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  1. Thanks, PolarBear. The problem I have now is that sometimes I get an extremely persistent intrusive thought that keeps coming back over and over again, throughout the day. I know that I can still choose not to engage with it, but sometimes it's so easy to bring it to my conscious - giving it even the slightest bit of attention seems to do the trick, to the extent that sometimes it doesn't feel like a conscious decision at all. And if I don't engage, I feel a sort of 'itch' and strong urge to engage which is preventing me from concentrating on anything else. I know that this has happened partly because of unhealthy rumination which had made things steadily worse, so now I have to just be patient and claw my way out of the hole I've dug for myself. Things are especially difficult at night - it actually feels a bit weird when I don't engage in these thoughts, because I'm not used to not having any background thoughts and 'clearing' my mind. So the urge to ruminate and dwell on these horrible thoughts is particularly strong at night and often keeps me up. I guess I just have to keep persevering, no matter how difficult things are right now, with no end to all this in sight.
  2. In the past few days this has been happening a lot to me: I get a pleasant thought or picture about, say, a kid who I've been tutoring or a character I like from a video game, it makes me feel good and happy... and then the intrusive thoughts start and half the time I'm unable to resist them, resulting in a horrible sexual thought or vivid image or something that makes me feel sick and disgusted. I don't think I should push away the happy thoughts, just as I shouldn't be pushing away the horrible thoughts, but it's made the past few days really difficult... As soon as I start to feel happy about something, I almost immediately feel terrible. I know there's no magic technique that will stop this happening straightaway, but can someone just remind me what steps I should take to alleviate these thoughts and feelings? Feeling a bit lost and confused right now, and not sure if I'm really doing the right thing...
  3. Thanks, PolarBear. I really appreciate it - sometimes you forget that you're not the only one with these thoughts... The intrusive thoughts that I've been getting over the past week really suck, and it's been really draining. I know that engaging in these thoughts is something that I can control, but often it feels incredibly easy to slip into acting on them and rumination - it is a conscious decision, but it feels like it's only just a conscious decision, and so it takes considerable mental effort to make sure I don't engage and focus on something else. Mindfulness has worked somewhat but often my brain gets 'bored' of focusing on the present moment. When I'm doing something that requires high physical/mental effort, like exercise, my job or academic work, it's a lot easier to let these thoughts pass, but (for example) at night they can wreak havoc and cause me to lose sleep. I'm trying my best, and I'm beginning to feel better than I did when I wrote that first post. I know there are definitely some things that I'm doing wrong, but I hope I have the right idea.
  4. I hope everyone's been doing ok over the past few months. It's been a while since I last posted, and things have changed quite a bit, but I've still been struggling with mainly POCD and other sex-related fears. I think everything has been exacerbated by the lockdown, since I've been finding myself feeling increasingly sexually frustrated, which seems to have made my intrusive thoughts stronger and harder to manage. The biggest problem that I have right now is that I'm not responding well to sudden intrusive thoughts, especially when they're vivid and about things that I really hate to think about. One example would be that I sometimes suddenly start to imagine a child having sex or masturbating. Now, in some ways my state of mind has improved and I no longer truly believe that I am a paedophile, so at least that layer has been removed. But I find it extremely difficult to deal with these mental images - it never fails to shock me just how vivid and horrible these mental images are, despite the fact that they seem to come solely from my subconscious. I don't know exactly what triggers them, I don't understand why I sometimes get them completely out of the blue, and it just feels like nothing that I try to do is particularly effective. I know you're meant to let these thoughts pass without engaging with them, but how on Earth am I meant to just ignore what basically amounts to child porn in my head? There's another specific example that I've been experiencing recently which has upset me so much that I've found it incredibly difficult to do anything over the past few days. Recently I've been playing an absolutely fantastic video game, which has now become my favourite game of all time, and I found myself feeling genuinely attached to the characters in a way that felt really pleasant and heartwarming. Because the game is set in a fantasy world, for many weeks I was able to use this game as an escape from the real world (perhaps a bit too much...) and engage with the ways it made me feel without my OCD being an intrusion. But then OCD thoughts started to slowly creep in until a few days ago, while my 'guard' was 'down' for a moment, I suddenly had a really disgusting, sickening and astonishingly vivid thought about having sex with one of the child characters in the game. To make things worse, this character also happened to be my favourite in the entire game...! No matter what I try, I can't seem to move on from that awful moment, and that mental image keeps coming back over and over again. All this has left me feeling exhausted and defeated, but also angry. OCD has tried to take everything away from me: it almost destroyed me back when I had contamination fears, it almost forced me to quit my job working with children, and now it's ruined a video game that brought me genuine happiness and joy during a bleak few months. Right now I'm too scared to feel happy about anything else, because I don't want my OCD to take that away as well. But I do want to keep fighting, even if it's really hard right now, because I can't carry on living like this. Thoughts on how I can feel better?
  5. Hi everyone, This is a pretty embarrassing topic and I'm not sure if this is the best forum to post it on, but since it's undoubtedly being made worse by OCD, I thought it'd be a good place to start. So, my POCD fears have shapeshifted quite a bit since the last time I posted. I now keep getting thoughts/urges about having sex with people a few years younger than me, around age 17/18. I suspect that my current anxieties are tied to general anxiety I've been having about relationships - specifically, about the fact that I've never properly been in one. I was quite badly ill for a large part of my teenage years and both my physical and mental health have only recovered in the past one or two years, which meant that I never really had the energy or opportunity to get into a relationship while at school. Now, at the age of 20 and in my second year of uni, I've finally been thinking about finding a boyfriend - so far that hasn't happened yet, but I'm kinda hopeful that I'll find someone soon ?. But anyway, I often feel like I'm "getting old" for someone who's never been in a relationship, let alone had sex, and that brings me back to the anxiety I've been facing. I keep wondering whether or not I'm attracted to people a few years younger than me, especially the ones who look like they're younger than they really are. This is becoming quite a big problem, because for some reason many of the first-years at uni look *really* young (i.e. I couldn't tell just by looking at them if they were 18 or 16, say), which is playing into my POCD fears. I don't even know at this point if I really do find them more attractive than people my age, but the groinal responses and intrusive thoughts I get are often quite strong, which is at best embarrassing and at worst incredibly anxiety-inducing. I think it's the fact that it would still be socially acceptable for me to be in a relationship/have sex with them which is actually causing much of the anxiety - if I see someone who's 15, say, then I can control any intrusive thoughts or feelings fairly well now, because I can say to myself that they're far too young for me to be wondering if I find them attractive. But for someone who's 18, it's a different story. Sometimes I get really strong urges to make out with them, like a one-night stand sort of thing instead of a long-term relationship... I guess it's because I feel like it'll no longer be acceptable for me to do that with an 18-year-old in a few years' time, and so this is my "last chance", as it were, to be in a relationship with a teenager - something I never got to experience. It's such a twisted way of thinking and I do feel pretty disgusted with myself for thinking this way, but I always get a groinal response when I think about this and it's making me feel really conflicted - is this what I want; do I enjoy these thoughts? I wish things were simpler! I feel like I need some practical, concrete advice because it's the temptation of technically still being "allowed" to get with someone that young that's causing all this trouble for me. If I ended up getting into a committed, consensual relationship with someone a few years younger than me, then I don't think that would bother me much, but right now all my intrusive thoughts are just about sex, sex, sex, and I'm getting really sick of it. I want to be able to talk to and interact with the people in the year below me without thinking about having sex with them all the time - but I also can't shut out the temptations and urges I keep getting, nor the possibility that I actually enjoy these thoughts. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
  6. I thought I'd add a bit to this discussion as someone who, not very long ago, had serious anxiety due to contamination fears. Firstly, to address the idea that contamination OCD is 'different' to other OCDs: I used to think this too, but I would disagree now. Does food poisoning exist? Yes. Do stomach bugs and viruses exist? Yes. So it's true that the risk of being ill if you eat something with hands that aren't perfectly clean is greater than 0 - but for someone with contamination-based fears, the risk in their mind is greatly exaggerated. There are plenty of other themes that involve a non-zero, but low, risk, e.g. fear of flying, being in a car accident, solipsism, ... To address this specific case: is public transport dirty? Yes, it often is. But that doesn't mean that the risk of getting sick because of not washing your hands and then eating something on a train is significant. (Sidenote: hopefully this isn't too much reassurance, but it's worth noting that, while there is plenty of evidence of contamination on public transport, there is little evidence of people actually getting sick as a result - for example, faecal matter is quite literally everywhere, but often completely harmless. Sure, handwashing removes contaminants, but how much of the contamination is actually disease-causing?) I will happily accept that I still wash my hands more often than many other people - when I go out with friends, for example, they might get through the whole day without washing their hands unless they go to the bathroom, whereas I might routinely wash my hands once every couple of hours. But I'm at a point now where if I don't have access to a sink and running water for a few hours, I won't have horrible anxiety as a result. An important reason I've been able to recover is that I practised resisting compulsions and doing what's considered 'normal behaviour', including eating without washing hands beforehand. There are certainly some situations where I would definitely be more careful with contamination - if I had a contagious disease, for example, or in a hospital, where hand-washing is far more important and should be done regularly. When cooking and handling food, I'm also quite conscientious of preventing contamination. Of course most people don't like contamination or dirt, but it's important to strike a balance between hygiene and mental health, if you like: sensible hygiene is good and fine, but obsessive, excessive hygiene is unnecessary and has a negative impact on the wellbeing of an OCD sufferer. With that in mind, doing things such as using public transport and then eating without washing hands is, in my opinion, absolutely fine and helpful with recovery from OCD.
  7. @dksea Thank you so much for your kind words! (Just to clarify, I'm a gay man, but everything you've said still stands, of course.) So, the residential has now finished... Overall, it went much better than I feared it would! I was definitely thrown in the deep end - due to the thoughts I've been grappling with, I've been kind of avoiding young teenagers as much as possible recently, so this was definitely helpful in forcing me to confront my fears, especially since I was assigned a group of students to mentor, which meant that I had to have close contact with them. I tried my best to curb my ruminating, which I suspect is what has primarily been reinforcing some of the 'feelings of attraction' I've been getting. It wasn't always successful. I think I did pretty well at postponing rumination at the very least, so that I didn't do it in front of the kids, but when I had a chance to be alone it was often difficult to stop the thoughts. Several times (when alone) I had intrusive thoughts about one of the more muscular / physically fit 16-year-olds, and on occasion actually had an erection, which really freaked me out, but I somehow managed to pull myself together - that was probably the most difficult challenge I faced. Another problem was that occasionally I'd catch myself obsessing about a boy who I probably would've found very attractive back when I was 16 - repeatedly asking myself questions like "Do you still find them sexually attractive?", "Is it OK to think that they're very good-looking if it's not sexual?" etc. It was hard to break out of these cycles, and I occasionally had to make an excuse to leave and just take a breather. But on the whole, despite several bouts of very intense anxiety that I somehow managed to struggle through, I made it through the entire programme - and actually enjoyed myself! I even received some personal positive feedback from teachers and students, which was incredibly heartwarming. Obviously my OCD is still very bothersome, but I am genuinely really proud of myself for not letting OCD completely stop me from doing things that I've always loved, e.g. mentoring and leading. I know I'm still going to struggle with these thoughts and feelings for the foreseeable future, and I may need to use these forums again at some point, but at least I've proved to myself that, despite the OCD, I can still function normally, and even have a good time!
  8. Hi everyone, It's been a while since my last post and the good news is that that's because my OCD has, up until now, been fairly under control. However, in the past few weeks, a completely different theme from my usual contamination fears - fear of being a paedophile - has been really troubling me, and despite my attempts not to engage with the thoughts and to resist compulsions, I feel that things have been steadily getting worse. I find it very difficult to stop the 'checking' - even when I know that, for example, I'm not sexually attracted to a 10-year-old that I see, my brain keeps conjuring up an image of the child over and over again, despite me repeatedly dismissing these thoughts, and I often end up eventually giving in to the checking after my brain has come back to the same question countless times. Another, perhaps even worse, problem is how I feel when I see certain teenagers around the age of 16, possibly 15, when I guess they're beginning to look like adults but still have a very youthful appearance. The truth is, I don't know if the attraction I feel is just OCD - I think there may be some genuine attraction. I confided in a counsellor at uni, who pointed out that at the age of 20 it's not necessarily an issue, or uncommon, to find a 16-year-old attractive (this is blatant reassurance, but she wasn't an OCD specialist and we were talking about a bunch of different things) - but again, my brain has a tendency to constantly conjure up an image of a 16-year-old that I may have found reasonably attractive, over and over again. This is the worst feeling right now, because sometimes, for a brief moment, I feel a strong feeling of something - lust, maybe? - and possibly even a reasonably strong groinal response. And this happens every single time my brain re-imagines the teenager, and for a split second I feel good as a result before the feeling is replaced by disgust and often severe anxiety. What I try to keep telling myself is that, even if I am actually attracted to someone that age, it doesn't make me a monster and I certainly shouldn't feel so severely disgusted with myself. I'm definitely not planning on being in a relationship with such a young teen, and I haven't viewed any illegal images. But I've somehow dug myself a deep, deep hole and I can't get out. I find solace in the fact that I still find some people who are 18+ attractive - but another thought that keeps plaguing me is that maybe I'm more strongly attracted to 16-year-olds than my peers - sometimes that's how it feels. Later this week I'm going back to uni to help out with a Year 11 (age 16) residential, which I signed up to before these thoughts got so bad. I know they need me there (and I'm getting paid), and so I'm going to go, despite a large part of me not wanting to. I hope I can get through this without feeling too awful, but I am kind of dreading it. Is there anyone on this forum who has overcome these thoughts successfully, or anyone who can give me some advice, or even just some encouragement? I don't see a way out of this anytime soon...
  9. Hi Ryukil, please ignore any judgemental comments that have been made on this thread. I seem to recall that you've posted similar worries in the past, also relating to semen and the idea that spreading semen onto someone is equivalent to sexual assault. How have you challenged this misconception in the past, and do you think you could do it again here?
  10. Hi! I sometimes also have similar feelings of contamination. I think that, regardless of the reason for worrying about contamination (whether it's just a general feeling of disgust, or you're worried about catching something, etc), it's really important not to perform any compulsions such as cleaning and to watch your ruminating and trying to 'track' the contamination. 'Contamination' exists everywhere - the truth is, anything that you touch in public could have lots of germs and potentially traces of urine, semen etc on it. And that's OK - humans can live with that. Besides, you can't even be sure that anything did get onto your husband. Try your best to accept the uncertainty - that, either way, regardless of whether or not your husband's clothes were 'contaminated', it doesn't make any difference whatsoever.
  11. Nobody is responding because any reassurance would be detrimental to you. I'm really sorry to see that you're having a hard day, but this is not the first time that you've posted this sort of thing. Only you can make the change.
  12. Hi everyone, I know it's been a while but I thought I'd continue this thread since my latest trigger is on a similar theme. About a month ago, my baby sister wet herself by the front door and left a large puddle on the floor. I was having quite a rough week and feeling very low, so I couldn't be bothered to immediately clean it up, mop the floor etc, and just waited until it dried, telling myself that I'd clean the floor later. And then... I kind of just forgot about it. And now that I've suddenly remembered, I can feel a pang of anxiety that I'm trying my best to control, but it's been really difficult because this is such a big trigger. I know that urine, especially human urine, isn't generally considered a medium through which diseases are spread. And I know that it's been more than a month, and no-one at home has gotten sick or anything, and I should probably just let this go (maybe clean up any mess sooner if it happens again). But my mind keeps thinking about all the letters that have been put through the front door and been in contact with the floor, all the times people at home have put their bag down on the floor, and so on, and again I feel really disgusted by the idea of trace amounts of urine being spread everywhere. I ended up giving into some compulsions and researching chemicals that are found in urine, and wondering whether, because of me, anybody has gotten sick or had an allergic reaction to ammonia or some other substance in urine. I just really don't know what to do. As I said, as it's been so long, I'm trying to tell myself that all this worrying is just OCD, and that I should just move on and maybe take better care of the floor if another 'accident' happens... But it's been really hard to stop worrying!
  13. Hi Bruces, will you be able to make a GP appointment soon (sometime this week), if you haven't already done so?
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