I have a mix of OCD, Social Anxiety, physical anxiety problems, general anxiety and (I have been told by one psychotherapist although am not 100% sure of this) an element of Coprolalia (Tourettes).
I have had Harm OCD to the members of my immediate family for 35 years. First to my mother (then the most important person in my world) then to my husband. When my children were born, fear turned to absolute terror as Postnatal OCD reared its ugly head. (See My Struggles with Postnatal OCD.)
In addition to this, towards the outside world, I have had some horrible, weird mix of Intrusive Thought OCD, Social Anxiety, Physical Anxiety and (possibly) Coprolalia for 25-30 years. (See Is there a hybrid of Intrusive Thoguht OCD and Tourettes.) When I am nervous, I have horrible, vile thoughts fire across my brain and fight to get vocalised. These can be “just” inappropriate thoughts for the situation – for example, if I am in a shop I could get thoughts of shoplifting even though I know I am not a thief; if I am with someone I know is gay, I can get vile, offenseive words about gays fire across my brain even though I disagree with homophobia. More frequently, however, these unwanted thoughts target my core, innermost taboos and so I get thoughts of abusing a child or hurting an adult or fancying someone other than my husband. In contrast to the terror of hurting my family, the fear behind these thoughts is (largely) the fear of saying them out loud and being judged and condemned by the outside world.
These thoughts tend to go in cycles and depend on what specific thought or set of words I most fear saying at that point in time. If I get nervous, I will often see the shape of a person (I sometimes won’t even see who it is) and will think “I could xyz that person”; xyz is just the thought I most fear saying at that moment in time. It does NOT mean I have any intention of doing xyz and it does NOT mean I have anything against that particular person. I just felt nervous and my horrible OCD/Tourettes mix kicked in. Unfortunately, OCD Ruminations then kick in and new neural pathways get created in my brain and for months afterwards, every time I see that person, or that person’s friends or family, or every time I see a person who reminds me of that person, or every time I am in that situation or a similar situation, the same word will fire across my brain. Sometimes, months or even years later, something about the current situation / person will remind me of a previous situation / person and a previous set of unacceptable words/phrases will traumatise me all over again.
The more nervous I am, the more these terrible thoughts will fight to get vocalised. Sometimes they do. Then more and more people think what a terrible person I am; for many years (decades), I also thought what a terrible person I must be. I didn’t understand what I was going through (for a long time, I hadn’t heard of Intrusive Thought OCD or Tourettes) and other people certainly didn’t understand. I have had a LOT of bullying and a LOT of osctracisation. It was a traumatising, lonely, isolating three decades; my wonderful husband was the one who pulled me through.
Durng bad spells, thoughts have fired across my brain every 30 seconds to a minute whilst I have been in company; then the OCD ruminations have gone on hour after hour once I have escaped the world and I have also had the fears of hurting my family when I have been with them; I have lain awake night after night worrying and fighting back the tears, woken up so upset I have been in tears before I am fully awake. During those spells, even an anonymous nuisance call from someone in a call center the other side of the world would be enough to trigger thought after horrible thought.
Before meeting my husband, the mix of physical anxiety problems (digestive and hormonal problems that made my body smell whenever I got nervous and that also led to a lot of bullying) and the beginings of whatever OCD/Tourettes mix I have now was so traumatising that I spent 4 years on Invalidity Benefit. When the twins were little, my husband twice changed from from full-time to part-time work as I was falling apart trying to cope with the school run.
The breakthrough for me came when I Googled Tourettes and unwanted thoughts, hopped from site to site and came across a site about Intrusive Thought OCD. I plucked up courage to join an OCD support group, had counselling from the psychotherapist who ran that group and then joined a second OCD support group. I now understand Intrusive Thoughts enough to know that I will NOT act on them.
With understanding and speaking to others in support groups has come some degree of self-acceptance. Understanding how Intrusive Thoughts work means that I now, at last, know that I am NOT an evil person. Knowing that, worldwide, there has been no recorded instance of anyone acting on an intrusive thought has given me the confidence to know that I will not act on them either.
I now scarely ever fear hurting my children anymore – in fact, my husband was recently away for 3 weeks and I scarcely worried at all about being left in sole charge.
Towards the outside world, the terrible thoughts are still there, largely because all the bullying I have received has kept that anxiety high, but my new self-esteem and beginnings of self-confidence and self-acceptance mean that those thoughts occur less.
I will never get back the years I have lost to OCD – years I need not have lost if knowledge about, and understanding of, Intrusive Thought OCD were more widely known – but I am now starting to rebuild my life.