HOCD experiences: Hi I am struggling with HOCD and... - OCD-UK

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HOCD experiences

Hi I am struggling with HOCD and anyone out there who is also struggling please share your signs and experience so I can be reassured I am not going through this alone please?

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I'm afraid I don't have this particular variety of OCD, but all forms of OCD have a lot in common. They like to put doubts in your mind, then you demand reassurance, and the more you do the stronger the doubts become.

Tell me a little more about yourself and your OCD, and I can try to answer more fully.

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Well I always have had crushes on guys and I loved fantasising about only being with guys never once had doubts on my sexuality always loved and embraced being straight I was looking forward to the future. Suddenly one day my friend misinterpreted a message I sent and made fun of me that I liked girls and then I started to think OMG am I lesbian? I started checking girls out to see if I was attracted to them I felt really uncomfortable I didn't find they were attractive but I kept on checking for any signs of arousal and I got one. I started to panic even more. Through all these behaviours my anxiety started to increase and these activities started to take much of my day up including my social and work life. I was distracted and never did my work and whenever my friends had a get together and invited me I never went cause I feared that I might be lesbian and I didn't want to get sexually aroused by any girl. These thoughts were so intrusive and a stressor and anxiety and depression giver that I gave up. I had thoughts of suicide and I prayed continuously that if I ever turn out to be lesbian please kill me before that. It was more the fear of being homosexual. But with all these compulsions it did relieve me of my anxiety but then it would come back again saying no you are just in denial. I HATE IT. These thoughts were repulsive and disgusting. But I knew deep down that I am straight. I prayed and hoped I wouldn't be lesbian. I doubted myself continuously but whenever I thought of a future with a guy it made me happy BUT with a girl it felt like a complete dark void of disgust and anger. I cried all the time in my room. Seperated from my family and friends stop watching TV shows and movies cause I always checked if I were attracted to female actresses but before HOCD i always used to focus and crush on male celebrities. This all happened before I found out about HOCD on the internet.It made sense. But then suddenly sometimes I would doubt i had hocd. I found out compulsions are the ones that make anxiety stronger so I stopped carrying out compulsions. My anxiety died down a little bit but the thoughts were still there. I knew these thoughts weren't true but my brain kept on saying you will act on them on them in the future and you will enjoy it. No. I didn't want to. It made me feel nauseatic and tired and fatigued and stressed. But HOCD couldn't take over my life so I decided to keep on going along with my daily activities going out with friends studying for exams spending time with family. BUT still intrusive thoughts still there and they were always there. They haunt me day and night. I wake up in the middle of the night with heavy breathing and make noises of discomfort but then I would be too tired I would go back to bed. They seem so real these thoughts at some periods of time I actually start to believe I am lesbian or bi. I hate it. I want to go back to my old self who used to be happy and earnest. And whenever I start fantasising about guys, the image always seems to morph and turn into a girl. I hate it. I have stopped fantasising. And now I feel like I am losing my attraction to guys I just want these thoughts to get out of my head I feel like replacing my brain. I feel like rewiring my brain. BTW i was never homophobic or against gays or bi's before this, in fact I supported them and yes I have had past experiences of OCD without knowing it was mostly with the fear of cancer. Whenever I got a pain or some weird symptom of illness i would usually direct it to the notion of cancer which made search symptoms of cancer making my fear only worse. I ended up going to many doctors in the past out of the fear of having cancer when I really didn't have it. So yes OCD was part of my life before HOCD came but I never recognised it.

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Hi Anon1204 - It sounds like to me that you are straight as an arrow. It's just the OCD making you doubt that, and all because of the trigger of being made fun of because of some misinterpretation.

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This made me calm. Thanks for replying. But then it comes back you are just lying to yourself and that you are in denial. HOCD is a real mindtrip. Bleh.

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Just remember that it is the OCD tricking your mind, and these particular thoughts are not the truth about you.

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Thank you for your help.

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You are so welcome. Have a peaceful night if it is night where you are. It is almost midnight here.

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Good Morning from Canada. I have just read your lengthy and heartfelt post about HOCD and it brought me back to my 17 year old self many years ago...

I was a typical boy-crazy teen with lots of crushes on cute boys; I loved going to high school dances and I had a happy circle of female friends to share all this fun with. Then, on a day in May when I was in 11th grade, my life as I knew it changed forever. An off-the-cuff remark by my boyfriend about one of my close female friends took sudden and fierce root in my brain; he suggested that I liked her more than I liked him -- and my HOCD began.

The fear that I might be a lesbian completely overwhelmed me with fear, panic and despair. Prior to his insensitive remark I had never even considered the possibility of being sexually attracted to girls. It was an absolute non issue. Then, all of a sudden, it was all I could think about. I was terrified. I plunged into a dreadful depression. My personality changed and I no longer enjoyed my teen-age life.

I spent hours trying to 'check' if I was aroused by girls. I didn't want to ever be in the company of girls anymore; I stopped hanging out with my friends; I thought that I would be better off blind so that I wouldn't see females at church or school or anywhere at all! I had no idea that this was a mental illness --- HOCD! I kept it all to myself for fear that to even mention the word 'lesbian' would automatically verify the "truth" about me.

Unfortunately, this illness and my silence about caused me to take some very dangerous risks sexually, just to prove I liked men. These sexual escapades resulted in self-loathing and low self-esteem; I slept with inappropriate male partners, some of whom were very abusive. I contracted STDs and, on two occasions I became pregnant. I had one abortion and raised the second child as a single mom. Untreated HOCD almost ruined my life!

I had been a very capable student who could have had a wonderful career as an academic, journalist or lawyer but the HOCD all but denied me these possibilities. I panicked if I shared a class at university with lesbian students and I completely dropped out when some of my female professors were 'out and proud'. I was terrified that I would "catch" lesbianism just by being in the same room with one.

As a result, I safely hid in a less-than-stimulating job where I could control the environment to a greater degree. I married a man I was not in love with because I feared that people might think I was lesbian if I remained single passed my mid-twenties. Trust me, HOCD is not a trendy, new, flavour-of-the month anxiety disorder; it can kill --- self-esteem, careers, relationships with loved ones ---- everything!

And, now, thanks to the wonderful people at OCD-UK I have been able to open up about my illness and get the professional help I needed. Several years ago I flew to England to attend the annual OCD Conference in Birmingham. I connected with an Australian therapist who put me in touch with a Canadian OCD specialist at the University of Waterloo. Finally, I was introduced to Exposure Response Prevention (ERP) and my healing began. Today, though my symptoms occasionally surface, I simply allow the thoughts to ebb and flow (like waves on the ocean) and I do not allow them to begin a new cycle of doubt. I can hug my women friends without fear and I count several gay women among my friends. This is a huge accomplishment!

My advice to you and anyone else with OCD is to find a professional in whom you can be completely frank and who can guide you through ERP. Seeking reassurance does not help! Seeking reassurance about your heterosexuality will only strengthen the HOCD. Do not seek reassurance either here on this site or from your family and friends. If you had a broken arm you would need a plaster cast -- not reassurance that your arm will be ok on its own.

Today, I still grieve my lost years of personal and professional happiness. I can never get them back, but I can offer my story to encourage others to seek help. I am particularly sad about having had that abortion so many years ago. I'm a Catholic and that act violated the core of my value system. The HOCD was a huge factor in the circumstances of that choice and I would hope to spare others the trauma and pain of other HOCD-fuelled wrong decisions.

Please seek therapy for your HOCD; you have your whole wonderful life ahead of you and you need to be healthy and strong so that you can make decisions that will serve you well. Good luck and God bless. Love, Sheila

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Hi Cambridgeborn - This is a wonderful and very brave and generous response to anon1204. This will surely help her. I wish you the best of luck also.

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Thank you for your kind words. If I can spare young anon1204 future pain, then my transparency is worth it. We are only as sick as the secrets we keep.

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I just feel so bad for all the pain you've endured, especially before your diagnosis.

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I appreciate your empathy for my pain; the disease of HOCD is most cruel. And, I am grateful to OCD-UK for providing annual conferences and ongoing support. (The conference I attended was actually in Nottingham, not Birmingham as stated.)

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I would just like to thank u. But I keep on seeking reassurance that this HOCD bc sometimes my brain is telling me that it is an excuse for l a lesbian in denial. But apparently this is the nature of HOCD. And u have been such a brave person through all of that. I just hope u the best for the future. you have inspired me surely u will be an inspiration to all others who have or are suffering through HOCD.

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As with all types of OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) we who suffer struggle with both obsessions and compulsions. HOCD involves obsessive intrusive thoughts about being homosexual; it is a mental obsession. So, if the obsession is the fear of being lesbian, what is the compulsion? Our compulsion is to seek reassurance.

We compulsively seek reassurance that we are not lesbian or gay in the same manner that those with contamination OCD may compulsively wash or shower. All that washing and scrubbing does not eliminate the contamination obsession; for me, all the reassurance in the world from people (men!) and internet searches and books, etc. does not eliminate my obsessional thoughts about being lesbian. In fact, seeking reassurance (the compulsion) strengthens my fears about being lesbian (the obsession). The OCD cycle needs to be broken. Starve the obsession by not feeding it with the compulsion.

How do we break the cycle? We need guided therapeutic practice with Exposure Response Prevention (ERP). In other words, we learn to sit patiently and comfortably with the disturbing thoughts (even welcoming them!) without resorting to seeking reassurance or other tactics to eliminate them. I know this may sound counter-intuitive, but, honestly, it is the only thing that works.

Think of the intrusive thoughts as a school yard bully; if you ignore the bully or befriend the bully you take away the bully's power over you. You free yourself from fear. You no longer need allies in the school yard to reassure you that you are an ok person. Self-doubt slips away and you become self-confident and in control of your own destiny. The bully quietly slips away to bother someone else.

Well, that is exactly what we need to do when we become crippled by our fears of being a lesbian. We need to simply acknowledge the intrusive, disturbing thought (the bully) and greet it in a friendly manner without any care or concern --- then carry on with any task at hand. We might even welcome the thought and suggest to ourselves that we just might be a lesbian, but so what, no big deal. Eventually, the obsession subsides and we are no longer seeking reassurance.

OCD is called the Doubting Disease. We may never completely eliminate the doubt, but we can learn to manage it so that we can live happily and confidently. ERP is the most important tool in our tool kit. When you seek out a therapist, make sure that therapist understands the importance of ERP in the treatment of OCD. Otherwise, you may just be wasting your time and money. (I certainly did for many years.)

I don't pretend to understand the brain physiology behind the OCD illness or the evolutionary processes that have resulted in its agonizing presence. But that's not my job; my job is to take ownership of my part in my own healing journey. Hiding out at self-pity parties or acting out sexually in irresponsible ways did not serve me well. Practising ERP; being open and honest; avoiding reassurance rituals, staying connected to a caring OCD support group, cultivating a busy and productive life --- these things will serve you well.

There are no shortcuts to wellness or quick fixes. We must be proactive and committed to our own healing process. Happiness is an inside job! Sheila

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Thank you I will surely try to accept the thoughts but of course OCD puts a fear in my head if you accept the thoughts then you will become lesbian and learn to enjoy the thoughts. That really halts me from accepting these thoughts, because I don't want to be with a girl. The thoughts have become so real and continuous lately that I may not even be sure I am straight anymore. This is the worst, honestly I have lost myself. My emotions are everywhere from my anger, to my sadness, to me happiness. I feel like I am just falling into a hole which I can't climb out of because I am doing it to myself. One more question is it possible for you to turn gay when you have been straight your whole life and never questioned that? But thank you so much for your kind and inspiring response.

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That sounds like your OCD asking that question.

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I see my own teenage self reflected in your distress; I know how very, very, disturbing these thoughts are that you might me a lesbian. One advantage you have over me (at your age) is that you have an outlet (this site) to talk about your fears. This open conversation is a gift; even though you may not be ready to share your distress with friends and family, at least you have OCD-UK as a sounding board. For that one small blessing you can be very grateful...

You have asked me, "Is it possible for you to turn gay when you have been straight your whole life?" I detect that your question is a disguised form of reassurance seeking. I cannot help you with that.

I do know that the 'theme' of obsessional thoughts is quite irrelevant to the disease itself. You and I (and many other people) have obsessional thoughts about homosexuality; others may obsess about contamination or health or religion. For example, a person who obsesses about fidelity to her religion might ask: "Is it possible for you turn Jewish when you have been Catholic your whole life?" She might be terrified that her God will punish her with eternal damnation if she 'tempts herself' by having Jewish friends! For those of us who do not suffer with this form of OCD, we may think her fears are preposterous, but her OCD-addled brain latches on to the fear and she becomes just as paralysed as you feel at this moment.

So, do you see what I'm getting at? OCD latches on to any notion where it senses some vulnerability. During our teen years we are discovering sexuality and those years can be fraught with anxiety and insecurity of all kinds. It is not surprising that OCD will hone in on and attach itself to our fragile sexual teen selves. Remember, it's a bully and it will attack where it sees weakness. All teenagers struggle with issues of budding sexuality, but those of us who happen to have a brain predisposed to OCD may become shocked and alarmed with passing thoughts or comments about homosexuality. I imagine that all teens think about the possibility of same-sex encounters, and why not? To a teen brain, sex is sex. No big deal. But, to those of us with OCD such passing thoughts ring alarm bells and put us in 'fight or flight' mode. We 'fight' with our compulsions and our 'flight' is often towards isolation or substances such as food, alcohol or drugs. Our 'fight or flight' mechanism only serves us well if there is real, imminent danger like a stalker or a tiger.

Please seek out a knowledgeable OCD therapist who can guide you through ERP and perhaps suggest some anti-anxiety medication. You may wish to print off this discourse you and I are having so as to kick-start your therapy conversations. I shall remain open to further discussion if you find it helpful.

And, may I suggest you consider attending OCD-UK conference coming up this fall. When I attended it in Nottingham several years ago I found it very helpful just hearing other people share their experiences with OCD.

Bottom line, we are responsible for our own recovery. No pity-parties allowed! Get educated about OCD; find a good therapist; practice ERP. Reach out to others. Take care, my young friend. Sheila

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Yes i see your point of view. I am sorry for being very needy and seeking reassurance, thank you for giving me advice and help when I am going through this rough patch. Such an inspirational person like you gives me hope that one day I will become as helpful and strong as you are.

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Thank you for sharing your story

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Thank u sooooo much! Yes sometimes I had the thought of engaging in sexual acts with guys just to prove I am not lesbian, when I am really not. It gives me reassurance that one day when I look back at these days I will realise how useless it was to have these thoughts. But thank u so much! U r a fighter and u have inspired me to fight against this self esteem killer. I hope one day my life will be great.

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Having this sort of OCD has nothing to do with being homophobic. Some gay people with OCD are obsessed with the thought that they might be straight!

I think it's more of an identity thing. In this case, you know you're a straight woman, and attracted to men, but OCD puts doubts in your head, and makes you doubt who you actually are. Then it feels like you don't know who you are.

Try as much as you can not to monitor yourself for arousal. Although arousal can be involuntary in many instances, we can make ourselves aroused just by thinking about it. That doesn't mean that you are aroused by women, just that you are thinking about arousal itself. That is often enough to become aroused.

Simply acknowledging that some other women are beautiful does not indicate that you are a lesbian. As a straight woman I often admire another woman's beauty, but it's a completely different response to being attracted to a man. Some people are physically beautiful, and admitting that doesn't necessarily involve arousal.

Overcoming this may involve taking the plunge and going into situations where you are having to mix with other women and become used to being in their company, or watching movies instead of staying in your room. Try to do this gradually, perhaps a social event or a movie now and then, and concentrate on enjoying yourself instead of monitoring yourself for arousal. It's a pity to miss out on a social life.

At the moment even thinking about arousal sets off alarm bells ringing. So thinking or fantasizing about men triggers images of women. It's not surprising that you've had health OCD before, as OCD often morphs from one form into another and both these sorts that you've experienced involve worrying about your body as well as mind.

Do go to your doctor about it, and ask for a referral to a CBT therapist. Medication can help too. Don't continue to beat yourself up.

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Thank you so much! I will surely do that however this HOCD it feels so real that your brain is asking you to consider being lesbian. But I don’t want to be. It feels as if allllll my boys crushes from the past were a lie and that I was only crushing on them to be normal. It feels so annoying cause I loved crushing on guys. And now whenever I see a cute guy my brain tells me that I am pretending to like them but before HOCD I would be so certain that I liked a guy. Now I feel my attraction is slowly being lost and my sexual identity the person I used to know is gone. HOCD is a real killer of your self being. But thank u sooooo much for ur kind words. It makes me have hope that one day I will return back to normal.

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It's a pity for you to lose the pleasure you take in being attracted to men. Don't lose that. Don't get into relationships with men you aren't really keen on just to try to prove that you're not a lesbian, though. But once you start to feel comfortable with the thought of lesbianism, and can be in the company of other women, including lesbians, the fear will go.

Stop checking your body for arousal. It's difficult to interpret how you're really feeling when your mind is so hampered by being afraid of what you might feel. Don't ruminate or go over and over it in your mind, questioning your every thought.

It's really horrible, having OCD. Many people think it trivial, but it can take over your life. But it's possible to get it back.

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Ir really is annoying and disturbing when I lose my attraction to boys cause it was the only thing that kept me happy and free. Now it feels like I am trapped in OCDs grasps. I don't even know who to trust. Even if I do look at girls I don't get sexually aroused anymore but my brain is like yeah you are attracted but I know she is just pretty but I wouldn't want to do anything further with her. It just is so annoying. But I will take you advice into account. Thank you so much for taking your time to help and give me advice.

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ive been dealing with it for a month now and its overwhelming asf. My ocd first started when i had a panic attack i would always get headaches and thought i had a brain tumor i would search online to reasure myself than out of nowhere hocd hit me. I get thoughts and images i dont want and i be getting the gronial. Theres times i feel normal but than the images and thoughts hit me harder and they seem so real. I dont want to be gay and this is making me feel down and sad all the time.

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Yeah me 2. I mean it definitely is torture. I also started with health OCD and then I just got tired of it and then it shifted themes and hey well it is back again. I don't wanna be gay either and the groinal responses and everything and urges feelllll sooooooo real I just can't take it anymore. Well hang in there and don't worry you will get through this you aren't alone.

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How u dealing with it right now. I was doing good for like 2 weeks i was able to hang out with friends and everything was going fine i had some symptoms but it didn’t affect me much but now it feels as its slowly coming back and i don’t want to be in this state again. i thought i knew how it worked but every time it comes back its worse and it takes on new fears.

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Ik. It did this to me as well and I thought I was recovering but nah it hit me even badly. Now u know it is HOCD and its typical nature. The symptoms also disappeared for 2-3 days recently but now it is taking on a new fear that when I get my attraction back I won’t be happy to b in a heterosexual relationship, the worst I am less anxious about this thought but I still hate it. My attraction has completely gone and I keep on doubting if I want to b in relationship with a guy when before this I wanted to like surely wanted to b with a guy. I have just lost allllll interest in being in any type of romantic relationship i feel so numb. And yes u should keep on hanging out with ur friends show HOCD u rnt afraid of its teases and thoughts and whatever the hell it does to u. Just keep on fighting u r definitely on the right path to recovery.

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Idk y but now its like i dont want to go outside no more i use to always not want to be home but since i have a new fear it doesnt let me. It all started because when my hocd was high i started to focus on girls a lot and than one day i was looking at a girl and than i started looking at a guy next to her but i didnt know it was a guy because i hadnt seen his face and my head was picturing him as a girl and now everytime before i see a guy my head pictures him as a girl and i tend to look but when i realise its a guy i get disgusted and thoughts start to come and this started to happen a lot. Also like u said but the opposite i keep doubting whether i want to be in a relationship with a girl sometimes. But theres this one girl i like and everytime i think of her i get happy and i start telling myself ima talk to her and stuff but than theres days i feel bad and i try to think of her and my head wont let me and it ruins it.

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so i just woke up in the middle of the night and i cant fall asleep and than i started to get images and thoughts and they felt so real and my head it making it seem like im enjoying it i never felt this way and my heads telling me that im going to enjoy this in the future too im not feeling any anxiety but im hating the way my heads making me think i enjoy these images and thoughts. have u ever felt this way?

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