A Closer Look at HOCD

Since I first blogged about HOCD, more and more people have been coming out of the woodwork in my life to say, “That’s me.”  I’m realizing every week just what a common OCD theme it is to struggle with and question one’s sexuality, even when there is really very little reason to do so.  When I talk to obsessive-compulsives with HOCD, it’s very clear to me that they are straight (they want to be straight, they are not generally attracted to the opposite sex, etc.), but OCD– that old bastard– won’t give them any rest.

I decided to conduct a small, not-scientific-at-all study on my own so that I could compare responses and see what trends I could see.  I asked the same 8 questions to 4 of my friends– one male and one female, each with HOCD, and one male and one female, both who are homosexual.  I’m so grateful to them for their thorough and honest responses, which I have edited down without changing any of the meanings obvious in the larger context.

I’d like to share them with you.

1. When did you first start to wonder if you were gay? How old were you? Was there a particular experience that “triggered” your questioning?


2. When you first suspected you were gay, how did you feel? What emotions went through you, both as you considered what it would mean for yourself internally and for your relationships externally?


3. How long did the debating (am I gay/am I not?) last? Was this something you knew or something you were/are trying to figure out?


4. When you pictured yourself interacting romantically with someone of your same sex, what emotions did you experience? Also, how sure of those emotions were you? (Did you waffle back and forth between your reactions, or were you certain and set on a particular reaction?)


5. Did you/do you want to be gay?


6. Do you struggle/have you struggled with any OCD-related obsessions (HOCD or otherwise)? Have you been diagnosed with OCD?


7. In general, do you find yourself primarily attracted to the opposite sex or your same sex?


8. Do you find people of both genders attractive? 


I’d be so fascinated to hear reactions to these answers from my blog readers.  What did you notice?  What surprised you?  Are there any trends you are seeing or sensing?

A couple things I noticed:

* In both the male and female HOCD answers, their sexual questioning was triggered by a relatively minor event.  In contrast, the homosexual response from both genders was more of a large-scale “I knew I was different.”

* My gay friends seemed to fear people’s responses and reactions more than they actually feared being homosexual.

* Both HOCD responses toward imagining romantic interactions with the same sex were primarily negative– disinterest, nausea– even though there may have been physical reactions that seemed to say otherwise.

* Those with HOCD thoughts were already deeply struggling with other areas of OCD.

Everyone agreed that both genders can be attractive– but note that doesn’t equate being attracted to them.

I’d love to hear from my readers.  What are your thoughts?

Disclaimer that I should probably have put at the top: I think it is obvious that this blog post is not at all about discussing the morality of homosexuality.  This blog post is about discovering what we can about HOCD in comparison to homosexuality.  All four of the people who so graciously agreed to be interviewed are my friends, if you think I will so much as let you breathe an insult in their direction, just get ready to feel my wrath.  There are avenues for you to debate homosexuality and/or homophobia; this blog is NOT one.  >calms down, flashes big smile<

Related posts:
Interview with a Former HOCD Sufferer
Another Interview with a Former HOCD Sufferer
No One Wants to Talk about HOCD
A Big Ol’ HOCD Post
A Third Interview with a Former HOCD Sufferer



Wringing the Rubik’s cube for a solution,
gentle skill reconciles nine tiny blue squares to become a face
segregated from the greens, reds, and yellows.
Your nimble fingers work salvation into the block
then offer it to me, a finished product fallen to my lap.
Music plays, people talk, we tell stories—life continues—
as I confuse the cube into madness and return it again.



Random 5 Friday is a weekly meme over at A Rural Journal.

(By the way, I’ve started doing these Random 5 Fridays as a way for my blog readers to get to know me better.  Is it working?  So many of my other posts are about topics— and while you obviously learn my thoughts and opinions that way, you don’t always learn a lot about who I really am.  I hope this meme is helpful in doing just that.  If you have ideas for future Random 5 Fridays, please leave them in the comments!)

Today I want to tell you about the five items in my life I use almost every single day.

1. My bed.  Oh my gosh, my bed is incredible.  It’s this queen-size sleigh bed, and it has an incredible mattress and memory foam.  I spent most of my life sleeping on an absolutely ancient old twin (through which the wire coils occasionally poked), and then of course there were the college dormitory beds, followed by this junky little thing I got after undergrad.  But now.  Now, I tell you, I am like royalty.  (If only I could fall asleep and stay asleep … maybe it’s time for new meds.)

GE DIGITAL CAMERA2. Narnia on audio.  Without my Narnia discs, I couldn’t fall asleep at night.  I’ve listened to them so much over the years that they are starting to wear out.  I don’t know if I’ve ever worn out a CD before.

3. My laptop.  Sweet little Samsung.  (I refuse to buy Apple products.)  As a writer, I use my computer every day!

4. My TOMS.  This seems like such a silly thing to list, but I do find myself slipping into these ultra-comfy shoes nearly every day– and better yet, when I bought them, they donated a pair of shoes to a person in need.

5. My lap desk.  Nerd alert!  (As if the “Narnia on audio” didn’t already tip you off.)  Because of the time I spend on my laptop, I either need to be at a table or to use the lap desk that my beautiful mom got me for Christmas a couple years ago.  It too was falling apart at the seams, but nothing a little bottle of Super Glue couldn’t fix!

So, there you go.  I feel like a dork for even blogging about this.  You should probably give me some suggestions for future Fridays. 🙂

Review: Chaos Walking Trilogy

I just finished gobbling up the Chaos Walking trilogy, written by Patrick Ness.  I really loved it and thought I’d share with you the reasons why.

chaos walking

Book One: The Knife of Never Letting Go

The first book was a wild ride as I tried to situate myself on New World, the planet now inhabited by human settlers, a planet where men’s thoughts (their “Noise”) is audible.  Our protagonist is Todd Hewitt, on the verge of manhood and about to discover the dark secrets of his small town’s past, as he desperately attempts to out-run an army.

Huge, unapologetic cliffhanger.

Book Two: The Ask and the Answer

Book two, though, is when it gets really, really good.  War erupts.  As this is a spoiler-free review, all I will say is that it ends with another huge, unapologetic cliffhanger.

Book Three: Monsters of Men

Again, I don’t want to give anything away, but let’s just say that the war being fought in book two adds in another side.  Three-way war?  Heck yes.

Things I Loved:

* The books were incredibly thought-provoking.  I felt like they accurately showed just how much gray area there is no matter how desperately we want things to be black and white.  I love books that make me think.

* Understated love triangle.  The romance elements not only took a backseat in this series, they took the waaaay backseat– like in a 15-passenger van.  That said, it made everything seem so much deeper.  When teenagers liked each other, it was out of deep respect and appreciation for each other, not silly, fluffy, he/she-is-so-hot-that-I’m-melting nonsense.

* Complicated villains.  What’s better than a bad guy that might not be fully bad?

* POV.  Book one is from Todd’s perspective; book two alternates between Todd’s POV and Viola’s; book three adds in a third voice (but I’m not saying whose!).

* An unusual conclusion.  Not the pat, tied-in-a-bow finale YA so often presents.

* I repeat: thought-provoking.  What are the ethics of war?  Can every person be redeemed?  Should war be personal?  What would I do if suddenly everyone had access to all my thoughts?  **shudders**

I highly recommend this series by Patrick Ness.  If you’ve read it, leave your additional comments below.  I also want to know: Team Todd or Team Lee?  What did you think of the ending?

Best New-to-Me Books of 2013 (so far!)

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme over at The Broke and the Bookish.  Today’s topic is



10. Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach | The voice in this one is so great, and it’s not super often I read YA aimed at male readers, and I can appreciate that.  It’s about Felton Reinstein the summer he went “from a joke to a jock,” but it’s really about a family falling apart and about friendship in unlikely places and about keeping things together when everything is falling apart.

9. Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets by Evan Roskos | This was a brilliant debut book by Roskos, and again, great voice!  The main character is an ultra-self-aware high schooler who understands that he is depressed and needs help, only his parents aren’t willing to get him that help.  This is his story of stumbling toward something like healing.

8. Shatter Me by Taheri Mafi | Although I didn’t love the sequel to this book, the first one was riveting.  Juliette’s touch is lethal– to most people, that is.

7. Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi | While I didn’t adore the superfastcramthingsin ending, I was very much drawn to this story about Aria, who lives in a biosphere, and what happens to her outside of it in the “Death Shop.”  I mean, come on.  How can you not want to read a book that has a “Death Shop” in it?  (The sequel– Through the Ever Night— is waiting impatiently on my bedroom floor to be my next read.)

6. The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker | What happens when the rotation of the earth begins to slow?  Beautiful writing.


5. Attachments by Rainbow Rowell | I think Rainbow Rowell is my best author find of the year so far.  She has the funniest, cleverest voice I’ve read in a long while.  I really liked Attachments, which is about a computer IT man who falls in love with a woman through secretly reading her emails to her friend.  Awkward.

4. Every Day by David Levithan | Gender-bender!  “A” inhabits a different body every day– but loves the same girl every day.

3. Fire by Kristin Cashore | This is the companion book to Graceling, but I actually liked the characters even more than the first book (I liked them too!).  Gosh, how to describe this book?  Fire is a “monster” with red-orange-pink-gold hair, and she can control most people’s minds– but not Prince Brigan’s.  Swoon-worthy.

2. The Knife of Never Letting Go & The Ask and the Answer, both by Patrick Ness | Okay, so I am loving the Chaos Walking trilogy (I’m on the third book right now, so be prepared for a big review!), which takes places on another planet– “New Earth”– where you can hear men’s thoughts– their noise.  Book one was great– book two was incredible.  

1. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell | This book was brilliant.  I love so much about it– the characters and the writing.  Oh my gosh, the writing is unreal.  I am a total sucker for any YA writer whose words are like lyrics.  This book is about two teenagers who are young enough to know that first love almost never lasts … but willing to try anyway.  I am so excited for her next novel (Fangirl) to be released later this year!

ERP & Imaginal Exposures

I’ve written elsewhere on this blog about Exposure and Response Prevention therapy (ERP) and how different my life is after I underwent an intense 12 weeks of this type of cognitive-behavioral therapy.  ERP is exactly what the name says it is: you are exposed to something that will trigger your obsessions and then you are prevented from responding with a compulsion that will relieve your anxiety.

For example, someone who has contamination obsessions and hand-washing compulsions might be made to touch garbage and then is not allowed to wash her hands.  Instead, she sits with that anxiety, feeling it intensely.  If someone has HOCD obsessions and seeking reassurance compulsions, she might have to look through a Victoria’s Secret catalog and is not allowed to ask, “Am I gay?  Am I straight?”

So, what happens when you have Pure-O obsessions?  What if your obsession is that you will kill your newborn daughter and your compulsion is to stay away from her crib?  What if your obsession is that you’re going to blaspheme God and go to hell and your compulsion is repeating a prayer in your head?

Then what?  You can’t really kill your daughter (um, big DUH there, but you get it!) and you can’t really go to hell, so how in the world are you able to practice an exposure then?

"little sad song" by *TrixyPixie on deviantART

“little sad song” by *TrixyPixie on deviantART

Imaginal exposures, baby.  Brilliant and brutal.

In situations like these, what you might be expected to do is to write down all the ways you could kill your daughter, read it into a digital recorder, and then listen to it over and over.  Or maybe you’ll create a story in which you go to hell, where you’re forever condemned, and you read that story again and again.

If you’re an obsessive-compulsive, trust me, these imaginal exposures are going to FREAK. YOU. OUT.  They will be so triggering and so terrifying that your anxiety is going to spike, no problem.

Meanwhile, no compulsions allowed.

Meanwhile, ERP is re-wiring your brain.

Meanwhile, you’re stepping toward freedom.  And “all” you had to do was listen to a story.

This was my particular brand of ERP actually.  I had to listen to my recording for about 80 minutes a day until my anxiety levels (self-measured at the beginning, middle, and end) decreased by 50%.  For the first ten weeks or so, my anxiety levels were NOT dropping, and I very nearly gave up.  I mean, why put myself through this misery and terror every day if it was doing no good?

But then.

Sometime during week eleven, those anxiety levels started to drop.  I developed a whole new way of looking at my intrusive thoughts.  I tiptoed up to OCD.  I can still remember the day when I was listening (again) to that horrid recording, and instead of feeling anxious, my thought was, “This is getting so annoying.

And then I laughed … because … because finally.  You know what I mean.

On My Mind (& a small request)

onmymindRecent thoughts from yours truly:

* Sometimes depression feels so very close.  It sneaks up on me.  I blink once and its arms are wrapped around me, tight, suffocating, relentless, strong.  How strong am I really?

* I used to be an extrovert.  Now I’m an introvert.  (Granted, the world’s most outgoing introvert.)  I feel grateful for all the friends and families who made that transition with me.  It was a wide, wide swing, and they hung in there with me.

* Who even reads this blog?  Would you (for me) take the extra effort to leave a comment with:

1. Your name (mine is the name of this website)
2. Where you’re from (me: Kimball/Mpls, MN)
3. Your happiness-in-a-pinch fix (me: Barnes & Noble giftcard, an encouraging email, the smell of lilacs or crabapple trees or any other devastating floral scent)
4. A moment/memory of becoming yourself (me: when I realized that I don’t have to take every piece of writing advice)
5. What you’re most looking forward to in the next year (me: VCFA!)

(I stole these questions from Antonia.)