But only if you allow it to.
I think it’s best for me to describe my bumpy road to recovery to you by painting you a picture. Imagine a tall, thin and incredibly awkward girl. She is shy at first, and enjoys all of the things that society deems to be “normal.” In elementary school she enjoyed Barbies and Arthur, High School it was bashfully flirting with a new interest: boys, and not to mention, learning how to operate a vehicle (and trying not to cause her dad to rip his hair out in the process…). In college, she enjoyed the campus life, music, and that guy she had been selfishly stringing along…but that’s a totally different blog post. Yes, she is a girl. So she can have the snarky, cat-like moments that just about any westernized girl is capable of having (especially when she gets hungry…). However, she has never truly done something with the intentions of hurting, belittling, or betraying them.
Sounds “normal” right? Yes, yes. I know. The word “normal” is a relative term and doesn’t really have a definition. I know. But let’s just be a bit Freudian here for a second, and agree that the picture I just painted is not abstract. It’s simple, slightly ordinary, a bit boring, and…normal.
So if a thought came in, I would embrace it and say “oh is that it ocd, is that the best you’ve got, bring it on“
My ocd story: Pre-diagnosis it started around the age of 6 where I would spend a lot of time at night ensuring that the pillow on my bed was a certain distance from the wall, to prevent myself from hitting my head on the wall and harming myself. This compulsion, like any compulsion simply never satisfied the ocd, so I would often sleep on the floor as another compulsion which made it more “easier”, so to speak.
Moving onwards, I would go many months symptom free, only to be hit by new variations, so in retrospect my ocd, looking back often waxed and waned over the years, pre diagnosis. Health obsessions, relationship obsessions, was I supposed to be a girl obsession, checking on the kids when they were babies eg are they breathing properly, what if the blankets go onto there faces etc, which was very exhaustive.
Into my mid 30s I had horrid thoughts that I may have harmed the kids when they were babies, and these thoughts were so strong I actually started to believe in them, what ever compulsion I carried out, they just came back stronger and more powerful. Compulsions were ruminations, drinking water to try and flush them away, drinking alcohol also was used as a compulsion as it had the ability to eradicate the thoughts, until the next day of course, where it was back with vengeance and of course the dealings of a hangover too.