Question & Dancer: When OCD Makes You Doubt You Have OCD [& More]

question-and-dancerI’m an artist not an expert, one who is learning to embrace questions more than answers.

These are some questions I got last month. Ask yours here.


Is it normal to become hypersensitive to the looks of your same sex with the onset of HOCD? even if you’ve known and seen the person before they just appear a lot more attractive now? Is that a symptom of a. change in sexuality or another Possible HOCD Symptom?

This is very common. Many (most?) with HOCD will be hypersensitive in this way; some seek out opportunities to “check” their reaction to the same sex (if the person with OCD is straight– obviously, this would be the opposite if the person with OCD identifies as a homosexual person) while some avoid that gender entirely. Both checking and avoidance are compulsions. Follow my HOCD tag here.

I am 54 years old recently my ocd has become worse for last 6 months since i changed my job and because of ocd anxiety i am not able to work at present. My ocd is mostly god related i have to pray and touch god photos everytime i pass through them and think i have not prayed prope rly and become anxious. Also there are lots of thoughts coming and going in my head always about touching god photos etc and i am not satisfied with my praying i tried medicines and they made my condition worst,Please help me Sir

Exposure and response prevention (ERP) therapy is the very best treatment for ANY form of OCD, including this. My OCD was also related to my faith; I suffered for 20 years before just 12 weeks of ERP gave me back my life (and a growing relationship with my God). Lots of resources available for you at!

Is it normal to feel no attraction or interest in romantic relationships when suffering with HOCD, even when recovering (reduced obsessions and compulsions, but the feeling of not knowing your sexuality and not being attracted to the gender you always have been attracted to?

I hear this all the time!

Hi Jackie, I have been suffering from hocd for a while now. One of my biggest problems besides the intrusive thoughts and fear I can’t shake off is the EXTREME SADNESS I have. I feel like I get sucked into this dark hole where I can’t get rid of feeling hopeless and sad. I lose all motivation to do my homework and just feel angry at god. Have you ever felt this way? If so, what did you do to help yourself?

Hi friend, sounds like you might be dealing with depression in addition to OCD. The same thing happened to me. Sometimes the depression is a result of the OCD– treating the OCD effectively will “remove” the source. But sometimes that’s not the case; in such a case, it can be more important to deal with the depression first in order for the sufferer to gather strength to fight the OCD. An OCD specialist can help you with this. Perhaps this is a personal preference, but I always recommend treating depression with medication. Depression is a chemical issue, so I fight back with chemicals, often an SSRI. For those who can’t afford a prescription, the supplement 5-HTP is the closest natural alternative to an SSRI.

Hi Jackie, Did you ever feel like your ocd would never end? As a current hocd sufferer, I feel a lot that it’s never going to be over. I question and doubt even the most logic of facts I’ve been told to use in order to help cope with the intrusive thoughts. Everyday it’s a new “what if” question and it makes me terrified and sad.

Yes yes yes yes yes. This was actually one of the biggest horrors of my OCD: the fear that it would always be that way, that it would never end. I’ve written a post specifically about this.

Hi! I have one question: could HOCD bounce to another theme even though I’ve been dealing with it for two months and eventually couple of weeks ago, it wasn’t as severe as it was for the first month? Sometimes I feel like my attraction men is back (I’m a girl) but I still react negatively when HOCD thoughts come up. HOCD targets my insecurities as well.

Theme hopping is pretty normal, at least it was for me. I would spend maybe three or four months obsessing about something until it was basically like my brain would collapse— maybe it was the mental equivalent to the body passing out from pain. It would quickly find something new. It always would. That’s why we don’t treat the theme– we treat OCD.

a week ago I was still dealing with HOCD, but while putting my niece down for a nap, I had a sexual intrusive image of her followed by “should I…?” ever since then my mind has been obsessing about this nonstop. I know what I am capable of and would never harm a child. I can’t stop googling, crying and asking for reassurance. What should I do? Does this sound like POCD?

Indeed it does! And, if you read the answer just above this one, you will see that often OCD hops from theme to theme until it is effectively treated with exposure therapy. ERP is always the best course of action; many more details and resources at You are absolutely correct in knowing that you would never harm a child. You wouldn’t. In fact, if you were that kind of person, you would not be “googling, crying and asking for reassurance.” I am not worried about you being a pedophile. I only want you to be treated for OCD, friend. You can do this.

I think I have had HOCD for about 6 months now, and my attraction still hasn’t come back for men. However, before I would get major spikes when reading coming out stories, and reading online forums would say something along the lines of HOCD is just a cover up for those in the closet. I no longer feel major spikes when reading this material though. Is my mind is coming to terms with being gay?

HOCD is a theme of OCD, an anxiety disorder; homosexuality is a sexual orientation. They are not the same thing at all. The first is an illness; treat it with exposure therapy.

In general, are our thoughts representative of our true selves?

Not when someone has OCD.

I’m so scared and tired. I don’t know how long I can take this.

Don’t give up. But do seek treatment. I remember being in your shoes– exactly those shoes. Exhausted, terrified, living either at a fever-pitch of anxiety or else at a low flat-line of depression. But I got rid of those shoes in 2008. I will never walk in them again. 

Is it possible that you can develop mental illness like OCD, even though you might not have issues with OCD in the past? I also have another question: do you think people who second guess whether or not they OCD take longer to seek treatment or even a diagnosis? Plus, could cultural and community surroundings prolong getting help?

I’m not sure if I have any friend with OCD who would say that they have had it from birth– or at least, that it hadn’t manifested itself from birth. For many of us, there is some sort of trigger that kicks into gear at some point. Mine began at age seven.

And yes, statistics estimate that it takes 14-17 years from the onset of OCD symptoms until someone is correctly diagnosed and effectively treated. For me, it took twenty.

I think that number is affected by pride, doubt, how few people (even therapists!) know to direct an OCD sufferer to exposure therapy, and how difficult exposure therapy is. In addition, cultural and familial stigma also prevent people from getting treated.

I know a family– the most incredible, amazing family– in Michigan. When their pre-teen daughter exhibited symptoms (obsessions and compulsions), the parents immediately sought help, learned about OCD and ERP, and got their daughter into an intense ERP program at the Mayo Clinic. I praise God that my beautiful young friend M didn’t have to suffer for 17 years before all that happened. I praise God for parents like R and D.

I realized one of my compulsions is ruminating, but its so hard to catch myself ruminating until Ive ruminated for a good hour. Ive tried to catch myself early but I’m wondering if you have any tricks to stop it from happening? Its hard because rumination just happens immediately after a scary thought&I dont even realize I’m doing it until its too late (rumination also decreases my anxiety)

I had some compulsions that were auto-responses, and the trick my ERP therapist offered to me to stop it didn’t seem like it would work. Except it did work. When I realized what I was doing I would say, “NO!”– interrupt my thoughts this way– “I don’t need to do XYZ right now.” Sometimes I would have to do that multiples times just in the course of a minute. But it worked. My auto-responses eventually stopped.

I feel so alone in this (HOCD), i feel like i’ve lost all identity and sense of self. I’m getting treatment- its not the best, (I am a student so i cant afford much) but i don’t feel much better. I don’t know what to do, i feel so lost

I am so sorry you feel this way, but you are still fighting. You are looking out for yourself and keep seeking help, and I am proud of you. When you say you’re getting treatment, are you referring to exposure therapy (ERP)? If not, that is what you need to do. Talk therapy is not helpful in treating OCD. ERP, on the other hand, can be done on your own.

I believe I am suffering from HOCD but I am terrified to go to a therapist for them to tell me I am gay. I have a wonderful girlfriend that I do not want to leave and do not want to do anything sexual with men. However I’m scared that I am somehow lying to myself although I’ve been perfectly straight my whole life. Any advice for me?

Yes, read one of these books and see if you can identify yourself. If so, then do the exercises. Listen to yourself: you love your girlfriend and don’t want to do anything sexual with men … yet you are concerned. That is HOCD, friend. (And yes, you will feel a short flood of relief from my saying so … but you will begin to doubt it again soon. That will continue to happen until you treat it with ERP.)

Stop Obsessing by Edna Foa

Amazon | B&N | Fishpond

Freedom from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder by Jonathan Grayson

Amazon | B&N | Fishpond

The OCD Workbook by Bruce Hyman and Cherlene Pedrick

Amazon | B&N | Fishpond

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders: A Complete Guide to Getting Well and Staying Well by Fred Penzel

Amazon | B&N | Fishpond

Hey, I have a question for you, Jackie (I love your website, by the way; it’s insightful and it’s helped me a lot in recent months). Is this guy a charlatan, or is this actually good advice for someone suffering with HOCD looking to use ERP as treatment? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Thank you!! 🙂

Not a charlatan. His steps were basically think about your fear (Exposure) and feel the discomfort (Response Prevention). This is what ERP therapy is. His later steps talk about doing this again and again until it no longer is so upsetting. This is how ERP happens. You can see all these details in the story of my own experience with ERP. Even more details here.

This is regarding HOCD. I was wondering if it is possible to have wondered if you are gay in your childhood. I started freaking out about my sexuality around 8th grade. I am 20 now… still freaking out and still unsure of what I am. I’m scared to be gay and I was wondering if HOCD makes you looks into your past for evidence of being gay and actually believing it?

This can and does happen with HOCD. This happened to Hannah, who has been interviewed on my blog several times. Her HOCD kicked in in junior high as well.

Interview with a Former HOCD Sufferer
Another Interview with a Former HOCD Sufferer
A Third Interview with a Former HOCD Sufferer
A Fourth Interview with a Former HOCD Sufferer
Q&A with Former HOCD Sufferer

I have had Hocd in and off for three years and I often doubt that i have it. I often find that I have fairly bad spikes and want reassurance… what is the best way to stop yourself from compulsively confessing or seeking reassurance?

I am assuming that you have read all the other responses above and so you will now know about ERP therapy. I recommend finding a group of supporters who will help hold you accountable– my friends knew exactly what my main compulsions were (mine also were confession and seeking reassurance), and they knew that they should not “aid and abet.” Remember that when you perform compulsions, you are actually siding with OCD and against yourself.

Thanks for all the questions, folks! If you have questions for me about anything (but especially faith, creativity, and mental illness), add yours here.

As I said, I’m an artist not an expert. I will leave you with these, some of my favorite questions in one of my favorite poems, “Questions about Angels.” Click here to hear Billy Collins himself read it. (P.S. It starts with questions, ends with a dancer.)

9 thoughts on “Question & Dancer: When OCD Makes You Doubt You Have OCD [& More]

  1. Hi Jackie,

    My HOCD has gotten to be really bad. I am a women. There is a girl in my class and my HOCD is telling me that I am attracted to her when all I really like is her personality and smile. I remember coming home crying and wondering why I was having these thoughts. Can a person turn gay during HOCD or is it just turning my thoughts to make me think random things? Please help…

    • HOCD is its own thing, and just like all things with OCD, it is very good at convincing us of lies and causing so much doubt. Please read my blog posts about treating HOCD with exposure therapy. Blessings!

      • Hi jackie,I am really depressed and sad,can’t do anything ,am I worthy to live in this world,for unwanted reason I am getting angry ,I am not doing wantedly,I have ocd,

  2. I’m in 8th grade and I’m a girl. At first these thoughts started out of nowhere. I had them for about an hour a day and then they’d go away. After I think three weeks it’s was all I could think about all day long. I’ve never had OCD so I’m really scared that I actually am gay. At sometimes I just feel numb usually after I read about HOCD and it happens more and more often so I’m scared I learned to accept that I’m actually gay. I usually spend an hour a day looking at HOCD symptoms seeing if I realate to any of them. I’m pretty sure I have it but I’m not sure. In my religion it’s a sin to be gay so maybe I am gay and just am in denial it scares me really bad. I’ve cried a lot about this but I keep getting this numb feeling that makes me really scared that I’ve accepted myself. At school I hate being around girls. I can’t stop thinking oh crap what if I like her. Right now I’m really numb and it doesn’t bother me. I have found the more I read about HOCD the less stress I have but if I don’t read about it I go crazy and start crying. I’m really scared that I am gay I know I’ve said that a lot but my grandma and uncle are gay so I’m worried that I got this from them since I’ve heard that it’s genetic. I do have anxiety and my dad actually died last December which was really really hard on me and still is. Maybe this is what caused my OCD to come out? Is it hormones? Am I gay? Have I just told myself I have HOCD to clam myself down but I’m really just gay? I’ve never had a crush on a girl. I’ve only ever liked guys. I hate this so much and I’d give anything for it to go away. I’ve only had these thoughts for a few weeks. In school I try really hard to ignore the gay people. In my last period there are four gay kids and I hate that class so much just because of it I’m scared that I’ll catch being gay which I know can’t really happen. I’m worried that I’m just homophobic because I’m really scared around gays and don’t really like them at all. I have a boyfriend right now but I feel barely attracted to him and just feel so sad and scared. I really hate this and I think I’m just homophobic or maybe I am gay. I don’t want to be gay but maybe that’s just because of my religion. I can’t tell if I’m attracted to girls so I just stay away because I’m scared I’ll start to like them. I’m sorry this is really long but I just want to know if I’m gay, homophobic, have HOCD, in denial? I don’t know what the numb feeling is and I really don’t like it. I really want to marry a man and date only men and now I’m scared that I’m not going to feel that way ever again. How long does HOCD last? I’ve read to get rid of it you just have to accept it but idk if I have HOCD so I’m worried I’ll just find out I’m gay if I do that. Again I’m very sorry this is really long I really am scared I’m just homophobic or in denial or maybe even bisexual thanks for reading this. I really hope I just have HOCD (I’m way too scared to tell my mom about this so it would help a lot if I could get an opinion. Thanks again.

  3. I really wanted to ask if i have hocd. I was in an all girls school and an all girls college.i did develop a crush on few of my female friends when i was in school but i really don’t know if it was romantic or just a typical girl crush. But at the same time i fell in love with a boy who came to our coaching class. i was in a relationship with him for 6 years and everything felt right and that is one reassurance that i am not gay but the question keeps bothering me. I could never be with him for that long if i was gay.After my school life i went to an all girls college and never had a crush on any girl.i only developed attraction towards boys or you can say atleast my attention were towards them.once i met a friend during my college days from my school and i was awkward.she did look like a goddess.her face sonetimes came to my mind bt i did not think about it.i never questioned my sexuality then .i always thought i was straight and even supported the lgbt community bt now just one month prior something jst triggered.i got reminded of my school days.what if i am gay what if i was awkward of her not cause i was not as good as her but because i was not good enough for her and then when i feel that the latter is real i get anxiety.what if all those male attractions were just not real and the real me was actually attracted to girls. I have started analysing diff scenarios and looking for things when i fantasize about both same sex and opposite sex,both of them gives me anxiety. What if i was always attracted to the same sex and just never realized.or may be i am deep emotional attachment towards girls made me confuse even there is one thing i realized even if i am currently suffering from all of these i always have suffered from anxiety thinking about doing something really bad like stabbing someone and getting an anxiety out of it. I feel that i have started accepting that i am gay and again get an anxiety.even the opposite sex fantasy does not seem right and sometimes when the same sex fantasy seems right i get anxiety. I really want to know if i have hocd or in denial or accepted and not realizing head hurts.

    • Dear Prakriti (beautiful name!), it does sound a lot like HOCD. I would encourage you to explore my other posts about OCD/HOCD. There are lots of resources if you click the OCD button on the home page of my website. In addition, if you email with OCD in the subject line, you will get a response full of next steps and resources. God bless!

      • Thankyou so much.i would like to mention. There was a time where i got a tad bit shy sitting beside a boyish girl but then again i never thought about it any time then.idk if it was some kind of attraction or just because she reminded me of my school days as i was tomboyish too. My brain didn’t tell me anything then.why are all these instances coming as a proof to me now. I am like will i get shy or attracted if any if that moment happens to me now and start imagining and analysing.

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