OCD: a Living Hell of Uncertainty

Our world is full of uncertainty and all of us encounter situations that we just can not control. Uncertainty is something that we need to accept and live together with even if it is not an easy thing to do. And if you’re suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, accepting the fact that you can not control every single aspect of your life can be even more challenging.

OCD is often called the “doubting disease” and for a good reason. Why? Because people with OCD are constantly haunted by the terrible feeling of doubt and in today’s post I’ll talk about this feeling and about what happens if you’re just unable to accept uncertainty.

The seeds of doubt are extremely dangerous to those who’re suffering from OCD: one single intrusive thought could mean the beginning of a terrifying obsession that can easily turn your life into a nightmare.

How does it start?

Let’s say you’re at the tube station, waiting for the train to arrive and suddenly an intrusive thought comes to your mind:

What if I throw myself under the train?

Okay, I know this may sound absolutely crazy but most of us have similar, intrusive thoughts – but those who do not suffer from OCD will not worry about these thoughts. But if you have OCD, then it’s a completely different story. You will not be able to get over such a scary idea and you will start thinking about it more and more. Because you just want to be a hundred percent sure that the disaster that you’re so afraid of will not happen.

But how can you be absolutely certain that you will not throw yourself under the train?

Again, sounds pretty insane, does it not? You just do not want to die, so you obviously would not want to act on your intrusive thought. If you do not have OCD, you’ll probably find this convincing enough. But again, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is not the most rational thing on earth so at this point, you’re likely to start a conversation with your inner voice – which is never a good idea:

So how do you know that you do not want to die? If you do not want to commit suicide, why do you keep thinking about it? There must be a reason behind all of this! What if you do not want to live anymore and you’re just not aware of your own emotions? You can never know, can you?

Then, you start seeking reassurance: Google, friends, books – whatever comes into your mind. And this is where a full blown obsession starts: your loved ones could tell you that you’re not the kind of person who’d ever do such a thing – and this may help temporarily – but you will not be able to stop: you will need to ask them at least a hundred times a day, just to be a hundred percent sure. And just in case, you may even start performing “rituals” – activities to prevent a disaster. Most probably, you know that your rituals are absolutely irrational and that your fears are nothing more than lies that your OCD is telling you, but it’s better to safe than sorry – because at the end of the day, you can never know, can you?

And this is how, slowly, you will be trapped in the labyrinth of your own mind, haunted by your own thoughts and it will be extremely difficult to find a way out.

Now, I have given a self-harm example, but OCD is an extremely creative disorder and the same thing happens when it comes to other obsessions:

– How do you know you’ve really locked the door? Let’s check once more, just in case, because you can never know, can you? What if you have not locked it and you do not even remember!

– What if you hit a pedestrian? Okay, you may not remember, but what if it happened? How can you be sure that it did not? Just drive back and look around once more. And do not forget to check the news!

– How do you know the kitchen table is clean enough? You do not want your loved ones to be sick because of dangerous bacteria! Better be safe than sorry! Clean it once more!

And it’s a never ending list. Life is full of uncertainties and the little OCD monster never sleeps: it sits on your shoulder and plants the seeds of doubt in your mind.

The way out

Watch out for “What if..” questions

A new obsession is just like a disease: the earlier you detect it, the better chances you have fighting against it. Does your inner voice ask you too many “what if..” questions? This can already be the sign of a new obsession.

If you want to think about it less, think about it more!

What? That just does not make sense.

I know it does not but it works. Trying to stop thinking about your obsessions will make you think about them even more.

Do not avoid “dangerous situations”

Avoiding driving because you’re afraid of running over a pedestrian may solve your issues on a short term, but OCD is a cruel monster: it will come up with another scary thought and you can not keep running away from your thoughts – so you can easily end up giving up way too many things in your life and at the end of the day, giving up all of the things you need and you love doing will never even help – on the contrary, it will make your OCD even worse.

Further reading that might help:

Set yourself free: how to break the vicious cycle
6 types of OCD
Pure O: Living in Endless Fear
OCD: a vicious cycle of doubt and guilt
Magical Thinking OCD
OCD: living a lie
12 things that will help you overcome OCD
Do not feed the monster: 5 things that keep your OCD alive

Your thoughts

As you know, there’s one thing that I love more than writing about my experiences: reading yours. So, please feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section!

20 thoughts on “OCD: a Living Hell of Uncertainty

  1. What do you do, if the things you worry and obsess about happening, occasionally do happen?

    Last year at multiple times I had a bad obsession about my trouser fly being undoneβ€” but that was because I actually sometimes leave it undone, especially last year when I was becoming so distracted and dissociated with so many mental rituals.

    For exampleβ€” I was once at choir standing at the front, whilst they announced it was my birthday and did a whole song for meβ€” and the entire time my fly was undone πŸ˜‚. I realised when I went to the toilet later on…

    Luckily I’ve escaped that obsession now, despite that I do still do it. I guess the biggest fear for me wasn’t about it actually happening (though it was sometimes, like at choir or when I was talking to a girl I liked)β€” but that I would keep thinking the thought forever and wouldn’t be able to ‘perfect’ the thought. Weird huh?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It is a terrible thing if the things I worry about actually happen, but I have noticed that on the long run, it will help. Like once I forgot to lock the door and since then, my checking obsession has been getting better. I still need to check if the door is locked (a few times…) but I do not spend too much time on it anymore – well not as much time as I used to… πŸ˜€
      Oh I know the feeling – I often leave my fly undone but I usually do not worry about it – one thing that I worry about it though is when people are staring at me. Like if someone stares at me, I’ll think that I look stupid or something so I’ll just need to run to the closest washroom to check if I look okay πŸ˜€
      Are you a member of a choir? That is so niiiice. I wish I could sing. I love music but have absolutely no talent for singing

      Like

  2. What a little monster that is!
    This is a very well written post and I feel like I do understand more about the condition, so thank you.
    I have one question though, do you have an opinion on the origins of OCD? Where does it stem from? Or can possibly stem from?
    I don’t know if you’ve written a post about that, so sorry if I may have missed that one.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you πŸ™‚ I am glad you found this helpful.
      And this is a very good question: I have been trying to find out for a long time and I’ve written a post about it: https://over-coming-ocd.com/2019/12/23/why-do-i-have-ocd-causes-and-risks/ – but to be honest I have not been able to find an exact answer to this question so far.
      One of the causes is chemical imbalance in the brain (that is what most of the researchers say) but nobody seems to know why it happens.
      My personal opinion is that it has something to do with one’s family: hereditary or learnt (do not think I am qualified enough to decide, but I guess it’s more hereditary). And there are risk factors that can definitely make OCD symptoms worse: like sugary food, smoking and alcohol are definitely not the reason behind OCD but I’ve noticed that I’ll feel much worse if I smoke or eat a lot of sugar.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you for the link, I’ve red it in the past. I guess it is difficult to pinpoint a specific reason of an illness. There are so many factors but upbringing seems to play a significant role mixed up with genes. Fear can be easily passed on from one person to another. It is designed to protect us, like stress but once overboard it’s debilitating.
        I guess with smoking, sugar, coffee those are all stimulants which can go hand in hand with anxiety. It’s just a wild guess.
        Do you find a lot of research specific about OCD or it is more in the anxiety department? I’m sorry for all my questions, but I do have a curious mind. πŸ™‚

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Yes. Upbringing does play a significant role: I was raised in a family of worriers – and it is something that’s very difficult to overcome. Like I know that most of the things I am worried about are not as scary as I imagine them to be but well…OCD is not rational.
        I do agree with you: they go hand in hand with anxiety. I’ve cut down on sugar and smoking, but coffee is a different story. I know it is definitely not a good idea to drink coffee if you have an anxiety disorder but I just love coffee.

        I understand you: me too i have a very curious mind and I love asking questions!

        I find some research on OCD, but not a lot. There are a lot of self-help books and articles on the internet but it’s pretty challenging to find actual research data. If you’d like, I will put together a list and send it over to you with my “personal favorites” . and I’m planning to attend psychology classes in the near future.

        What about depression and burnout? Do you find research about it? If yes, is there any book/ post that you’d recommend me to read?

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I only read research papers or things on the internet that I think are ok. A lot of it is not so credible πŸ™„
        I love to read books but can’t concentrate so long now. When I find something I’ll let you know.
        A very long time ago I red a book about a mother with OCD. She could live with her OCD ’till the children came and that was a whole other story and adjustment. For the love of G-d, I can’t remember what the title was. Sorry, I’ll let you know when it comes to mind again.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Same here actually. There are a lot of things that are not credible at all – and sometimes it is so difficult to know what is true and what is not. And not only when it comes to OCD but in general.
        Ah that sounds like a very interesting book. Let me know when the title comes into your mind! πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad to read that you’ve found it helpful.
      Me too I tend overthink everything and I agree with you: it is terribly exhausting. The worst thing is that I know I should not to do it, but sometimes I just can not stop

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading! It really means a lot to me. And I am glad that I have found your blog: we should talk about mental disorders as it’s still a taboo topic and it’s important to raise awareness. I really hope that your daughter will be able to overcome her mental disorders
      Blessings
      Mark

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: