OCD Help

I. Introductions

I am not:
1) A therapist.
2) A psychiatrist.
3) An OCD expert.

I am:
1) A woman who suffered from OCD for 20 years before undergoing 12 weeks of ERP therapy that gave me back my life.
2) An OCD awareness and ERP therapy advocate.
3) The communications director for OCD Twin Cities, an affiliate of the International OCD Foundation.
4) A contributor to the International OCD Foundation’s blog.
5) Jackie Lea Sommers, a young adult author who lives in Minneapolis and whose heart aches for the marginalized OCD community.
6) A follower of Jesus Christ, who offers the only true rescue. While I won’t push my beliefs on you, my Christian faith runs through every part of my life, my advocacy, my healing, so please don’t be offended if JC comes up in my conversations: he is the cornerstone of all I am, all I do.

II. Greetings

Dear fellow OCD sufferer,

I want you to know that I understand what you’re going through. I really do.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder was my tormentor for 20 years. I know the shame and torment caused by intrusive thoughts, the enslavement to rituals and compulsions, the intense, crippling need for certainty.  I remember all too well the wild evenings of obsession and devastating fear when the agony was full-throttle torture and relief seemed impossible. OCD is slavery, and I know what it’s like to be in bondage.

I have good news for you: OCD is treatable.

Today, I am free!  I still have OCD, but I am in charge of it and not the other way around.  I rarely have obsessions, and when I do, I am able to combat them without using compulsions.  It is a completely different life.  I have stepped from darkness into light, from terror into peace. In the past 6+ years since ERP, I have had only a handful of OCD incidents, and each of them has lasted only for a couple hours. When I compare this to the continual torture I experienced before, this is more than manageable.

And all this came about after just twelve weeks of intense cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), a specific kind called exposure and response prevention therapy (ERP).  It is recognized as the #1 treatment for OCD in the world.  It is difficult– in ERP, you face your obsessions head-on and refuse to alleviate the anxiety by performing compulsions– but, believe me, ERP is not more difficult than living daily life with OCD. ERP is the correct answer to how to treat OCD.  Medication can also help, and in rare cases, a miraculous healing occurs, but for the majority of cases, ERP is absolutely the way to treat OCD.

III. A Call to Action

I refuse to side with OCD, and that is why I won’t offer repeated reassurances to OCD sufferers. Even though it’s what you so desperately desire, it’s usually a compulsion– and I don’t want to be part of anything that prohibits your healing. Please believe me: I know what the throes of OCD is like, how desperate you are for any relief. It breaks my heart to refuse to offer immediate relief by aiding your compulsions– but I’m offering you something much better: long-term relief. Freedom. Joy.

Picture it: triggers that have lost their power; intrusive thoughts that, at worst, have no strength and, at best, cease to exist; a compulsion-free life. My therapist once told me to picture myself standing in a wild river: the waves are brutally slamming against your body, you’re beaten and bruised, you’re shaking from the effort of withstanding such torment. What would it feel like to quit fighting and let your body float along with the river? Relief.

If I told you such relief was available, would you want it? How hard would you work for it? Would you do anything for it? Would you be willing to face your greatest fears in order to achieve it?

When your answer is yes— or even maybe— you’ll be ready for treatment.

IV. Treatment

Treatment is hard– but not harder than life with OCD. It is challenging– but so rewarding.

If you’re ready to work, here are your next steps:

1. Go to www.jackieleasommers.com/OCD and there read all the posts that are related to you. At the minimum, read all the posts about CBT/ERP.
2. Decide whether you will do ERP therapy with a specialist or on your own.

If you want to meet with a specialist, first read IOCDF’s post about Finding a Therapist. Then, click on the “Find Help” tab at the top of the page and search the IOCDF database for a provider in your area. Interview the therapist using the questions from the first post. If the therapist does not mention exposures, walk away. Find someone who specializes in ERP therapy, if at all possible.

If you want to do ERP on your own, read this post about Self-Directed ERP Therapy.

3. Consider pairing your ERP therapy with medication. A good psychiatrist can help you with that.
4. If you’re still not sure you have OCD (many OCD sufferers struggle with these doubts) or if you want to pursue ERP therapy, then do more homework. Read one of the books I list here and spend time on the IOCDF website. Get a professional diagnosis, but keep in mind that many mental health practitioners are themselves very uneducated about OCD, so don’t settle for a misdiagnosis if it feels wrong. Do your research and meet with people who are OCD specialists.

V. One Step at a Time Toward Freedom

ERP therapy can be overwhelming. Surround yourself with a great support system (one that won’t indulge your compulsions!) and take it one exposure at a time. Don’t think about the exposures you may have to do a week from now; you might not be strong enough to do such exposures today, but in a week, you might be ready for them. Focus only on the immediate exposure.

You can do this. Don’t give up hope. Your freedom is worth it.

55 thoughts on “OCD Help

  1. Pingback: A New OCD Page | Jackie Lea Sommers

  2. Pingback: What Does Compassion Look Like? | Jackie Lea Sommers

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

  4. Jackie, your website couldn’t have been brought to my attention at a more perfect time. I’m a long-time sufferer of HOCD, and am now in the process of meeting with a counselor who specializes in OCD patients and uses ERP to help treat the issue. I’m also taking an SSRI. Your site is so helpful, and I appreciate everything you do, as I know so many others do, as well. OCD, regardless of how it manifests itself, is an ugly, evil, relentless creature that fills your head full of lies and doubt – dealing with this is hard, but I know there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and it will get better. Thank you so much for being a positive voice and providing hope for those of us who are suffering through this painful disorder.

    • What a sweet, lovely comment, Sarah! Thank you, friend. I hope your ERP goes great. Persist! There is, as you say, a light at the end of the tunnel, and the tunnel is ERP!

      • I’m feeling hopeful about it, but also very scared. That’s normal, though, I’m sure. I’m following your advice from one of your posts about ERP and doing my research beforehand, so I’ll know what to look forward to. Were you afraid of ERP when you first started?

  5. Hi Jackie! I just met with my therapist for the first time yesterday, and am so impressed by how wonderful she is, already. We’re getting started with CBT. She wants me to journal the unwanted thoughts as they come so that she and I can work together to find ways to overcome them. She also recommended an app to help me practice mindfulness each day, and I’ve found some on my own, as well. Right now I’m still struggling with unwanted thoughts – they feel so real! But deep down, I know that’s what the HOCD wants – for me to believe the thoughts are real, even though they aren’t. Seeing the therapist was the first step, and while it’s scary, I couldn’t be happier to be on the road to recovery.

  6. Thanks for the post and I would just like your input n my situation. My “thoughts” started around my Christmas last year after saw a video on YouTube. It was about a young girl who live in a world where it was more socially acceptable to be gay then straight (basically our world in reverse.) he girl was heterosexual and was bullied because of it. After the video was over I though “wow it would suck if I lived in that world. it would be like if I lived in this world and I was gay” and then BAM! “Omg what if I am gay?!” From them on it was just a roller coaster of emotions I would cry get panic attacks thinking that it might be true. I lost a ton of weight and could not enjoy the things I use to. I am a big reader I love reading especially romantic novel but that all lost its appeal after all this started. Then I started reading online about HOCD and I thought “that’s me!” and I was so happy that it was a condition with my brain not my actual feeling. I was convinced I had HOCD because 1) the though of it gave me anxiety and 2) I could not see myself in a romantic relationship with a women. So, I was happy for a while positive that this will all blow over but the thoughts wouldn’t stop until I stop getting anxiety. My anxiety was the reassurance that my thought were just thoughts and with it gone I was even more confused. However, I though “well, I still can’t see myself in a romantic relationship with a women” but then every time of thought of it my brain would be like “hey, that doesn’t look so bad” and now I don’t know where I stand. Here is what I know for certain: I want to fall in love and marry a man.I scared to say this because every time I say something and I know its a fact by brain decides to my me question that too. Every time I think I want to marry a man make brain is like “why? why do you want to marry a man? Why does it have to be a man” and I don’t know why and that freaks me out. One of my biggest fear right now is that might accidently fall in love with a women especially since lately I’ve been thinking that women are better looking than men. I don’t know what to do anymore. This is literally on my mind 24/7 even when I dream! I feel so miserable that I even told my parents about my doubts and they just said it a problem that may people may face in their life. What really sucks is that I should be going of to college this year and that is the time I’m finally allowed to date. Right when I am finally allowed to have a boyfriend my brain decides to do this to me.

  7. Pingback: Tuesday Q&A: Jackie Lea Somers | Alison Dotson

  8. Hi Jackie My Name is Arne Robertson. I am and OCD sufferer and Inspiring runner. I am also a Christian. I Find your blog very inspiring. Knowing that there are other people that suffer through OCD than myself. Some days are harder than others. Some days the anxiety is so bad that I can’t take it anymore. But I’m thankful through Jesus that I’ve found some help in therapy and counselling that I am managing the OCD. I always tell myself to Stop, Think, Pray & Plan. That I’m only doing things to myself and hurting myself. As for my running I did 4 half marathons last year and am planning to do more race this year. Running has helped my OCD and has calmed my fears away. Am very thankful for that. Thank you very much for your time and God Bless you. Arne Robertson

    • Hi Arne! Thanks for your sweet message. So glad you’ve found my blog inspiring– I think your half-marathons are inspiring! Come visit my blog again soon, friend!

  9. Ok so here this goes.. I am so sick of this. Please help I don’t know how much I can take of this. Ok so I’m a female who has liked boys all my life. I am also a huge struggler in fields of OCD. I had a year where I never slept in my room because of it, I had a year where I would wash my hands till they were raw because I was afraid to get people sick, and I would lock my doors get in my bed, get out of bed check again for about 10 times because I thought I didn’t lock the doors with a fear of dying. I have had other problems too. Now I have this hocd. Or is this even hocd? I don’t even know anymore I can’t take this. I have spent all my free time for the past month researching hocd. All the hocd support groups, all the forums, everything. This all started a month ago when I was home sick for the flu. I had this urge to just look at (yes this is embarrassing) a girls areas on a tv show. Then after I finally did because I was sick of it I thought OMG AM I GAY?? and totally flipped out. I would cry myself to sleep I would cry all the time. I have always dreamed of having a perfect husband one day and wonderful children and being the happiest woman on earth. But since then I feel like I can’t have this anymore. Honestly I have no idea what to say. I’m so so so so so so so confused. I can never see myself having emotional feelings for a girl but what if that’s just denial? I want a boyfriend I want to go to prom with a boy, not a girl. What also freaks me out is when someone says the word “gay” or something along that line I don’t freak out?? Does that mean I’m in denial? I’ve lost pretty much almost all my attraction to boys. But when I see anything remotely close to like two girls together on the street or something I freak out. I’ve been on medicine for about a week and a half now because I told my parents what is going on. I’ve been to a counselor a physiatrist, and they all say this is OCD. BUT I CANT GET THESE THOUGHTS OUT OF MY HEAD. I try and imagine myself with a girl, and then imagine myself with a boy all the time. I want to like boys. I feel like I have so much more to say but I can’t put most of my thoughts into words right now. I feel like this all sounds like I’m in denial but I don’t know??!! Whenever I’m in a room full of girls I’m always saying to myself “since none of these people are gay, that means i have to be” and then I have a huge panic attack. I’ve tried to accept myself, I’ve said to myself in the mirror multiple times “You’re gay and that’s ok you’re still awesome” but it doesn’t help?? My parents say they are 100% sure I’m not gay. I always feel like everyone thinks I look gay or am acting gay or anything. I am very girly and love dresses (and used to be and kind of still boys) but I’m so confused I kinda like this boy right now but I’m scared that I’m just in denial. I also have points where I feel straight and happy, but then all the questions keep coming back in my head. I feel like there is a battle going on in my head. I’ve always been insecure about myself too and lately I’ve been saying to myself “you’ll never find a boy to like you you’re too skinny and so you need to just accept that you’re gay”. But I feel like I know I’m not gay but I am going insane. Please help. Sorry if this doesn’t really make sense, I just wrote down all my feelings.

    • Abby this sounds absolutely like HOCD. Treating HOCD is hard but effective with exposure and response prevention therapy. You can do ERP with a specialist or on your own (as this post details). I suffered from OCD for 20 years but now have utter freedom from it after just 12 weeks of ERP therapy back in 2008. You can have this too if you treat your OCD/HOCD with ERP.

  10. Ok so here this goes.. I am so sick of this. Please help I don’t know how much I can take of this. Ok so I’m a female who has liked boys all my life. I am also a huge struggler in fields of OCD. I had a year where I never slept in my room because of it, I had a year where I would wash my hands till they were raw because I was afraid to get people sick, and I would lock my doors get in my bed, get out of bed check again for about 10 times because I thought I didn’t lock the doors with a fear of dying. I have had other problems too. Now I have this hocd. Or is this even hocd? I don’t even know anymore I can’t take this. I have spent all my free time for the past month researching hocd. All the hocd support groups, all the forums, everything. This all started a month ago when I was home sick for the flu. I had this urge to just look at (yes this is embarrassing) a girls areas on a tv show. Then after I finally did because I was sick of it I thought OMG AM I GAY?? and totally flipped out. I would cry myself to sleep I would cry all the time. I have always dreamed of having a perfect husband one day and wonderful children and being the happiest woman on earth. But since then I feel like I can’t have this anymore. Honestly I have no idea what to say. I’m so so so so so so so confused. I can never see myself having emotional feelings for a girl but what if that’s just denial? I want a boyfriend I want to go to prom with a boy, not a girl. What also freaks me out is when someone says the word “gay” or something along that line I don’t freak out?? Does that mean I’m in denial? I’ve lost pretty much almost all my attraction to boys. But when I see anything remotely close to like two girls together on the street or something I freak out. I’ve been on medicine for about a week and a half now because I told my parents what is going on. I’ve been to a counselor a physiatrist, and they all say this is OCD. BUT I CANT GET THESE THOUGHTS OUT OF MY HEAD. I try and imagine myself with a girl, and then imagine myself with a boy all the time. I want to like boys. I feel like I have so much more to say but I can’t put most of my thoughts into words right now. I feel like this all sounds like I’m in denial but I don’t know??!! Whenever I’m in a room full of girls I’m always saying to myself “since none of these people are gay, that means i have to be” and then I have a huge panic attack. I’ve tried to accept myself, I’ve said to myself in the mirror multiple times “You’re gay and that’s ok you’re still awesome” but it doesn’t help?? My parents say they are 100% sure I’m not gay. I always feel like everyone thinks I look gay or am acting gay or anything. I am very girly and love dresses (and used to be and kind of still boys) but I’m so confused I kinda like this boy right now but I’m scared that I’m just in denial. I also have points where I feel straight and happy, but then all the questions keep coming back in my head. I feel like there is a battle going on in my head. I’ve always been insecure about myself too and lately I’ve been saying to myself “you’ll never find a boy to like you you’re too skinny and so you need to just accept that you’re gay”. But I feel like I know I’m not gay but I am going insane. Please help. Sorry if this doesn’t really make sense, I just wrote down all my feelings. Sorry this is so long!

  11. I have OCD (not officially diagnosed but I have intrusive thoughts I can’t get rid of, sometimes over scary things and sometimes over ridiculous things.) I take meds that take the edge off which helps me function fairly well most of the time.

    For a long time I’ve been struggling with thoughts of being gay, except… I don’t dislike them. I am a woman I like fantasizing about women and I like the idea of being with one.

    So that pretty much seems to eliminate the idea that I have HOCD.

    However sometimes I do seem to get obsessed with the idea that I’ll never know. And I’ll look at women and men and wonder if I’m checking them out or not and if that’s something everyone does or not. I took an online OCD test and got the result that maybe I have it and kind of freaked out.

    But even though I enjoy my fantasies about women and have no particular desire to be with a man again I do have a history of falling in love with and being sexually attracted to men, and I still have fantasies about men too, so I have trouble believing anything about my own sexuality and it just gets confusing. I never had that “knowing” from a young age like the gay people you interviewed for your previous article. But I never had the “hating the idea” like the HOCD sufferers you interviewed either.

    For a while I thought I had OCD about having HOCD! I mean I didn’t want to be straight and was afraid that would be what would happen and was afraid that this beautiful idea of being with a woman was just an OCD quirk. But at the time I still identified as straight, because of my past history, so it really confused me.

    I’m just posting here because now I’m a little more comfortable admitting/thinking I’m not straight but I still get the thought now and then that “You just have HOCD” or “You are just doing this for the attention.”

    I really don’t think I have HOCD. I really shouldn’t have tried to diagnose myself with it. And I know you can’t just diagnose me over the internet, but sometimes my head spins over this so any input is valuable to me.

    I have a therapist but she knows nothing about LGBT issues and isn’t an expert in OCD either, and because of my insurance I can’t get/afford another therapist.

    (If it’s wrong of me to post this here because unlike these other people I don’t have HOCD, feel free to take it down. I don’t want to scare or trigger anybody.)

  12. Thank you so much Jackie! I don’t know what I would’ve done if I didn’t find your blog. Thank you so much for the tips!!

  13. Hi Jackie!

    I’m a 13 year old girl (14 next month) and I have been struggling with HOCD for 5 months and it has been really hard. I am a very happy girl despite my worries. I developed HOCD when watching a TV show (The Carrie Diaries) that featured a boy who turned out to be gay. He knew he was gay, but at school, he would pretend to be completely straight. Also, he had a girlfriend, but broke up with her, after kissing a man. That is what got me. I kept thinking to myself “He had a girlfriend and then was gay! What if that happens to me? What if I am lesbian right now? What if.. What if.. What if..” All of these what ifs have been rushing through my mind. I KNOW that I do not want to date girls, nor do I feel pleasure when thinking about kissing them. Something in my mind keeps making me feel confused. I try and imagine myself kissing a girl and it makes me sick. An even trickier part to HOCD is that I have a crush on a boy! Still, even with my fantasies about this boy, I have HOCD. It just doesn’t make sense. Sometimes when I am with my friends I think about what if we kissed and the result is anxiety and me thinking that I am a lesbian. I just want these thoughts to go away and never come back. I have read so many HOCD posts about people who struggled with the killer mental disorder and finally beat it. These posts give me reassurance and normally I feel fine for about a week. Then, the HOCD comes back. For example, I told myself thoughts were just thoughts and if I get anxiety I am not gay, every time that a thought I didn’t like came to me. I felt fine doing this for a week or two and then it didn’t work. The HOCD came back to me. I have read your interviews with the girl who had HOCD and I seem to feel a lot like her. I haven’t ever kissed or dated a boy, even though a lot of my friends have. I want to, but HOCD is making me worry that I never will be able to date boys because my mind is telling me I’m lesbian, even though I don’t want to date girls!!! UGH this is so hard to write because it’s so hard to describe my feelings. Also I have not told my parents. I normally can tell my mom anything. A while ago I struggled with obsessive worrying about my health. I told my mom about it. This fear just blew over. I didn’t do therapy or anything. I am so scared to tell my mom about HOCD because I don’t want her to get the wrong idea. I don’t want to be lesbian, not one bit. I need to tell my mom how I feel, but I am so scared. I even feel guilty hiding it from her. I don’t know what to do. I just want to feel better.

    • oh you’re such a sweetie! I think that
      1) you don’t HAVE to tell your mom. Can you tell her you’ve done online research and you’re pretty sure you have ocd but you’re too embarrassed to talk about it yet with anyone who is not a professional?

      2) you really SHOULD do ERP. it seems like you have ocd. Your earlier theme of obsessing about your health gap jumped now to HOCD. I have saying this, but it’s very likely that your ocd will continue to hop to worse and worse themes until you treat it. I remember having HOCD when I was about your age, but I didn’t treat it for another 14 years. That was a lot on time for my ocd to get worse and harder (even though, at the time, I couldn’t imagine anything much harder than HOCD). Treat it now, dear. You have so many years ahead of you, and I want them to be full of freedom and joy, not the slavery and depression that accompany ocd.

      Thinking of you tonight. I remember having ocd at age 13-14 and totally sympathize with you. Treat it now, dear.

      Sending up a prayer for your conversation with your mom. Please read the posts at http://www.jackieleasommers.com/OCD. maybe you’ll find one you can show to her to help explain.

      • Hi! Thanks so much fun responding!! I don’t know if I want to tell my mom anymore.. I don’t want her to worry about me! 🙂 Did you tell your mom about HOCD? I am determined to get over HOCD and I think I can do it by myself! Do you have tips on how to treat HOCD by myself? Thanks so much!! Also, I have never been told that I have HOCD, and to me it seems like I do, but what do you think? Thanks so much! It’s weird, I never used to worry, I was fearless. But I know I will stop to worry soon, I just need to believe it! 🙂

      • Hi Jackie, it’s Elizabeth again 🙂 I have decided that today I am going to tell my mom. For the past 2 weeks I’ve been fine, but lately my HOCD (if it’s hocd) has been off the charts. Again, that old fear of “What if it’s not HOCD and I’m just in denial?” has come back again. I don’t want to be lesbian or kiss girls, but I am still afraid of being in denial. Yesterday I was researching HOCD VS Denial & I came across an article. One guy commented on the article that he is gay and he at first told himself it was a phase and it will go away, but felt no stress or anxiety. He then knew he was gay and has been gay forever. I was comparing how I feel imagining a guy kissing me and imagining a girl kissing me (I know this is kind of weird…) . Anyway, I freaked out because I felt anxiety toward a man kissing me! I’m not supposed to feel anxiety toward this one! I know I like this, because I always have dreamed about boys and never once felt anxiety toward them, but maybe it’s just because my brain is playing tricks on me? Does this sound like HOCD to you? Tonight has been a sleepless night. Sorry, I am commenting at this time.

        Thank you Jackie!
        -Elizabeth

        PS: I was reading previous comments on this blog! I read Abby’s comment and isn’t it ironic because I also developed my HOCD when I was home sick with the flu!

      • Elizabeth, my dear. I want you to pause for a moment to realize that asking me again if I think it sounds like HOCD (when you already know my answer) is a compulsion. It’s not helpful. It won’t help or heal you. You need ERP therapy for that, as I said. I’m glad you’re telling your mom. Tell her about ERP too, and have her message me if she has any questions!

  14. Hi Jackie,

    first of all thanks for the initiative to write these posts. 😉
    It’s comforting to see that there’s someone out there who’s suffered from the same illness and defeated it, under the endless mercy of our Lord. Comforting but not pleasant, since I’d never want anyone to suffer from the same thing I do. I read your interviews with Hannah, and they’re so amusing and relieving. You guys sparkle hope in us!

    OCD is a monster, it wants to trick us all the time, but if it thinks it’s big, we should remember that our GOD is EVERYTHING. HE can wash away all our sins and pain and suffering.

    Could you please answer the following questions?
    – Have you ever had the distorted belief that women are inferior to men? Since my first hocd crisis, I’ve been thinking that we are not human enough, we are not important, we are not intelligent… We don’t deserve the love of a man.
    – How did you manage to tell your therapist about hocd? Did you do it on the first day? Straightforward? Or did you hesitate until you felt comfortable?
    – Did you feel afraid of dating guys even when you wanted it so badly?
    – I’ve always liked boys and I want do date one, and even get married to one. But the problem is that I’m very much “like a princess”, and I’ve never felt overwhelmed at a male body (like many guys are about girls). Of course I want to have sex with boys and I like the male body, but I’m just not like a dog!! And this is frightening, even though i know it’s perfectly acceptable.

    I’m so afraid of telling this to my therapist that i decided to address other problems with her and handle hocd by myself. What do you think as an ocd survivor and a victorious woman? I know my therapist can treat ocd and masters the techniques, but i’m not sure whether she can deal with hocd. From what I’ve read about ocd specialists in my country, they don’t seem to have much insight on the subject, and the most enlightening things I’ve read about this theme come from American specialists.
    CBT specialists here seem to work under a very black-and-white categorization of ocd, which is far different from what I’ve read in US websites, where i could find several remarks on sexuality and hocd fears that people here don’t even address. The thing here is quite like “you’re gay because you feel aroused by gay porn”. I know this is somehow reassurance, but Jon Hershfield’s and other specialists’ articles, as well as Hanna’s interview, help us see that things go way beyond that. We may enjoy any porn and not necessarily be eager to enact it in real life. I also read about the high sexualization of the female body in the media. So, there’s room for virtually anything in our minds.

    Well, I know I’ve written quite a lot, but I really wanted to let it out. Today was my first day of therapy, and I was also prescribed sertraline by a psychiatrist. As I said before, I’m afraid of telling my therapist about this specific ocd.
    Please, pray for me and our fellow sufferers. As I went out of three crises, I hope with all my heart I’ll overcome this.

    Thank you very much and may the Lord be with you. 🙂

    • Hi friend! I didn’t do ERP specifically for HOCD. By the time I did ERP, my OCD had moved on to different themes that were a lot harder for me. Any ocd specialist should know about HOCD. bring it up with your therapist and if their response is anything but exposure therapy, find someone new! Or else follow my link above to learn more about self-directed ERP therapy!

      Best wishes! Proud of you for fighting back!

      • Thank you, Jackie.
        I’ll do self-directed ERP for hocd with God’s help.
        I’ve purchased three e-books about ocd:
        Freedom from obsessive-compulsive disorder
        Stop obsessing
        The mindfulness workbook for ocd

        Even though the dollar is quite expensive now, it’s a lot more than just money. It’s about faith, freedom and life! So, no regrets! 🙂

        One of the worst parts of this is when you are in love with a guy, your legs shake because of him, you want to be with him… but then you have to fight hocd and you feel like crap. As we know, ocd tricks us into disregarding our true and precious feelings for the sake of having us suffer.

        How did you deal with the denial theory? I think it worsens our worries.
        Did you tell any friend about this?
        OMG, when I think that 12 weeks of ERP gave back your life, I’m full of hope! Thanks again!

      • I didn’t tell anyone about my HOCD until many, many years later. I think it’s up to each person to decide if and when they want to share! I don’t think you need to feel guilty if you want to keep it a secret for a while. It’s your illness, and you get to decide whom to let into your inner circle about it. Also, it’s MUCH easier to talk about after you’ve gone through ERP. That’s just my two cents! You can decide for yourself!

        Here’s to hope and freedom!!!

      • Thank you for your kindness, Jackie.
        I can feel Im getting better, I can feel ocd is going away…

        May i ask you this: during an ocd spike, did you ever feel you were living behind a smoke curtain?

        This whole thing just reminds me of a song:
        “Lord, dont move that mountain
        Give me strength to climb it
        Please dont move that stumbling block
        Just lead me, Lord, around it”

        And Im sure God will lead us all around this mountain!

      • You know, it’s been about 7 years of freedom, and I find I don’t remember all of the details of my OCD attacks. I remember some of them, of course, but not everything.

        With ERP, FOR ME, it got worse before it got better. At about 10 weeks in, something clicked for me. Keep it up!

  15. Thank you, Jackie! ❤

    I'm so afraid of doing ERP!! But I will!

    Here's to life! o/

    • Hi Jackie, Ive started doing ERP but i dont know if im on the right track. I chose to look at images of gays and lesbians kissing, without reassurance, for sure. From your experience, do you recommend keeping that? I remember Hannah told us to not mind getting turned on, and you guys always say that anguish is normal. It kinda helped me, but i just dont know if im doing it right.
      At the beginning, it was like “wow, two people kissing, thats hot”, then it became really silly. Does it ever feel like this?
      Girl, its so scary!
      Thank you again.

      • I can’t give therapy advice, but yes– for me, it was anguish for about 10 weeks, and then suddenly things felt silly and the exposures were annoying instead of tormenting! Good work!!!

      • Thanks Jackie! I know you are not a therapist, dear. But i appreciate so much your help. 🙂
        Today i woke up so desperate, thinking that it could be my last day… so hopeless…
        I cant stand it anymore, friend…

        How can i have these horrible thoughts that take over my mind and my life, and yet like boys, only feel truly embraced by boys, and want to have a relationship with a boy?
        Jackie, dear, i dont even like so much kissing and hugging other girls (friendly). Ive always preferred boys’ arms around me… My heart beats faster and i get butterflies in my stomach when i see the boy i like… but yet these thoughts torment me. I love male perfume, when a boy smells good, etc.
        I cant concentrate on anything, im almost vegetating. I feel im on the verge of stopping functioning. As i told you before, im afraid of telling everything to my specialist because she may misdiagnose me, i see therapists around here are not very much familiar with hocd. I wish i could have sessions with an American specialist.

        Im so anxious and exhausted!!

  16. Pingback: Thoughts on Freedom of Various Kinds | Jackie Lea Sommers

  17. Lost touch with my soul
    I had nowhere to turn, I had nowhere to go
    Lost sight of my dream
    Thought it would be the end of me

    I thought I’d never make it through
    I had no hope to hold on to
    I, I thought I would break

    I didn’t know my own strength
    And I crashed down and I tumbled but I did not crumble
    I got through all the pain
    I didn’t know my own strength

    Survived my darkest hour, my faith kept me alive
    I picked myself back up, hold my head up high
    I was not built to break
    I didn’t know my own strength

    Found hope in my heart
    I found the light to life my way out of the dark
    Found all that I need here inside of me

    I thought I’d never find my way
    I thought I’d never lift that weight
    I thought I would break

    I didn’t know my own strength
    And I crashed down and I tumbled but I did not crumble
    I got through all the pain
    I didn’t know my own strength

    Survived my darkest hour, my faith kept me alive
    I picked myself back up, hold my head up high
    I was not built to break
    I didn’t know my own strength

    There were so many times I wondered
    How I’d get through the night
    I thought I took all that I could take

    I didn’t know my own strength
    And I crashed down and I tumbled but I did not crumble
    I got through all the pain
    I didn’t know my own strength

    My faith kept me alive
    I picked myself back up, I hold my head up high
    I was not built to break
    I didn’t know my own strength

    I was not built to break, no, no
    I got to know my own strength

  18. Hi Jackie!
    I’m Ashley and I’m 14. Maybe 6 months ago I developed HOCD. It all started after watching a TV show with a gay guy. It has been a real killer. I keep freaking out because I am not sure if it is HOCD or just denial. I really think it’s HOCD but I recently looked up what its like to be in denial and it seems really similar! It’s so hard to tell and that is terrifying! I do not want to date girls or anything one bit. The issue is that due to this (I hope) it makes me not really feel anything for boys. I have always had crushes on boys. Ever since kindergarten I have had a crush on a boy each year(besides in 7th grade, for some reason I liked nobody which didn’t affect me but scares me a lot now).I keep looking in the past for hints about being lesbian. I briefly remember one point in my life thinking that I liked girls, but I really think those thoughts only lasted for an hour and I remember them really grossing me out. Maybe I had HOCD back then too, but not as severe? I must’ve been 11 years old when that happened. I admire girls for how pretty they are, but I don’t think they’re hot (like I do for boys) and I don’t want to date them. I’ve never kissed a boy, but I want to (I’m kind of scared though, especially with HOCD killing my feelings). Ever since I was little I have had DREAMS about me being with a boy and kissing him. This has been going on since I was 6 years old!! But I also remember having dreams about a girl that I really wanted to be friends with & us becoming best friends. In my dreams, I never kissed these girls or did anything romantic. It didn’t even cross my mind. I have always wanted to date boys and want a family with a man. When I was little, some boys asked me out, and I said no. This scares me now. I only said no because I just didn’t think they were the ones for me. I think boys are attractive and I can easily spot a hot guy… but I can also spot pretty girls. I don’t want to be with girls and the thought of it grosses me out. Sometimes when I am hanging out with my friends, I imagine kissing them and I feel disgusted.. no pleasure whatsoever. HOCD has messed with my mind sooooo much & I am know to be a super happy kid, so this really kills. I haven’t told my parents… I am way too scared. I need to tell my mom, but I just don’t know how. Thank you so much for listening Jackie! I know that this is asking for reassurance, but does this sound like HOCD? Is looking in the past for hints of homosexual thoughts normal for OCD? I just want to go back to how I used to be, worry free.

    • Hi Ashley, you poor dear! I dealt with HOCD when I was 14 too, and it was just killer! Thankfully, mine went away entirely and I’m 100% confident I’m straight now– even if I were to see a beautiful girl– even a NAKED beautiful girl– I would still know I am straight. You can have this kind of confidence again too if you do ERP therapy.

      Yes, what you have sounds exactly like HOCD. Asking for reassurance, like you said, doesn’t help (it seems to– for a moment– but ultimately, it only strengthens HOCD). ERP is the answer.

      So, the way I see it, you have two options: 1) talk to your mom about HOCD and meeting with an ERP specialist (and I can talk to your mom too, if you want!) or 2) if you don’t want to tell your mom, you can get a book about ERP therapy and practice ERP on your own. I personally hope you’ll do #1– ERP is easier with a specialist!– but I can understand being terrified to say anything.

      As I said, if you decide to tell your mom, you can even have her contact me and I can help explain stuff too, if you want. 🙂

  19. Hey since i had hocd i started questioning my sexuality ! I mean the thing inwas most confidant on , ocd attacked that ! Since its been months of anxiety and hell in my head i have lost all my attractions to girls ! I mean is it normal in hocd to loose your attractions ? I miss the feeling i get when a girls smiles at me , i miss the butterflies in my stomach ! Now even when i think of those thoughts it’s immediately replaced by man and i feel disgusted ! Also it’s kinda embarrassing to say but i have developed a kind of arousal around men ! However this arousal was kinda different then what i have aroud girls ! I just dont like that arousal i have around boys ! So if you could reply my questions that would be great ! Thanks ! Also cn you give some erp techniques for boys as well !

  20. Hello,
    I’ve been suffering from what I believe to be HOCD for roughly 6 years now. I first developed this disorder when I was around 13 or 14. I am now 19 years old. To give you a little bit of background about myself– I was raised in a Christian setting where my mother believes that anything other than straight is considered an abomination. Well around 13 or 14, when my hormones were running wild, I searched up nude women or had fantasies related to women. I performed sexual acts to these images, unaware that there was anything wrong with that. I spoke to my mother about it at that time, to which she said I have sinned and that those thoughts were demons trying to manipulate my way of thinking. I grew very paranoid about my sexuality– all my life I have only had crushes on males and never viewed women in a romantic manner nor wanted to be in a relationship with one. I prayed for God to make the thoughts go away; soon I began questioning my orientation daily, making sure I didn’t wear rainbow clothes or purple because then people will know I could be gay. I felt that if I continued wearing glasses people would think that I was gay, I checked the way I talked and made sure I didn’t stare at girls for too long. In college, I would feel uncomfortable talking to attractive women and would constantly ask myself if I found them attractive. I would feel extremely uncomfortable and would want to immediately be back home at the dorms with my boyfriend. I watched coming out videos on Youtube, looked up plenty of coming out stories, yahoo answers of people questioning their orientation, the whole bit. The problem is, the thoughts will come in waves, one month I will be fine and then the thoughts will hit. I did not speak to my parents about this, knowing they wouldn’t be entirely accepting. I am now done with my first year of college, and home for the summer. I had a relapse of these thoughts; and my question is: Does this really sound like HOCD or strong denial of my true sexuality because of my strong Christian upbringing and fear of rotting in Hell (according to my mother’s beliefs)? I pulled my dad aside yesterday and explained EVERYTHING to him, to which he replied, “If you are gay, that is totally fine. Just be honest and I will be accepting.” To which I COULD NOT reply, because I didn’t know! I am sure I am straight– I’ve done research and people who watch women or lesbian porn does not mean that that defines their sexuality. I have a wonderful boyfriend of 10 months, and we were each other’s first loves. He was actually my first kiss as well, and we both lost our virginity to each other. I love him and everything went well, the sex was good and I never wanted us to be a part! But during winter quarter of college, the thoughts flooded in again. “Perhaps you are only dating your boyfriend to hide the fact that you’re gay.” “You don’t really love him, you’re eventually going to break his heart because you’re lying to him.” These thoughts consumed me and I immediately started crying and distancing myself from him. Fast forward to now, and I don’t miss him the same as I did a couple of weeks ago. I know I love him, but with these thoughts and anxiety it’s hard. I went to therapy during school and my therapist said based on all my explanations I sound straight and shouldn’t have a problem.. But that did not solve my inner issues. I brought up HOCD to her and she never even knew it existed. Anywho, it hurts that I can’t bring this topic up with my boyfriend, but I did let all my family members know. I called an HOCD hotline as well as took a quiz online, and the lady I spoke to told me I am a classic example of someone suffering from HOCD. EVEN THROUGH ALL OF THIS, the thought comes to my head that perhaps I am just lying to myself and would go to the lengths of saying that I have this disorder to cover up my true sexual orientation. My relationship with Christ is not even existent anymore. Is that the OCD talking? Do I really have this condition?

      • Stacey, you can’t see this right now, but your asking this question is a compulsion, and I can’t cater to compulsions, sorry! I know that sounds so harsh, but it is better for you in the end. Find a professional, dear one, and start ERP!

  21. Pingback: Healed Not Cured: OCD Remission & Relapses | Jackie Lea Sommers

  22. Pingback: OCD Q&A from JLS | JACKIE LEA SOMMERS

  23. Pingback: Question & Dancer: Compulsions, Doubt, & HOCD | JACKIE LEA SOMMERS

Comments are closed.