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Intrusive Thoughts

Intrusive Thoughts

“I Hate You” An OCD Obsession

For all of us dealing with OCD no matter how severe and in whatever shape or form, know that your inner fortitude must be incredibly strong to deal with this monster every day.

It was Winston Churchill who gave his manic depression the name ‘black dog’ and I think a lot of you reading this may know what he was referring to when he penned that 75 years ago, I certainly can.

My OCD story started almost 5 years ago. I was 35.

I had a newborn son at home, life was great despite being exhausted ( he was a terrible sleeper) but I still had some of that new Dad ‘shine’ to me…it kept me going through those long days trying my best to manage a work/ life balance.

I remember the day so vividly when my OCD raised its ugly head for the first time. I was walking home after work , I used to cherish that time. Clear the mind…. Fresh air.  I couldn’t wait to get home and see my baby boy. it was unseasonably warm for a February day in Toronto and it felt good to be walking with the sun on my face . Out of nowhere I had this thought ‘what if I hate my son ?’  It felt like An MMA fighter had sunk his fist into my solar plexus and was circling the ring looking for his next opening. I just stood there on the pavement, horrified, confused, scared… That thought sent a 50,000 volt shock through my system. I couldn’t get it out of my head.

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OCD, Peadophile OCD

Standing at the Gate of the Journey

That’s what I like about me, there’s always that stubborn and insistent side that, for real, KNOWS. Knows that I CAN do it, that eventually I WILL.

Hello, my name is Rodrigo. I am 21 years old and live in Costa Rica. I have a wonderful family: mom, dad, four sisters -two with families of their own-, two nephews, and a niece. My friends are wonderful, supporting, incredibly helpful, and just plain awesome. I am a filmmaker and a musician, passionate for both art forms. I have nothing to complain about in my life – I would like to be a little taller, but that’s frivolous – but I am far from being fine. Actually, I am not fine. I am doing badly. Allow me to tell you why; and bear with me, because I like detail.

On a Tuesday in June of 2014 I was practicing keyboard in my room when, suddenly, this little thought crossed my mind: “What if I… raped somebody?” My reaction was a serious face and an internal “Whoa”; however, I didn’t make much of it. I kept on practicing, only a little distressed. I spent the rest of that day having that question in mind, but attributed it to just “being distracted”. The next day, I was constantly repeating to myself “I will not think about rape today”, even during practice, which of course only distracted me more.

It didn’t take long for the question to leave my mind. But something came to replace it: images. Images of me raping a woman, child, or man; getting caught by the police; being thrown into jail; being on the news; my friends hating me and leaving me, alone; my parents and sisters crying, disappointed. I applied the same technique as before, “I will not think about rape today”, every day, and added REALLY TRYING to focus on whatever I was practicing or studying. By the end of the week, I wasn’t a man rapist anymore, but I was still a woman and child rapist -in my head, of course-. I was a monster that only needed the right time and opportunity to reveal myself. My TRUE self.

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OCD

My Naturopathic OCD Recovery

But there is nothing I can do to change my past. However, I can do my very best to try and prevent a similar situation from happening to others.

For about 26 years of my life I kept the darkest, most horrendous secrets from every person in this world out of fear that a confession could put me in jail. That a confession would prove to everyone how horrible of a person I was. That a confession would solidify my spot on the “America’s Most Wanted” list.

Well here it is – my confession: There have been times where I was convinced that at any moment I could kill, rape or steal. That I hate the things I love and love the things I hate. That my worst nightmares are actually my greatest desires. That any good deed I’ve done was only to throw people off my malicious trail. And that I was, quite frankly, the most sick, evil person ever to be on this earth. (How pretentious, I know!)

I hated myself. I was ashamed of myself. I was terrified of myself. For everyone’s protection, I had to hide myself from the world.

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Intrusive Thoughts, Sexual Orientation OCD

OCD: The Monster In My Mind

Of course, these are just a couple of minute benefits on a long list of disadvantages and difficulties, but to me, they matter.

Since early childhood, I have been living with a monster in my mind. To me, this is the most accurate way to describe OCD, as it, quite simply, feels like a separate and conflicting being that lives inside of me. When I was a kid, the monster had a face but never a name. A middle aged vampire. A young guy wearing a back to front baseball cap. Sometimes I could have sworn I’d see the vampires shadow on my bedroom wall, haunting me. But, in reality, it left no trace of its existence. It, and all of its weapons designed to hurt me, were simply a figurement of my imagination, I told myself. My brain being bad. It was only years later that I learnt there was a name for my suffering: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

My struggle started around the age of seven or eight. My struggle with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder began when I was around seven or eight years old. Back then, it was more irritating than anything. I began to feel unignorable urges to touch and stare at things until they felt ‘right’ and, after a while these compulsions helped ease the anxiety I felt about childhood phobias. From this age, I was already beginning to feel different from the other kids. I felt stuck in my own little world most of the time, trapped in a battle with the urges. By the time I reached ten, the obsessional side of my OCD developed majorly, keeping me up all night and leading me to spend every night in the bathroom, carrying out compulsions. At this point, I remember two obsessions being present; the phobia of losing my hair due to the condition alopecia (which my mum’s cousin had suffered from) or by being diagnosed with cancer, and the fear that something bad would happen to my family if I didn’t carry out a series of ritualistic compulsions.  I remember feeling a crippling sense of anxiety in the middle of the night, when everyone else was asleep, convinced that my hair was going to fall out, and brushing it compulsively until I became sure that it wasn’t. I remember feeling ashamed and disgusted about the unusual and bizarre compulsions the monster told me to participate in, or else, my family would be in danger. It was a scary and confusing time of my life, but back then, it was bearable, and I was unaware that anything was really wrong.

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Podcast

Jon Hershfield On Mindfulness, ERP And Acceptance For OCD

In episode 6 of The OCD Stories podcast I interviewed Jon Hershfield. Jon is the author of two books on OCD and a therapist who specialises in OCD treatment.

Jon Hershfield

Jon gave some great responses to questions around meditation and mindfulness, and how you can use them in your recovery from OCD. We talked about this idea of the acceptance script, and how that can motivate you in your recovery. We also touched on various concepts around types of OCD thoughts. There is a lot of good advice in this episode and Jon is a good guy, so we hope you enjoy it!

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Pure O

Chasing Calm – My Life With Pure-OCD

What is important is that they will very likely find a well of strength inside themselves that they never knew existed.

I remember exactly when my “Pure” OCD became a problem for me. If I think hard enough, I can remember having mild symptoms of anxiety and some intrusive thoughts before then, but they never affected my life. My first big episode did, and that was what tipped the scales from “I’m a little high strung” to “Something is wrong with me.” I was incorrect about just what was wrong with me, and still am a lot of the time, but I was correct in thinking it wasn’t normal to be as distressed as I was by the thoughts that raced through my head.

I was lucky in that I was able to make it to about age 25 without huge mental illness problems. I was a little depressed as a teenager. I had dealt with the stress of an increasingly mentally and physically abusive marriage with a man suffering from PTSD for about five years by then, and I definitely had rocky moments. What I also had was a general sense of control. I could pull on my big girl undies and get to work. When OCD barged into my life like the Kool-Aid Man bursting through walls, I felt like I lost that control.

I was going on vacation to see a friend on the other side of the country by myself. I’d made the trip several times before, as I had lived in her area for a few years prior to this trip. I was happy and excited, but I got sick literally on the way to the airport. I got a nasty stomach virus that had me kneeling in the bathroom at Logan Airport for several hours. I called my then husband and told him what was happening. His reaction was “I’m not turning around now. There’s too much traffic. Just get on the plane.”

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Harm OCD

My Road To Recovery

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.

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Harm OCD, Intrusive Thoughts, OCD

Talking Back To OCD

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.
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Peadophile OCD

WHAT IF I’M A PAEDOPHILE?

I felt like I lost a huge boulder that had been sitting heavy on my shoulders and in my heart for years.

WHAT IF I’M A PAEODPHILE, WHAT IF I’M A PAEDOPHILE, WHAT IF I’M A PAEDOPHILE,what if i’m a paedophile,whatifi’mapaedophile –  fast and furious the thoughts came, every way I looked this one question that threatened my whole identity loomed large in my mind. Coupled with flashing images of naked children, things I may have potentially done to children all made me sick with the horror.

The trouble is with OCD, it’s not just one obsession that torments you. I would plead with my mind to give me something else to worry about but inevitably a new obsession would come and it would be just as awful as the last. I built up strategies to try and tear the anxiety down. The misleading thing is it would work for a while and so I would become convinced that I had finally outrun it. What I didn’t realise was that every trick, strategy and counter attack was actually just reinforcing the OCD. Every thought I suppressed, every occasion I avoided was all just fueling the OCD fire.
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Intrusive Thoughts, OCD, Religious OCD

Learning to live

There is a lot of advice I could tell people who have OCD, but the main two pieces of advice are; you are never alone and there is hope.

I merely existed until I was 16 years old. Life for me was a string of anxieties and avoidance, making it impossible to live the life I wanted. The worst bringer of these anxieties was Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

At 15 years old, my general anxiety was declining and my depression had disappeared. I was becoming who I wanted to be in life. Then life brought me something new.

Intrusive thoughts and images of harm raced through my head constantly. In an attempt to escape, I would mentally repeat phrases until the thoughts went away. That didn’t last long. I turned to pinching myself and banging my head against a wall, yelling and screaming. Anything to get the horrible images out of my head.

I thought I had schizophrenia, if anything. That was the only solution I had to the voices in my head. No one told me OCD was about intrusive thoughts! No one told me OCD was anything more than a cleaning disorder. Not knowing what these thoughts were, I didn’t tell anyone what was going on. I had so much guilt. I didn’t fear that I would act on the thoughts, but the guilt I had for thinking them was immense.

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