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Ironborn

Is this even possible?

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Hello all.

In the past a lot of OCD topics came by me, but one that always seems to be the worst is real event OCD. 

In the past (2008) i have been on a tour to Afghanistan because i was in the military. I was a young naive kid who only cared about some action and recognition in his life.

Now fast forward 11 years later im a totally different person, but a lot of stuff from my past is being haunted by ocd. One of those things is something i did years ago after i came back from Afghanistan. I remember that when i got back i used to tell a lot of stories about my tour, mostly because i was looking for attention. I used to be someone who did everything for attention and i noticed i got alot of it with stories i told. But here also lies the problem i have now with my OCD. I feel extreme guilt telling stories and even showing pictures to people back then, a lot of the stories i told were not actually my own stories, but i told them as if i was the one who had been in such situations. One of these stories was about a suicide attack where some civilians were killed, there were even pictures of that situation where you could see deceased people (even children) and i received those pictures during my tour from another soldier who also received them from another and so on and on....

Now i feel extreme guilt because i feel i misused the death of people and even children for my own benefit (attention) and being (liked) i guess?

I became a father of my own 4 months ago, and everytime i think of him i suddenly see those pictures before me of those deceased people and children (especially the children). And i feel huge amounts of guilt, disgust, fear. 

I really don't know how to cope with this, also i don't think it is PTSD because it has a lot of OCD in it, like; googling, asking for reassurance etc etc.

What can i do about this? and how can i put things in perspective?


PS: My behaviour back in those days most prob comes from being a neglected child by a alcoholic mother, being mentally abused by her. and ever since i have been hungry for any recognition or attention (good or bad). i used to be a pathological liar just to tell the greatest stories to people, and  i was very good at it, people liked me laughed about me etc etc. 

But now 11 years later, matured. I am so different i don't lie for attention anymore and i've become very emphatic. How does someone forgive his past wrongdoings? how can i move on from this? 

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6 minutes ago, OCDhavenobrain said:

We can never know how we have impacted others. Move on, you will not get certainty by ruminating about it.

Its just so hard to move on, while i am totally unsure how or what i may have contributed to any suffering. Also being a dad right now i feel i would be raging if any people were in possession of pictures of my child and even more so telling stories about them. 

Although those parents can never know i had those pics, because they were given trough a lot of other colleagues of mine at the time, i still feel i had some kind of ethical responsibility to now do anything with those pictures. If i think back to my tour in Afghanistan i know people there are thinking in a totally different way then us, and  i feel as if they would know about what i have done with those pictures they would sentence me to death. and thus now i feel i deserve the death penalty.

But i don't want to die, because i have a gorgeous son, and i love him so much. im torn right now, on on side  i want to bring those parents some justice and maybe ease the pain of there deceased child, but on the other side i want to live my own live and enjoy life with my son and wife.

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BTW: recently i deleted all those pic's from my hard drive they were stored on, i felt that by keeping them on the hdd i would keep the death of those people a current thing.

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What you do about this is nothing. Nothing. Right now you are performing a compulsion by analyzing whst you did, looking for motives and possible repercussions. That's the problem, not that you did something 11 years ago.

You are allowed to let this go. We are all allowed to move past our mistakes.

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Hi Ironborn
I really feel for you. I struggle with real event OCD too, including moral/ethical transgressions.
I am not over my own issues yet so I don't have "the answer", but I think the route out of these things might be to forgive ourselves.  I don't think this goes against the idea of embracing uncertainty because you're not aiming to end up with a final, certain judgement that what you did was either ok or not ok - there is no true answer to that: it would depend who you ask and on what day you ask them. But I think we have the right to forgive ourselves for our past actions.  I think anyone and everyone has that right.  We are human and fallible and our actions depend on a huge number of factors, most of which we can't see at the time. We simply can't get it all right.
You talk about how those parents might judge you, and I do the same thing, imagining how the people most likely to judge me harshly might judge me.  But is that fair, really?  They're too close to the issue to see it clearly.  You don't know them. I bet they've made their own mistakes. Nobody has a clean slate, but that's ok. We're all just trying our best and learning from our mistakes as we go along. A good trick is to imagine a close friend who you really care for making the same mistake and regretting. Would you want them to forgive themselves?
The problem is then that it's so difficult to do that, even if we go along with the idea in principle.  I'm really not good at that bit myself yet and I'm trying to be patient with myself about it.  I wonder if it comes slowly but naturally once making the decision "in principle" to forgive yourself allows you to then determinedly give up the compulsion of ruminating over it?  So some sustained effort at leaving the issue alone is going to be necessary I think before we actually feel better.
I hope I'm talking sense here. This is my first "advice" post and I'm a bit worried about getting it wrong....  But I really wanted to give a bit of support as you're giving yourself a very hard time there and I think there's another way

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4 hours ago, Ironborn said:

I really don't know how to cope with this, also i don't think it is PTSD because it has a lot of OCD in it, like; googling, asking for reassurance etc etc.

Hi Ironborn,

I certainly would not rule out PTSD playing a part, and if it does, you may well find that it is interfering with making progress with OCD, & vice versa.

Are you able to discuss all of this with your doctor? How about the military over there, do they have anything in place with diagnosis, counselling, or support?

You deserve all the help you can get mate.

Take care. 

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1 hour ago, PolarBear said:

What you do about this is nothing. Nothing. Right now you are performing a compulsion by analyzing whst you did, looking for motives and possible repercussions. That's the problem, not that you did something 11 years ago.

You are allowed to let this go. We are all allowed to move past our mistakes.

But how can i live with myself? I sometimes feel like i should train my mind into becoming less empathic and more of a less caring person, but i'm afraid i then might become some selfish person. 

How can i be still empathic like i am now, and not let it determine my actions today? I don't want to not care about what happened, but i also don't wat to be completely obsessed about it. how do i find a balance?

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No balance is required. Nowhere is it written that we must punish ourselves for past mistakes. That's what you are doing... punishing yourself. And the punishment does not fit the crime. It's way overblown, as it is in all cases of this OCD theme.

You can be a good person today and empathetic and caring and not allow yourself to wear a minor transgression from the past around your neck.

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1 hour ago, PolarBear said:

No balance is required. Nowhere is it written that we must punish ourselves for past mistakes. That's what you are doing... punishing yourself. And the punishment does not fit the crime. It's way overblown, as it is in all cases of this OCD theme.

You can be a good person today and empathetic and caring and not allow yourself to wear a minor transgression from the past around your neck.

How can it be a minor thing when it involves dead children? 

I feel like i deserve no happiness if the ones i got myself involved with are suffering themself. (altough i dont know for sure if they are suffering because i did not meet any of those people in person, and they prob dont even know i exist).  i am just one of those many colleauges who received those pics from their co-worket etc etc. but i did use those pics when i got home to make this interesing story for others, just to be seen and looked up to i guess?

Its almost as if they suffer and lost their child, i need to suffer aswell (because by aquiring those pics makes me involved and need to take responsibilities).

PS: even writing this i feel like i cannot write everything i mean to say because i am scared certain things i write down here might become actual truth.

Edited by Ironborn

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3 hours ago, felix4 said:

Hi Ironborn,

I certainly would not rule out PTSD playing a part, and if it does, you may well find that it is interfering with making progress with OCD, & vice versa.

Are you able to discuss all of this with your doctor? How about the military over there, do they have anything in place with diagnosis, counselling, or support?

You deserve all the help you can get mate.

Take care. 

ive been checked for ptsd in the past. and nothing came out from it. also i dont really have flashbacks of the tour itself, more the pics i received and wached with friends , family etc when i got home. especially one pic of a dead boy keeps coming back in my mind. One can not get ptsd from seeing a picture right? it only started popping back up in my memory when i looked at my son and how in love i am with that little kid of mine. suddenly i thought of the pic i had for all those years put faw away on some hdd. and immediatly ruminations came with the memory, ruminations like; I dont deserve to be happy because the boy can never be happy again, or i dont deserve to feel great and happy and enjoy my son because the parents of that boy most prob are devestaded for the rest of their lifes, or i need to somhow make it right by traveling to Afghanistan and deliver myself to the autorities and let them give me the death penalty, or i need to start doing volunteer work for the rest of my life to maybemake up for like 1% of what happened to the boy and his family and friends.

Edited by Ironborn

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Ironborn, your words are like so many others that came before you. I deserve no happiness. So overblown to what happened. 

Look at what's happened. OCD fixates on something, drawing your attention to it. Along with that is a panicky feeling, which you wrongly interpret as meaning it is a big deal. Then you do compulsions, which makes the whole thing worse. Chiefly, you ruminate endlessly, drawing power into the OCD vortex. A minor thing becomes this huge deal.

It's the way it works with OCD. I can say this is minor because I am not in your head. I am not being bombarded by fake intrusive thoughts.

 

Edited by PolarBear

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17 hours ago, Ironborn said:

Now fast forward 11 years later im a totally different person

This is the most important thing that you have said in this thread, its the thing you need to remember, the thing you need to focus on.  You have changed.  Change is normal, change is expected.  We ALL can look back on the things we did when we were younger and cringe.  Why?  Because we know more now than we did then, we have matured since then, we have grown and changed since then, hopefully for the better.  But part of getting to where you are now is the lessons you learned back then. 
 

8 hours ago, Ironborn said:

I feel like i deserve no happiness if the ones i got myself involved with are suffering themself.

This is OCD demanding an unrealistic standard.  You can never be happy ever again because someone else is suffering?  If thats the case then no one can possibly be happy EVER because there is always going to be someone, somewhere, suffering, and its always going to be possible to come up with SOME connection between you and them.  You need to push back against this unrealistic demand that OCD is placing on you.

In the past you made choices which you know regret.  Thats understandable and normal.  When reasonable its ok to do things to make up for those choices, however the key word is REASONABLE.  Its unreasonable to expect you to recall every story you ever told and apologize to every person who possibly heard it.  You could spend the rest of your life trying to do that and you'd likely never finish, in part because you'd never remember all the times/places/people involved when you told a story.  Further, its highly likely it wouldn't actually help anyone.  Honestly, if someone from my past came up to me and said "hey, so that one time I told that story, it wasn't really me it was about", my response would probably be "what story?" or "um, ok, whatever, I don't think I even thought about it after that".  Unless you have SPECIFIC knowledge that you have done something wrong which you can do something about, spending your life dwelling on your past is only going to make things worse, it will rob you of your present, and it will do no one any good now.

You made mistakes in the past, you'll make mistakes in the future.  Fix the ones you can, learn from them all, and let go of the ones that you can't do anything about in a reasonable or meaningful way.  You let it go by understanding that there is nothing to be gained by anyone for you wasting your life over relatively trivial matters.  And yes, even though the overall story involves more serious stuff, including the deceased, what you did was not a direct part of that, your part of the overall story is just a blip.  Learn from it, grow from it, move on from it.

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Ironborn, nothing you've said here has struck anyone as so terrible. But that's not the point. The way I see it, OCD guilt, is largely faux-guilt (the real thing never feels as bad). The disorder will latch onto something - and hammer your brain with a hyperbolic rendition of terrible culpability. It's a fraud. Not because you're a bad person - or good either, it's just OCD doing its thing. As an overall mindset, don't try to be 'good' - even the good aren't really, just be human. 

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Hi ironborn

This seems to be a common theme with you (I am similar) - you obsess over something you've done for a while, and then switch to something else which becomes the new "most important" thing. You come here looking for reassurance and you either receive enough to move onto the next topic, or another trigger comes along. This cycle will continue indefinitely until you make a choice to break the cycle. The current obsession will ALWAYS feel too important to ignore. The key is to just grit your teeth and decide to do it anyway - stop engaging with the thought, stop trying to figure it out. Then when the next one comes along, don't try and figure that out either. The analysis is what keeps the thought in your mind. If you constantly try and figure it out there will always be another thing to figure out. You have to decide enough is enough. 

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20 hours ago, PolarBear said:

Ironborn, your words are like so many others that came before you. I deserve no happiness. So overblown to what happened. 

Look at what's happened. OCD fixates on something, drawing your attention to it. Along with that is a panicky feeling, which you wrongly interpret as meaning it is a big deal. Then you do compulsions, which makes the whole thing worse. Chiefly, you ruminate endlessly, drawing power into the OCD vortex. A minor thing becomes this huge deal.

It's the way it works with OCD. I can say this is minor because I am not in your head. I am not being bombarded by fake intrusive thoughts.

 

I get where you are coming from, but why does it feel SO imprtant? altough this happens alot of times, especially when a new ocd 'theme' comes i feel like this is extremely important and needs my total attention. 

BTW: im not sure if this other thing i have is also a ocd kind of thinking pattern but ill try and explain because im seriously confused if this is ocd or something else: alot of times when new ocd themes pop up i get this feeling or thought that this specific theme will take over every second of my day / thoughts, its as if something inside of me says; this will keep haunting you every second of every day, not matter what youll be doing you will be reminded of this for ALWAYS. and thus that thought makes me check the whole time if the thought indeed is here right now, and immediatly the thought indeed pops up and says; you see here i am, i told you i would be everywhere you would be, you cant escape me, everything you doo im gonna be there! The rest of you life!

12 hours ago, dksea said:

This is the most important thing that you have said in this thread, its the thing you need to remember, the thing you need to focus on.  You have changed.  Change is normal, change is expected.  We ALL can look back on the things we did when we were younger and cringe.  Why?  Because we know more now than we did then, we have matured since then, we have grown and changed since then, hopefully for the better.  But part of getting to where you are now is the lessons you learned back then. 
 

This is OCD demanding an unrealistic standard.  You can never be happy ever again because someone else is suffering?  If thats the case then no one can possibly be happy EVER because there is always going to be someone, somewhere, suffering, and its always going to be possible to come up with SOME connection between you and them.  You need to push back against this unrealistic demand that OCD is placing on you.

In the past you made choices which you know regret.  Thats understandable and normal.  When reasonable its ok to do things to make up for those choices, however the key word is REASONABLE.  Its unreasonable to expect you to recall every story you ever told and apologize to every person who possibly heard it.  You could spend the rest of your life trying to do that and you'd likely never finish, in part because you'd never remember all the times/places/people involved when you told a story.  Further, its highly likely it wouldn't actually help anyone.  Honestly, if someone from my past came up to me and said "hey, so that one time I told that story, it wasn't really me it was about", my response would probably be "what story?" or "um, ok, whatever, I don't think I even thought about it after that".  Unless you have SPECIFIC knowledge that you have done something wrong which you can do something about, spending your life dwelling on your past is only going to make things worse, it will rob you of your present, and it will do no one any good now.

You made mistakes in the past, you'll make mistakes in the future.  Fix the ones you can, learn from them all, and let go of the ones that you can't do anything about in a reasonable or meaningful way.  You let it go by understanding that there is nothing to be gained by anyone for you wasting your life over relatively trivial matters.  And yes, even though the overall story involves more serious stuff, including the deceased, what you did was not a direct part of that, your part of the overall story is just a blip.  Learn from it, grow from it, move on from it.

Thank you for the input, yes i know i made mistakes in the past, but how can i move on from them?; try and make amends? or become some psycopathic person so i wont care for anything in the world anymore?  alot of the times i feel those 2 choices are the only ones i have. 

10 hours ago, paradoxer said:

Ironborn, nothing you've said here has struck anyone as so terrible. But that's not the point. The way I see it, OCD guilt, is largely faux-guilt (the real thing never feels as bad). The disorder will latch onto something - and hammer your brain with a hyperbolic rendition of terrible culpability. It's a fraud. Not because you're a bad person - or good either, it's just OCD doing its thing. As an overall mindset, don't try to be 'good' - even the good aren't really, just be human. 

But i feel that i need to somhow get my 'karma' in balance, and it always feels as if my negative or bad karma is so much more then the good karma ive aaquired trough life.

1 hour ago, gingerbreadgirl said:

Hi ironborn

This seems to be a common theme with you (I am similar) - you obsess over something you've done for a while, and then switch to something else which becomes the new "most important" thing. You come here looking for reassurance and you either receive enough to move onto the next topic, or another trigger comes along. This cycle will continue indefinitely until you make a choice to break the cycle. The current obsession will ALWAYS feel too important to ignore. The key is to just grit your teeth and decide to do it anyway - stop engaging with the thought, stop trying to figure it out. Then when the next one comes along, don't try and figure that out either. The analysis is what keeps the thought in your mind. If you constantly try and figure it out there will always be another thing to figure out. You have to decide enough is enough. 

Yes gingerbreadgirl it indeed is a common theme, but its a hard theme for me because its feels SO true. and it gains in strength because of what i replied to Polarbears comment which was; ((( BTW: im not sure if this other thing i have is also a ocd kind of thinking pattern but ill try and explain because im seriously confused if this is ocd or something else: alot of times when new ocd themes pop up i get this feeling or thought that this specific theme will take over every second of my day / thoughts, its as if something inside of me says; this will keep haunting you every second of every day, not matter what youll be doing you will be reminded of this for ALWAYS. and thus that thought makes me check the whole time if the thought indeed is here right now, and immediatly the thought indeed pops up and says; you see here i am, i told you i would be everywhere you would be, you cant escape me, everything you doo im gonna be there! The rest of you life! )))

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9 hours ago, Ironborn said:

Thank you for the input, yes i know i made mistakes in the past, but how can i move on from them?; try and make amends? or become some psycopathic person so i wont care for anything in the world anymore?  alot of the times i feel those 2 choices are the only ones i have. 

The problem is those aren't the only two choices you have, limiting it to two choices is OCD lying to you, setting up impossible standards.
Consider what you would have to do to fulfill the first option:

  • Identify EVERY SINGLE decision or action you have taken in your entire life
  • Track down the consequences of all those actions, identifying the outcomes and any possible harm or negative affect they have caused
  • Come up with some plan of action to make amends to the affected party or parties
  • In executing that plan of action, avoid committing ANY other action which you might have to later make amends for

There are many reasons why this is an unachievable goal, but the last point is particularly relevant, because even if you somehow, against all odds managed to do the first three points, its virtually impossible you'd avoided making any mistakes or decisions that wouldn't possibly have some negative impact along the way, the world is just too complex for that. Maybe you undertip your server while waiting in a restaurant to apologize to someone you told an exaggerated story to years ago, as a result that server is angry the next day and says something rude to a customer, that customer gets angry and storms out of the restaurant, in doing so steps on the foot of yet ANOTHER customer injuring them. etc. etc. etc. It could theoretically go on forever.

The alternative is not to be a psychopath.  The alternative is to behave like a rational, non-OCD person.  To make up for mistakes when you can, to try and avoid doing things to harm people, and to respond appropriately when you fall short.  As the saying goes, let the punishment fit the crime.  You wouldn't sentence someone to death or life in prison for a minor violation (say crossing the street when it says don't walk or being rude to a customer at a shop).  Don't sentence yourself to life for these things either.  Learn from your past, be better in the future, but don't throw your life away trying to meet a set of impossible standards that OCD has tricked you in to believing are necessary.  When in doubt, behave like a non-OCD person would.  A non-OCD person would, at most, learn from these mistakes and try and be a better person in the future.  Thats it.  Thats all you need to do.

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15 hours ago, Ironborn said:

 

But i feel that i need to somhow get my 'karma' in balance, and it always feels as if my negative or bad karma is so much more then the good karma ive aaquired trough life.

 

If you want to get your karma in balance, the last thing you should do is jump to the dictates of OCD. 

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