no one really wants to talk about HOCD

HOCD stands for “homosexual obsessive-compulsive disorder,” and I think it’s about time I wrote about it on my blog.

HOCD is essentially when someone has intrusive thoughts and worries that he or she might be gay, even though they have been straight for years with no doubts … and even though they are attracted to the opposite sex and want to be with the opposite sex.

A better term would actually be “sexual orientation obsessive-compulsive disorder” because these worries sometimes torment gay people who suddenly wonder if they might be straight.

Just to be clear … this post is not about homosexuality and is not meant to spark debate about homosexuality.  This post is about questioning whether you’re gay when you’re not (or vice versa), and that is a common thread amongst obsessive-compulsives, one I feel that most people would rather not discuss.  People can argue till they are blue in the face about what to think about homosexuality, but there is only one way to look at a disorder that makes you question something that never needed to be questioned: that disorder is a liar.

Why don’t people want to talk about it more?  I confess, I myself don’t, especially not in a platform like this blog.  Because no one understands an obsessive-compulsive like another obsessive-compulsive, and it’s so hard to explain the internal riot occurring while going through any obsession.  Many OCs are upfront about their obsessions with those they are closest to … then they (we) use those friends to solicit reassurance from.  Do you think that was bad?  Do you think I cleaned the dishes well enough and the kids won’t get sick?  Do you think it was stealing when I took a paperclip home from work today?  The friends tell us, No, it wasn’t bad; yes, you cleaned well; no, you’re not a thief.

But when an OC is struggling with HOCD, it’s very hard to ask friends, Do you think I really might be gay?  We are less worried about their answer than about their secret judgments toward us after the question is asked.

I remember in 8th grade thinking that my friend looked pretty one day, and it set me off on a trail of questions and doubts: did that mean I was gay?  Did that mean I liked her?  Was attracted to her?  I was the most boy-crazy girl that I knew, and inside my head, I was asking these questions.

Now that I am on the other side of cognitive-behavioral therapy, it is so unbelievably clear to me: If I liked only men and wanted to date only men, then I was not gay.  But I can remember the questions: But do you only want to date men?  It’s crafty, OCD is.  It plays dirty.  It makes us second- and triple- and quadrupal-guess ourselves.  It’s all so exhausting.

I just wanted to write a post on it to explain what it is and to say that it is such a common obsession.  I think the more we can see how it’s just the same old story with OCD, the more we can see clearly that we are not alone and that OCD is just that old liar who only has a small bag of tricks.

Related posts:
Interview with a Former HOCD Sufferer
Another Interview with a Former HOCD Sufferer
A Closer Look at HOCD
A Big Ol’ HOCD Post
A Third Interview with a Former HOCD Sufferer

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106 thoughts on “no one really wants to talk about HOCD

  1. Thanks for this post, Jackie. I certainly am somewhat familiar with HOCD but never thought of it as common. Like you say, not too many people talk about it.

    • I wanted to post it because I remember the first time *I* read about it and was like, “oh, so THAT’S what that was in junior high!!!” I hope someone else will find their story written here.

  2. Good post, Jackie. I didn’t know HOCD was common, either. I think you’re right about people being more willing to talk about other forms of OCD but not HOCD. By writing about it, you are probably helping others feel less fear about it.

  3. That’s not quite how it is/was for me, although it’s similar. For me it morphs in a number of different ways.

    With me, it started during puberty, before I’d ever had romantic feelings toward anyone. And then it got bad enough that I didn’t have them for anyone for years, even as my peers started having their first crushes. So I didn’t have any evidence either way, which of course exacerbated the OCD. After a while the fear morphed into an obsessive fear of “being in denial” — it stopped being about being gay and became more of a general fear that I was hiding something from myself. Although sometimes generic HOCD crept back in there, too.

    When I was doing ERP, I had to keep telling myself that I was gay, and it was actually quite fascinating to see what my brain did in response. The little voice that had been whispering in my ear all those years “but that’s a lie! You’re probably gay, you know. You’re just lying to yourself!” started to say “but you’re probably straight! Why are you telling yourself this? THIS is all lies!” My brain kept swapping back and forth — it had no idea what to DO with the ERP.

    Today, I can’t healthily say that I’m straight. If I do that, I get on this extremely negative track where that must be true 100% of the time, and the slightest threat to this “truth” sets me off again. (And quite honestly I’m not even sure I am “straight” — I’ve learned so much about sexuality being fluid and I think that could be true for me.) I have to live with uncertainty, and some days that’s freeing, and other days it’s excruciating. But it’s the only healthy way for me to move forward. And I tell myself that one day I will fall in love and all the pain of what-is-the-truth-I’ve-got-to-find-it will be a thing of the past.

    (One nice side effect has been the compassion I now feel for the gay community. After years of this, I get angry to the point of steaming, boiling rage when I hear people say they don’t think gay people should be able to adopt children, or get married. Though OCD is ugly, the empathy it gives us is actually quite beautiful.)

  4. Jackie, I’ve been lurking for a while, but had to comment on this – HOCD absolutely tortured me in middle school, and again in college. You’re so right – I could never tell any of my friends for fear they would take it the wrong way. Same way with POCD (pedophile OCD) which was an absolute, unrelieved nightmare. Sigh. I guess this means we have to talk about this now, right? 😉

    • I’m so glad you commented, Anna! I’m so excited to check out your blog. I remember going through a time of life when I thought I was a sex offender. All that because years earlier as a camp counselor, I had slapped my girlies on the butt (kinda like how coaches do it to the football players). I mean, I felt like I should be locked up. I hate OCD.

      Gonna go check out your blog now. 🙂

  5. This post has really intrigued me, I have heard HOCD is common but I guess it’s difficult to tell how common as it’s such a taboo in today’s society.. I think the biggest struggle for me is that i feel the need to ‘know’ that what I have is HOCD and that I’m not just gay and in denial and I too go through various phases of thinking i’m gay and in denial, then just that it’s HOCD then that I’m trying to convince myself it’s HOCD then that it must be something else that I am hiding from myself… How did you get therapy? I’ve always been scared to talk to someone in case they just tell me “no you don’t have HOCD, I’ve never heard of it, you’re gay”

    I can be fine for weeks and then I’ll read something or hear somethign or see something and start to panic… Last time it was that I read an article in a magazine about a woman who got married to a man and then realised she was a lesbian and then divorced the man and married the woman… this paniced me as I slipped into the same old cycle of “what if that happens to me?””well if it’s going to happen to me i might as well become a lesbian now rather than lead my boyfriend on for years”.. “so am i admitting to myself that i’m a lesbian now?” ..”Oh my god I am aren’t I?” and then when i got home i talked to my sister about it and she reassured me and i was back to normal again..

    it just feels like an endless cycle that i can’t break out of… i’m scared it’ll last forever 😦

    • Dear, dear Anon. 🙂 What you have sounds EXACTLY like HOCD. Exactly.

      So, here’s the thing. Cognitive-behavioral therapy/exposure and response prevention can END that “endless” cycle you can’t break out of. The sucky thing about CBT/ERP is that you have to embrace uncertainty. You have to be triggered over and over again … and it’s so hard and ugly and difficult … but SO FREEING AND GOOD AND INCREDIBLE.

      I have my life back now. And I can EASILY tell which of my thoughts are MINE and which are from OCD. I’d love to tell you more about ERP. Please feel free to email me at jackieleasommers@gmail.com. I will speak openly and honestly about HOCD and my own experience with you– gladly!

  6. Pingback: A Closer Look at HOCD | lightsallaround

  7. I just want to thank you so much for posting this. I have been having these homosexual thoughts for about two months and they just drive me crazy. I am finally seeing a therapist so I hope she can help me. But anyway, thank you for posting your own expirience. You really make me hope that I’ll go back to normal one day.

  8. Hi Jackie,

    Thanks for being brave and speaking out. This is really nicely written too. I was planning to write a similar article myself soon – probably still will – more awareness is always a good thing!

  9. Hello everyone! and forgive me for my bad english 🙂

    I had a severe HOCD condition for 3 years. Very very happy to write that I an all over it. It is gone, just like that.
    Now how I did it:
    1. you have to educate your self on the topic, belive me I have been all over the internet reading about this topic.
    2. go out and be with people, never give up on people. being alone in you room will NOT help you in no way.
    3. no one can help you, but yourself. Until you don’t get a “click” in your brain, that tells you that HOCd is not true, no one can help you.
    4. you can and will overcome the compulsions and ugly thoughts and fears of “denial”, the groinal responses, the mental arousal feras ect ect….
    5. You need TIME, I strugled with it for 3 years on and off, before I got back to normality. P.S. to feel normality is sooo niceeee.

    That is about that.
    I got married a month ago and 10 days ago I became a father to my newborn son. two things i thought i will never have becasue I was afraid that I was gay.

    There is much much hope people, just dont give in and dont give up!!!!
    Life is very good now, but 3years ago if I would have read a post like this, I would have thought “yeah right, my case is never getting better”, but in the end all the patience payed off.

    Enyoing life now, with my wife and SON!!!!

  10. Jackie, I am doing CBT right now, but need some ideas for ERP exposures. Do you have any good ideas to share about exposures you did? Thanks!

  11. Hey Jackie,
    I have a question. I think I have HOCD, been dealing with whatever this is for about 8 months now. Im 19, so these thoughts started when i was 18. I can only remember liking guys when i was younger, but i never wanted a relationship. I think – or thought- it was because my parents were super strict and didn’t want me to date so I developed commitment issues. Now with HOCD, i feel i dont want a relationship with men. I test myself thinking of being romantic and sexual with a guy and feel nothing. So now I have intrusive sexual/ romantic thoughts with girls but i also deal with nothing towards men. What gets me though is i think i was always like this…didnt want a relationship. So how can i be straight if I didnt feel much to men even before HOCD. I know i liked guys, but when i think about it now, its “i didnt really like him, i just thought i did cause i thought girls were supposed to like guys” and “I liked girls, just never allowed myself to become aware”. What really got me, a big spike, and i never really get that anxious to thoughts, a girl made a video on youtube explaining how she figured out she was lesbian and said “I had boyfriends but could never fall in love and never enjoyed them sexually” and then she realized later on…well that is exactly me. I had my first kiss as well and felt nothing, this was 2 months before HOCD. After HOCD i started kissing more guys (compulsion i think) and still never felt anything. I should mention that i didnt really like the guys, but then again these days i feel i like no guys. Thinking about girls…i feel i could enjoy kissing them. How am i straight after all that, it feels my life has been a lie. Sorry for the long post but im severely lost. the non anxiousness and nothing to guys is getting to me. I could just not be a relationship person but i must want to be in one somewhere inside if i think about if i want to be in this often. I should mention I do have OCD with other things, health anxiety mostly, but HOCD has been the biggest thing so far. ROCD and HOCD? or just lesbian? I really dont know.

    • Hi friend! Do you ever feel an intense anxiety when you think you might be gay? HOCD would be accompanied with a very strong sense of anxiety over thoughts of being homosexual.

  12. It feels so good to know that many other unlucky people like me are suffering from this life destroying illness 😦 from the first moment I wake up to the last moment I fall asleep I’m thinkin about gay stuff 😦 my mind says the word gay about 1000 times a day 😦 I can’t even look another male in the eye or face for the fear of what my mind will think of 😦 I’ve only ever gotten hard from girls yet my mind is tellin me otherwise 😦 my mind also tells me that I move or pick things up in a gay way which is totally bonkers ! The best thing to do is try and stick to the facts coz that’s where your true self is ! Anything and everything gay makes me feel unhappy sick degusting and any other word that belongs in torched bracket I also suffer from POCD which again kills me when I think of things about my own children 😦

  13. jackie thanks a lot for your blog……..your blog is like treatment to me…..whenever hocd takes over me i read your blog and its comments , then i get assured that its just hocd and i can control it……………..i am suffering from this for last 10 years , it has messed my social life a lot……….

    • Aneesh, thank you for your kind comments! I am glad my blog has helped! I highly recommend ERP therapy, whether you do it self-guided or with a therapist. It was the key that unlocked my OCD prison!

  14. Pingback: Interview with a Former HOCD Sufferer | Lights All Around

  15. Hi Jackie, thanks so much for your blog it literally saved my life and made me feel so much less alone. My HOCD started about a month ago but I didn’t do much research on it until 2 weeks ago. I thought I was turning gay until I realized it was HOCD. There is still an small part of me that does. I read some of the ideas for ERP where it said to expose yourself to like lgbt type things. I tried doing this and I didn’t feel much anxiety!! What’s wrong with me?? I used to get anxiety over these things, until I realized that getting anxiety over these things= probably not gay. Then I thought “you’re faking anxiety so you think you’re not gay” and “you’re not getting anxiety because you really are gay” and the thing is I KNOW IM NOT! But am I? Is always the little voice! I don’t get anxiety doing ERP but I get it randomly and then I can’t think straight. Can you help me at all??? Thank you!

    • Hi Annie! Thanks for visiting my blog and taking the time to comment. I’ve talked to other people who have the same issues surrounding HOCD ERP … not being able to generate enough anxiety in the exposures. I need to think about it a little bit. Sounds like your OCD is doing anything it can to trick you!

      • Okay thank you! It’s almost like I know that I’m doing ERP so I have to force the anxiety and that’s hard for me. My anxiety comes randomly and in bouts, when I look at pics or readings to make anxiety I know that I’m doing it to know I’m not gay. And then of course comes the “you’re not anxious because you really are gay”. And that causes me anxiety and panic! 😦 ugh help

      • Oh and also, sorry to bother with the comments, how did your relationship with God help? I am a believer but I feel like OCD is really ripping me apart from God. I think “why isn’t he helping me” and then I just get frustrated. I feel so far apart from him. Any tips?

      • I felt that way too. OCD is a monster, and it attacks whatever is most important to us. OCD was driving a stake between me and God. ERP restored that and helped me to realize God had never left me. I view my twenty-year struggle differently now: in light of the ministry God was preparing me for!

  16. I was wondering, after you go through ERP do you “regain” normal feelings for the opposite sex? Or are you like permantely scarred from hocd? Like could you imagine yourself in a relationship? This causes me more anxiety than anything.. I don’t like my crush at all anymore. Will i regain feelings?

  17. Wow so sorry keep asking questions!! Your wisdom is just so therapeutic! Okay for the ERP for HOCD, did you get it done with a therapist? If you don’t mind me asking, was it expensive like what is the price range usually for it? If it’s too personal that’s fine:) haha! And how would you recommend me telling my mom about this so I could go on and get it done? I told her briefly about it and she just kinda said it was hormones. Any tips? I’m kinda embarrassed to say anything. Any online websites or books? Thank you so much!

    • No worries, Jamie! Ask away. And I just started a forum to discuss HOCD with other sufferers: http://www.voy.com/234586/ Just started it today, so no one has posted yet.

      ERP is best done with at therapist who specializes in it, but it can also be done on your own. Get a book like Dr. Jonathan Grayson’s Freedom from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, and it will teach you how. Read up a lot about it on my website and let me know what questions you have!

  18. Hi Jackie, I think it is amazing that you are spreading the word about HOCD. People do need to become aware of the existence of this. I, actually didn’t know about this up until two months ago. My boyfriend of two years is diagnosed with HOCD, and he was not triggered until those two months ago. Although it has only been two months, it feels like we have been dealing with it for years. We are at the hardest point of our relationship and it hurts to see him going through this. It truly breaks my heart to see the one I love lose himself as he is shutting himself away from me and anyone else. It scares me to think that he is giving up. It is one thing to think he is giving up on us, and another to think that he is giving up on himself. His life. He has been seeing a therapist for a couple weeks and I wish it helps. I understand that I can’t do anything but be there to help him because it’s all him. This is something he has to work through mentally. I can only wait here with open arms and pray that he overcomes this. It is so hard for us both, and I just don’t know what I can do anymore. I want to be by his side, I want to see him smile, and laugh the way he used to… Please just give me advice one how I can help him, or simply understand him better. Help me become a better support system. Thank you.

    • Hi Alexis,

      Thanks so much for your comment! I’m so sorry to hear about all that your boyfriend is going through. Thanks for not giving up on him. He just has an illness.

      The very best thing that you can do for him is to get him into exposure and response prevention therapy (known as ERP). It’s the ABSOLUTE best treatment for OCD, and it is life-changing. You can read all about it on my blog. Please do read my post “Interview with a Former HOCD Sufferer” and also “A Detailed Post about ERP” (https://jackieleasommers.com/2013/11/10/a-detailed-post-about-erp/). There is help available, but your boyfriend will need to seek it out and take it.

      Please also read this post: https://jackieleasommers.com/2013/07/22/how-to-care-for-the-obsessive-compulsive-in-your-life/

      You need to make it your top priority to get your boyfriend into ERP therapy, just like you’d help him find appropriate treatment if he had cancer or diabetes or a broken arm.

      Please do let me know what questions you have!

  19. Hello, Jackie!

    First and foremost your article made me smile and helped me out a lot.

    Ever since releasing my addiction of watching lesbian porn (two weeks so far, yay!!) and getting closer to God himself, I’ve been dealing with HOCD. I actually told my boyfriend and he said a few things of reassurance saying how he couldn’t see me dating women and how I’m overthinking and that I should relax. He was actually bisexual one point in time and I asked him how did he become heterosexual and he said just lost interest in men overtime which helped me abit..

    But there goes that darn HOCD “What if you lose interest in your boyfriend?” “What if you’re a closet lesbian and you miss the porn?” all these craaaazy things. I think lesbian porn has desensitized me abit because when I think about a female I don’t get turned on, but I don’t entirely cringe even though I don’t support the homosexual lifestyle, you know? And that triggers me some too and it’s weird because I have never felt this way before lesbian pornography, but now that I gave that up it’s like BAM, HOCD haha!

    Do you have any links to this “ERP” thing? I’ve honestly never heard of it until reading your article.

    • Hi Deanna! Thanks for reading my blog! Yes, I have lots of posts about ERP on my blog! Click on the OCD tab. Start with this link: jackieleasommers.com/2013/11/10/a-detailed-post-about-erp/

      I recommend not using pornography in ERP but instead, try writing a story starring yourself, one that upsets you!

  20. Heya Jackie, its been almost a year since I had *something* happen to me and I have been in panic and fear struck world since. I started to get vivid, pornographic images of women in my head and my only answer was “i am gay”. I remember screaming and crying for hours to try to get rid of the images and thoughts. I had to cover mirrors to not see my gay self, I had to par down my life to a little tiny hole of protection. (me)

    My “back story” is different, I was never that boy crazy girl, i was surrounded by lesbian and transgender friends. I was in classes that had me changing with girls 6 times a day and I never had a sexual “ohhhh looky looky” type feeling. (although looking back it causes me great anxiety to think I was able to change with a girl beside me) Growing up i was thinking I would live alone the rest of my life and i was happy with it, if i did picture my self marrying someone it was a boy. In school I attend gay pride parades, I was in supportive rallies and I fully support equal rights among anyone. I am so cliche with my music likes, actresses and everything. I am that cliche gay guy (no insults intended) that loves show tunes, Liza Minnelli, Barbara Streisand, love tatu, ani difranco, rainbows…just cliche things. But I don’t feel like that’s where I should be as a member, i feel (felt) that I was just a supporter–who happened to have fantastic taste. I don’t think people who are gay are second class, i don’t think they should be degraded, love should be encouraged and embraced. Looking back I see it as proof that I was/am gay and knew/know all along.

    3 years into my marriage with an amazing man I have known for 15 years of my 25 year life I am paralyzed. I too often get panics and fears of “do I really love him, am I really attracted to him? How do I know I am enjoying sex enough, am i gay because I am not always pursuing sex with him? What happens if I am lieing, what happens if I “change teams”? I would not have him, I would hurt him, I would be alone. I would hate me, my gay life and everything. I would have to find a girl and live a gay life with her. and i hate it, i would rather die than have all this happen.” I think “Am i attracted to girls deep down, and a lesbian because girls are attractive? are my sexual thoughts gay, should I just come out as gay (ahhhh panic)? is HOCD real, did I steal it to cover up that I was gay, did I find a “cover” for my thoughts and feelings?”

    I thought I would have relief “Ohhh wow its called HOCD, I have it and I think I am gay, but I am not” but I have more panic as days go on I live my life in panic. I have a doctor but I am SO SCARED that the ERP will reveal that am 100% gay and i have to tell my husband and destroy my (OUR) life. I find my self sobbing and begging for the days where I would watch Hello, Dolly, shop online for some sexy little outfit for me (or my husband however you say it) and if I felt like it have sex that night. Now I am analyzing everything asking if I want to do it or feel i have to do it, if I am or should be attracted.

    miserable. and lets not even get into the damage I feel I have done to my relationship with my husband by even having this question. I keep telling my self OCD attacks what matters to us, and my husband is my world. He is my rock, he is my sole supporter a cheerleader of one. He is a catch and mine, all mine. Because he is my life, I am a homemaker and I live my life to make his happier and easier my, my ocd found that and tore into it because my fear around losing that. OR I could just be using HOCD to hide behind. so many layers of voices in my head and I am sure that others have the same layers all saying things at once “your straight, gay, panic, deny, fight, flee, gay, straight, debate, analyze…they just yell all the time!

    I am so exhausted and so pained

    • Dear Exhausted,

      It’s HOCD. No doubt.

      That said, now your job with ERP is to ALLOW room for that doubt. That is the key to healing and overcoming this.

      No worries, you’re not anti-homosexual just because you don’t want to be gay. It’s not about gay-bashing; HOCD is about a disorder that lies about your personal identity. Even gay people get HOCD (about being straight!).

      I know it’s so, so scary, but you have to plunge into ERP and trust that it is the right medicine. Lean INTO the uncertainty, and know that you are NOT alone. There are a ton of people out there who struggle with HOCD– even people who are happily married, like you! Commit yourself to 12 weeks of ERP and see how you feel afterward. I have great hope and faith that you will feel AMAZING and have your freedom back– maybe not in 12 weeks, but possibly! Mine took only about that long!

      Keep me posted, friend.

      • Even when you state it’s OCD I cannot help but to think how do you know. I keep having dreams, thoughts I can’t get out and it’s terrible. I don’t want to hurt or lose my husband and I don’t want to be something I don’t think I am. I just know there have got to be gay people out there that have pain and hatred towards what their mind is telling them. People say “born gay, always felt different, just who I am” etc. I am sure there are people who want to not be gay but are, and what happens if I am one of them. What if I am simply not accepting who I am. These fears are so big in me, I would not wish this on my worst enemy.

        I have a book my doc recommended ‘The OCD workbook, third edition’ but no appointment scheduled as he is a long drive away and with my anxiety issues recently it’s hard to get there(not to mention our new outrageous medical fees). I know that erp is different because it needs to target what really freaks you out but is there a reference for 12 weeks that you can share? Something that can keep hope in my life or a time line of what to expect and where I want to be. I have to schedule when to work on my erp because if I don’t I will ignore doing it, it causes so much panic. Or it does not cause enough panic that it freaks me more.

        I want the old me back, I want to be able to once again enjoy my relationship enjoy and not question, doubt or panic over a thought that grazes my mind “did you grab to hold your husband’s hand because you wanted to, because you thought you should or because you need to in order to prove your not gay. Could you be happy holding a girls hand?” and on and on.

      • I am sorry, not once did I express the gratitude I feel for your guidance, input and time so generously given to me and the many others here. I am sure we take a lot of time and you might think “oh that Ole song and dance again” . Thank you

  21. Hi for many years I have had obsessional thoughts and I have only recently been diagnosed with pure-o OCD/ obsessional anxiety disorder and I am booked in to see a phycatrist soon. For many years I have had obsessional thoughts, around 6 years I had a fear that I had HIV and I had convinced myself that I did and nothing could change my mind I had many visits to doctors and even had blood tests but the fear was still there and I was still convinced I had HIV until I started obsessing about something else and that was my sexual orientation I stated to fear/ convince myself that I am gay. I think It feeds of a fear of being gay that started after a same sex experience that occurred with my brother when I was 12 years old, it was just touching and joking around but it scared me afterwords. I have always had crushes on girls and been physically attracted and sexually attracted to them but have never had a serious girlfriend, I have dated women and had short relationships for around 4 months but nothing long term. I have always been nervous around women and scared to make moves and I am still a virgin which I think has something to do with my HIV fear and not wanting to pass it on to anyone. But lately my thoughts have gone from having a fear that I am gay to thinking that I actually am gay and the thoughts tell me to come out and that I want to be gay but in a way I doubt that I am gay but the thoughts keep telling me I am and now I feel gay but a part of me keeps fighting not wanting to give in to the thoughts.

    • Sounds like HOCD, especially because you know you’re Pure-O! This is a common obsessive theme, and you can address it with exposure and response prevention, the BEST treatment for OCD! Have you heard of it? You can learn lots more about it if you click the OCD tab on my site!

      • Thanks for commenting so fast the thing is I don’t know if I am gay or straight anymore… I want to be straight but the thoughts won’t stop and I have been on medication for around 3 weeks and I have little anxiety about the thoughts anymore and now I feel gay and just feel like giving in and coming out even though I still only have sexual dreams about women I know and I am still attracted to women but now I notice men more now when in the past I wouldn’t have cared and they wouldn’t really draw my attention

      • No I don’t think so but these thoughts make me think I want to and now I am having a anxiety freak out because of that question I don’t know anymore

      • Undergo ERP. It will sort things out for you. In fact, it’s the best treatment there is for OCD, so you should be pursuing it regardless of HOCD. That’s your very best avenue to regain control of your thoughts and have freedom again. Please do read about it on my website. It saved my life.

      • Hello, I am a 24 year old “straight” (i think) male, I have had HOCD for the past year and a half and am about to start therapy of the ERP variety to try and get my old self back. However, I am very scared that when you say it will clear your head and give you yourself back that it will reveal I am gay. I have had doubts about my orientation before but i think that is normal? I check every day gay/straight porn to reassure myself. Go through situations in my mind to see if I am aroused at all. Ask my friends/family for reassurance. All of the symptoms or HOCD I have! I am just scared that when I undergo ERP , I will realize that I am actually gay?!?! Is this a normal doubt before undergoing treatment. Please respond

  22. Hi jackie, I’m having a really hard time at the moment… I have really good days and horrendous days… Today my worry is that when I see a pretty girl I get that nervous anxiety pain in my stomach but then when I see a lesbian or someone who looks of that stereotype I get like a knot in my stomach and chest butterflies which make me think it’s like attraction?! And I feel like if they’re attractive I feel attracted to them and get butterflies so iv been testing myself by looking for pictures and videos of girls like that and have spent the night crying my eyes out. I want to marry a boy, I want to have children with a boy and have always dreamed of it… I love attention off boys but now I just feel like iv come to a really sad point and I won’t be happy in the future. I don’t know what to do, I’m starting cbt on Friday so I’m hoping that helps but an insight from you would be great!

    • My dear girl, you’re not gay. Your experience is not similar to a homosexual person’s experience … only to someone battling HOCD.

      CBT will help, I honestly believe it. Talk to your therapist about doing EXPOSURES. If exposures aren’t a part of the plan, you’re not with the right therapist!

      • Thanks for replying! It has helped what you said, but how do you know I’m not? Like surely if I’m getting feelings of attraction for traits of this type of girl and ‘butterflies’ then that just tells me? I just want it to go away! I want to be happy with a man and a family when I’m older and live life the way I want it 🙂

      • I try not to offer much by way of reassurance, since it’s typically a compulsion for OCs, and I refuse to side with OCD against you. (Think about it– when you have a thought that troubles you, do you usually confess it to others, seek reassurance, or try to rationalize things in your head– those are very typical compulsions for a Pure-O!) If any of those are your compulsions, you should now start trying to stop them, since they only empower and enable your OCD.

        ERP, my friend. It’s the medicine you need.

      • I’m just wondering, can anxiety feel different at different times or does it feel the same all the time?

  23. Hi! I’m just wondering, can anxiety feel different in different scenarios or does it feel the same all the time?

  24. Wow, can’t believe I haven’t found this blog before! For me, it started in my bathroom. A thought popped into my head at 13, “I’m gonna kill myself.” You know when you get songs stuck in your head? Or words stuck in your head? That’s basically what this was. Two years later, I panicked, thinking I was suicidal, even though I was not. I wasn’t depressed because I hated life or wanted to die, I was anxious because my brain was creating situations in my head that did not exist. “I could open the car door right now and kill myself if I wanted to.” “I could use this knife and kill myself if I wanted to.” And truthfully, these thoughts made me physically sick. My life was great. Nothing was wrong. My life wasn’t closing in on me. I just had these intrusive, repetitive thoughts that lasted for a year. I couldn’t even get in car without feeling anxious as hell.

    Finally, one day, those thoughts shifted to my sexuality. I still didn’t know I had obsessive-compulsive disorder at the time. Two years later, I had a panic attack about it all and stayed up researching this before I realized, I was not the only one. This thing, it had a name. But throughout all my ruminations, intrusive thoughts, and doubts about my sexuality, I’ve realized one thing, my sexuality hasn’t changed. I was straight then and I’m straight now. Guys will still make me feel the way I had felt even before this OCD madness.

    I can’t say I’m cured. I can’t say I’m willing to expose myself and go through ERP, even though I should. I’ve learned to cope, learned to let go, learned to breathe, and I can say, I have gotten so much better at NOT CARING.
    Maybe I will go through ERP someday, who knows.

      • Hello, I am a 24 year old “straight” (i think) male, I have had HOCD for the past year and a half and am about to start therapy of the ERP variety to try and get my old self back. However, I am very scared that when you say it will clear your head and give you yourself back that it will reveal I am gay. I have had doubts about my orientation before but i think that is normal? I check every day gay/straight porn to reassure myself. Go through situations in my mind to see if I am aroused at all. Ask my friends/family for reassurance. All of the symptoms or HOCD I have! I am just scared that when I undergo ERP , I will realize that I am actually gay?!?! Is this a normal doubt before undergoing treatment. Please respond

  25. Hi, I love your blog post. It really put some things into perspective, but I do have one question.

    I match a lot of the HOCD symptoms, though I’m more on the obsessional side. This has been a huge problem for me since 7th grade as the anxiety is overwhelming. What worries me is that I’ve never been diagnosed with OCD. Is it possible for someone to develop OCD at any age?
    I don’t recall having this problem when I was little, though I was somewhat of an obsessive worrier.

  26. Pingback: Another Interview with a Former HOCD Sufferer | Jackie Lea Sommers

  27. Ms. Sommers,
    Hello! I am an average teenage girl, who has just recently encountered what had turned into a horrendous battle with HOCD. I understand that you’re no therapist, but I ask that you hear me out.
    It started about three months ago.
    It was the end of the day and I went to the bathroom. When I was done, a girl was bent over, and I looked at her bottom. When I realized I was looking, I walked out of the bathroom, to the exit of the school. This was the day I’d recieved a question from myself: “Am I gay?”
    Hence, I’ve never been interested in a girl a day in my life, and I plan to keep it that way. As a child (around six or seven) my older sister and I sexually experimented, but we’d never done anything across the lines of innocent curiousity. I’d never seen it as, “I like girls.” I’ve liked always had crushes on guys, despite that encounter. I’ve had two “boyfriends”, but I’d met both on the internet, and the relationships lasted two weeks at most. Thus, I don’t count it. Anyways, since my first HOCD thought, I’ve been a wreck. I’d been looking on the internet for answers and came to the conclusion that I have HOCD. I know I’m not afraid of what people think of me, I’ve told my mum and dad that I’m afraid of becoming gay, one of my teachers, and my grandma. They all are so non-chalant about it, and it gives me no relief at all. I’m still afraid that I may be one of the people who are in denial, but I sincerely want to be with a man. I’ve lost all attractions to males after a month of HOCD. I have no attractions to females, all of the heart palpitations and groinal responses are things I link to anxiety. I’d never gotten nervous and scared around a person of the same sex. I know the difference between crushes and anxiety, and my anxiety towards girls is not the kind that you get from being around a boy you like. It’s uncomfortable, and it ignites thoughts. I get afraid that I can “become” gay. I’ve asked for reassurance from my parents, friends, family, teachers, and they all think I’m freaking out for no reason. They believe me to be straight. Still, no avail from HOCD. Even now, I’m getting intrusive thoughts. I understand that you are no longer religious, but I pray for my attraction to guys to come back. I’m not even turned on by opposite sex fantasies, and I get what I hope are groinal responses from same sex fantasies. I no longer have anxiety as badly as I used to, but I get scared when I think things like, “Well it may not be that bad with a girl.” It terrifies me. I don’t want to be gay. I don’t want to be okay with that kind of lifestyle. I was able to do things that one may consider “gay” and never had second thoughts about it. I could squeeze another girl’s breasts, we could change in front of each other, sit on each other’s laps; Quite frankly, I could kiss another girls cheek and not think for a second that I was gay. Also, I’m afraid that CBT or ERP might result in me becoming gay. I’d rather die, or be alone for the rest of my life than to be gay. I get afraid that HOCD might make me gay. I’ve prayed, done rituals, had panic attacks, the whole nine. Some days, I’m convinced I’m straight, or I’m ready to kill myself because I think I’m gay. Help?

    • Hi, new friend! You’re very well-spoken (or, perhaps, well-written). That’s becoming increasingly rare in teenagers, so I wanted to point it out and compliment you!

      Also, I wanted to be really clear: I am definitely a Christian. Jesus Christ is my life. You can read more about my faith here: https://jackieleasommers.com/faith/

      Next, HOCD can’t make you gay. It can make you think or believe you’re gay. It can really, really mess with your head and fill you with doubts, but it doesn’t have the authority to actually change your sexual preferences. There’s help for HOCD! It’s called ERP therapy. Please go to https://jackieleasommers.com/ocd-help/ and read the entire thing. It’s everything I have to say about what next steps you need to take!

      Blessings on you! Don’t despair. There’s hope and help and freedom through ERP (and Jesus– glad to hear you’re praying about things!).

      Love,
      Jackie

      • Ms. Sommers,
        Bless you! Thank you, and if I need help I’ll be sure to come again. The fact that HOCD cannot change my sexual preferences really brings me joy. I pray that Jesus will push me toward the path of His will. I’m going to keep fighting; with His strength! Also, thank you for the compliment, it gave me a confidence boost. You’re very kind. Thank you so much, and may Jesus cast wonderful blessings upon your life.
        Best regards,
        Ai

  28. Hi Jackie, I am going through a very hard time in my life right now. I have been dating this amazing guy for a year now. He is wonderful and I love him very much. But he is in college and so I don’t see him as much as I want to. I have been diagnosed with depression and anxiety. When I was younger I had OCD and I was always washing my hands. All of a sudden this year I have had a lot of bouts of anxiety. One day out of the blue I had the thought of what if I am gay. I freaked out and started questioning everything. I had only ever liked boys. I had only ever dated boys. In the future I had always wanted to be with a guy. I obsessed over these thoughts and they never went away. They were always there. I still found boys and my boyfriend attractive but I kept looking and girls and checking and wondering what if its true. I found out this could be HOCD. Then the thoughts of me being a lesbian went away and all of a sudden and my obsessions seemed to change and went to all these boys I used to like and “what if I still liked them and wanted to be with them instead of my boyfriend?” Then the lesbian thoughts came back about 3 days ago and all of a sudden they feel so real. I really don’t want them to be real but I think they are. When I look at my boyfriend my brain seems to tell me I don’t like him anymore and that I like girls. I keep seeing images of lesbian sex in my head and when I say I don’t want it there, I wonder but I must otherwise it wouldn’t be there. Now its gotten to the point where when I say outloud I am a lesbian it my brain doesn’t say no your not so I feel like I must be. I don’t want to have to have lesbian sex to know but my brain tells me thats the only way I can know so I must have it. I am so indifferent towards regular sex now that I just don’t even know anymore. I really don’t want to be a lesbian but what if thats just me being in denial. I just want to be with my boyfriend and not think about girls or being a lesbian when I am with him anymore. Help me. Is this HOCD or am I a lesbian?

  29. Thank you! But what does it mean if now all of a sudden this girl I know who is a lesbian is like stuck in my head. I never even thought of her until today and I haven’t seen her in months and my brain keeps telling me I wouldn’t mind having lesbian sex with her. that can’t be normal. That must mean I am a lesbian.

  30. Thank you so much! I’m seeing a therapist, but right now I am real scared. I feel as though I want to act on these thoughts and they feel so real. I feel like I am drowning. What if I never forget this? what if I am gay?

  31. Hi,
    first of all I want to thank you for posting about Hocd it really helped me to understand this illness.

    I will try to Summarize my story. I’m a 22 year old woman who has been suffering with what i like to think is HOCD for 5 years. I have always liked boys, my first crush at kindergarden was a boy and i have been this boy crazy girl since then, i have also had 2 boyfriends and i am currently in a three year relationship with the most incredible man in the world whom i love with all my heart. I must say i have never had a crush on a girl or even experimented with one not even a kiss, and i find awkward people falling in love with a person of the same sex. It all started with me thinking what would happened if i kissed one of my friends. Since then i have been worrying about the possibility of me being gay or most probably bisexual since i like boys. I found myself constantly checking in my head if i would like to be in a relationship with a woman or if i would enjoy kissing them etc. I hate this thoughts and i really cant imagine dating a girl or anything like that, it’s not me. But the doubts are making me believe maybe I would enjoy it. There have been periods where this horrible intrusive thoughts dissapeared and I felt like the real me again, I felt really happy confident about being straight but the thoughts come back days or weeks later. It is like hell!! It is messing with my life although I force myself to continue with it as normal as I can, but lately the thoughts got worst and are causing me such discomfort and anxiety, I can be doing anything and the thoughts just appear in my head, even when I am with my boyfriend i start to think how would be if he was a girl and i totally hate it because i love him and i want to be with him for the rest of my life and have a family and i dont want this thoughts. Some of the thoughts really make me think i am bisexual and my head keeps telling me i like girls or that i would enjoy being sexual with them, it is even producing in me a good feeling when i think of being with a girl but deep inside i know i dont like it and i feel grossed out i cant imagine myself being with a girl romantically or sexualy, i dont know if HOCD can produce such feelings, I am panicking!! when i see girls with their boyfriends my head tells me that i would like to date them or that i envy their boyfriends but I dont. it is really horrible because i don’t really want or am interested ir dating a woman!! It is like I have two people in my head, the real me and one who tries to trick me everytime I start doubting. I have also had the groinal response soecially in the past and i keep checking everytime I see a hot girl for signs of arousal. I am really suffering because i dont picture myself living a lesbian or bisexual life, dating a woman or anything like that. I still like boys despite the HOCD, fortunately it haven’t affect my attraction towards boys though I tend to give more attention to girls than i did in the past. I love my boyfriend and i really want to marry him and be with him forever as I always dreamed of when I was little. i am so affraid that HOCD will start interfeering in my relationship with him or that i will end up realizing I am lesbian or bisexual 😦

    Tomorros i will go to a psychologist to see if she van help me with some therapy and give me a real diagnose and see if it is really HOCD.

    I know you are not a therapist and you cannot give me a diagnose but do you think it souds like i have HOCD??

    Sorry for the long post I needed to get all this things off me and also for the writing, my native language is not english so it can have errors.

  32. Thanks for your reply I have already read that article, today i will go to a psychologist and to see if she can diagnose me and help me with ERP or recommend me some therapist who knows about that.

    But I wanted to know your opinion as well please!! I’ve seen that you respond to others posts telling people that what they have sounds like HOCD and that all the things they describe sounds like it, so now it is making me believe that you don’t think it is in my case. Sorry for seeking reassurance with you but with all your experience it will be nice to know your opinion in my case!! Please tell me if my case sounds familiar to you or don’t.

    Thank you!!

    • No, it’s not that. I think yours sounds like HOCD too, but I’ve recently changed my reply policy, which is written under my Contact page.

      Due to an overwhelming number of emails about OCD, HOCD, ERP, and the like, I am no longer able to respond to personal messages about these matters; I’m not a therapist, and though it honors me that you’d share your story with me, I’ve found that I am not in a place where I can handle such stories in a healthy way. I invite you to read my message to you at http://www.jackieleasommers.com/OCD-help. It is everything that I would say to you in an email. I wish you all the best as you pursue freedom from OCD. Godspeed.

      • Thank you for taking the time to read my post and answer me!

        I dind’t know your reply police has changed, I understand that it must be overwhelming for you to read all those stories.

        Just wanted you to know that you have just given me more confidence about persuing the right treatment and the hope of getting through this!

  33. Pingback: HOCD More Prevalent Than You Think | Jackie Lea Sommers

  34. Hi, Miss Jackie! I have been on your site before and I has helped me greatly by trying to overcome OCD. I read one of the comments on the article (link below) and I am just like Denna. I was a broken Christian teenager who watched pornography and it has mess me up greatly. But, I remember that when I watching TV one day, I saw a girl who I thought who looked was beautiful and my mind wondered that “oh my gosh! you’re gay!” and It started my HOCD and I kept checking on my phone that day what bi-curious, bisexual, homosexual. It freaked me out. It caused me to check out pornography and I did urges, but I always considered me straight. Always will be straight since I had my first crush on a guy in the 3rd grade. After I quit pornography, HOCD kicked me HARD. Unwanted Images from pornography caused me to get depression, not eat, lost weight, not be near my same sex friends, and have complusions where I was checking my hands (2d 4d ratio) and praying to God for his forgiveness. It almost urged me to say I was gay and it scared me to death. I never had gay thoughts/urges about girls in REAL LIFE. I had an addiction and I needed help FAST. It made forget who I was, but my heart KNOWS what it wants. I still have thoughts that I am a lesbian and, but I’m not. I just want to be free from this demon and have my life back but without OCD.
    https://jackieleasommers.com/2013/01/22/no-one-really-wants-to-talk-about-hocd/#comment-8702

    • Hi Mikayla!

      Have you done ERP therapy? Even if you don’t want to tell your parents and go to treatment, you can do ERP therapy at home on your own. Get a book like one of the ones listed at jackieleasommers.com/2014/10/05/self-directed-erp-therapy! You can beat OCD!

  35. Hello, I have been reading up on your blog. I am terrified that I’m in denial and it’s not just hocd. I am a devout follower of Jesus, and while I have nothing against gays, I have never wanted that for my life. Since I was a little kid, I had crushes on boys and Aladdin, and wanted to play with dolls and dress up. I thought that te neighbor boy and I would have a wedding in his backyard. I since then, I have naturally liked boys and have had fun chasing them, even though it’s never progressed very far. I’ve never even kissed a boy. But I’ve always incisions myself as a mother and having a husband. However, I can’t ignore that for many years I looked at pictures of naked women and was aroused. I wanted to see all of the female celebrities naked or something twisted like that. I’ve given it up recently bc it goes against my belief system. I’ve never had a crush on a girl in real life, just admired them. I identify with women characters and have fallen for lots of guys in movies and books. When my friends talk about boys, I’ve never felt left out and related to their conversations. At sleepovers, I have slept in beds with many girls and I’ve never had to repress anything. I have talked to my parents, and they’re sure I’m not a lesbian but they said that if I was they would love me just the same. I keep thinking that I’ll get married have kids then realize that I hate the sex and be miserable forever. The thought of kissing a woman used to give me nausea but since this anxiety has begun I’ve been numb. I’ve always assumed that God would put a man in my life when the time was right, and I don’t want to be with a woman And I’d rather be alone or be miserable in a marriage with a man than come out and be different. I can’t stop checking myself and seeking reassurance. Do you think this is me repressing homosexuality or a case of hocd?

  36. Hi jackie!
    I really hope you can help me! I’ve spoke on here before and you have given me some great insight about HOCD and I was just wondering if you can help me again!
    I’m 16 years old and I have had (well I really hope I’ve had) HOCD for 4 months and it started a few weeks before I turned 16!
    I’ve always like boys, I’ve had crushes on 4 boys – but with HOCD I don’t know if they were real! I’ve never had a boyfriend or even kissed a boy but always dreamed about it and wanted a husband since I was young. However I once did question why I didn’t find boys as attractive as my friends but the thought that I was a lesbian never crossed my mind! But with HOCD this has scared me the most. However, I do recall having something like this a year or so ago, I woke up and the same thing happened and my brain was telling me I was gay, I had no idea what it was but I went after 3 days!
    So 4 months ago I woke up and for no reason these thoughts were in my head screaming “lesbian, lesbain, lesbain”, it scared me so much and I felt so sick I was Ill for three days and all I wanted to do was sleep so that the thoughts weren’t there. I’ve always admired girls and loved their clothes and said how pretty they were but never wanted to be anything more than to be their friend!
    When this started, I was too scared to look at pictures of girls because I felt like I was attracted to them! I was scared to look in my friends eyes out of the fear of being attracted to them! I couldn’t watch TV and this thought would not go no matter how hard I tried! When I was out on the streets I would see girls and my mind would make me imagine kissing them! I was soo scared! I started having obsessions that I had always been a lesbian and if I’m not now I will be in the future! Every time I tried to imagine being with a boy a thought a girl pushed the straight thoughts out! I was so upset when I went back to school after the Christmas break and I thought for sure I was a lesbian! I googled it all the time and when I found out about HOCD it was such a relief!! But then my mind made me think (sorry for mentioning on here) that I hated the look of men’s genitals, I’ve never seen them but my mind would make me imagine them every time I looked at a boy and make me feel disgusted! I’d go through points in the day when I thought I wanted to be a lesbian, then when I wanted to be straight, then when I liked the thoughts and then found them digisting! It was never ending! When I woke up these thoughts where the first thing on my mind and I felt like I shouldn’t be enjoying anything! If said I’m straight and my brain would say “no I’m lying”, I said I’m gay but then I took it back straight away! I was constantly testing myself with these thoughts!! My attraction seems to be gone to boys, but now I’m convinced I’ve never had an attraction to boys and that I’ve always being lying! I constantly asked my friends what they think of gays and stuff so that if I was gay I would be accepted which scared me so much! I hated this so much! My mind just kept telling me in gay!! Then I would get these “spikes” – I think that is what they were! They would just tell me and make me fell like every single bit of attraction was gone for boys. At first I couldn’t even say the word gay but I forcesd myself to!
    So a few weeks ago, someone online said, watch youtube videos of coming out, gay youtubers and gay programs! So I did and my fear seemed to go as well as my thoughts! So I was left with just the obsession! So I had no uncomfortable feelings when I said “what if I’m gay” which really made me think I was because I had unconfrotable feelings and dread before so it could proved I wasn’t! So I was left with the obsession thinking I’m I gay, but with no instrusive thoughts or fears or anxiety which made me think I really liked the thoughts and I felt like I got excited about being a lesbian! I constantly whet from wanting to be with a girl to a boy and back to a girl!
    Now I just feel so numb to everything, maybe I never liked guys enough or maybe I was lying or secretly liked girls? Or maybe I wasn’t excited enough! My mum was speaking about me and my twin sister growing up and then going to university and getting married to a boy and I just felt like I was lying and covering something up and now when my friends talk about boys I feel like I am a lesbian! I definitely think it was HOCD, but I think it’s turned me gay! I can almost imagine myself being with a girl and I think that this will never end now! What if I can’t be straight ever again? Last week when I thought about being with a girl and a boy,I’d get upset because I really want to be with a boy! But now it feels like I am actually gay because it’s not on my mind as much as normal? I have no idea what I am, now I’m convinced I’m a lesbian and I feel there’s no way out!
    Have you ever seen or heard anyone who had HOCD turn gay, or that they were conviced because of no thoguhts or anxiety? Do you think think is HOCD? Thank you for being a lovely person and your blog is great! I’m truly sorry for the long post! Thank you!

    • Hello dear Ronnie!

      Make no mistake: HOCD doesn’t turn someone gay.

      Are you in a position where you could ask your parents to get you into therapy? The best treatment for HOCD/OCD is 1) ERP therapy and 2) ERP therapy plus medication. The best would be to meet in person with an ERP specialist. If not, I recommend that you still pursue ERP therapy on your own with a book. I have lots more info at http://www.jackieleasommers.com/OCD-help! I hope you’ll check it out!

      Blessings, Ronnie!

      • Thank you so much for your fast reply! You really are such a big help! So do you think what I have is HOCD? I know you can’t digognos me but I can’t help thinking I’m gay! I’m very close to my parents but I feel like I’d be too scared to tell them! I’ll definitely look at your recommend post! Thank you for any help I’m very greatful! If you don’t mind me asking, did you ever get to a point when you had HOCD when you had no anxiety or thoughts? Thank you for the help!

      • As you said, Ronnie, I can’t diagnose you. I recommend getting one of the books I recommend about OCD and ERP, reading through it and learning more. That, or talk to your parents: tell them you think you have OCD based on some research you’ve been doing, but that you’re embarrassed to talk about it with them, though you’d like to meet with a professional.

      • I’m very sorry I keep asking questions, but I’ve seen that you’ve helped a few others in your blog by saying it sounds like HOCD etc. Now I’m quiet nervous/upset does mine not sound like HOCD!? I really don’t know what I am anymore! And Is it possible for me to have HOCD (I thought I had it first) and still have now no anxiety or intrusive thoughts?

      • Oh honey. I should think it would be obvious I think it’s HOCD. after all, I’m telling you how to treat it.

        Reassurances are harmful to you. I’m not going to offer them anymore! ERP, my friend!

  37. I’m so sorry for miss understanding you! Thank you for all the help and am so greatful!

  38. Pingback: HOCD Q&A with Hannah! | Jackie Lea Sommers

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