Lessons Learned from Relationship Focused OCD

My first day of my first experience in intensive therapy I was asked to write down my thoughts one day from wake to sleep. I kid you not, by 9am I wrote “exhausted and yawning” (I had gotten up at 6:30). I looked at the journal and realized it was literally one page of thoughts already (probably more but I didn’t want to write it all) and it had only been 2.5 hours. These thoughts consumed about 95% of my day, and were draining me. I felt like I needed to find answers, but at the same time I didn’t know where to go, knew there weren’t actual answers, and part of me didn’t even feel like I needed any. I was trapped.

“Who do I want to be with? What if she isn’t the right person? What if I should be with a guy? But, wait, I have been with guys… How did I feel? Is that who I see myself with? Was it different from this? Should I try again? It’s expected of me. How should I feel? What if I doubt this and can’t commit? Does this feel right? Am I sexually attracted? But emotional means more to me…but you just doubted sexually so what about that?…  What is life? Do I want to be here? What if that car hits me as I get out of my car to get the mail?  Would I care? This is too much to deal with. What if my family never accepts me being with a girl? If they doubt it, maybe I am wrong. How do I know? What makes me happy? Should I move or try to go out more? No but that’s not who I am, but who am I? But wait, I want to be with her but do I need to explore myself more before committing? How do I know? I want to be with her. I had never acted this way with anyone else: losing track of time or had 7 hours feel like 1, sharing as much as I did with someone, yet my brain kept fighting me! I wasn’t used to this feeling. Comfort, calm, connection, and oh wait love–no, never! With a girl…was this right? Did I really feel this way? What if I am wrong?”

This is maybe two minutes of a day’s worth of thinking. Believe me it went on and on, uncontrolled, exhausting, circuitous, torturous circles of mental rumination. It tore me to pieces. I could go on and on, but you get the point. The answers weren’t there; the internal dialogue and questioning never ceased, and I couldn’t escape.

Our brain loves uncertainty and just following human nature, if you feed it, it gets hungry for more. OCD hits ya where it matters most (for me: relationships). I was tortured, stuck in my head, silently screaming so loudly that some days you could hear it through my smiles. I would ask friends, talk incessantly about the topic, but that was only temporary reassurance and fuel for the OCD cycle. The thoughts would only return a few minutes later, leaving me right back to where I started (fun, right?).

I had reached a point of internal breakdown and shattering. I had ruined a relationship that truly mattered to me more than any others, moved away thinking it would help only to find I wanted to be back here with her, and doubted my feelings so many times that this relationship was no longer an option. This cycle had taken too many years away, and now love away, this was the tipping point.

I definitely fell into the self-destructive “why me?” and “why can’t I just be normal and embrace love and be happy?” dance. It got me no where fast. I went into intensive therapy, shifted my whole focus to mental health, and when I tell you, used more mental will power and strength that I never knew I had. I became very focused, diligent with journaling, and cognizant of my mental status, thought patterns, triggers, and reactions. I worked tirelessly, moved out on my own to be in my own head and space, and asked friends I trusted to keep me accountable.

I listened to podcasts on relationship OCD (notes below) that told me “if it hurts you this much, it matters. You think it’s painful now, breaking it off will make it so much worse since it is that anxiety speaking so loudly not you.  Explain, have support, make the person understand as you understand and make it work because it is worth it to you.” I remember hating, I mean loathing, hearing that since it was a little too late in the game for me. Getting someone to understand how intense, painful, and torturous this mental trap can be was extremely difficult. I was angry. I thought “I wish she could hear this. I have to explain.” Tears of pain, sadness, and frustration streaming down my face as I understood this disorder much more intimately. I tried to reach out, knowing who I was dealing with, and understanding if the desire was there it would come at her time not mine.

Painful is not even the right word to describe it. Fighting as hard as I could to stay strong, knowing I needed to get myself to a better place before I would be able to be better for someone else. I am happy to say with a lot of therapy, mental inhibition, strength, and hard work I have gotten those obsessions down to about 10-15% on a typical day. I am much more confident in my ability to handle OCD, comfortable with a fluid sexuality, and excited about the idea of commitment. I am also excited to say, since becoming the champ at Patience and Willpower.

There are definitely still days OCD and anxiety are following me around and I get triggered, but I know that this is, unfortunately, the nature of the beast. It had been about 10 years until I was officially, and oddly gratefully, diagnosed. I fought through much depression, panic attacks, withdrawl, lost friendships, and family hurt before I was able to call this something, treat it, and learn to be myself despite it. I am now better equipped with coping strategies and knowledge about the disorder that help me try to keep perspective and have hope that things will turn out the way they are meant to be. Please reach out if you struggle at all with any form of anxiety or OCD as the feelings, themes, and cycle is the same. I encourage you to find a therapist who you connect with, and fight to get to the other side! You are worthy!

These are some of my notes from the podcast on “OCD stories” from iTunes :
anxiety remained stronger because it mattered with you, it hits ya where it hurts
goes against what your ego wants and that’s why it’s so painful
I’m a romantic so that’s why it attached to relationships
main difference in OCD is constant rumination and reassurance seeking
***not the relationship it’s the OCD, the fear
our brain says relationships are dangerous but they are not
***so hard when you get scary thoughts about someone you care about and harder to admit to anxiety and agree with it (OCD treatment and what yo have to do to get better)

Another article relevant to the topic : http://ocdla.com/rocd-relationship-ocd-myth-of-the-one-3665

 

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