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Why I Feel Violated by Intrusive Thoughts and Pure OCD

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Editor’s note: If you struggle with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741. To find help visit International OCD Foundation’s website.

It creeps up on me when I’m not thinking about it. I’m walking across the room with a stapler in hand when all of a sudden, in my mind, I see it going into my eye. It’s not a pleasant experience. I recoil from the thought in disgust. “Why would I think that? I ask myself. It’s definitely not because I enjoy the imagery of having staples in my eyes, nor is it because I enjoy the physical pain in my eye that my obsession brings me. The answer is, I don’t know. I don’t know why my mind likes to torture me with images of getting hurt. I put the stapler down and the itch in my hands goes away, but I still feel disturbed.

Sometimes, the images are not as quick. I could be sitting in the car with my dog, and the following scene begins to play out in my mind; the car door opens, and my dog leans out and scrapes her paws against the cement. This thought is almost enough to bring me to tears. I recoil away from it as fast as possible, but the damage is done. I’m distraught. The idea of hurting my dog is worse than the thought of hurting myself. The image haunts me all day.

The images can also be sexual in nature. I can be in a crowded store and suddenly have the image of someone slapping my butt. Or seeing someone’s hands can cause me to imagine what they would feel like touching me intimately. These thoughts are silenced by deep shame. I shouldn’t have to feel shame, seeing as I don’t want these thoughts and I definitely didn’t ask for them, but I still feel like a bad person for thinking them. I feel violated by my own mind.

I struggle with a type of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) I’ve only recently learned about called Pure O, or purely obsessional OCD. This disorder is characterized by having obsessions without visible compulsions. The compulsions are still there, they just take place inside my mind. For me, this takes the form of rumination. I can’t stop thinking about the thoughts, like a song stuck in your head on repeat. I wonder why I have them. I wonder what it means for me. I feel disgusted.

The trick I’ve learned to help manage the shame I feel is by imagining my OCD as a separate entity that takes residence in my mind. I call her Ollie. She’s the one whispering my intrusive thoughts to me. She thrives on my struggle like a parasite. But I’m learning to place the blame on her and not myself. The end result is I ruminate less and feel less ashamed. It’s not me. It’s just Ollie.

Medication also helps to keep my anxiety level down when it comes to intrusive thoughts, but I can never get rid of them. Little by little, I’m learning to make peace and coexist with them.

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Photo by Hanna Morris on Unsplash

Originally published: November 20, 2017
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