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Back to this later (the topic) but for the moment try and rid yourself of "Can't" for ""I feel unable at the moment".  Seems insignificant but "Can't" so often stops us dead in our tracks.  It's final.

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Good video there Ashley.Thank you for putting this topic out there. I have a similar worry around semen. My rituals currently are maybe not as wide ranging, however that's because around masturbation I perform safety behaviours that 'contain' it. I also am very selective about when I masturbate, i.e for example I won't do it on a day I have to pick my son up from school (also I time it for when I can shower straight afterwards.). For me that means I have been inappropriate, it takes me near my fear of being what I fear I can't really type the word but it begins with P.

In the past I have gone as far as bleaching belts and washing clothes when they are not really dirty in a 'normal' way. I worry for example if even after being washed my 'soiled' clothes may have some trace of substance on them. I am a bit reluctant to hang these clothes on the washing line to dry if they are next to some of my sons clothes as contamination may cross to his clothes. I really fear that I may get some onto my son. I struggle with handwashing for the rest of the day even if I have showered after the act.

I have 'handwashing' rules agreed in CBT, one being if I have a wee I don't wash my hands unless urine gets on them. I can just about manage this unless I have masturbated that day, despite almost always having showered, I still wash my hands profusely after a wee 'just in case' some semen may still be present. I also have a worry around what I call 'genetal' germs i.e even if I have just had a wee, if I am playing with my son I worry these 'genetal' germs have transferred to his hands by touching the same toys or if he wants to hold my hand.

I am trying to think why I am like this, I used to be very blasé about masturbation , almost worryingly so, but over the last few years its become very regimented. Do I consider masturbation dirty? I don't know possibly. I have often struggled with intrusive thoughts and thought replacement during the act so it's become very coloured to me.

Sorry if I have been too graphic, I just wanted to put my angle across, your not alone with this worry and thank you for raising the subject as its a very personal one.  

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15 hours ago, taurean said:

The drive to decontaminate is high, suggesting a fear of harm to  yourself. 

Maybe, but I don't think that's the issue. 

15 hours ago, taurean said:

It's perfectly possible to use the power of imagination to get into the "feared" situation, and in a structured, such, session think about the fact there is no evidence

I think you're missing the point I am making Roy, I can put myself there any time, and I am not looking for evidence.. I simply don't know what I am fearing.

 

14 hours ago, lostinme said:

is it possible that deep down you think that any sexual activity is dirty? 

Possibly, and probably but I mean from a shame/disgust point of view rather than a physical contamination point of view. I.e. a form of mental contamination almost.

 

13 hours ago, Gemma7 said:

It's just the working out what is causing that emotional response!

Exactly Gemma, this is where I think I need help to join those dots and even find a missing dot. My concern is after two hours of therapy I don't believe my therapist is right for me, she's mainly been focussing on me doing physical exercises, read about masturbation, create this thread, do the actual act to try and work out what I am afraid of (if only it was that easy).

 

11 hours ago, Caramoole said:

for the moment try and rid yourself of "Can't" for ""I feel unable at the moment".  Seems insignificant but "Can't" so often stops us dead in our tracks.  It's fina

Good advice, something I tell people all the time on the helpline, so good to be reminded myself.  I actually do 100% believe I can overcome this, I am just not quite there yet. 

 

 

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4 hours ago, Avo said:

I won't do it on a day I have to pick my son up from school (also I time it for when I can shower straight afterwards.)

Yes I can relate to this, I am selective (although sometimes my body takes over), so in my case I know I am avoiding the issue and have been for a long while now which is why I think mine is getting worse and why I need to address it now, so that I can recover.

4 hours ago, Avo said:

I can't really type the word but it begins with P

Go on, try it :)  If I can type I worry about masturbating, maybe you can type your fear (it is the first step to working it out maybe?) 

4 hours ago, Avo said:

your not alone with this worry and thank you for raising the subject as its a very personal one.  

Glad it's been helpful. Sadly I don't have any answers right now, but I think the first step is talking about it and I hope in time we both fund those answers we need :)

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Maybe there is a seeding event behind this - something that was very distressing such that the conscious brain has blocked it out, but the subconscious brain is still reacting to it. Maybe a good friend was molested or something like that 

It's a very long shot, but I know from my own experience that the brain can shut out traumatic things in this way. 

As a youngster I broke my right collarbone - I was about 4 at the time and remember loads from that time. But I can remember nothing about the breaking of the collarbone - though my sister does but won't tell me, just suggesting darkly that others were involved. 

 

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1 hour ago, Ashley said:

Exactly Gemma, this is where I think I need help to join those dots and even find a missing dot. My concern is after two hours of therapy I don't believe my therapist is right for me, she's mainly been focussing on me doing physical exercises, read about masturbation, create this thread, do the actual act to try and work out what I am afraid of (if only it was that easy).

Ok, but what if you can't find the source of the emotional response? This is a possibility, and i would hate for you to be stuck trying to figure it out.

What if its as simple as at some point during your youth you felt these emotions when masturbating/having sex (probably due to some social shame at the time which you've forgotten now), placed importance on them, washed, got relief and now the association is there. What if there's nothing more to figure out than that? Feeling embarrassed even shameful about sex is quite normal from what i understand, so having these emotions come from seemingly nothing isn't surprising. 

Also, i think your therapist is applying something that is in Break free, which is to face what you fear to work out what actually bothers you about it. The difference is that you wouldn't wash for 2 hours, instead you'd find out how you feel when you don't. Trying to explain why you feel how you feel, may be an uncertainty problem you might never have the answer to otherwise. 

'If it is still unclear, then try not doing the ritual and pay attention to what is going through your mind when you do so. Perhaps you have been doing them for so long that they have become detached from the meaning. But more likely, they are now such a habit that you have not thought about the meaning for some time. It could be that the meaning is quite frightening to really think about and that the rituals have served another purpose in stopping you thinking about things.' (Break free from OCD) 

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Hi Ashley, I don’t feel any of the original questions would bother me except for touching my child but to be honest I’ve never really thought about it as it’s something I wouldn’t be aware of if it were to happen! 

I just wanted to say u spoke really well in ur video and there’s nothing to be embarrassed about at all! Good on u for putting it out there! As for not wanting to say the slang words for the issue, I don’t like using those words even though I don’t have that flavour of OCD lol! X

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If it was shame or revulsion, why all the washing spraying with Dettol aka decontamination?

Or is that simply a carry on from the faeces and urine issue of before? 

And would mental contamination lead to physical decontamination like this? 

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5 minutes ago, taurean said:

If it was shame or revulsion, why all the washing spraying with Dettol aka decontamination?

Or is that simply a carry on from the faeces and urine issue of before? 

And would mental contamination lead to physical decontamination like this? 

Yes mental contamination does lead to physical washing and and that can be for feelings of shame, revulsion and others. All compulsions are a reaction to feelings. 

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Some great words of advice here Ashley :yes: really hope it helps you to start to understand your underlying fear. 

It was just by reading your thread that it came across that you may indeed feel somehow dirty ? Possibly from mental contamination? The physical response could be a compulsion to clean away the feelings of disgust and shame possibly ? This way you can wash away those feelings of revulsion? 

What is important to remember is that it is a perfectly normal activity that everyone does day in and day out and there is nothing to feel shameful about. What you need to work on maybe is if semen was present, on the bed clothes, door handles etc what would come of it, what harm could it possibly do? even though it sounds unpleasant, there really isn’t anything to fear. There will be millions of people out there who will have done this and wouldn’t give it a second thought :yes:

 

 

 

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Hi Ashley

I am so pleased and grateful that you decided to start this thread. I have several problems within the realms of OCD, but this particular problem has been present since the age of 12 and I am now in my mid 30's. I have no idea how much I have spent on cleaning products/replacing clothes etc. over the years, but let's just say it would have easily amounted to a very large deposit towards a nice house!

Since I have the same problem as you, I will respect your request not to post about my habits and rituals, but just wanted to drop by and offer my support, and also thank the other posters who have made a fantastic contribution to this thread. I wish you the very best with your therapy.

Jason

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39 minutes ago, lostinme said:

What you need to work on maybe is if semen was present, on the bed clothes, door handles etc what would come of it, what harm could it possibly do? even though it sounds unpleasant, there really isn’t anything to fear. There will be millions of people out there who will have done this and wouldn’t give it a second thought :yes:

That is the rational way that people in general would look at it, I agree. 

But our illness is tough on rational responses, it picks out small issues, tiny percentages and gives to them /exaggerates their/meaning. 

Edited by taurean

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1 hour ago, Gemma7 said:

Yes mental contamination does lead to physical washing and and that can be for feelings of shame, revulsion and others. All compulsions are a reaction to feelings. 

Yes Gemma is right, mental contamination can involve someone feeling dirty through a number of ways without actually always specific contact, but specifically feelings of shame and guilt can cause someone to believe they are contaminated and dirty. That's not exactly the same in my case, but I believe mine is more about the feelings of guilt and shame than the specific substance... I think.

 

3 minutes ago, 100TowelsaDay! said:

Since I have the same problem as you, I will respect your request not to post about my habits and rituals, but just wanted to drop by and offer my support, and also thank the other posters who have made a fantastic contribution to this thread. I wish you the very best with your therapy.

Only for the survey Jason, please feel free to comment now I have expanded the topic if it is helpful for you to do so :)

 

 

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Would it be a sense of shame in thinking that relatives or people you look up to (alive or deceased) would reject you or be disgusted at you or judge you for sexual activities?  I have had this fear before. It drove pregnancy obsessions and a whole load of washing at one point 

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1 hour ago, taurean said:

That is the rational way that people in general would look at it, I agree. 

But our illness is tough on rational responses, it picks out small issues, tiny percentages and gives to them /exaggerates their/meaning. 

Sorry Roy, your right, it does sound a little insensitive now Ive read it back. I didn’t express myself very well here :( what I meant was to look and work on the cognitive side of things :(

My grammar is lousy, but it looks like I’m thinking people can also read between the lines now and know exactly what I’m trying to say  :lol:

What I meant was to work on the reasons why he feels he needs to wash everything after any activity, this could hopefully help him find his underlying issue? This way Ashley could possibly find whether it was actually the semen that is his issue or his thoughts associated with the sexual activity. 

If it isnt actually the semen that is the issue, rather the mental contamination that is, then I feel the cbt approach would differ ? 

 

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On ‎24‎/‎02‎/‎2018 at 18:49, Ashley said:

by this point I had just climbed 800ft in 4 or 5 miles so I was not looking my best and it's embarrassing enough so let's all ignore my double chins

Which reminds me....

I was exhausted doing 15 miles yesterday, so the thought of me managing 100 miles is a challenge... but I will, so please consider sponsoring me and my two chins to manage this feat!  

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ocd100

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Right now it's a question of finding out what is hiding away deeper down and is causing the problem for Ashley. 

And all the ideas being offered at least bring the chance of either elimination or possibly bingo. 

I have to be honest  I really like the downward arrow method. When my first therapist used it to establish my OCD core belief I was very unconvinced with the science, but it did work and from that we could fine tune the CBT. approach. 

Why do I like it?  Well it seems to have an element of Heath Robinson about it, yet worked through truthfully and honestly and it may deliver. 

I think when we are searching for missing elements that can mean a breakthrough then it's good to consider all possibilities, however silly they may seem, or however unlikely the possibility, or however unfancied the idea or methodology. 

In the business world this is known as " blue sky thinking " and I have been in "think tank"  exercises when, because we were using this concept, great ideas sometimes came about.

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On 16/02/2018 at 15:25, Ashley said:
On 16/02/2018 at 14:25, Caramoole said:

How long has this particular obsession been with you?

I am not really sure, it's one of those that crept up on me but I thinks its been a problem for a decade, maybe 15 years. It seems to have got worse in recent couple of months but I don't know why, I guess as I push other aspects of OCD out my life.

 

So, just to clarify, as an adolescent, a teenager and into your mid/late twenties you were perfectly at ease with this.  Quite happy with no issues?  Not just the contamination angle but sexual activity (alone) and relationships with others?  Is it something you felt relaxed and confident with or did you ever worry about inexperience say, being measured and judged, on how things went?  Did you worry about your personal space being invaded?  As you had other contamination issues then, did you feel having others around you compromised that?  How did you feel as a teenager if you knew your parents were in another room?

Feel free to ignore any/all you don;t want to comment on

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17 minutes ago, Caramoole said:

So, just to clarify, as an adolescent, a teenager and into your mid/late twenties you were perfectly at ease with this.  Quite happy with no issues?  Not just the contamination angle but sexual activity (alone) and relationships with others?  

Actually thinking about this today, I don't think I was.   I remember as teenager before OCD really kicked in I was ok with it.  But then today I remembered when in my late teens/ early 20s and working I was able to go to work 'contaminated' but I would come home at dinner time to bath and get clean, I recall my mum coming home early one day wanting to know why I was in the bath!

So thinking about it, I suspect this as been an issue for most of my adult life, just not to the point it is now.

 

19 minutes ago, Caramoole said:

Is it something you felt relaxed and confident with or did you ever worry about inexperience say, being measured and judged, on how things went? 

At the risk of sounding totally lame, I still have this worry. That said, I hope if I ever meet the right partner she will be patient, and I am a quick learner :lol:

 

20 minutes ago, Caramoole said:

Did you worry about your personal space being invaded? 

I don't worry about this, but if I was in a relationship I would have to adjust to this yes.

 

20 minutes ago, Caramoole said:

As you had other contamination issues then, did you feel having others around you compromised that?

Yes and no... I do have issues with my Dad not being the most hygienic, but I can cope these days.    I recall when I was working in London I used to do every weekend shift with a colleague and we got to know each other. If he had been to the toilet, I then would decline if he asked if I wanted anything from the canteen.  Again, that wouldn't bother me now.

 

21 minutes ago, Caramoole said:

How did you feel as a teenager if you knew your parents were in another room?

Well not that much of an issue, but I always looked forward to having the house to myself.   But then when I moved out I always shared flats (mainly with girls as they are cleaner) until I left London when I could afford on my own.  

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4 minutes ago, Ashley said:

At the risk of sounding totally lame, I still have this worry. That said, I hope if I ever meet the right partner she will be patient, and I am a quick learner :lol:

Here you are spot on Ashley. Performance anxiety can be a problem, but the rational response is exactly as you have stated it. 

It is quick to learn, and we do quickly relax into a comfortable way of intimacy with our partners- the trick is to be open and honest about any inexperience. I was and the girl was great about it, no problem. 

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I don’t think it’s the semen itself that is the problem, I think it’s what that represents,  I get a surge in anxiety, but I can’t quite put my finger on what I am worried about, I think it’s something along the lines of disgust, shame etc perhaps mental contamination

You mentioned mental contamination, so let's explore that angle as a possibility. In that case you're cleaning off an emotion (disgust) rather than cleaning off something physical (sperm). 

So who creates the feeling that you've become polluted? Who's trust might you be betraying by masturbating? Perhaps there's a parent or authority figure who taught you 'nice' boys don't do that sort of thing? :unsure: 

We can all shake off the British embarrassment over sex as silly cultural stuff and know at a logical level there's nothing to be ashamed of. But it's another matter entirely when the real fear isn't sex/semen, but the perceived risk of losing a parent's love. Of course logically you know your parent's love isn't dependent on whether you masturbate or not, but working on an emotional level the brain isn't willing to take the risk and hence the strong urge to remove every trace of 'sexual pollution' afterwards. 

A new angle to think about? :) 

On 25/02/2018 at 18:11, lostinme said:

If it isnt actually the semen that is the issue, rather the mental contamination that is, then I feel the cbt approach would differ ? 

The good news is the CBT approach is identical, just substitute emotion for physical and 'who' for 'what' . :) 

If you can identify who you feel has betrayed you (or who you fear betraying) then it's possible to apply the same sort of cognitive questions eg. Is my interpretation valid? (If I masturbate I'll lose mum's love/the respect someone whose opinion matters deeply to me.) Does it hold true or is the perceived threat unrealistic? Then look at alternative meanings and emotional responses appropriate to the actual situation and different behavioural responses based on the realistic interpretation. 

I'm not saying my example of parental love applies to Ashley, but if you change the risk associated with semen from the catastrophic 'losing a parent's love'  to the minor discomfort of 'sleeping on the damp patch til it dries out' then the whole cleansing ritual can be (more) easily abandoned. That's the power of cognitive therapy. :) Normal behaviour resumes, sometimes  without having to do any kind of exposure/behavioural therapy on the topic at all. 

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I just watched the video. Very good and thank you for posting. I do believe it's fear of judgement and rejection from loved ones if they discovered your 'shameful' secret. I think that's why you clean everywhere- to leave no trace and be totally clean/anew as if it didn't happen for when you meet others again. That's probably why you don't answer the door to people. So the contamination of shame won't spread. You're cleaning up or 'undoing' shame. 

I used to do cleaning rituals for this reason too although not to the same extent. I suppose with girls it turns into fear of pregnancy and shame and worry of unwanted babies and community judgement and rejection. The cleaning and 'undoing' would take the form of morning after pills (even if nothing happened), STI testing, calculating ovulation and menstruation or finding out statistical probability of pregnancy. Sheet cleaning, clothes throwing and excessive invasive showering too. 

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I had a friend which i couldn't be with anymore because i didn't know what to think anymore. And now he contacted me somehow. 

 

I feel totally triggered. Had to take a benzodiazepine

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6 minutes ago, Isthisreality said:

I feel totally triggered. Had to take a benzodiazepine

Benzo medications are not something that we routinely use in the UK for anxiety (only short term) and definitely not as a medication for OCD.    Do you mean this thread triggered you? if so, maybe you need to consider if you're ready to use online forums?

 

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