Here I am finally going to share some of the thoughts that I have struggled with the past four years. I have shared them with my psychologist, parents and some peers. I have not shared all of them, and neither in the detail that I am going into now.
Before I realized that my intrusive thoughts were caused by my OCD, they had already caused a lot of damage. I developed a general anxiety disorder due to my intrusive thoughts.
These thoughts started 4 years ago, after I smoked a joint with friends. I was walking towards the supermarket and I was high as a kite. But then, in the supermarket, my first panic-attack ever happened. I had no idea what was going on and decided that I had to go home as fast as possible. So all alone in an alley I stood there, anxious as could be, thinking that I was going to die from a heart-attack. I managed to get home and there I lay in bed for the rest of the hour. I have never been so afraid in my life. I thought I was going to die. That was of course, before I knew what a panic-attack really is. But because I was high, the panic-attack was 10 times as intense as normal.
At first I didn’t want to share this with anybody. I felt ashamed and I didn’t want to look weak or weird. I thought that I was the only one that had ever witnessed something like this. I shared it with my GP, but he hardly responded to it and I thought that it would get better. But I became afraid of getting a heart-attack in public. That panic-attack had such an impact on my mind that I became afraid of my thoughts. I stopped going to University, and just stayed in my dorm. I was afraid to go outside and the thought that something would happen in public became stronger. It was then, that after seeing Brat Pitt on TV, and thought that he looked pretty handsome. That was when panic-attack number 2 occurred. All night I was terrified that I would be gay (I want you to know that I have nothing against the LGBT-community, in my eyes, all people are the same). My confidence and self-esteem was very low at that time, and in my head I had this crazy thought that if I would be gay, the people that stood close to me would abandon and despise me.
The anxiety to be gay became so strong that every time I looked at a guy I was checking whether or not I found him attractive. I could not talk with focus, because I would just be busy in my mind looking for affirmation that I would not find guys attractive.
This went on for 9 months without sharing any of this to anyone.
After having intrusive thoughts (and not knowing it was caused by OCD, but just thinking that they were my thoughts) I became afraid of getting an erection during a football match, wanting to molesting children or hurting them (sexually and physically) and even having incestuous thoughts about my father. I became disgusted by myself and I despised the person I had become. But I was so ashamed by myself. I mean, how can someone think about this every single day?
I mean after 9 months I shared the fear of getting a heart attack, being gay and getting an erection. But this didn’t stop the thoughts. And every time a new intrusive thought would scare me, and I would let it get hold of me instead of letting go, it became a new anxiety to me (children and my father).
I worked, studied and played football. I still do. The thoughts are also still here. But what is also a fact, is that I never really tried to do something about my thoughts. I started practicing meditation for a while and journaling. These things helped. But I didn’t do it on a regular basis. So every time I thought: “I don’t need it anymore”, I quit and the thought came back more frequently. It was about a year ago, when after a bad period I discovered the book: The Imp of the Mind, by Lee Bear. After reading this, I finally became aware of the real reasons of my thoughts. That my intrusive thoughts are nothing more than thoughts and that these thoughts actually tell you that you don’t want to do the things you think about.
So now, whenever an intrusive thought pops up, I am able to look at it, accept it and let it go. So no new anxieties start sticking in my mind.
But sadly, this doesn’t mean that old anxieties haven’t festered in my mind. Whenever I see children I get scared for a moment. Whenever I play football, the thought of an erection pops up in my mind. And every time I see my dad, I get a bit nervous about the thoughts that I have. These thoughts festered in my mind for so long, that they created a direct association between what I see and my brain. I developed an automatic fear response to some things that I see or are surrounded with. That is how the brain works. It remembers things and remembers the things you are afraid of. The more that happens, the stronger the association and connection. That is why OCD is so strong and can be such a dick.
The problem is, when people have intrusive thoughts about general accepted phobias, it is easier to share them. But when these intrusive thoughts include thoughts about incest, child abuse or other sexual things, people get really ashamed of themselves (like me). You don’t want to share it, because you think that society will not accept you anymore and you will get rejected. But know that:
WE ARE NOT THE ONLY ONES WITH THESE THOUGHTS.
For a long time I thought I was the only one that thought like this. Until I started looking online and finally started sharing my problems. A lot of people suffer from mental health issues. The problem is that it is still a taboo. The problem about this is that, the longer you keep your issues and problems to yourself, the more it festers in your mind and the bigger the actual problem gets.
That is why I want to share this today with you guys. After acknowledging that I have an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder I realized that I needed help and that I can help myself a lot tackling this problem. The biggest help would be exposure therapy. Another positive aid would be sharing my story with people. I know that out there a lot of us are that are strangled in a similar situation. To you I would say:
TALK TO SOMEONE
It doesn’t matter to whom, as long as it is someone you trust. Talking about your problems helps a lot and it is the first step of the healing process. It took me a lot of time to finally share my story and step by step I am trying to improve my situation. I have a lot of work still to go but this is my first step to help myself and try to make all the best out of life.
I know that I will always have intrusive thoughts, since they are simply part of the mind. But the way I deal with them is all up to me. I know now that my road to improving my quality of life is an everlasting road and I have accepted that. I also know now, that there is light at the end of the tunnel and there are a lot of positive things happening in my life right now. I will continue to work on myself and I hope that you can find your strength as well.
Thank you all for taking to time to read my story and I wish all the best for every person here. May all of you find the path that leads to improvement.