#metoo and OCD
I’ve had OCD for a long time, but was formally diagnosed last year and got into treatment. A major trigger for me has been #metoo. To be clear, I am a HUGE supporter of the movement and deeply value women feeling safe with myself and other males (spoiler…. This is why OCD attacks it…ego dystonic anyone?). Years ago, before I knew I had OCD, Brett Kavanaugh was being appointed to the Supreme Court. I was so angered that accusations against him weren’t taken more seriously given the evidence presented. My OCD really kicked in and began presenting in two forms “what if you’ve not always been perfect in romantic relationships?” And “you must have done something horrible in a dating relationship”. Had I been in ERP, or even known I had OCD at this point, I could have stopped the compulsion of mental review (rumination) but I didn’t. I began combing through my relationship history. Of course I found things that had never bothered me before ( most had actually been examples of how committed I was to not harming anyone else) but OCD twisted the memories and told me many things including, “this is it … you obviously sexually assaulted someone … you committed rape … you didn’t stop quickly enough … you wanted that person to be drunk … you deserve to be in jail … you don’t deserve happiness … you really messed up”. Needless to say, this was a dark dark dark spiral. I talked with my therapist about the situations. He reassured me that I hadn’t done anything wrong and I really needed to work on preventing rumination (he prefaced reassurance with “I know I shouldn’t do this but I need to tell you you are extremely far away from X”). He is right, rumination is where the OCD takes these narratives and distorts them and makes you question your intentions. That is what OCD does and that is what we must not give into. I am on a path to healing and I am learning to prevent responses to these thoughts.
I share this short story to let others know they aren’t alone in these thoughts. I read an article by an OCD therapist who said that #metoo has been really bad for people with OCD. I can fully understand that. It is a strange spot to be in, supporting the movement with all my heart but also having a dark disorder of doubt always knocking at the door and telling me I can’t support it because I’m the worst human alive. I’m sure there are others on this app who struggle with these taboo themes and feel isolated because their OCD tells them they have sexually assaulted people, or raped people, or had the opposite of good intentions. This is what OCD does, it wants us scared, it gives us no grace, no room for error. These are the cognitive distortions produced by the disorder. We can beat this thing and we can trust that we are worthy of love. Getting in ERP and learning to not respond to the thoughts is the way out. If ERP is out of your budget, Michael Greegberg has fantastic tools to begin to manage rumination on his website and he has an OCD stories podcast focused on stopping rumination.
I will admit, part of me hopes people will reassure me that they have had these thoughts also. Another part of me is scared people won’t understand. I’m choosing to embrace the uncertainty and put a small bit of my experience out there for others. OCD is a dark and lonely existence but you aren’t alone and you can get your life back.