HOCD - Coping Mechanisms by OCD Free
There are a ton of asks on HOCD so I thought rather than repeat myself by answering each one individually I could make a summary that covers all main concerns.
First of all, for those that do not know, HOCD is a form of Pure-O. The intrusive thoughts are often of a sexual nature and focus on doubts centered around a sufferers sexuality.
This theme seems to be one of the most common. It is not a homophobic mindset but rather a threat to the sufferer’s identity. If you’ve always identified as straight/gay and then all of a sudden one day you have a fleeting thought of finding the same/opposite sex attractive, it can set off a cycle of misinterpretation and as a result self-doubt.
Below I’ve listed the knowledge/coping mechanisms I believe to be most beneficial when dealing with HOCD:
Everybody gets intrusive thoughts. They do not have any significance. The reason sufferers struggle so much with them is because it triggers an anxiety response. This response, when misinterpreted, leads to falsely teaching yourself that these thoughts are threatening when they are not.
Everybody can see attraction in both genders. The difference is finding somebody good looking does not equal sexual attraction. There’s a lot of stigma about this in society so it isn’t talked about much (possibly a factor in why it’s a common theme) but males know when another male is good looking and females know when another female is good looking. The trick is to understand that just because you find them good looking, doesn’t mean you want any kind of sexual activity with them.
Testing yourself is not beneficial. Many sufferers often watch gay porn if they identify as straight and are struggling with this theme, and vice versa (as HOCD can be a gay person fearing they are straight) but this is a BAD IDEA. One of the most common asks I get is panic related to a groinal response. This is because the sufferer relates this response to attraction. However this is a damaging misconception that usually leads to more reassurance seeking. We as humans can get turned on by ANYTHING of a sexual nature. It is not related to sexuality but rather the sexual nature of whatever act you’re watching.
Recognize anxiety for what it is. One of the biggest reasons Pure-O is hard to deal with is because of ruminating. It’s extremely hard to cut out analyzing your thoughts and emotions when they begin to feel like they’re taking over but again, this will only make you worse. Anxiety is a dominant emotion and irrational in circumstances like this, so don’t actively try to search inside you for any kind of signs of reassurance during a spike as it’s going to make you worse. The best thing to do is let that anxiety be there and continue on as normal in order to desensitize. Anxiety can also cause a groinal response so link the two together and you should over time be able to cut out two of your biggest triggers.
CBT. Sadly not an option for everybody, but for those that can get it for free or that can afford it, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is a highly successful form of treating OCD. It’s a form of therapy that focuses on changing our thought patterns by altering our approach to them. Negative thoughts can be discarded and replaced with positive thoughts and intrusive thoughts can be identified and ignored as opposed to feared. Journals are a common part of CBT and are used to track progress, so I recommend using one if you can’t afford CBT.
ERP. Exposure Response Prevention is a coping mechanism used in CBT to treat OCD. A common response to anxiety is to flee. In OCD/Pure-O we know this response as avoidance behaviours. These behaviours are counter productive as the problem isn’t being dealt with but avoided. ERP involves putting yourself in situations that trigger your OCD/Pure-O in order to work through the anxiety. Doing this will help your mind to stop sending these inaccurate warning signals, and will also stop your body misinterpreting them. A good example I can provide related to HOCD is making sure you hang out with all of your same sex friends (if you identify as straight) and opposite sex friends (if you identify as gay). Many sufferers avoid their friends due to the discomfort HOCD provides but friendships should not be lost over a disorder and hanging out with them will trigger you in a way you can use to your benefit.
stuckinadoorway.org or other internet forums. A major factor in my recovery was stuckinadoorway.org. Learning about other sufferer’s circumstances made me realise that I’m not alone and that there are ways to put this disorder in remission permanently. Environments vary from site to site and there are tons of options out there so you should be able to find one where you feel comfortable. It’s a great way to feel less alone!
Mindfulness. Mindfulness comes from Buddhism and can involve meditation. It focuses on ‘the now’ and is extremely helpful for dealing with regret from the past and apprehension for the future. There’s a lot to this approach that I can’t all type now so I highly recommend a good Google search for this one!
I hope this post gives you guys the boost you need to tackle what you’re going through. Stay strong and get back to me if you have any questions unanswered here. I can’t answer the reassurance seeking ones though!
Anonymous asked: I have contamination ocd. I currently live with my familie. Unfortunately my family has pets i'm allegic to. I can't move out at the moment so i'm stuck with the situation. I also have ocd about coming into contact with allergens. How can i distinguish between what are things i should do to prevent allegic reactions and what is ocd? Do you have any advice how to deal with this situation?
I’ve never had any experience with allergies myself so I’d talk to your family about what are considered reasonable measures to take for allergies. Once you’ve got those defined, anything past what is considered reasonable to the average person you can identify as a compulsion, and work on cutting them down and reducing them one by one. The plus side to this is even though allergies are bound to be annoying, it’s great ERP for you.
Anonymous asked: I've seen someone and I've conquered a lot of my obsessions but sometimes, well a lot of times I lose motivation or sit on the computer all day and hide in my room
Fatigue can be a massive factor. If you want one of those days, you should go for it. You’re more than entitled to have a day off from the stress of ERP. Just make sure it doesn’t become a negative routine. Congratulations on the obsessions you’ve conquered thus far. It means you have the capability to overcome every single one.
Anonymous asked: I was OCD free for almost 3 years, with the occasional anxiety here and there, but everything is getting worse. I almost forgot about it because I was doing that good, and recently the rituals and stuff have been coming back. I have this thing with the right side of my body. I can touch anything with my left, and if I do, i have a meltdown and everyone looks at me funny. I'm sure you can imagine how I look to people because I'm in highschool. I just want to get better.
With high school comes ignorant masses unfortunately, but you’ll only be there for a few years!
ERP will work wonders for you. I’m confused by your wording as to what side gives you the negative response, but the best way to tackle this would be to purposely touch things with the side you don’t like to touch things with. The more you do that the more you’ll get used to it and realise nothing detrimental happens as a result. If you can teach your body and mind that then eventually you won’t get anxiety when you touch things with that side!
Anonymous asked: (Same person with the tv volume) It's not that not doing these things causes me a huge amount of anxiety; I just get this constant nagging at the back of my mind that something is Not Right. Sometimes, when I don't have enough sleep or am feeling stressed, it's worse, but not to the point of an anxiety attack. I don't think I'll like it, lol, but I'll try to do a bit of the exposure response stuff. Thanks so much for the advice!
It doesn’t need to be an anxiety attack as much as it needs to be at the very least distressing. That being said, it’s better to be safe than sorry so I’d go for the ERP practise anyway.
You’re welcome. You know where I am if you’re having trouble!
The ask box is clear again!
I’ll open it up again now but I probably won’t reply until tomorrow. I only have one lesson though so I hopefully can get back to them all within a day.
I hope everybody is doing well! Check out Exposure Response Prevention, Acceptance Commitment Therapy, and Mindfulness if you have the time. They’re all absolutely brilliant coping mechanisms if you’re struggling and unsure on how to handle intrusives.
Anonymous asked: my ocd has gotten from normal to now where my rituals involve me hurting myself an even amount of times. ive never seen a counsler, or a therapist. so what is the best way to stop the hurting ocd?
Seeing a counsellor or therapist is always a good port of call as they not only teach you the recovery tools you need but they also keep an eye on your progress and guide you through setbacks.
Look into both Acceptance Commitment Therapy and Exposure Response Prevention, alongside mindfulness for OCD. These are all the things you’re taught in therapy, however you can also teach them to yourself if you have a good understanding of them all.
All OCD is the same, the theme is just a way of identifying the type of intrusive thought/compulsion. There’s plenty of asks on here about breaking out of the OCD cycle and decreasing intrusive thoughts as well as compulsions, so take a good look through and if you still can’t find what you need, come back to me and let me know.
azraeldoesnotdispute asked: Two small victories in one day. I sold off the books/movies like I said I would with only a small amount of anxiety AND, in trying to push past my balance issues, I wore two bracelets on one arm and nothing on the other! It felt weird and I think I leaned to the left a bit throughout the day, but I was so thrilled that I wasn't spiking that I didn't care! I felt amazing. How have you been?
This is so awesome azrael. It seems to be success after success with you recently. You deserve every positive emotion you take from this. I’m sure the followers are just as proud as I am of you.
I’m doing really well thank you. Had major spikes in London and a few spikes today but I’ve worked through them and my first gig was a big success, so I’m looking forward to future ones. Thank you so much for asking!
Anonymous asked: What is ACT and ERP?
ACT is Acceptance Commitment Therapy. An example would be having HOCD and accepting the possibility of being gay. Encouraging the intrusives rather than running from them will cause intense anxiety but once you’ve reached a stage of true acceptance, it will become apparent that it’s simply an intrusive thought and not real. It’s an incredibly scary tactic to try and leads to a lot of spiking but the pay off can be huge.
ERP is Exposure Response Prevention. This is when you put yourself in a situation you’d normally avoid due to your OCD in order to tackle your fear head on and help naturally rationalise it. Again this can lead to spiking at first, but again the pay off long term is huge.