Re: ONE MORE....I hope....

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Posted by John 16's Mom on May 28, 2002:
In Reply to: ONE MORE....I hope.... posted by Joe on May 28, 2002:
Dear Joe,

I have been reading your posts, but this is the first chance that I've had to respond. Sorry for the delay. I wish that this bulletin board could stay loaded with all the posts from the past, especially about this time last year. You would have been able to see my son and many others posting almost the same exact HOCD anxieties and doubts that you are posting right now. Same fantasies, same urges, same checking, erection questions, dreams....exactly. These are all the common symptoms of OCD. You want some sort of final answer. Reassurance does nothing to relieve the anxiety of OCD. You will feel better TEMPORARILY, but then one more question will pop up and you will never be satisfied. Our answers will never be good enough, so it is no use answering all the specific questions about what does this dream mean, or what if I have an erection when I do this, or so on. Those are all the doubts that OCD is giving you to throw you into a web of fear and doubt.

So, what do you do to get rid of this stuff? It's driving you crazy, right?

You have to learn to live with the thoughts by challenging them with a "SO WHAT if I'm gay" attitude. Do not give in to the fear. Stay busy, get involved with a hobby or project, and believe in your true self. Yes, OCD can start you wondering who your true self really is. But, are you going to believe in how you have always been the last nineteen years of your life, or are you going to believe in this short-lived high state of anxiety that has suddenly come over you? Which by the way, presents symptoms that are documented as a medical disorder all over the internet, including the real-life stories of everyone who posts on this board. So you have to trust your instincts and what others have told you about how OCD works. It really will try to convince you that you are gay. That is because it is an ANXIETY DISORDER. It plays on your fears by affecting the part of your brain that responds to a crisis. It is trying to keep you in a constant 24/7 crisis over fear of being gay. And so far, it is succeeding! You have to learn how to trick the OCD by not becoming fearful. This is the key to overcoming OCD. When you don't give in to the thoughts, you will have the power.

There are two ways to help yourself. Find a psychiatrist who is experienced in the treatment of OCD. Call his/her office first and ask before you go in for the appointment if the doctor has experience in the treatment of OCD. This doctor can diagnose the OCD and start you on an SSRI medication, which is the usual medication of choice for the treatment of OCD. There are several for the doctor to choose from. The medication will take about twelve weeks to have a full result. My son started feeling better after about three weeks and continued to improve thereafter. The medication is helpful because it curbs the anxiety in a relatively short time period and there is less "work" involved.

For long range treatment, though, it is important to find an OCD therapist who will help you learn how to challenge the thoughts as I described above. The therapist will teach you exposure therapy, which gradually exposes you to what you fear. He/she will help you find out what causes you anxiety about gayness. You may be asked to look at a magazine with male models, wear certain colors of clothing, dress up when you don't feel like it, hang out with male friends, or any of a variety of other suggestions. These specific actions may cause initial anxiety when you do them. In fact, your anxiety may get very high, depending on the assignment. This is called a "spike" of anxiety. OCD experts have proven that if you have enough of these spikes and see that you have not "turned gay" yet, then eventually the OCD will see that it cannot make you afraid and the fear diminishes and finally goes away. The gay worry goes away because you will finally realize that that is all it is, just a worry causes by a medical disorder. Just be very sure that the therapist you choose has experience in treating OCD with exposure therapy. Just talking about gayness and your feelings is not going to help. OCD therapists are hard to find, so be selective.

OCD always attacks whatever is so close and important to you. Have you noticed that all of the posters here with HOCD are young, usually teens or early 20's? That is because sexuality is so important at this time in your life. You want relationships, things may not have worked out in the past, you yearn for a good mate and a family some day. OCD sees this as an opportunity to start an anxiety on this particular subject. I doubt that an old married lady like me would ever have this particular OCD fear. That is why I always try to say that the subject matter of OCD is not that important. It just so happens that this is the fear that OCD has decided to torment you with because it knows this is important to you.

Think of this disorder as a game where you want to win. You can conquer this fear with hard work. It will get to the point where you will not even have these thoughts, or if you do, you will know what they are. It's just OCD trying to mess with you. I know what you are going through right now. My son was at this exact same point last year when he was just 15 years old. Believe me when I say that it will get better. Just do what you are supposed to do. You can't just sit on this one. It won't get better on its own.

As far as telling your parents, that will have to be your call. My son had to tell us because he was in such a high state of panic and didn't know what else to do. We didn't even know what he had when he first told us how anxious he was. It was so out of the clear blue for him to suddenly think that he was gay. He always had totally hetero feelings before. When we finally got the OCD diagnosis from the psychiatrist and started reading about OCD, it all made sense. Everything matched to a "T" with how his symptoms were. Since you are ahead of him about knowing about OCD, I would recommend telling your parents that you think that you have OCD and need to see a psychiatrist to confirm your belief. I would give them some printed material from the internet about OCD, in particular, any article about homophobic OCD. That will help them to understand it. I think that if they knew how anxious you have been recently, they would jump at the chance to help you get better. No one should have to live like this, and there is help. So just do it! Good luck to you, and write back to let me know how it all turns out.

John 16's Mom  

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