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Pranjali

Length of the narration

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Hello everyone, I wanted to know if there is any cap on the length of the post about my OCD on this forum? I had posted a few things in the past few weeks and got a few responses as well. But I just felt it is fragmented across different posts and I was weary to open up, apprehensive and worried about reactions. If the length of the post has a prescribed guideline, please let me know.

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Hi pranjali

There is no cap on the length of posts. However I think it is worth keeping an eye on the length - just because it can take people a while to read and digest very long posts. A common compulsion of ocd sufferers is the need to explain every single detail of the fear - to make sure we fully "understand" how bad it is  - but really you don't need to do this. Most of us have been where you are, we understand the agony and doubt and the fears about whether it really is ocd. We don't need to know all the details in order to understand or to give good advice or to express empathy for your situation. 

Hope that answers your question a little? X 

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:goodpost: GBG. 

Also, it's good practice to break the text up into shortish paragraphs. Doesn't have to conform to set grammar - just hitting the return key regularly will do the job, and make our posts a much easier read. 

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Hello everyone..thank you for your responses..

I am from India, pursuing my PhD currently. I have some great friends, supportive family and a cooperative fiancé. I would like to give a background to my narration:

I)

I had been to Europe on a mobility program for data collection. During January 2018, I had been to a couple of pubs with a female friend of mine, drinking and dancing. I had a few shots and then danced with a guy. The guy left and later I came back in the cab with my female friend. About 6 days later I went back on the night and wondered and now convinced that I did something with the guy I danced with and that ended up sleeping with that guy. I felt and kind of felt that I knew he chased our cab and I finally went with him in his can.

I asked that female friend of mine what happened that night, I confessed to my fiancé and confided in my friends and family too. I kept crying. May be you may term this as confessions and Ruminating but then hiding it seemed so wrong. I have been convinced that I did sleep with the guy.

I came back to India in February end. I was gripped with this feeling of wronging my fiancé and feeling unworthy of being in his life. My fiancé did not see anything strange between us for he said he did not care about that night and let's keep it behind. While my marriage has been on the cards, when I told my parents about wanting to punish myself by not being in his life (as much as it killed me from within even saying that), they flipped out. For me, it was right for me to punish myself and for my parents, it was wrong to punish my fiancé in this process and others involved.

I must mention I have been dating my fiance for more than six years and my wedding is this December with him. I do not know if this sounds strange to you that I am saying this but I must admit since the beginning of our relationship, I have been indeed anxious if I'll end up marrying him because a certain astrologer had said that we may not work out. Somehow that has stayed in mind and always caused me to worry all the time. I wanted to make sure I bear the consequences of hurting my fiancé and only that would be right. 

II)

In the month of July, one evening a couple of female friends wanted to have a drink or two, so I thought it's okay it has been while since I chilled with them and ended up having a drink. I got back to one of the friends' place to sleep over at and in the morning I was riddled if I went out at night with a colleague of mine. I asked my friend, who I explained I was with her and everything was okay. But that did not give me ease either. I ended up confessing to my fiance, a couple of friends and my parents again. 

My mom came and stayed with me for sometime as my university is not in the same town as my home town. She was with me for a long time. She wanted to be there emotionally with me. I was trying to put up a facade and immerse myself in work. It was not long lasting. That night always popped in my head, sometimes I kept to myself, sometimes I told mom who used to reassure me nothing happened that night in Europe. I till date feel deep down that I slept with the guy. 

III)

Things kind got really serious for me when it felt difficult to interact in social situations.  There were days when I used to feel scared of getting out of the house fearing that I will do something with someone and nor resist if something did something with me. I must mention I used to constantly update my fiancé or my close colleague about where I am, what I am doing and so on. I used to take pictures of where I was, to have a record that I was not doing anything with anyone. Then one afternoon when I was intimate with my fiancé, after sometime I felt he was forcing me to sleep with him (I confessed that as well to him knowing he would be hurt but I could not resist). He of course said nothing at all happened and do you actually think we would have sex without consent? I had no reply.

I guess by then my friend and my fiance suggested I seek professional help. While for sometime, we were unsure if this needed medical help, we gave this a thought. I went back to my home town and met a woman psychiatrist. She has about 20-22 years of experience. I narrated all of this to her and she said it is a case of OCD. Honestly, it was a blow. I did not know much about the disorder. She put me on medication and said you will have to continue for sometime. I've had a few sessions with her and she has suggested some techiques too which I need to practice.

IV)

I almost do not touch alcohol now. The other day my female friends wanted to drink but I didn't drink but only accompanied them. After that we went to a pub to dance a bit. I was anxious, weary and unsure but I went to the pub. Towards the end, a guy friend came to say bye to me and hugged me tight and said bye. Perhaps I was not prepared or rather too desperate again, that my mouth was open and my teeth were on his chest. I came out being frozen again feeling that I bit him. The same cycle of guilt and unworthiness.

Again I told my fiancé, parents and asked my female friends about that moment. My fiance laughed on it and my parents said do not accompany friends if it makes you uncomfortable. My friends opined that nothing of that sort happened and I kept insisting as I hugged him, I would know what happened and not them.

In this background, I have following queries and would appreciate any honest insights on the  same?

1) Is this even a case of OCD? If yes/no, how?

This sounds like a compulsion but considering there are fellow colleagues who have gone through a lot themselves, may be able to guage this better

2) Isn't self punishment a way to deal with wrongdoings? 

If forgiveness is not a choice

3) I did cheat on my fiancé, I cannot get over it. How can this be OCD? This is more of reality and not just a thought. How is this an intrusive thought?

4) If you infer that this is OCD, (which I do not think so) then how can one deal with it using ERP? As this is real for me.

The thing is my mind is convinced that I cheated on my fiancé. The phase of doubt is not there anymore. I am not sure how to put this but I am sure these instances happened.

Sorry for the long post. Thank you for the patient reading and understanding.

Maybe this post comes off as a compulsion, but no really I do have these above queries and would really appreciate your responses. I kindly request you to be objective and give me an honest view.

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17 hours ago, Pranjali said:

3) I did cheat on my fiancé, I cannot get over it. How can this be OCD? This is more of reality and not just a thought. How is this an intrusive thought?

 

17 hours ago, Pranjali said:

During January 2018, I had been to a couple of pubs with a female friend of mine, drinking and dancing. I had a few shots and then danced with a guy. The guy left and later I came back in the cab with my female friend. About 6 days later I went back on the night and wondered and now convinced that I did something with the guy I danced with and that ended up sleeping with that guy. I felt and kind of felt that I knew he chased our cab and I finally went with him in his can.

What you are describing here is a known occurrence some OCD sufferers experience around false memories.  They analyze past events trying to determine if something did or didn't happen and because of the doubt of not being 100% certain something DIDNT happen, they assume that that means it DID happen.  This false memory type of anxiety alone is pretty convincing evidence you are dealing with OCD.

But lets set that aside for a minute, lets assume for the sake of argument that you actually did cheat on your fiancé.  Certainly that would be a decision many people would feel guilty and regret over, which you do, but you responded to that guilt by confessing your situation to your fiancé.  He has accepted and and forgiven you (or doesn't believe it actually occurred I suppose).  Continuing to punish yourself and doubt yourself and wanting to continue confessing is ANOTHER common OCD behavior.
 

17 hours ago, Pranjali said:

How can this be OCD? This is more of reality and not just a thought. How is this an intrusive thought?

OCD is not just about imaginary events or potential threats or anxieties.  OCD can be very much about real things that really happened.  

The most obvious intrusive thought here is the one that you believe something happened even though you have plenty of reasons to believe it didn't.

Secondary though, if we again, as above, assume that the cheating event DID happen for real, the intrusive thought would be your continued belief that you are an unforgivable person, which leads to your confession compulsion.

Though my OCD didn't stem from a cheating incident, it did stem from something that occurred in real life.  When I was 13 i was sick to my stomach during class one day.  It was embarrassing sure, but it happens and people forget about that sort of thing before long at that age.  Unfortunately my brain wouldn't let go of the incident.  I developed the intrusive fear that it would happen again.  For the next 10-15 years I primarily dealt with anxiety about this fear, based on a very real, very specific incident.  The problem wasn't that i'd really been sick, it was that I continued to have intrusive thoughts related to that incident and fears of what had happened and what might happen again.  Again, yes, different circumstances and different fears because of the circumstances, but the underlying issue remains the same:  A thing happened -> a continued, anxiety causing, compulsion generating thought got stuck in my head after.

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17 hours ago, Pranjali said:

2) Isn't self punishment a way to deal with wrongdoings? 

If forgiveness is not a choice

One could, if they so choose, live their life that way, but I don't think its a very fair or practical philosophy.  If you were to follow this philosophy shouldn't everyone, everywhere constantly be punishing themselves?  Certainly no one is free from having done something wrong in their life.  At the point a person does their first wrong, if forgiveness is not a choice, then they must, by that logic, spend the rest of their days in self punishment right?   In which case life is not for living, enjoying or contributing to the world, but merely for punishing oneself endlessly.

If your friend or family member hurt you in some way, but expressed genuine remorse and tried to make amends, would you forgive them?  Or would you punish them for the rest of your and their lives for what they had done? Forgiveness is ALWAYS a choice, it is a choice you make towards others and it is a choice you make towards yourself.  You can choose never to forgive yourself, but that doesn't make anything better does it?  It doesn't make your life better, it doesn't make anyone elses life around you better either.  Its all well and good to confess your actions and make amends, but that has to be a finite set otherwise nothing ever gets done.

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A very good posting from the learned Dksea. 

OCD makes us feel especially guilty. If we once did something wrong, and the illness decides to focus on that, it will likely lock our brain onto that thing and, continually, exaggerate its importance. 

Whether there was some wrongdoing, or whether the OCD is making it up, the way forward for us all is to see what is happening, and accept OCD is at work. Then work towards dismissing it.

We all need to learn, and apply, self-love. Generally speaking, OCD sufferers do seem to have kind, caring, characters - not at all what their OCD might seek to tell them. A big big part of my recovery process was learning to apply self-love and kindness, and not listening when OCD sought to undermine my core true character values.

This should help you :)

Roy 

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Thank you so much for your positive responses and indeed patient reading of my long post.

@dksea But how is self punishment a compulsion? Isn't that how the world works? You falter big time and pay the price for it? I am not able to understand this.

@dksea Also, is it possible to tell me how do you differentiate between an intrusive 'thought' and a real life OCD? If it is a real life instance, then how can it be just a thought? I do not know if I can put it down in words but I am not able to understand if it was a real life instance, then it means the instance did really take place right?

Another query - The trigger/start of my OCD as inferred by my psychiatrist was about 10 months back (Europe instance). But honestly in the past 10 months it is so ingrained in me and I am so sure/convinced that I need to be punished for I cheated on my fiancé, that I still (like right now) go back on the episode to believe that I cheated on my fiancé and just cannot accept it was my OCD. It feels like an excuse. Like right now, I feel equally guilty as I did a few months back.

 

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The way to deal with this is to take a "leap of faith"  that it is a fake by OCD. 

Trying to work it out, analyse, remember are the compulsions that strengthen the OCD core belief - that you might have cheated - and this, and your giving credibility in that, have strengthened the thoughts and fears. 

This is exactly the problem that keeps many sufferers stuck. And every one recoveree from this that I have been following reports that they did so by 

Gradually cutting out those compulsions 

Accepting the uncertainty of never actually knowing 

Going with the probability it is OCD 

So this is what you too must do. And if you work hard on this there is no reason why you won't weaken, then overcome, this. 

 

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@taurean Thank you for your message and your hopeful words. But my concern is I have reached a stage where there is no doubt, deep down I feel sure that I did cheat. Hence I am puzzled that if it not a 'thought' but real life instance, then how does fit it in the OCD spectrum? Isn't OCD about thoughts, images etc and NOT about real instances which took place?

Hence the idea of self punishment follows - which, I do not know how, is inferred as compulsion?

Sorry my mind is too muddled right now and it has been this way for months now. I am on medication right now but I still tend to slip back into that trap.

Thank you in advance everyone for your time and understanding.

 

Edited by Pranjali

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What evidence do you have that you cheated, other than a feeling? From your original post it seems you have none whatsoever. It doesn't seem a lot to pin your certainty on. Maybe you're not 100% sure you cheated? Maybe 99%? Does that sound reasonable? If so then there's a 1% doubt in your mind. Does that sound like something you could accept? 

Edited by gingerbreadgirl

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I feel horrible right now. As much I am trying to look beyond and feel less alone through this forum, but it has started to make me feel miserable actually. Medication does not let me think about that episode all day long, but steadily it is creeping in again..that churn in the stomach is pathetic (and has been so familiar for the past few months) where everything said on this forum feels like reassurance and not so much. It is impossible to convince my mind to think that I did not cheat because I did. It feels like I would be lying to my mind if I said nothing happened.

I read some post somewhere about how OCD sufferers need certainty and cannot take uncertainty. But what if the sufferer is certain about the misdoings?

What is the difference between real life ocd and false memory ocd?

Also, how is self punishment a compulsion? It might not make one feel better but then it is NOT an anxiety relieving process right?

Sorry to bother you but I have nowhere to pour my heart to. These are not my compulsions but would really like your advise based on your expertise and experience. I am visiting the psychiatrist but I am still struggling.

Thank you

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Hi pranjali

You didn't answer my question above - what evidence do you have that you cheated aside from a feeling? could you accept the possibility that you're only 99% sure that you cheated? Could you accept there is even 1% doubt ?

I am willing to bet you are not completely certain about this and it is the tiny bit of doubt which is driving you round the bend. 

You are carrying out many many compulsions. You are analysing, ruminating, looking for certainty, looking for reassurance, searching for a way out. But all this is only keeping you stuck. 

You cannot be sure this is ocd, you don't know - none of us do. If it didn't feel real, it would be easy. You have to take a leap of faith and treat it like ocd even if you're not sure. 

 

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Thank you @gingerbreadgirl and @taurean for your responses. To answer your first question, if my mind believes that it did happen, then isn't it like I am running away from my mistakes?

Isn't the idea of taking leap of faith also ingrained in the idea of not being able to take responsibility? 

The notions of certainty and uncertainty which play a role in OCD- I wanted to know what does uncertainty mean in this case? Is it certainty about if the instance took place? Or is it actually being able to embrace the uncertainty that you did act in line with your values and personality? Basically is it about acceptance of the event or is it about acceptance about I could act act in an uncertain way?

Thank you.

Edited by Pranjali

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8 hours ago, Pranjali said:

But how is self punishment a compulsion? Isn't that how the world works? You falter big time and pay the price for it? I am not able to understand this.

It is true that you can make a bad choice and feel bad for it, and yes you may pay a price for it, but that doesn't mean you must pay a price eternally.   A compulsion is just a behavior that is repeated over and over, usually in response to some sort of intrusive thought.

For example, consider washing hands.  Its perfectly normal and in fact good to wash your hands at certain times.  But, for some people with intrusive thoughts about germs or cleanliness hand washing can become compulsive.  It goes from healthy and reasonable to unhealthy and unreasonable.

 

8 hours ago, Pranjali said:

Also, is it possible to tell me how do you differentiate between an intrusive 'thought' and a real life OCD? If it is a real life instance, then how can it be just a thought? I do not know if I can put it down in words but I am not able to understand if it was a real life instance, then it means the instance did really take place right?

I'm not an expert on false memory related OCD, perhaps others can give better first hand knowledge of overcoming it (you might consider making a post asking for advice on dealing with false memory OCD), but I'll share what I can.
Basically the idea is this:
You have an intrusive thought, in your case "I might have cheated on my fiance".
You try to remember if something did or didn't happen, but you find you can't be 100% sure.  Now for a normal person thats not a problem, they don't NEED to be 100% sure (they feel like they are, but its really an illusion).  As long as they are highly certain, their brain will flip the "OK" switch in their brain and they will stop worrying about the intrusive thought.  They may barely even notice the thought at all.  Unfortunately for people with OCD, sometimes that "OK" switch gets stuck.  Even though we are 90% sure, or 99% sure or 99.999999999% sure, we still feel doubt.  So what happens next?  Well, if you can't be sure it didn't happen, you start to think, well shoot, maybe it did happen, after all, if it didn't I would feel sure about it right?  And there you go, because of the doubt you feel about it NOT happening, you start to believe it DID happen (after all if it didn't you wouldn't feel anxiety right?).

It sounds like both your doctor and your fiance are convinced that this incident didn't really happen.  But you feel doubt, you think it might have happened or even probably happened,  My guess is the reason they both believe it didn't happen is there is no evidence to believe it did.  Unfortunately when dealing with OCD even evidence can be of limited to no value.  In the end we have to make a leap of faith, we have to live our lives with the understanding that sometimes we will feel doubt about things, because we can never get the certainty that OCD demands, we can never be 100% sure about ANYTHING.  In reality, we don't have to be, but we feel like we do because of OCD.
 

8 hours ago, Pranjali said:

Another query - The trigger/start of my OCD as inferred by my psychiatrist was about 10 months back (Europe instance). But honestly in the past 10 months it is so ingrained in me and I am so sure/convinced that I need to be punished for I cheated on my fiancé, that I still (like right now) go back on the episode to believe that I cheated on my fiancé and just cannot accept it was my OCD. It feels like an excuse. Like right now, I feel equally guilty as I did a few months back.

That you repeatedly go back on the incident is a pretty good sign its OCD.  Its very typical behavior to analyze and re-analyze events when dealing with OCD.
The thing is, memory is tricky.  We like to tell ourselves that what we remember is what happened, but the reality is our memories can be quite unreliable.  We think we remember things a specific way, but it can be the case that what happened and what we remember happening can change over time.  Its not uncommon for people to "remember" events based on stories their family tells for example, only to realize later, "wait, i wasn't even THERE that day!"  Unlike a computer, where the memory can be stored and retrieved exactly, human memory is less specific.  If you repeat an incident in your mind enough, if you let the doubt creep in enough, you can start to believe something happened even if it didn't.  

The fact that you continue to feel guilt is also a prime indicator to me that this is OCD.  A person without OCD who made a mistake, admitted to it, and tried to make ammends probably wouldn't continue to feel the same level of guilt. I am certain you have done things in your life prior to this, perhaps not as bad as what you have come to believe you did/actually did, that you don't continue to punish yourself for.  Perhaps it was lying to your parents, perhaps it was saying something mean to a friend, whatever it was, eventually you forgave yourself, because thats normal.  Its not normal to punish oneself endlessly.  But it IS a very OCD way of behaving.  And its perfectly OCD to feel doubt and guilt about accepting that this is OCD, to feel like its an excuse.  Even if you really did cheat on your fiance, even if that incident is 100% real (though again, I doubt it is), its just not realistic to continue to punish yourself the way you are but it IS 100% inline with how OCD can cause people to behave.

I can tell you are suffering, and I am sorry that you are.  The best advice I can give you is to listen to the people around you who are trying to help you.  Your therapist, your fiance, and those of us here, we all see the same thing.  Which do you think is more likely, that you are some diabolical genius who has fooled us all?  Or that you are suffering from a very real, very unfortunate, but ultimately treatable mental illness, a mental illness which perfectly describes what you are going through?  Odds are its the later.  And yes, you feel doubt about that, because thats what OCD does, causes you to feel doubt.  So you need to work on accepting that doubt and proceeding as if what you are dealing with is really OCD.  

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In OCD themes of this nature we have to watch out for the overthinking compulsion, which you are doing Pranjali. 

False memory OCD is very common, the illness creating, and feeding on, possibilities and sometimes creating vague images or recollections. 

Rather like that child's game of passing on a story, these can get tweaked and seem very compelling. 

And with OCD a 1% chance of being true becomes the bone the OCD dog won't let go. 

Another commonplace is that a friendly kiss is being unfaithful - for me an exaggeration. OCD even claims a physical attraction to someone is being unfaithful. 

There is no rationality there. 

Whether we obsess about something real that happened, or something the illness has made up, we need to leave it be and get our lives back onboard. And we need to apply self-forgiveness and move on. 

 

Edited by taurean

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15 hours ago, dksea said:

It is true that you can make a bad choice and feel bad for it, and yes you may pay a price for it, but that doesn't mean you must pay a price eternally.   A compulsion is just a behavior that is repeated over and over, usually in response to some sort of intrusive thought.

For example, consider washing hands.  Its perfectly normal and in fact good to wash your hands at certain times.  But, for some people with intrusive thoughts about germs or cleanliness hand washing can become compulsive.  It goes from healthy and reasonable to unhealthy and unreasonable.

Thank you so much for the detailed replies and making me understand how this works. You broke it down pretty well. I really appreciate it. All the responses moved me perhaps because I still cannot get over it. I could never perceive self punishment as a compulsion!

 In response to your message, I would like to have clarification - is the idea of self punishment an obsession or is it a compulsion? Have I gotten this right - Because I am obsessed about feeling guilty for what happened, my compulsion is to punish myself endlessly in order to feel that I got what I deserved? Is this how you all see it or the other way round? Or is that I am obsessed with punishing myself and my compulsion is something else? I am not sure..

I am sorry to pose these questions, really in need of clarity even if I convince myself I am in denial. Thank you everyone once again.

Edited by Pranjali

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15 hours ago, dksea said:

You have an intrusive thought, in your case "I might have cheated on my fiance".
You try to remember if something did or didn't happen, but you find you can't be 100% sure.  Now for a normal person thats not a problem, they don't NEED to be 100% sure (they feel like they are, but its really an illusion).  As long as they are highly certain, their brain will flip the "OK" switch in their brain and they will stop worrying about the intrusive thought.  They may barely even notice the thought at all.  Unfortunately for people with OCD, sometimes that "OK" switch gets stuck.  Even though we are 90% sure, or 99% sure or 99.999999999% sure, we still feel doubt.  So what happens next?  Well, if you can't be sure it didn't happen, you start to think, well shoot, maybe it did happen, after all, if it didn't I would feel sure about it right?  And there you go, because of the doubt you feel about it NOT happening, you start to believe it DID happen (after all if it didn't you wouldn't feel anxiety right?).

This too makes sense @dksea. I am trying to process what you have written. However my query still remains - if it is real life OCD (yeah sorry I am still not able to look at it otherwise yet), so you mean obsession is here getting stuck on that instance? or is the obsessing over guilt? As in I am still not able to fathom which is the 'intrusive thought' here- the obsession-in this case? Thank you again for your time and help really. 

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15 hours ago, dksea said:

It sounds like both your doctor and your fiance are convinced that this incident didn't really happen.  But you feel doubt, you think it might have happened or even probably happened,  My guess is the reason they both believe it didn't happen is there is no evidence to believe it did.  Unfortunately when dealing with OCD even evidence can be of limited to no value.  In the end we have to make a leap of faith, we have to live our lives with the understanding that sometimes we will feel doubt about things, because we can never get the certainty that OCD demands, we can never be 100% sure about ANYTHING.  In reality, we don't have to be, but we feel like we do because of OCD.

The evidence part hit the nail to an extent but like you said I do not want to see the lack of evidence as a proof that this is OCD. And as I understand, at this stage it is not possible for me to seek this evidence from my side, isn't it? A person without OCD would probably feel relieved that they are in a safe place as there is lack of evidence. So in this backdrop, what you mean is the entire idea of 'uncertainty' related to the uncertain evidence? 

I mean I get it that uncertainty can be just acceptance of uncertainty in life that things which you did not think you could do, you did and you ought to forgive yourself. But in my case, does uncertainty imply the uncertain evidence?

I am sorry again for making this complicated for everyone here but then there are moments in the day, I do not understand what is happening and I feel like punishing my own self. Thank you again for your advise.

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15 hours ago, dksea said:

I can tell you are suffering, and I am sorry that you are.  The best advice I can give you is to listen to the people around you who are trying to help you.  Your therapist, your fiance, and those of us here, we all see the same thing.  Which do you think is more likely, that you are some diabolical genius who has fooled us all?  Or that you are suffering from a very real, very unfortunate, but ultimately treatable mental illness, a mental illness which perfectly describes what you are going through?  Odds are its the later.  And yes, you feel doubt about that, because thats what OCD does, causes you to feel doubt.  So you need to work on accepting that doubt and proceeding as if what you are dealing with is really OCD.  

I have been trying, really. But unfortunately this week I slipped back really badly. It is not just rumination but rather helplessness that there seems to be lack of will to get past this. Hence I visited the therapist who has suggested a few techniques.

Having said this, I am not sure if it is appropriate to post this query- but having read some literature on OCD, I understand medication , CBT and ERP work with regard to treatment of the disorder. And most of the posts/literature suggest that it is not really the feelings/thoughts which matter but rather how I react to those thoughts- with or without anxiety, or with or without compulsion. 

However, there were weeks in between I was not comfortable interacting with people and specially men because I would cheat on my fiance again, I would update my fiance and my friends about my whereabouts continuously or click snaps about where I am to have a record (compulsions, I presume?). I am steadily trying (with ups and downs) to cut down on my compulsions and reduce the entire updating my folks as much as possible. Of course, there are anxious moments of me giving in and again updating them. Also the issue is - I am at a stage that I feel uncomfortable to get intimate with my fiance. I have been seeing him for a few years now, and this had not happened before. It is like when I am close to him or the moment after that, I start to have thoughts which point out that I was being forced to be intimate with my fiance. I mean this is crazy. My fiance has been understanding about all this all throughout. However, I feel even more miserable that I do not deserve his niceness because I am not able to make amends in my anxiety levels or my thoughts causing anxiety. If I think of using ERP and braving it to expose myself to situations like these, would that help? Or should I give it some time? Is ERP possible in this case- i.e I do not avoid those situations but rather make an effort to be intimate with my fiance? Would avoidance be a compulsion in this case or it would help me clear my mind. My therapist told  me the lack of drive is due to medication to an extent and anxiety is related to OCD.

If anyone has views on this, I would like to know. Thank you everyone again for being in this forum and giving time :)

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15 hours ago, taurean said:

In OCD themes of this nature we have to watch out for the overthinking compulsion, which you are doing Pranjali. 

 

 

Thank you @taurean for your time and responses, really. I am struggling but hanging in there. Like I said I am slightly muddled, not that I seek certainty but rather clarity when it comes to my case. If overthinking is a compulsion, which is the obsession? Under which column (obsessions or compulsions?) do the concepts - guilt and self punishment come in? I am sorry to be nagging everyone here with tiny queries but it would slightly hopeful (maybe) journey if I knew my obsessions and compulsions to begin with?

As I gather, rumination is a compulsion. But it is not that I am sitting and analyzing the event. I have passed that stage of breaking it down and questioning for my mind views this situation as something that it did happen. So let's say rumination and over thinking imply same things here - but then if I were to give up thinking or ruminating, isn't it like I am shying away from mistakes? People do pay some price for the mistakes right (punishing my own self by being away from my fiance even though I love him so much that it hurts a lot)?

Sorry for yet another complex post. I appreciate everyone's time and consideration on this forum.

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1 hour ago, Pranjali said:

So let's say rumination and over thinking imply same things here - but then if I were to give up thinking or ruminating, isn't it like I am shying away from mistakes? 

No. People make mistakes, but we are all human and quickly accept that, take any consequences on the chin, and move on. 

When we moved here, from London, I was pretty sure that - through not knowing or understanding a complex roundabout with traffic lights - that I went through a red light. 

But I accepted that possibility and the likelihood of getting a fine and three penalty points on my licence, then completely forgot about it. 

OK so there was no intent to do wrong there - but I could have obsessed and compulsed about this, the OCD would have said I was bad could have hit something I deserve that punishment, that I needed to suffer more - you see the drift. 

But on many other occasions, as a raw youth, I did things that were wrong. If I had had that theme of OCD I would have continued to punish myself for these, agonised that I was a bad person, I should be punished - but I didn't because I forgave myself at the time and moved on from that - it wasn't a theme of my OCD. 

The guilt feeling is the emotional behavioural response to the obsessional thought, and creates the urge to carry out an obsession to try and fix this bad emotional response but in fact this - ruminating overthinking asking more and more questions requiring more and more answers - is continually widening the OCD rabbithole into which you have fallen. 

There is an obsession to know every single tiny thing around your obsessions, with the compulsion to overthink then ruminate. 

If this obsession continues to have free reign, this will end up being a very long thread and the moderators will probably themselves point this out and look to close down the thread. 

Just remember I am not criticising - just observing. And we don't judge, we sympathise but look to steer people away from their obsessions and compulsions onto the path towards recovery. 

Edited by taurean

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Hi Pranjali

From what you've written here it seems to me:

  • The obsession = "have I cheated".  This is the initial seedling, the "what if" thought.  The thought you had after that night - "what if I cheated on my fiance?" That is the obsession.  The initial obsession, the initial thought, is unimportant.  Everyone has these kinds of thoughts.  Someone without OCD might wake up after a night out and have a thought "what happened? Did I cheat?" They might think about it for a minute or two, then the worry fades because there is literally nothing to substantiate it.  However, with OCD-sufferers the obsession takes on a life of its own because of your compulsions around it.  The compulsions feed the obsession, which grows and grows.  The accompanying anxiety, guilt and pain you feel is a direct result of the compulsions you are carrying out. 
  • The compulsions - this is what you do after having the thought.  Anything you do to try and figure it out/resolve it/pin it down - that is a compulsion. That includes self-punishment because even thought the self-punishment makes you feel worse in some sense, it also feels like a resolution of sorts because you are "punishing yourself appropriately" like a good moral person, you're doing something to resolve the doubt and conflict you feel.  On some level you hope this will make you feel like you are doing the right thing, that it will act as a resolution.  But like any compulsion, it just makes it worse.  With you the main compulsion is not self-punishment but rumination. This is where you go round and round and round trying to sort through everything, pin it down, put it in a nice labelled box.  But unfortunately - as you are discovering - the more you ruminate, the more anxious, guilty and uncomfortable you feel.  This is because compulsions teach your brain that this obsession is very important and needs to be "fixed" before you can move on.  The only way to break this chain is to stop doing compulsions - which teaches your brain it's OK to move on.

Now, you're probably thinking but how do I know this is OCD. The painful fact is, you don't.  You can't know for sure this is OCD.  That is one of the hardest things to get your head around.

When I first came to this forum 5 years ago I was convinced I had committed a crime and I would go to prison.  I was overwhelmed by anxiety.  All the advice said to leave it alone, leave it doubtful and uncertain.  But I couldn't bear the thought of that - we were talking about prison here!! How could I just take the risk that it was just OCD?? I resisted it for a long time, I tried to sort through it, figure it out - I researched, I ruminated, I analysed.  And all of it just made me feel worse and worse.  I felt my life was over, I was waiting for a knock on the door from the police.  Then one day I thought, what the hell, what do I have to lose just treating it like OCD for a bit? If it turns out to be real I can always go back to trying to figure it out.  So I stopped doing compulsions, I left it doubtful, I experienced intense anxiety,.  And in time, I started to feel better.  Now I can see just how ludicrous that fear was.  But I couldn't see that until after I treated it like OCD.  You have to put the cart before the horse - treat it like OCD, see what happens.  I'm guessing that if you do this for long enough, you'll see how ludicrous this it.  but you can't reach that point first. That's why they call it a leap of faith. 

So as it stands you have two choices:

1. Carry on trying to figure it all out - if you decide to do this, I guarantee you will never ever feel better.  This will consume you, the anxiety and pain you feel now will be nothing compared to the anxiety and pain you will feel a year, 2 years, 5 years from now.  You can never ever compulse your way out of your pain.  That is a guaranteed fact, the only certainty in all of this.  Sure, you may think - "but if there is any chance I've cheated, then I deserve this pain".  That is a hell of a chance to take on literally zero evidence.  Ruining your life on the basis of what amounts to a whim? 

2. Decide to treat it like OCD even if you're not sure - if you decide to do this, then you will feel awful, doubtful, like a bad person, you will be convinced you are ignoring a real problem, that you should punish yourself, confess, etc. At first.  Then after a while, your brain will realise you are no longer doing compulsions - you're no longer trying to figure it out.  It will start to cool off.  This will no longer feel like such a big issue. You will get some perspective on it.  Then one day you will wake up and you won't care about it at all.  This is a great place to reach.  It feels impossible now - but tons of people have reached this point with fears which at one point felt 100% real.  I've done it with fears like this.  OCD is 100% treatable. But you can't get to that point first - it can only come later.  That's why it's called a leap of faith.

So now you have a choice - it's a hard and painful choice that all OCD-sufferers have to make at some point if they want to get better.  it sucks that we have to make this painful choice, but we do.  You're at a crossroads now.  You can accept that what you are describing is a textbook case of OCD, that we all recognise it for that, and the feelings you have are all commonly documented symptoms of OCD.  Or you can carry on down the path you're on, in which case it will only ever get worse.  it's up to you.  I really really hope you grit your teeth, stand up to OCD and decide to embrace the doubt, embrace the uncertainty, and see where it gets you.  I'm pretty sure it will be somewhere good, if you stick it out long enough.

GBG x

 

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1 hour ago, gingerbreadgirl said:

The compulsions - this is what you do after having the thought.  Anything you do to try and figure it out/resolve it/pin it down - that is a compulsion. That includes self-punishment because even thought the self-punishment makes you feel worse in some sense, it also feels like a resolution of sorts because you are "punishing yourself appropriately" like a good moral person, you're doing something to resolve the doubt and conflict you feel.  On some level you hope this will make you feel like you are doing the right thing, that it will act as a resolution.  But like any compulsion, it just makes it worse.  With you the main compulsion is not self-punishment but rumination.

Thank you GBG. I do not know what to say, it feels so hopeless the road to recovery right now. Anyway, if it is not asking for too, much can you explain what this means? I apologize but I did not understand how does self punishment make me feel worse? I am unable to comprehend this one.

Because I personally feel (I could be wrong yes), for all this while it is the self punishment and the thought of carrying out is killing me from inside. Really I tell you! That's why I am asking for clarification here. 

I am sorry :(

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