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 ocd intrusive thoughts. I can't stop thinking that people are out to get me. I also can't stop thinking about my past. I know i'm a good person but I've made really bad mistakes and the guilt makes me feel terrible about myself. It's taking over my life. I just want to feel again.
First of all, no confessing to past mistakes! Confessing in this instance serves no good as it is a compulsion. The past is the past and cannot be changed, and it’s important to both recognise and accept that in order to have a fulfilling life in the present.
Beating yourself up is paralysing; you’re losing happy days in the present because you’re living in a world that cannot be changed. You know you’re a good person, which is a brilliant. Focus on that. Write down what traits you like about yourself and I’m sure it’ll help you feel better.
As for what will help you let go of the past, I suggest reading about mindfulness. It’s a brilliant way to start thinking in the present. :)
As for people being out to get you, I understand your concern, especially if people have let you down in the past. However social interaction is a part of life and to function we have to give people our trust until they prove themselves unworthy, otherwise again we paralyse ourselves and can potentially miss key opportunities in life.
Stay strong and keep me updated.
Anonymous asked: Hi Nathan, hope all is well! I was wondering if you could share tips on what you do to kind of stay busy? Lately I've been finding myself just on the computer for hours. It is enjoyable for me, but I know that I shouldn't be spending this much time online, you know? But when I leave my room I just feel like there's nothing else TO do, even though there's loads of stuff in the world! So basically, have you ever felt this way and do you have any suggestions?
I’m doing pretty well anon, thank you for asking! :)
I spend far too much time on the computer too, but it becomes an almost reclusive behaviour if I’m not careful! I’m very much into my music so I often have a good ol’ sing/scream song when not online. I’m a gamer too so I might bash a console or something, but admittedly that’s still screens!
Lyric writing is a more creative activity I do and one that doubles as a coping mechanism, so I recommend that if you don’t do it. A book is great for distracting the mind too, and is pretty relaxing. It’s hard to focus when struggling admittedly but that’s all the more reason to keep trying; your focus will increase the more you read.
Friends are brilliant and the best natural distraction of all though. Going outside to chill and talk about trivial matters has always helped me. Even when friends are busy, I go outside anyway. I practise the mindful techniques I’ve gone on about in recent asks, and they work wonders for me.
To conclude, yes I’ve felt similarly to you and it’s pretty hard to break out of the routine of being online all the time, but you’ll feel much better for it if you can spend some time on healthier things. I love the internet though. I just need to be on it in smaller doses!
Anonymous asked: I'm really tired, sometimes I tell myself "Okay, this pure-o is the reality, what I reality think and I" but it's worst after. No matter what I think, it will ever be worst. Sometines I think about just end all of this.
Naturally when obsessions have the upper hand you will feel down and question everything, but believe me when I say there’s so much more to life.
Go on a little walk when the weather is decent (or even when it’s not) and just observe your surroundings. Clear your mind by focusing on what’s around you and what you can smell etc. You should find if you do it right that you temporarily forgot about your obsessions. The best part? You can train your mind to make that second nature.
Get angry when you’re down. Tell yourself the truth, which is that you DON’T deserve this. Stand up for yourself and go face your theme head on with some ERP. When I’ve done that I’ve been fuelled with determination and it’s an amazing feeling when done right. Recovery is most beautiful when we’re at our weakest.
If you have even one family member, or one friend that cares about you, then you have something to fight for. I’m sure you’ve many years of your life ahead too, all of which are yours to make the most of. You never know where you’ll be a year down the line. I certainly didn’t. I was a wreck at 15, convinced that I’d never get better. At 16, I was happy, appreciative and stronger than ever before. I’d grown to accept OCD wasn’t going away overnight, and that it’d take time, and began to recover as a result.
Stay strong. Life is beautiful. Make the most of it.
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: What is your philosophy of life when you're having a hard time with your OCD?
It all comes down to living for each day and in the present moment. Now, that by no means you take stupid, selfish risks because you only live once or whatever. It just means you appreciate each day and try to make the most of your time here (without detrimentally affecting others).
I accept that there’s things I will never have answers to and I also accept this is something I’ll always have to deal with. However I’m safe in the knowledge that I have many good and attractive traits and characteristics, so I hold on to the belief that one day I’ll get treated right and overcome OCD/Pure-O to be in a happy relationship and be both a good husband and parent.
I accept I can’t know the future but I know my present actions can shape my future, which all goes back to living in the present moment. Yeah the past catches up with me sometimes and I’ve got emotional scars from being treated badly and having my good character abused (alongside anxiety interfering with things) but I’m tackling it all a day at a time, and not feeling too bad at all. I refuse to become bitter and lose the good sides of my personality despite them making me vulnerable in some ways, because the pay off is worth it.
That’s more a ramble than a structured philosophical argument, but yeah.
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.
Anonymous asked: so i feel like my hocd's basically gone, but I'm afraid I like a girl and that I can only imagine my future with another woman. Like even when I'm thinking about my future and not worrying about my OCD it feels that way, but about a year ago, one HUGE thing that reassured me is that when I would imagine my future, I would always be with a guy. Any thoughts?
It’s common when recovering to still have intrusive thoughts without the anxiety. This doesn’t mean your fear is realised but simply that you’ve dealt with the response well and your mind is taking some time to catch up to your body in realising these thoughts are not threatening.
Try acceptance here. You can’t know your future, you can only take things a day at a time and make each day count. Reassurance techniques only work for so long before they start failing you, so try to accept you can’t know how things will end up, and that when you meet someone you want to spend your future with, you’ll know.