Introducing T-OCD! (OCD Subtypes and Not Fitting in Them)

As someone who has OCD, I recognize the importance of classifying OCD symptoms. It makes it easier to educate professionals (and advocates), and makes it easier to find people who have the same OCD sub-type you do.

HOWEVER, the form of OCD I identify with the most doesn’t have a name.

I have sexual obsessions.

But they’re not about the same sex, they’re not about children, and they’re not about animals. I have obsessions about therapist figures in my life.

Usually middle-aged, male therapist figures.

So, completely opposite from the sexual obsession acronyms we’re used to.

THEREFORE, today I introduce to you a brand new OCD sub-type, Therapist OCD (TOCD)!

party_emoji

Ah. I finally feel like I belong in the OCD world. I’m going to call the IOCDF right now to initiate this.

YOU can qualify to have TOCD too, if you have any of the following:

  • Obsessions about your mental health professional
  • Obsessions about your doctor
  • Obsessions about other doctors and other mental health professionals

What if you have one of these things and not the other? What if you have harm thoughts with sexual obsessions? What if it’s one or the other? What if you have thoughts about a therapist-like figure in your life who is not licensed?

You lose. Go back to OCD limbo.

If you’re taking this seriously, you’re missing the point.

When I say OCD comes in all shapes and sizes, I mean OCD really does come in all shapes and sizes. OCD is different for everyone.

Sometimes we don’t fit exactly into one OCD sub-type. And that’s okay. That doesn’t mean you have any less OCD than anybody else.

Some OCD symptoms fit into multiple sub-types. For instance, my sexual obsessions also leak into my religious obsessions because I fear if I act on a thought, I’ll go to hell.

This doesn’t mean I need to go off and make Sexual Scrupulosity. OCD is sneaky. It will sneak into any area of your life, even ones that have never been mentioned to any therapist before. (I put it that way because even if there’s no literature on it, there’s a good chance that someone has had that symptom).

To explain OCD symptoms, I like to give the example of windows. People who have OCD commonly have obsessions about germs, order, and harm. And people who have OCD commonly have compulsions involving hand washing, straightening, and avoiding knives. However, people who have OCD can have symptoms about anything! Including seemingly harmless things like plates, chairs, and windows!

You may be thinking, “How could someone be afraid of a window?!”

But OCD is a master of fear. It can get you to fear anything. I am convinced of this.

My OCD symptoms around therapists and professional figures may be uncommon, but it doesn’t make it any less OCD.

OCD is comprised of two things. Obsessions and compulsions. If you have those two things (and it significantly effects your life), you have OCD. Regardless of the theme, sub-type, or lack thereof.

In that way, OCD is the same for everyone. Same formula, different variables.

MATH!

Formula: O + C = D

If “O” represents obsessions and “C” represents compulsions,

“O” plus “C” always equals “D”.

So it doesn’t matter if you plug in dirt, harm, or symmetry for O.  It doesn’t matter if you plug in hand washing, straightening, or avoiding knives for C. It always equals D.

Ugh, algebra. I have a headache.

But do you see what I’m saying? You don’t have to fit in to an OCD sub-type to have OCD. Even the most severe cases of OCD may not fit into a sub-type. Anyone who tells you otherwise either does not understand OCD or is incredibly superficial.

Don’t feel left out if you have an uncommon obsession like I do. It’s my guess that most people who have had OCD for a long time has also recognized an obsession that doesn’t really fit anywhere.

If you have an obsession or compulsion that you can’t place into a sub-type, please comment it below! I know people who have struggled with this with be grateful to see it. 🙂 At least, I know I will be!

Have a nice day everyone and do your exposures! 😛

-Kat

By the way, this post is coincidentally timed to be on #WeirdThoughtsThursday. Weird Thoughts Thursday is a hashtag I started for us to share our weird or scary thoughts. They can be intrusive thoughts or just random! If you have a Twitter, join us every Thursday to reduce the stigma around weird thoughts. My twitter is @thekatway. If you don’t have a Twitter, feel free to start a #WeirdThoughtsThursday on your favorite social media site.

Since starting Weird Thoughts Thursday, I’ve gotten messages saying it’s helped OCD sufferers take power away from their intrusive thoughts. This was it’s mission to begin with and why I’ve continued doing it every week (except when I forgot)! Being able to laugh at OCD has been a big part of my recovery and I want to extend that to you all too.

If you know people with OCD, whether you have it or not, initiate a Weird Thoughts Thursday with them. You’d be surprised at how amazed a sufferer can be when they find out they’re not alone.

Writing Smut With My Psychologist

And then it dawned on me: I am writing smut. 

Alas, those years of dancing around it in fanfiction are over. The days of awkwardly closing the page is gone. The innocence of my words is no more. 

When I began treatment for OCD, I never knew this was even an option. Of course, before I was diagnosed with OCD I thought it was about perfectionism. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I would have never thought the horrific images in my head were a result of a disorder known for handwashing. Learning about Harm OCD let me know I do, in fact, have OCD. And that I am not alone in having horrific thoughts about people harming me and me harming others. At the time, these thoughts nearly destroyed me. The lead me to be admitted to a psychiatric hospital. Nowadays, I don’t even flinch. 

But my harm OCD getting better made the way for an even more repulsive monster. 

Now, my sexual obsessions didn’t come immediately after my harm obsessions went away. In between I had scrupulosity and perfectionism OCD to work on. However, because my harm OCD had gone away by the time I got treatment, I never learned how to deal with OCD symptoms that don’t produce overt compulsions. Regardless, at the end of my treatment OCD decided to give me a going away present. A new obsession, one it knew it could use to control me. Because how was I supposed to tell my psychologist I have intrusive thoughts about one of my therapists raping me? It was more than scary, it was embarrassing. Embarrassment kept me silent longer than it should have and my sexual obsessions became a problem. 

Once I figured out I could not handle my sexual obsessions on my own, I told my psychologist. We started out doing exposures about the therapist in question, then moved onto the thoughts themselves. Exposures changed as my sexual thoughts changed focus. Fast forward two years and I’m writing smut with my new psychologist.

I suppose I should clarify, I do not enjoy writing this smut. In fact, it makes me incredibly anxious. The point of Exposure and Response Prevention therapy is to 1) expose you to your fear and 2) prevent you from responding with an action to reduce anxiety. Since my fears are about being raped by or having sex with people I know, I can’t directly expose myself to those fears. Instead, we employ a wonderful tool called a “script exposure.”

Script exposures involve writing out the worst possible scenario of a fear you have. If you have a fear of becoming a failure, you’d write a script about losing your job, your house getting foreclosed on and you living as a hobo with not even a cardboard box to keep you company. Then you would read that repeatedly. Just writing that out may not make you anxious, but if you fear becoming a failure and have OCD, it’s sure to kick your anxiety into overdrive. To someone not familiar with Exposure and Response Prevention, you may wonder why people with OCD would do this. The answer is simple, when you expose yourself to something enough, you get bored. Like if you were to watch the same horror movie over and over again, at first it’s scary, but by the tenth time you’re falling asleep. However, my OCD fear is not of failure or horror movies. It’s sex. Hence why I’m writing smut with my psychologist.

It’s not a common thing I suppose, writing smut with your psychologist. But I’ve learned there are some pretty weird things allowed in Exposure and Response Prevention therapy, that you just would not see in traditional talk therapy. For example, when I was in an OCD Intensive Outpatient Program, they had a whole folder devoted to images of vomit (we can talk about emetophobia later). At first I found it strange, but now I’ve embraced it and when someone tells me they eat off of the floor or stare at strangers for an exposure, I don’t question it. 

When I started writing smut with my first psychologist, it was petrifying. And, much like with the fanfiction, I could not write out parts about the actual sex. My new psychologist knows how to give me the push to write the hard parts. My scripts are looking smuttier and smuttier every time and at this point I’ve embraced the weirdness of ERP so much, I’m not embarrassed about it.

In fact, I almost want to shout it from the rooftops. Because people with embarrassing obsessions are keeping silent and it’s hindering their recovery. Some of them don’t even know they have a disorder they can recover from. I want to encourage everyone out there to talk about their weird thoughts because I now know they’re not weird at all. Literally every person on this planet has intrusive thoughts about sex and harm. The difference between them and I is that I have OCD. Meaning, my mind latches onto these thoughts and they get stuck in my mind and cause me extreme anxiety. 

If you have ever had a weird thought, write it as a comment on this blog. 

(By the way, this is an exposure for me too.) 
I’ll start: I have intrusive thoughts about kissing my former psychiatrist. 
Stop being embarrassed about thoughts you can’t control. Had a thought of having sex with your best friend? Normal! Had a thought that you might have a crush on your English Professor? Cool, me too! Had a thought about having sex with your pet? Oh well! 

Embrace the weirdness. 

Embrace the exposure. 

Embrace the anxiety. 

Embrace the anxiety and you will live.
Because life starts at the end of our comfort zones. 

Becoming comfortable with talking about my obsessions did not come easily. It took me a long time to tell my former psychologist what my thoughts were about, let alone the details of each thought.

But it got easier with, you guessed it, exposure. The more I talk about it, the easier it gets. 

The biggest help to me in this ongoing exposure was starting my video blogs on Youtube. When I started vlogging, I knew I had to talk about my thoughts so I could help other people experiencing similar thoughts. I’ve made this written blog so I can expand on the topics in my videos and hopefully talk about OCD in a little more detail. 

Anyway, I know starting off a blog with a post about taboo thoughts is a bit bold, but I hope you stick around!

Oh, my name is Kat, by the way. 🙂