Content warning: this might be something triggering for those with OCD who are still grappling with their fear-based obsessions and compulsions.
I realized I can’t write about my compulsions without first writing about my fears. While not all my compulsions are driven by fear, both the obsessions and compulsions driven by fear are hard to curb. Fear is a different beast than anxiety. Fear causes my obsessions, my obsessions cause anxiety, and the anxiety causes compulsions.
We all have fears. It’s normal to talk about your biggest fears. I have what I consider normal fears that I know won’t happen, like certain natural disasters that won’t hit where I live. I have my “other” fears. I classify them differently in my head because my OCD snatches them up like a hungry wolf. Some of these fears have the potential to happen and some I’m very aware will never happen. These fears cause anxiety and sometimes compulsions. Sometimes behaviors that can’t really be classified into compulsions (yet).
My current fears:
House fire – losing everything I have and putting me, my boyfriend, and our cat in danger.
A break in – my stuff gets stolen while I’m gone and my cat gets out or gets hurt.
Things literally blowing up in my face – it’s a fear that pops in my head when I’m cooking or using an electronic.
Losing my mind – completely losing control of my actions and thoughts and being somewhat of a passenger in my head, watching myself do and say things that I can’t control.
Hurting people – kind of goes with losing my mind, just being a passenger while this is happening and not being able to stop it.
These fears do evolve into obsessions, because obsessions are personal. That’s why one person with OCD can have a completely different set of obsessions than another person. There are some obsessions that are common, because they have a chance of happening and they put us in harm’s way. A lot of it is based on our safety and the safety of those close to us.
How I approach this type of obsession:
I guess it can be called self-exposure therapy. I fight it head on and dive right in to the thought. I talk about it and write about it. I read about other peoples’ obsessions and get perspective. I look at things online that may have to do with the particular fear, I expose myself to it as much as possible. Sometimes I’ll imagine an over-the-top scenario in my head that is like a cartoon and unrealistic. This eventually leads to me not obsessing about it, and if this process buys me a couple months of not having it pop in my head, then I consider that progress.
The important part is that I’m not hard on myself. If it takes a long time to get over these obsessions, then so be it. I try my best and that’s enough for me.