The title is correct this is Hell. It is not something to make light of or joke about. If you are here to do so, please go read someone else's blog. It's very hard for me to write about this but I believe that if I do not, my words are not helpful.
There are parts of OCD that we, the sufferers, do not feel comfortable talking about. Sexual OCD is one of those symptoms. I didn't want to talk about this because it is uncomfortable and upsetting, but I did make a promise that if I were going to talk about OCD I would be honest and talk about what I have gone through. So here is probably one of the symptoms I am most uncomfortable talking about.
When I was around fourteen I had an issue with my OCD telling me I was gay. Now, I have homosexual family members and friends so being gay would not be an issue. It doesn't scare me nor do I have any adverse feelings bout it. I believe people have a right to love whomever they love. I am not gay but my OCD just refused to let me believe such. It slapped me with images and the intrusive voice would scream at me loudly telling me that I was a lesbian, I just didn't know it or refused to accept it. The problem wasn't that I was scared to be gay(again I see no real issue with being gay) the problem was that I knew I was not but my mind refused to stop bombarding me with images, sounds, and questions. It was so rampant and loud that I no longer was able to tell whether I was straight or not. I knew deep down that I have never been attracted to anyone of the same sex and yet the battle that raged in my head totally confused me. The not being able to trust my own mind scared me. No longer being able to sort what was real emotion and what was OCD fear scared me. I was confused as to whom I should speak to about this. Should I tell my family? Would they understand? I could see how great that conversation would go,"Hi Mom, Uh.... I am not homosexual but my mind keeps yelling at me and telling me that I am lying. It keeps telling me that I am, even though I have never been attracted to girls. It shows me images and tells me that I like them. I have only liked boys though, so I guess I am a non practicing closeted lesbian?" That seems totally legit.
I didn't know where to turn. I could handle being gay. I could handle being straight. I could handle being anything as long as it made the confusion go away. As long as the images and intrusive thoughts dissipated. As long as the war that raged on in my mind ended.
My therapist, at the time, was a terrific educated therapist that was familiar with some OCD symptoms. She also was a lesbian and therefore, I felt comfortable talking with her about it. After all, if I were gay surely she would be able to tell me. She listened to all of my blabbering and crying. She comforted me and my confusion. Her acknowledgment of it being OCD was very helpful and her statements healed the fear. She asked me if I have ever liked a girl in a romantic way. I said no. Then she told me she was pretty sure I was not gay because gay people usually know they are gay and don't have to constantly test themselves to see if they are. That is what I was doing, mentally testing myself to see if my mind was right. I would force myself to look at a picture or image in my head and gauge my reaction to it. Was I turned on? Was I gay? Did I like this?
The answer is no. The reality is that sexual OCD takes images unwanted, intrusive, and sometimes disturbing thoughts and tries to tell you you like them. It makes you doubt your preferences and likes. It doesn't revolve just around homosexuality or heterosexuality, it can be a sexual obsession or fear about anything. It can happen with images of people, animals, loved ones, you name it. It is exceptionally painful to be told by your mind that you like something that you do not. Some images and intrusive thoughts are repulsive and horrifying. The result is guilt and shame that such images have ever popped into your head much less that the voice tries to convince you that you enjoy them. It's like your mind is abusive and it abuses you over and over again. Then the battle wages on on fighting the intrusive thoughts and holding on to what is real and what is your mind. Always the voice testing your reactions. The shame is heavy and the guilt is exhausting. The fear that deep down we are horrible sick individuals dwells. Who thinks like this? Who has these images? We must be demented!
This is the hell of sexual OCD. It is a constant battle to realize that what happens in your head is not a representation of your personality. That you are not violent. That you would never do what it tells you to do. You do not like what it shows you. That you are not perverted in anyway. It is a struggle to explain that OCD only takes things that upset you and then uses them to hurt you by showing you a broken projection in your head over and over, so loudly and so repugnant that it physically makes you flinch. It is a symptom of OCD that we usually do not talk about because it's embarrassing. Because it is hard to describe. Because it makes us sound insane and we are afraid people will judge us for it. We are not dangerous. OCD only takes what you are afraid of or unsure about and abuses you with it. It takes what you have feared and forces you to look at it. It makes you doubt your sanity. The result is avoidance. We will avoid the situations where these images occur. We will spend hours arguing with ourselves and begging our minds to shut up. It's hard to talk about this but we have too. We have to open the doors and look at the hideousness that is OCD. We have to discuss as many symptoms that pop up and not look at the politically correctness of it. Because mental illness is not PC. It's not polite or endearing. It's hell. That's why we are called mental illness sufferers not mental illness participants. We don't want to participate we just have no choice. There are treatments for OCD and all of it's symptoms. Many of us can lighten our symptoms greatly. We will have to deal with them occasionally and there is, at this time, no way out of that truth. This is why I get ticked off with the way OCD is portrayed as humorous or quirky. Do you think living with something like this in your head would make you feel very humorous? I doubt it.