Pure OCD or POCD
“I’m tired of being inside my head. I want to live out here, with you.”
― Colleen McCarty,
What is Pure OCD?
OCD is pretty well known now. Everyone has heard about hoarding, counting, washing and needing things in a certain way. It is the obsession – everything needs to be clean, compulsion – cleaning for hours each day, disorder. Pure OCD differs because although it too has the obsession and to a degree the compulsion this all goes on inside the persons head. It’s completely invisible because there are no actions and behaviours that show what’s going on. Instead the person with it has a thought and then becomes so consumed with trying to prove the thought right or wrong they spend large amounts of time in rumination. That’s going over and over the same issue trying to find a way out. The problem is there is no way out once you become trapped in rumination. It might leave you for a little while but then it’s back. Haunting you. It’s relentless.
What does it feel like?
Having Pure OCD is basically like having a nightmare, continuously in your head. You will worry about being the worst, most disgusting person in the World. It will find your biggest fears and magnify them so it becomes unbearable. Because the thoughts can be so shameful and worrying you can be too afraid to tell anyone what is going on. This just increases the power of the thoughts which make them harder to cope with. Because on top of being petrified that these thoughts are reality you are too scared to get help.
Typical thoughts and fears someone with Pure OCD may have
Sexuality; suddenly change sexual orientation, become attracted to and acting on the attraction to children or animals,
Harm; going mad or have schizophrenia, not in control and may end up seriously hurting themselves or someone else
Religion; turning against beliefs or wanting to do something morally wrong
Relationship; cheating on your partner, they don’t love you, you don’t love them
These are just a few examples but the thoughts can be anything that you are deeply afraid of happening. And not being in control of it happening.
Why people experience Pure OCD
I believe Pure OCD happens with a mixture of the following – low self worth, highly stressful situations, lack of trust in who you are, perfectionism traits, deeply concerned about being a good person.
If you’re lucky enough to have never had a thought of this nature I realise this could seem a little weird. That someone who definitely isn’t any of those things, or going to do any of those things would get so consumed with worrying about it they become ill. From my own personal experience with Pure OCD I can only begin to explain what I went through as horrific. The thoughts and worries would be with me all day everyday. So deeply distressing and painful that I found it hard to open up to anyone about them. They robbed me of life. It was hard to enjoy anything when I was consumed by trying to prove something frightening true or false.
What to do if you are experiencing Pure OCD
Get help from a trained professional. You will not be judged and you don’t need to be afraid of something bad happening to you if you tell people what’s going on. Any talking therapy will help but CBT may be helpful initially in examining the thoughts and changing the way you cope with them.
Recognise that this is like a big red alarm bell going off inside your head. You aren’t well, more than likely you are extremely stressed and need some support.
Look after yourself. If you’re stressed chances are life is completely out of balance. You need to reevaluate and find a better life balance.
Stop ruminating. This is so difficult to start with but I promise you after a while it gets easier to catch before you’ve gone into deep destructive rumination.
Notice the thought and worry but do not get attached to it – practice mindfulness and meditation. Almost say “I see you” to the thought to take it’s power away.
Don’t put any energy into trying to prove the thought to be true or false. This only increases the power and chances of rumination. Instead accept you had it and acknowledge if you’re feeling stressed.
Accept it’s happening and look into why
Realise this is something that many people experience. You’re not alone in this even though it may feel like you are.
Be aware that Pure OCD has the ability to adapt. I found myself dealing with one worrying thought only to have another replace it. It is still OCD.
Try to get in better touch with your emotions. Sometimes repressing painful memories and experiences lead to blockages. This expression of OCD may be stemming from unexplored traumas.
Most importantly – Remember and trust that you ARE NOT your thoughts. It is not a thought that determines who you are. Everyone has strange thoughts, it’s just an anxious mind prepped for OCD will notice it and pay it more attention than someone who is well.
It doesn’t matter how bad things get there is always hope and a big chance that things will improve. I know because it happened to me.
Useful websites for advice and support;
Intrusive thoughts– brilliant videos explaining the different fears.