“Hannah” is a former HOCD sufferer who has graciously appeared on my blog multiple other times. If you’re just joining the conversation now, I recommend you read her other interviews first.
A while ago, I opened up a survey so that people could leave their anonymous HOCD questions there. It’s still open here, so please feel free to leave your questions for Hannah there so she can address them in the future.
If you’re unfamiliar with HOCD, you can get a primer here. Please note that HOCD affects both straight and gay people. Since nearly 97% of people (statistics for the US only) identify as straight, the number of gay people who have HOCD is also likely to be much less than the number of straight people who do.
Let’s get started!
Hannah mentions that ERP is the best and only way to go. Can she provide more specific examples of the techniques she used or statements/phrases that resonated the most with her to accept the uncertainty? She mentions she goes back to ERP as needed and I’m curious to know her go-tos are for this.
Hannah: This is a great question, but unfortunately, what worked for me might not be exactly what would work for another HOCD sufferer. Everyone’s exposure regime might be a little bit different. For me, I listen to an audio recording that makes me visualize what I fear. For others, they read LGBT literature or look through a Victoria’s Secret catalog. Your ERP therapist will help you to come up with exposures that will work for you based off of what your obsessions are. I wish that I could be more specific with this, but I think that might not be in your best interest. I don’t want someone to simply copy my ERP because that’s not quite how this works, though, of course, there are some general exposures that tend to be used for HOCD. For me, it was an audio recording primarily.
Does watching lesbian porn as a girl mean you’re gay?
Hannah: No. I mean, I could go on about this, but why? The answer is blatantly no.
Is it possible to have HOCD while not previously being diagnosed for OCD?
Hannah: Sure! HOCD might be the way your OCD manifests itself and the first thing that signals to you that you might be suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder. Now, if you are asking if you can have HOCD without having OCD, that’s like asking if you can wear a blue dress without wearing a dress. Is it possible to have HOCD without any other OCD themes? Probably. For me, HOCD was just one (major) theme of my OCD, but I also experienced a lot of other obsessive thoughts– but I don’t think that means that you would have to. (Reminder: I’m not a therapist, just a former sufferer, so please make sure to ask your ERP therapist this!) But as to your question, maybe you haven’t experienced anything else that seems like OCD before and then– wham!– you’re experiencing HOCD. Is that possible? I hear from people all the time who describe it this way, yes. But I think that many of them, when they start to peel back the layers, start to see other obsessions that have bothered them before– but maybe not as much as the HOCD, and so they never sought treatment before the HOCD hit. I hope I’m making sense.
1. If you are okay with disclosing this, about how long did you suffer with hocd? 2. Was their anything that helped you remember your true identity? 3. Would you say that there is a way to overcome hocd without therapy? If so what would you reccomend? 4. Did you ever feel like you were in a tireless cycle, that it was never going to end? How did you remain hopeful?
Hannah: 1) Hmmm. The HOCD theme, for me, was an intense hell for probably under six months. My themes hopped around and changed a lot throughout the years before I went through treatment. 2) ERP therapy cemented my identity for me! 3) For most people, no. Miracles can happen, but ERP is a better option than waiting for a miracle. Meds help some people significantly, but in my opinion and experience, it’s better to pair meds with ERP. 4) Yes. And the truth of the matter is that I didn’t remain hopeful. OCD took me to some of the darkest places I’ve ever been. When I was at my lowest and there were really no other options, I started ERP– and that gave me back my life and my hope.