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!

asker

Anonymous asked: Lately my OCD has been causing me to dwell obsessively on matters of jealousy. My boyfriend told me he finds a girl that we work with attractive, and she is, but now I can't stop focusing on it. I can't stop imagining him fantasizing about her, wanting to be with her, imagining him getting off to porn, imagining him with girls that he slept with before we were dating. I haven't had OCD effect me in this way since I was 14 and have no idea how to approach it. Do you? :(

This is an absolute bitch and an issue I also struggle with. What’s important to remember is relationships absolutely thrive off trust. Your boyfriend has not made any moves on this girl as he is with you, therefore you need to trust him. He’s being open in telling you he’s attracted to this girl and an attraction is fine, so long as it isn’t acted upon. I know what you’re going through is incredibly tough but make sure your OCD doesn’t sabotage your trust or lead you to criticizing your boyfriend for what are irrational thoughts. Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT) as well as mindfulness would work wonders for you.

Be honest with your boyfriend about what you’re going through and let him know that you trust him. Explain to him what’s going on in your head and how you know it’s irrational but it’s getting to you. That way he may be more sensitive around this topic and he’ll also be able to understand if you’re having a quiet day/are slightly moody, so communication doesn’t suffer as much. The last thing you want to do is shut off from him because of something that is nobody’s fault.

Stay strong and keep me updated.

asker

Anonymous asked: Been suffering from OCD my whole life, and ROCD for three months now. The OCD is tolerable but the ROCD is ripping me apart. It makes me sick. I don't want to end things with my partner but the rocd allows me to convince myself that I truly do. I feel like I've completely lost myself. Do you have any helpful tips for dealing with this type of OCD?

First of all, don’t run! It’s good that you don’t want to end things over intrusive thoughts. Doing so would not only be an avoidance measure but would also be a potential step towards isolating yourself, which will only do more harm. I’ve experienced ROCD in multiple forms (and it’s still the theme I struggle with most when it comes to ERP and acceptance) but what’s important for you to recognize is that ROCD and OCD aren’t different. They’re the same disorder, the label is used for establishing the theme only. Have you done any research into what’s going on in your head? Stuckinadoorway is a great forum that helped me a lot in understanding what I was going through. The problem lies in the anxiety and not the thoughts themselves. If you’re thinking bad of your partner and you suspect it to be an intrusive, then label it as such and continue with your day. Latching on to that thought gives it meaning, makes your brain flag it as a threat and thus continues to present it to you, which is where it can seem convincing and more genuine. Understanding that these thoughts are a result of a chemical imbalance is key, or at least was in my scenario. Look into CBT, ACT, ERP and mindfulness and get back to me with any questions you have. They’re all great approaches you can take to recovery.

asker

Anonymous asked: I've only just come across your blog, and it's helped so much. About two months ago, I started worrying about something small, and the thought just stuck around. It eventually got more intense, 'changed' continuously, (as in the topic is different, but the basic fear is the same) and has taken over my life, I guess. I know that the thoughts are irrational, but they SEEM so logical that letting them go is hard. I've become fearful of my anxiety and scared of developing depression from the anxiety

It’s important to not think of the past or future when going through something like this. Past because it hinders your present day and future because you’re worrying about something that hasn’t happened yet that you have control over. The best way to tackle things like this is to deal with the present moment, so focus on that and you’ll be able to lose your fear of future problems like developing depression as a result.

Themes/topics of OCD/Pure-O do often change but the key thing is the cycle and anxiety remains a constant. Therefore, by learning the techniques to overcome OCD, you can defeat all themes at once as at the end of the day they all have one true identity; OCD. 

What knowledge do you have so far that is helping and where is there gaps that I can help with? I’m really glad the blog has been of use to you so far and it’s good to see you have the rational to recognise intrusives can be ludicrous despite seeming so real.

asker

Anonymous asked: hi i think i have ocd but im not sure. i dont really understand what intursive thoughts are but somtimes i get thoughts and urges to hurt animals like holding them unsidedown and things, please can you help?

Intrusive thoughts are thoughts that pop into your head without any choice really. For example you might be thinking about your plans today and then you get a random thought about something you don’t like. The problem is because you have a hatred of thoughts like that, you react, so your brain thinks it’s threatening so it sends them more.

Intrusive thoughts are normal but if it’s getting to the point where they’re constant and they’re debilitating and affecting your quality of life, you could have OCD. The fact you mentioned urges makes me think OCD as unpleasant thoughts and urges are normally intertwined.

In reply to wereallsideeffects (but also for everyone to read!):

Thank you so much for the lovely words. It means a lot that this blog is providing the additional support you long for. :)

To everybody else, wereallsideeffects told me about a tip his therapist gave him which sounds pretty useful. It involves wearing a wristband, and snapping it when you realise a thought is intrusive/false.

Now that might not be the best option for everyone as you could be snapping a LOT of wristbands but if you follow that idea where you take note when you recognise an intrusive, it could help it to become second nature. I definitely think it’s worth giving a shot!

asker

kazahayakudo asked: Is it possible to feel relief from an unwanted thought? I've been having bad obsessions over fears of hurting/killing people and I had a fleeting thought that "even if I did hurt someone it would be okay" and it made me feel relieved for a second before it made me start freaking out. I'm trying really hard not to challenge that thought but it doesn't feel right to let go of it. I don't like it and I don't want it to make me feel better! I don't really know how to handle this.

Your brain is going into fight or flight response because it perceives these intrusives as a threat. If it can find justification to calm the threat irrationally, then it will feel irrational relief. That to me sounds like what you’ve gone through with that intrusive there.

Of course, as an observer of your thoughts your rational self kicks in straight away and thinks “no, that’s wrong” but because of how quick our brains work it’s not always that black and white. You’ve clocked onto a stray intrusive and analysed it to the point you’ve wondered about its meaning, but in reality it’s simply another intrusive.

Your brain is gonna have a ton of bizarre thoughts when going through this. Every brain does, but with OCD the intrusives are more consistent. However, intrusives are not a threat. They carry no meaning, but we attach meaning to them which causes the anxiety. By not reacting to the thoughts and letting the anxiety be there, the frequency of both intrusives and anxiety goes down.

asker

as-small-as-a-g1ant-deactivated asked: The thoughts are back again. I had a good two days of school then I saw some pretty girls who talked to me, and It's been downhill ever since. I feel kind of numb and tired both mentally and physically, but all I want to to do I talk to my gf with no worries. I also had a random dream about being hit on by two random chicks while i was lost In las vegas. I have the ruminating today, and I keep thiking of various bad scenarios Sigh the dream didn't help so I'm just asking what should I do?

The best thing you can do is nothing. Anything you do involving analysing the thoughts only contributes to the problem and makes it worse. It encourages more thoughts because you’re telling your brain they’re a threat, when in reality they’re not, they just FEEL like one.

Fatigue is a common symptom since you’ll be frequently in the flight or fight response, and I know it lowers your mood but the worst thing you can do is submit to it. Keeping active and keeping focused really helps.

Dreams are a mess of the subconscious and since you’ve been thinking about these fears so much, it’s no surprise that they’re in your dreams too. It doesn’t mean they’re any more likely to actually happen.

Keep functioning, and let all thoughts be there. You need to behave as if they’re not there in order to send the right signals to your brain and body.

asker

Anonymous asked: (2) Like, ridiculous guilt. And I know if I were to actually be presented with that option I'd choose that persons life over whatever I had wanted. And then afterwards I'll start thinking "oh but, maybe if so-and-so passed away it wouldn't be that bad, etc" and like actually mean it while I'm thinking it and then feel super guilty right away again. Is this my OCD making this worse for me or should I really feel that guilty?

Reassurance isn’t good so I’m only going to give it you the once, but from a rational angle you’ve no reason to feel guilty at all because these thoughts are intrusive. They’re evidently causing you distress and you don’t like thinking them. The problem is OCD is irrational and really feeds off emotion so the fact you’re reacting to these thoughts because they repulse you is allowing your brain to ‘flag them as important and send more.

Let the thoughts be there. You’ll get anxious but accept that you’ll get anxious and keep focused. If anything you can actually encourage the thoughts. It’s a way of desensitizing yourself and proving they’re nothing more than thoughts. 

Keep strong and try not to give in to the provocation of the thoughts. You’re worth far more than to lose days worrying over imagined scenarios you dislike.

asker

Anonymous asked: (1) You know how like when you're just daydreaming random thoughts just float in and out of your head? Well there are times that I'll get a thought like: "Would you rather have 'this' or have 'that' person die?" And quickly my mind will answer itself like: "Well I'd rather have 'that'." And then I just feel like an absolutely terrible person because I thought that I would mind if so-and-so passed away.

I’ll reply in part 2. :)