The thoughts are usually of a sexual nature and I have an overwhelming urge to confess to my girlfriend. Some of these thoughts may be embarrassing situations of things I may have done in my own time to people I know.
I cannot stress how ashamed I am of these things but I still can’t get over them. Its come to the stage where I replay them over and over again and wonder did I do it or didn’t I?
I suppose I just want some advice on what to do. I currently take 20mg lexapro. It helps with my anxiety i think but not my OCD that much.
Hi there, and thank you for your question.
I am going to break this into blocks to help answer your question, in a way that (hopefully) makes sense. First, let me stress that this is common to lots of people, it is just not something we speak about.
Intrusive thoughts coming back
I am guessing from this, that you experienced a period when they did not trouble you, so you need to ask yourself a few questions.
- Have you become more anxious?
- Are you sleeping less, or working more?
These are the obvious things to look at when thoughts become troublesome. The less obvious, and in my option, the most important, is to look at how you deal with them in your head when they come back.
The main reason they come back and stay back, is that you will attend to them in your head, that is, you will give them some sort of importance.
If they just popped into your head and popped out again, there would be no problem. So how come they become important?
It has a lot to do with the emotions that you attach to them; you mentioned shame.
I am guessing that when you feel ashamed, you might think about them more, trying to make sense of the thoughts relating to what you perceive you have done.
Again, guessing, these thoughts, combined with shame will push you to try to take some action, to make it all okay. I suspect that is why you want to ‘confess.’
If any of what I am saying is familiar we need to take a cold hard look at it now.
This is a very important point. If you are doing any of the things I mentioned above, you are doing it based on (from what you said in your question) a non truth, a non fact. You said you replay them over and over to the extent you wonder if you did them or not.
Let’s stop there.
If I ask you a simple question. Did you email me with the question above, for me to answer. You will say yes directly. You do not have to go over in your head and wonder if it were true or not. You know that you emailed me.
You are responding to your ‘intrusive thoughts’ as facts. They are not. They are thoughts. I can almost hear you saying, yes but they feel real, or how come I keep having them if I didn’t do anything wrong.
You have them because you pay attention to them in your head. I am always harping on about, ‘anything that we pay attention to becomes real’. By that I do not mean real, as in fact, but real in the sense that our mind starts to create something.
If you are not convinced, let’s run with the possibility that they are real. You are allowed to have sexual thoughts. It is normal. If I spend a few minutes talking about sex, and tell you not to think about it, you will probably think about sex! That is just the way we are wired.
Thoughts about sex are fine.
But I have to go back to what you said in your question, which was not sure if true or not. So, let’s take them for what they are; thoughts.
The last part of your question you asked what to do.
Think about this first.
The thought makes you feel something uncomfortable, and then makes you want to do something. That is all you need to keep in mind.
In your example, the thoughts, make you feel ashamed, which makes you want to tell.
If you can accept (even a little bit) that they are just thoughts, no matter how uncomfortable, you can start to break it down.
You need to make a ‘chink’ in the chain of events. By this I mean, you need to turn,
- thoughts make me feel shame, and then want to tell into, into
- thoughts (want to neutralize) the feeling, and then you will not feel the need to tell.
How to do this.
I would seriously recommend doing some mindfulness exercises, Google it, there are loads of free resources on the internet.
Every time you have a thought, start to break the chain of events, by calming down what you are feeling in your body. Do a mindfulness exercise, go for a walk, distract yourself, whatever you find that works.
The important bit to achieve is to not pay attention too much to the thought. This means, no going over it in your head, as this is what is keeping it alive for you.
I am not saying this is easy, although I appreciate what I am saying here sounds too simplistic. This is such a crude way to explain the brain, but imagine that the more you think about the thoughts, it is like exercising a muscle. If you manage to not think about it so much, it will lose it’s power.
In a nutshell, rather than thinking about the content, the actual specifics of your thoughts, you need to keep in mind.
Your thoughts, make you feel something uncomfortable, and you take action based on that (wanting to tell.)
Your thoughts are not real, just something going on in your brain. So when you can take out the middle part (make you feel something uncomfortable) you are well on your way to breaking it all down.
Hope this helps