Am I gay or in denial?
So I have a few videos on sexual orientation ocd or HOCD and inevitably, someone will comment. "how do I know I'm not just using OCD as an excuse to hide that I am gay." Man, I don't blame you, I'd want to know this answer myself. Well in this video, my attempt is to answer this question WITHOUT providing reassurance; which we all know is a compulsion that keeps OCD at bay.
First address the random comments from strangers: "you all just need to accept that you're gay and stop hiding it." or "sexual orientation OCD doesn't exist." As you can tell these types of comments from strangers can be damaging and cause even more anxiety. So let's set the record strait. "get it.....strait."
Sexual orientation OCD is a subset of OCD. As we know, it attacks what we value and care about. It will make someone question everything about themselves. It can be their sexual orientation, make someone question if they are gay. If they are strait. If they are transgender. It makes you question if you even have OCD. Which brings us here, in this moment.
Am I already diagnosed with OCD? Have I had other OCD themes in the past? If so, there is a good chance OCD has moved to this new theme. Do I feel anxiety and a strong urge to know right now? and I mean it....like right now! I won't be satisfied until I know this answer....right now! If that's the case, it's likely to be OCD-related.
Someone who is figuring out their orientation thinks about it in an inquisitive way. Not with extreme anxiety that just won't pass. To me, this is a big indication. Denial means I am choosing to push something away and not think about it. There is the key....not think about it. Someone who is denying something has this ability. Someone with OCD may not. Their brain is forcing a thought. A thought they don't want. A thought that goes against their values and their morals. It is ego-dystonic. It doesn't belong.
But as we get so caught up in the context of am I gay or am I not; this often can be the trap. You may be watching this video right now and saying...okay Nate says, people have anxiety and can't let it go if they have OCD. Does that sound like me? I'm not sure if that sounds like me. Maybe I really am in denial. I better keep searching. So while OCD seeks this truth, it's really a lie. That's why we gain the upper hand by telling it that you're actually okay not finding the answer. It may seem so out of control that someone can accept that they will not get this answer; but just like any other theme of OCD, this is the way. This is the treatment.
Using phrases like, "maybe, maybe not" give our brain this answer that's like...okay man....I'm accepting that I don't know and I'll learn to be okay as long as I don't continue to do compulsions. So ultimately, you may be thinking. Nate, you didn't really answer my question. I still want to know if I'm gay or not. Or if I'm strait or if I'm transgender.
Here is the real answer....the way to know is to not know. Sounds nutzo, but it's so true. To commit to not figuring this out is the key. To live your life the way YOU want to live your life. To not stop yourself from moving forward. To not engage with the thought of, "am I gay or not."
To commit and I really mean commit, 100% that I am not going to figure this out anymore. I'm going to stop researching, asking on forums, engaging with my rumination or asking for reassurance.
What ends up happening is one of two things. The theme moves to something else, all of a sudden I'm worried about car emissions and if they are hurting my lungs; or your brain simply doesn't care to find the answer and stops bothering you about it. Think about this, the only reason words have meaning is because we put meaning to it. When you've stripped it all way. It's got nothing left. Your job is to live your life. Move forward, Feel the anxiety and make it your buddy. Commit to not know. To gain even a better understanding of treatment, make sure you watch this video, where I go through the treatment for sexual orientation OCD
How do I know if I'm gay
I'm scared that I'm gay
How long does OCD recovery take?
Isn't this the question we have with anything we want to go away in our life? How long will I have this? This question can cause a lot of anxiety to think about and bring a lot of comfort. It all depends on what mindset you have.
To jump right into it, recovering from OCD depends on many factors. Do I have the right tools and am using the right treatment? Am I actually using the treatment often? Do I have a strong foundation for therapy?
For many, treatment can be relatively quick. Individuals can feel better sooner, while others it may take longer. It also depends on the severity of symptoms. It's already infiltrated itself into your day, we might as well do something with it.
I almost hesitate to give a specific number because I do not want you to be your timeline because your timeline is YOURS. Here is what I've heard many specialists suggest their own research. Many can expect to feel recovered between 12-20 therapy sessions and can see a clinically significant decrease in OCD symptoms. Others give a timeline of 2 months. Personally in my own practice, I've seen individuals for a few weeks and others a couple of years. There is not that magical formula that fits each person, but I'll share with you what I see as a standard for individuals getting better quicker.
-Using exposure and response prevention the correct way.
-Building an exposure hierarchy to help you face your fears in a gradual way
-Doing these exposures daily and when I mean daily I don't mean 1x a day. I mean, making it your part-time job. It could be hours.
-Simply put. You've got to stop doing compulsions. Even if you're feeling anxiety.
-Your focus must be on recovery. It needs to take priority.
-You must accept the anxiety, fears, doubt, and guilt and decide they bring no more value into your life. You can't be wishy-washy. "I'll accept this fear, but have to figure out this one."
All these things are taught in my online OCD course. I'll link it here. You can even try it for free.
Ultimately, who's going to get better quicker. The person who knows the tools and will do them every once in a while or the person who's dedicated themselves to recovery. They recognize the pitfalls, where they can improve and use resources around them.
I do want you to know that you can recover from OCD. Things can get better. I also want you to have realistic expectations of what "recovery" means. For some, it may mean they are feeling minimal symptoms. For others, they've reduced symptoms up to 60% and are okay with that. Others may not feel symptoms for weeks, months, years. But here's the deal, this doesn't happen by doing treatment for a few months and then be golden for years to come. It's something you work on to maintain the progress that you've made. So when you hear others say online, "I am recovered" keep this in mind.
Here is the most important thing. Your recovery is your own. Your timeline is your own. If you do get caught up in, "how long will this take" you may give yourself an answer like, "it takes as long as it takes and I've accepted this."
I want you to get on top of this, you need to go right now watch the 25 tips for succeeding in your own OCD here.
Thanks so much for watching and I'll see you next time.
How to recover from OCD
Recovery from OCD
How to delay compulsions
I'm just going to get right to it! Just stop doing the compulsions. Easiest video ever... peace. Just kidding, don't leave yet. If you don't know by now, stopping those pesky compulsions can be extremely difficult. It's those things that you brain says you have to do to feel better or reduce a "threat" that often isn't ever a threat.
Instead of the all-or-nothing approach of either do the compulsion or don't, I'm going to teach you a way to ease yourself into this uncomfortableness. "but why would I want to feel comfortable." I hear you! It's so you can get your life back. Okay, no more fluff. Here is what I want you to know. Postpone or delay your compulsion. This compulsion could be a ritual of some kind. It could be washing hands, asking for reassurance, researching online, skin picking, or plain old rumination. The attempt to problem solve.
It may not be as simple as postponing the compulsion so here's what you can do. Pull out a piece of paper and write down all of your compulsions. Maybe you rank them from 0-10 --- 0 being easy to resist and 10 being out of this world hard to resist. You may want to start with the easier ones first. Create a goal for yourself. I'll use hand washing as an example. If I feel the need to wash my hands every time I touch my phone, I am going to see if I can delay this. Don't sell yourself short, but be realistic. Can you do it for 10 seconds? I bet you could. Could you do it for 20 seconds, 30, or 40? How about even a few minutes? What about a few hours?
What's going to happen is that it's possible you'll forget to do the compulsion. That's right! That strong urge you were feeling was so overwhelming, but when you've waited long enough, that feeling reduced, allowing you to have a better chance at making a different decision. You can do anything you want to. Clique, I know. But it's so true. You need that mindset of stopping your compulsions and this may be a good place to start.
It can be important for you to set goals for yourself. I am postponing washing my hands today. I am choosing to not engage in figuring out this ruminating thought right now. I'll see how badly I want to figure this out at 10am today. At this time, If I remember, I'll see if maybe I can go until 12pm. You have all the power in the world. It's just knowing what to do with it.
Here is something to remember, you're going to be feeling some distress or anxiety. Remind yourself that it's okay. Anxiety is not the bad guy. I don't blame it, it's job is to warn you that you're in danger and gives you ways to feel better. That's the urge right there that we're not giving into. Be prepared and ready to feel uncomfortable while you're delaying compulsions.
You can choose to respond differently to the discomfort. Some may say, "yah man, love it" "thanks for this feeling." "I'm so excited to get better by not doing the compulsion." Any threat that comes your way can be answered with a "maybe, maybe not." This helps the brain be okay with no answer. No answer is the key. You got this!
To be empowered and gain an upper hand, you need to know what compulsions you do that are sneaky. You may not even know you're doing them. Go watch that right now.
How to stop anxiety compulsions
How to stop OCD compulsions
Nathan Peterson specializes in working with OCD and Anxiety related disorders and has done so for the past 7+ years.