This is the first installment of the OCD Sufferer’s Forum, which is intended to inform people about the course, nature, and treatment of OCD. There is a lot of misinformation out there and inaccurate portrayals of OCD in popular media only make it worse. Often, people only think of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) as person washes their hands too much for fear of contamination or gets stuck checking things repeatedly.
While contamination and checking compulsively are OCD issues, these stereotypes do not capture the full nature and breadth of the problem. OCD is essentially unlimited in the forms and content that it can take, because if you can think it, you can be obsessed about it. This forum will shed some light on the misinformation and misunderstandings of this disorder. I hope these stories will further your understanding of OCD and the benefits of appropriate treatment. Here are some of the more recognizable forms of OCD.
Note that neither list is exhaustive. Please consult with an expert specializing in the treatment of OCD if you have questions.
Types of Obsessions
- Contamination Obsessions
- Obsessions of Harm to Self/Others
- Obsessions of Aggression
- Perfection Obsessions
- Sexual Obsessions
- Religious Obsessions
- Health and Body-Focused Obsessions
- Neutral Obsessions
- Magical Obsessions
Types of Compulsions
- Decontamination Compulsions
- Perfectionistic Compulsions
- Checking Compulsions
- Undoing Compulsions
- Mental Compulsions
- Counting Compulsions
- Touching or Movement Compulsions
- Protective Compulsions
- Body-Focused Compulsions
- Hoarding Compulsions
Others’ stories can be one of the best ways to clarify the disorder and its remedies, so we will include autobiographical accounts in the OCD Sufferer’s Forum when possible. In order to ensure the confidentiality of the individuals sharing their stories, we ask authors to remain anonymous. You can ask questions of the author by using the title of the article and forwarding your question to firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, you may use the comment form at the bottom of this page. You may want to submit your own story to the OCD Sufferer’s Forum if you believe it will help another sufferer. Your story may help someone decide that there is hope.
OCD Sufferer’s Forum First Story: Selling A Soul!
Imagine you are out shopping, which of course, is something you love to do. Then, you find that shirt or pair of pants that you absolutely love. You immediately start searching for your size, thinking “Please, please be there.”
Then, that ugly thought you fear and try so desperately not to think of comes into your mind: you’d sell your soul to the devil if they have your size. Oh, there it is. Being a Christian, you know you would never actually do that. But, as an OCD sufferer, you want certainty that this will not happen. Therefore, you put the pants back on the rack and walk away. You relieve your fear for the short-term, but it’ll happen again.
The New Job
It doesn’t end here, though. Next, you have just had an interview for a new job. You really want it and that thought comes up again, you’d sell your soul if you get the job offer. You immediately say to yourself that you didn’t mean to think that and you would never do that. However, the real devil—your OCD—keeps making you think, “What if it happens because you thought it?” So you go back and forth obsessing over this. The job offer comes in and you decide to take it. Meanwhile, you try to relieve the fear that you have just sold your soul for the job offer.
A few months go by in your new job and almost every day that thought pops into your head. You sold your soul and now your life is over. Again, you try and relieve the fear by saying you didn’t mean it. It’s useless, the OCD just keeps coming at you causing you to say, “Well, what if you did?”
Then, the day before a business trip, the OCD is acting up and you are running errands. You see a sign with an arrow pointing down and that’s it: the sign that you are definitely going to hell and you have sold your soul. So you immediately head home and feel completely distraught that you are doomed to hell and life is over. You are in no shape to go on the business trip, so you call your boss the night before you’re supposed to leave. You tell him you’re sick and can’t go on the trip. Needless to say, this doesn’t go well, so you resign in order to save yourself from embarrassment.
Unfortunately, for an OCD sufferer, an obsession like this can pop up anytime and affect almost every aspect of your life. These are examples of only a few of the things I’ve lost to my OCD. It made me decide to stop dating that incredibly handsome guy from Italy. He was an atheist, so, of course, dating him would mean I would go to hell. Worst of all, it made me dread going to Church because I would try so hard not to think of the devil while going up for communion or saying a prayer. So it was easier to just not go to Church.
Now, those of you who don’t suffer from OCD may think this sounds completely crazy and that the people in my life must think I’m completely nuts. However, what you don’t realize is that many of us who suffer from OCD don’t want anyone to know so we suffer in silence and try really hard to hide it. We try really hard to sweep it under the rug and hope it goes away. Unfortunately, it doesn’t and will continue to rob your life of happiness. It’ll leave you constantly stressed, depressed, and generally missing out on living the life you want.
If any of this sounds familiar to you, it could be that you suffer from OCD. I want you to know that there is help out there. It took me 15 years to find the right help, but I eventually did find it. It came in the form of Exposure/Response Prevention therapy with a licensed clinical social worker who specializes in the treatment of anxiety disorders. The work is hard and causes you to face your greatest fears and learn to live with uncertainty. But what you gain from this work is living the life that you value and not being run by OCD. The OCD will always be there and will continually test you, but with the tools that you learn from therapy, you will be well equipped to handle it and choose the life you want and not what your OCD demands.
Thank you for reading my story.