Not sure if this is HOCD anymore.

Hi Dr. Lane,

Ever since January, I have never questioned my sexuality. Ever since I can remember I have loved boys, had numerous crushes on boys and it was perfectly natural. I had always dreamed of marrying a man, starting a family and spending the rest of my life with him.

This summer I had a really big crush on this boy and we hung out all summer. We both went to college and when I saw him over Christmas break, I felt nothing for him. I did not like him at all anymore. I just didn't have any of the feelings that I did when I liked him. The next day I woke up and randomly questioned if I was gay and it has been downhill from there.

After questioning this, I was afraid to hangout with my friends, stopped eating, and fell into a slight depression. I lost weight and did not feel like doing anything except sitting on the couch. I could not watch TV because I did not want to look at women, I was afraid to be around my mom because I thought I might be attracted to her, it was the worst feeling.

Then I came back to college and was terrified that I would develop a lesbian crush on my roommate. After being here a few weeks, my anxiety lifted and I was starting to feel better. The thoughts did not consume me every minute of the day and I thought I was on my way to recovery. Just recently I have had no anxiety at all. It feels like I am slowly accepting the fact that I am a lesbian. Before this I never looked at a girl in a sexual way and now it's all I can do. Normally I would picture myself in a relationship with a girl and cringe and know that it was not who I truly was but now that my anxiety is gone, I no longer cringe. I feel like I could maybe enjoy it and I truly do not want to feel that way.

Tonight I met my roommate for next year and before meeting her I had a fear that I would develop a crush on her and all through dinner that was all I could think about. She's pretty but the normal me would never think of her in that way. I pictured kissing her and I did not cringe and that scares me so much.

So in conclusion, do you believe this is HOCD or am I really a lesbian in denial? Before all of this I never could see myself settling down and spending the rest of my life with a woman but now it does not have any affect on me. Thanks so much!

And I might add that when I

And I might add that when I was in 5th grade, I had an obsession that my parents were going to get a divorce and I was very depressed and sad about it until one day I got over it.

Hi Delaney, My apologies for

Hi Delaney,

My apologies for not responding to your post sooner.

Everything you describe suggests a likely history of OCD, or at least OCD symptoms (people can have obsessive thoughts and not meet the criteria for a diagnosis of OCD). HOCD isn't a separate disorder - it's just one type of OCD.

Like many people who develop HOCD, it starts with an irrational thought rather than a genuine attraction to the same sex. It's perfectly normal and very common to have a crush on someone, only to have it fade later. The fact that you discovered you no longer had any interest in that boy when you got home for Christmas break doesn't mean you are gay, but for some reason you jumped to that conclusion and the thoughts took hold and became an obsession.

Also, it sounds like you developed more than a "slight depression" - losing your appetite, losing weight, and losing the desire to do anything but sit on the couch are not minor depressive symptoms.

It's also not uncommon for the anxiety to subside, or for the thoughts to no longer cause distress. But that doesn't mean you ARE gay or that you're ACCEPTING that you're a lesbian. Nothing you've described suggests that you are attracted to other females. I suspect (and correct me if I"m wrong) that when you say you look at other girls in a "sexual way" that you have intrusive, sexual thoughts pop into your mind when you see a girl, as opposed to having a genuine sexual desire / romantic interest in other girls (e.g. like the crush you had on the boy).

You also said "my anxiety is gone" and then in the next paragraph you said, "I pictured kissing her and I did not cringe and that scares me so much" - doesn't sound like your anxiety is gone at all, if the image of kissing her "scares you so much" - that IS anxiety.

Based on what you describe, I don't think you are a lesbian in denial. If these thoughts continue to bother you and cause you distress, my best recommendation is working with a therapist who either specializes in treating OCD or who at least has a LOT of experience treating it (many therapists don't have enough experience). I also recommend working with a therapist who uses CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) to treat anxiety and OCD.

Therapy will help you learn to manage the intrusive thoughts and tolerate the uncertainty they cause about your sexual orientation (it's okay to have doubts).

I hope this helps!

Dr. Lane

Thank you for your reply! I

Thank you for your reply!

I think my lack of interest in men was because of a slight depression. Is that possible?

This weekend I went on a trip and I developed a crush on this boy and it felt so natural and my symptoms seemed to disappear for two days. It was wonderful! But when I got back home, the HOCD was awful and seemed way worse than before. I feel more and more like a lesbian every day and find it hard to go out in public because I don't want to have these intrusive thoughts.

Will these thoughts ever completely go away? I have an appointment with a psychiatrist tomorrow at my college to talk about how I have been feeling.

The problem I am having now is that sometimes these feelings do not repulse me and I can sometimes picture myself in a relationship with a girl even though 3 months ago, I would have NEVER thought anything like that.

Thanks again!

Hi Delaney, Yes, it is

Hi Delaney,

Yes, it is possible to feel a loss of attraction / libido due to depression. It could also be due to the confusion regarding your sexual orientation.

You said in your second paragraph above that you developed a crush on a boy this past weekend. Then, you said, "I feel more and more like a lesbian every day" - Would a lesbian have a crush on a boy? Bisexual would be more likely in this case (although I'm not assuming you are bisexual).

Now, you didn't say why you "feel" more and more like a lesbian. If you were a lesbian, you would find yourself sexually and romantically attracted to other females. Has that happened at any time?

Just because the feelings don't "repulse" you does NOT mean you are gay. That's a common misinterpretation of individuals who struggle with HOCD or HOCD symptoms. You may feel less repulsed by them because you are becoming "desensitized" by them. You may have gotten used to them so they don't bother you so much.

Also, you say you can sometimes picture yourself in a relationship with a girl. There's a difference between being able to picture yourself without feeling repulsed by the idea, versus picturing yourself in a relationship with a girl because you desire that. Does that make sense? I don't know which it is because I don't have enough information.

So, is it possible you're discovering that you're bisexual? Maybe, but not necessarily. Or it could be that you're simply becoming "desensitized" to these lesbian thoughts, images, and "feelings". Not being repulsed or bothered by something does NOT automatically mean you LIKE or DESIRE it. So, it may be that you're jumping to conclusions that aren't accurate, which happens all the time with OCD.

I'm really glad you'll be seeing a psychiatrist. I hope he or she can help you.

Dr. Lane

I said I feel more and more

I said I feel more and more like a lesbian everyday because I sometimes do not feel repulsed by my intrusive thoughts about girls. I also do not believe I am becoming bisexual because I have never wanted to be in a relationship with a girl and really don't want to try it out. I definitely do not desire to be physical with a girl. I still find it extremely hard to be around my friends, now more than ever, for some reason. I'm just afraid that the more tjme I spend around them the better chance I have of realizing I'm a lesbian. I know that is far fetched but it makes sense to me in my head.

Thanks in advanced!

And another question is,

And another question is, would a closeted lesbian be afraid to hang out with their friends because they're scared of liking them?

Hi Delaney, While I can't

Hi Delaney,

While I can't speak for every closeted lesbian, people who are closeted know their sexual orientation - they just don't want anyone else to know about it (often due to religious or cultural reasons, or because they're in a position (e.g. in politics, professional sports, etc.) that they fear they would lose if people discovered they were gay.

In your case, (and others with irrational, obsessive fears about being gay or lesbian), the concern is that YOU'LL discover you actually ARE lesbian. So, right now, you're avoiding your female friends out of the fear that you might feel attracted to one of them, and if that occured, that would be "evidence" (in your mind) that you're a lesbian (even though that "feeling" will likely be your mind telling you that you're attracted, rather than you genuinely BEING attracted). I hope that makes sense.

The closeted lesbian knows she's a lesbian; but she's not avoiding other women as a general rule. In fact, many people who are "in the closet" have discreet relationships, even though publicly they may be married or dating someone of the opposite sex. Individuals struggling with HOCD aren't "closeted", per se - although many do fear that others might think they are gay - rather, they are trying to avoid the anxiety that any false attraction or feelings will trigger, and believe that avoiding other individuals of the same sex (often close friends) will protect them from their worst fears being realized.

The problem with avoidance is this: it makes anxiety worse in the end. You can't avoid every female, no matter how hard you try. But every time you do avoid your friends and other females, and it helps alleviate your anxiety, you reinforce the avoidant behavior and feel even MORE anxious when you do have to be around other females.

I hope this makes sense!

And to reinforce what I said in my earlier post - just because you're no longer repulsed by the thoughts doesn't mean you are a lesbian.

Dr. Lane

Yes that makes sense! Last

Yes that makes sense! Last night I decided to not pay attention to my unwanted thoughts and jusy try to be happy. I felt pretty good about myself. And then this morning I woke up and the thoughts did not take over like the usually do as soon as I woke up. But then after a few minutes I had a thought of "oh do you miss those lesbian thoughts?" And then I freaked out because who thinks that? That made me really feel like a lesbian and then I have continued to fight the thoughts for the rest of the day. Is this still HOCD or is it me coming to terms with my sexuality?

Also I have been trying to look into my past to see if I can find any indication of liking girls. I remember when I was little I used to like looking at pregnant women because I always wanted to know what that was like but that is the only thing I remember. My thinking is so far from what I normally would do and two months ago, there is no way I would even consider a relationship with a woman, and not it does not repulse me but there is still something holding me back- it doesn't feel right. I hope I am not in denial and that this is all part of the process.

Hi Delaney, Everything you

Hi Delaney,

Everything you describe is very typical of individuals suffering from HOCD. You said: "I had a thought of "oh do you miss those lesbian thoughts?" And then I freaked out because who thinks that? That made me really feel like a lesbian." That's how someone with HOCD thinks, not how a lesbian thinks. So, no, I don't believe this is you coming to terms with your sexuality.

The types of thoughts you're having (like above) are "intrusive" thoughts - typical with OCD (although you can have intrusive thoughts and not meet the criteria for OCD).

As for looking into your past - this is also very common with HOCD, and it can quickly become a compulsive behavior. What you're doing is compulsively seeking reassurance that you're NOT a lesbian, or "evidence" - even though it's not necessarily really evidence that you ARE a lesbian. It's a vicious cycle that won't stop if you continue feeding it (which, I realize, stopping this behavior is much easier said than done).

One of the biggest fears of anyone with HOCD is that they're in denial.

If this continues to cause distress for you, and if the obsessions and compulsions are taking up a lot of your time and energy and interfering with your life, then I highly recommend working with a therapist who either specializes in treating OCD, are who has a LOT of experience in treating it (in other words, not just any therapist, as many don't know how to effectively treat OCD and can do more harm than good).

You will drive yourself nuts trying to determine what this or that thought, behavior, or memory means in terms of your sexual orientation. A skilled therapist can help you learn to manage these thoughts while learning to tolerate the doubts about your sexual orientation.

As for "this is all part of the process" - I'm not sure what "process" you're referring to. These kinds of doubts and intrusive thoughts aren't normal. Therapy - specifically cognitive behavioral therapy - is my best recommendation for you.

Reassurance will provide only temporary relief at best; as you've probably realized by now, as soon as you feel a little reassurance, something else will trigger more doubts.

Dr. Lane

Hi Dr. Lane, Thanks so much

Hi Dr. Lane,

Thanks so much for your reply. It really calmed me down and I had a good past few days. I was not going to post anymore because I had an appointment today with my psychiatrist but it was cancelled and I'm feeling very distressed.

I feel this is the worst my HOCD has ever been. I am constantly having these intrusive thoughts and a lot of them are "could you see yourself dating your friends?" (That are girls), "maybe you would enjoy dating girls better than guys" and so I try to imagine dating a girl and I no longer get disgusted and can actually imagine it.

The only thing holding me back from becoming a lesbian is the fact that I've loved boys from an early age and have only had crushes on boys my whole life. Before this HOCD I wanted to get married to a man and have kids but it is so hard to imagine that now. I feel like HOCD has turned me against everything I've ever wanted or dreamed of and made me like something completely foreign and different to me. Is this common?

The most disturbing part of all of this is I will go online for reassurance, which I know I shouldn't do, and I find someone with a story just like mine and it should make me happy because that way I know it's HOCD, but it no longer reassures me and instead I am like "but you want to be a lesbian. You would like that. You don't want it to be OCD." That is where I'm currently am with this struggle and I really just want to know if it's possible to be a lesbian without any previous crushes or desires to be with a girl. I'm 18 years old and have never had one.
I'm so sorry to bother you again!

Hi Delaney, Due to some

Hi Delaney,

Due to some changes with BrainPhysics, I will no longer be answering readers' questions here. If you would like to temporarily post your email here (and then delete it once I get it, which I'll let you know), then I'm happy to respond via email as time allows.

Dr. Lane

Yes thanks so much! My email

Yes thanks so much! My email is [email protected]

Thanks, Delaney!

Thanks, Delaney!

Dr. Lane

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