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The 17 year long obsessive thought saga

A

aquiestoy

Member
Joined
May 10, 2012
Messages
7
Hey all,

I am new to this forum and the web site in general. The reason I joined was because I wanted somewhere to tell my story anonymously. It began with obsessive thoughts when I was twelve. I wanted to say what things have improved and what stuff I still struggle with. Any feedback or thoughts are welcome, please don't hold back. On the other hand, even if no one wants to respond it'll still be good to share my story I think.

To contextualise this a bit: when I was growing up I was pretty much the scapegoat in my family, my parents didn't really know how to deal with the things about me that were different and didn't know how to deal with it when I had any strong feelings. They tried their best I think but they got it into their heads often that what I did would be wrong automatically. If I got angry my mum cried and my dad got angrier so I stopped losing my temper so much (I can never lose it now) but then whenever I was down or upset and kept quiet about it they would tell me to stop sulking and tease me about it so I never really understood how to behave in an 'acceptable' way. Also when me and my brother did exactly the same thing it would be wrong when I did it but okay when he did it. In other ways I think my parents loved me and I was never abused or anything in an explicit way. I was bullied at school but after a lot of hard work I managed to get people at primary school to like me. I left there and went to secondary school at eleven where I was bullied massively and didn't know how to stand up for myself so I pretty much felt scared all the time and like I was different in a way that was totally unacceptable to those around me wherever I was.
It was around this time (the age of twelve) I started having these obsessive intrusive thoughts. I had had obsessive thoughts from time to time before but they had always gone away, I guess because I had talked to people around me about them and got some reassurance. I used to be scared of going to sleep because I was scared of what I saw as 'emptiness' in the sleep. Around the time of my GCSE exams I spent about three months in bed because I was scared my teeth would fall out. However, the obsessive thoughts I had at twelve were an obsessive fear that I would say or do something racist.
I remember the day it began, I was stood outside the cinema in my home town waiting for a couple of friends to go to the cinema with, and I was looking at the people going past and I remember thinking the city I lived was very multicultural. It always had been and I had always had friends who were not white but it was the first time I had this thought consciously and in that moment I suddenly started to get scared I was going to say or do something racist to a black or Asian person or just my eye contact with them would look either hateful or like I was 'trying too hard' to be nice. My friends arrived and one of them was black and I suddenly spent the day worrying about my eye contact with him and the way I interacted with him even though I never had worried about this stuff before. I went home that day and worried about it on the bus home, then I continued to worry about it pretty much all the time for the next nine years.
The fact that I was worried that I might say or do something racist even without meaning to pointed to the fact that I could not trust myself not to be racist which proved that I was racist, which cemented my belief that I was inherently unacceptable and I never checked this with anyone so there was nothing to reassure me otherwise. I worried less around friends who I knew very well, whether they were white or black, but I worried around everyone to some extent that I might say or do something racist. I guess I pretty much felt that being racist was the worst thing you could be and around that time I remember my dad saying some pretty offensive things at times just to wind me up and I was scared I would end up like him.

So yeah, I had this secret for nine years which was always living in my head but I never told anyone because I was too ashamed and if I did tell anyone they would think I was racist. Also, I couldn't accept that it was happening because the fact that it was happening proved I was racist so I just kept telling myself it wasn't happening. I went to the doctor for generalised anxiety disorder and was put on and off various meds but I didn't like being on them (who does?) and was never on them long-term. Around the age of 21 I finally was able to tell a counsellor about my obsessive thoughts. She persuaded me to tell her by telling me that lots of people had thoughts they didn't act on or that didn't signify their intentions e.g. mothers thinking about hurting their new babies, etc. So I finally told her, even though I thought if I told her she would find my thoughts and me unacceptable. She didn't and we talked it through. I told a second therapist who I saw after that and she really helped me with stuff. I finally told one of my friends a few years later and then several years after that told a couple more friends. It was always scary telling new people. I eventually told one of my friends who was a person of colour. I felt conflicted about doing so because I know she'd put up with lots of racist crap in her time and I was worried telling her about the obsessive thoughts would hurt her or make her not want to be friends with me but I guess I thought it was ridiculous not to tell her seeing as we were pretty close and talked about everything else. Anyways, none of my fears happened and it was good to talk about this with all the people I told.

Time went on, I told a few more friends but a lot still didn't know and I still always felt I had this secret from people. In the case of anyone I knew who wasn't white I was worried it would destroy our relationships with each other and they wouldn't want to know me. About two years ago I was seeing someone and the relationship was going really badly. Also around that time I'd decided I'd had enough of keeping secrets from everyone (or what I construed as doing this) so I wrote about my experiences of the obsessive thoughts in a not very explicit way on my blog. I then got worried about this and took it down. I then felt very alone. I felt like I had no one to talk to about my problems. The person I was seeing knew but was sick of hearing about them, not many of my friends in the city I lived knew what was going on for me, I was good friends with my house mates but they didn't know and I felt very alone. I was worried about telling the person I lived with who I was closest to because she was a person of colour and we had both been involved in anti-racist activism together and I was worried she'd think that all that had just been for show so I never told her. Anyway, around this time, everything got worse and the intrusive thoughts moved up a gear. Instead of just being worried I might say or do something racist I started getting a tourette's of racist words in my head and I was scared I would say them out loud. I was disgusted with myself and I stopped being able to eat, I threw up all my food and I stopped sleeping. I figured that because I was having this internal tourette's of racist words in my head then this must be the 'real me' that I had been trying to suppress throughout my life by worrying about whether any of my behaviour could be construed as racist coming through. I must really be a racist at the core and all the worrying was just me trying to suppress it. I figured I would either end up as a fascist running amok or I would go mad from the effort of trying to keep it in.

In the end I felt like I had to tell more people or I'd go mad. I told a couple of my best mates including my house mate and by this time I was in such a state that they were all just really worried about me. I felt like the only way to defuse the power of the obsessive thoughts was to let everyone know so that night I wrote a blog detailing what had been going on for me. This was terrifying but I felt as though otherwise I would die or go mad (it really helped me, but when I got a bit more stable I worried how people would react and took it down, which made me feel safer but more stuck in my own head). The next day I still felt completely crazy like I was having a breakdown and my house mate took me to A and E. I hit total rock bottom and I was just overcome by this horrible feeling and I couldn't imagine there being any possibility of surviving it. I felt certain I was going to die. I still couldn't sleep or eat without throwing up. In A and E they gave me valium and a few days later I was put on a low dose of Seroxat. I hated the idea of being on antidepressants and I was scared of being on them for life, but I understood it was my last resort. The next couple of weeks continued in a similar way to the first one but my friends were all there for me to reassure me and take care of me and support me and tell me I'd be okay.

I was on Seroxat for about a year and during that time I learnt not to be so afraid of my thoughts and that everyone has fucked up thoughts from time to time and not to worry about them if they come or blame myself because I know it's not what I rationally believe. I still worry more than is probably normal about similar stuff but my thoughts don't bother me so much now.

At the moment my problem is mainly that I have a compulsion to share stories about my life publicly with others (this isn't just OCD, well maybe it is, but also I'm a writer so I usually write about all the stuff going on in my life). My other main problem is that I'm always meeting and forming relationships with new people and unless we have developed a deep level of trust I don't tell them about this stuff, I feel like I am being fake and dishonest and hiding things from people, which is possibly not rational. The thoughts themselves are much better though and I'm just starting CBT which I know won't be a miracle cure but may help somewhat.

Anyways, I just wanted to share my story and see if anyone has any thoughts.

PS I know that racism is a real thing which people need to take responsibility for if they perpetuate it. I hope that posting this isn't somehow perpetuating it but if anyone feels it is then please tell me if you want to.
 
aleshadxcherylc

aleshadxcherylc

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 21, 2012
Messages
2,193
Location
Sandhurst, Berkshire
Hi aquiestoy
Welcome to the forum well done for posting
So sorry to hear what you are going through sounds like such an awful lot to deal with sorry i cant advise as i dont have OCD but a lot of people do suffer on here so will be able to support and advise you.
So sorry to hear you got bullied at school i got bullied at secondary school as well it was hell and has affected the way i am today so i understand the ordeal you have been through.
Well done for writing out that big long story and telling us all i hope it helped.
Glad you are on CBT like you say its not a miracle cure but i hope it helps you remember it is tough and scary but it will become easier and it does take time and patience but once you get over the first hurdles eveything will become easier to please stick with it and dont give up with it!.
Have you told your CBt therapist whats gone on in your life if not maybe printing out this post might help explain things and whats gone on?
So sorry i cant advise im ueseless
Take care keep strong and keep talking
Katie
xx
 
A

aquiestoy

Member
Joined
May 10, 2012
Messages
7
Thanks for the support and encouragement Katie. So nice to hear! Yeah I have talked to my therapist about this stuff and she's pretty sound so we'll see how it goes. Thanks again xx
 
aleshadxcherylc

aleshadxcherylc

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 21, 2012
Messages
2,193
Location
Sandhurst, Berkshire
your welcome!
Im glad youve got a good therapist be as open and as honest as you can be to get the best out of treatment, stick with it and i hope it all works out for you hun! how many sessions are you on the shorter one for 6 weeks or the longer one for 20 weeks?
xx
 
A

aquiestoy

Member
Joined
May 10, 2012
Messages
7
It's only a short one unfortunately. I wish I had money for something longer term! But will revisit my options after this one. I've actually been in and out of therapy for about ten years so am pretty open with my therapists these days thankfully. Realise there's no point otherwise! xxx
 
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