Reason for today’s topic: Within the week, I experienced this quite strongly which reminded me to post about it.
Quick explanation of Harm OCD: (This is how I explained it to a friend earlier): “It’s like, intrusive thoughts you can’t control that cause you much anxiety, and are centered around you somehow causing harm to self or others. But are thoughts opposite of your true nature, which is why they cause so much anxiety.”
Some personal stories:
- The very first Harm OCD thoughts I remember having were around my middle school years. That’s when I would pick up one of our metal clothes hangers, to hang up a shirt, and would be overwhelmed with images of me bringing the hanger up to my eyes and stabbing them out. I literally couldn’t pick up a hanger without this happening for a while. I had my dad install shelves into my closet instead, although I didn’t mention this as a reason. The only way I knew to get the images to go away back then was to set the hanger back down and breathe and try again later.
- I’ve had many, many, many of these while driving.
- I can be driving along totally calmly and cheerfully and suddenly be envisioning myself driving straight at the oncoming traffic. And I had no idea what was stopping me from doing it, if anything. What could possibly hold me back? Every car I successfully passed without driving into, did not reassure me or calm me. It was still a possibility at any second. I would be extremely anxious. What stops my arms from turning the wheel suddenly? I don’t know.
- Often, I picture that I am going to turn the wheel when going over a bridge or any high point. (Remember, this is very different from being suicidal. It’s kind of the opposite; it’s being afraid of such things.)
- The thought I had this week was for my beloved dog. At least two years ago, I was shaving some of his mats and hair with an electric razor, which I’ve used for a decade and had gotten comfortable using. Only I somehow managed to get too close to the edge of his ear and it cut him! He yelped, I screamed and cried. Shaking, I did make myself finish so he wouldn’t become afraid of the razor and I wouldn’t either, just much farther away from any possible skin. But that moment sure has stuck with me. In my head, I can loop just the image of cutting him with a razor, over and over again, and the anxiety is like, somehow having the mental image of it in my mind will hurt him. I list this here in Harm OCD because although that was an accident, I have many times had a flash of intentionally injuring an animal in such a way. It’s not the desire to do it, or the impulse, or anything like that. It’s like my mind laughing at me: “Here is your worst nightmare! Ha ha ha ha ha! That’s right, picture yourself intentionally driving this razor into your dog.” It brings up so much anxiety and guilt. When it comes up, I just have to try to distract myself with other things.
- If such thoughts come up while I am using a razor or scissors to trim up an animal, of course I set the object down and breathe and try to pull up a different topic in my head.
- In the same exact way, I have, before, worried I would harm another person while I was holding scissors. But it is rare.
- I get terrible anxiety now if I’m on a plane or someone I love is on a plane. My thoughts, for the briefest of instances, can picture the plane crashing. Of course my heart pounds and I feel horror etc, and I have to think of other thoughts quickly. There is a part of me that feels my thoughts could cause it to happen.
- The image of it crashing = could cause it to crash
- If I notice my arms or legs are crossed = could cause it to crash
- Doing certain activities = could cause it to crash
- Thinking certain other thoughts = could cause it to crash (especially any religious-type thought, which has to be undone with the opposite thought)
- I’ve already mentioned one I get around railings and such — that I will climb over them and jump to my death, so I often stay quite far back.
- I’m glad that I have not yet had the image to jump out as the train approaches, although I often worry that I will get pushed, so I will step back any time I have those thoughts.
- I don’t know if this counts in this category or not, but at the end of, and right after I returned from, my second year of college (“the first mental breakdown”, as I call it on here), I felt that I had been tainted. I felt that God wanted me dead and I wasn’t supposed to be alive any more. I felt that if anyone came near me, I was contaminating them with the darkness. I could not let myself pray for others, or that would taint them. Everything I touched felt tainted by me. (Of course, I had become tainted by the girl I was caretaking, who already knew she was beyond hope herself. [I wonder if the cross she carved into her arm helped her feel less tainted?] It came to me much more slowly and gradually, but by the end, especially after she ‘died’, I was having panic attacks on campus. Everything around me felt dark and tainted and the trees even felt like they hated me and wanted me dead. I couldn’t breathe. So yeah, after I did make it away from there and back Home, I remained “tainted”-feeling for a very long time. I actually still feel somewhat tainted to this day.
And that leads me straight to a new post on a topic I’ve been wanting to write about for a long time! Associations.
Disclaimer: I don’t really experience Harm OCD stuffs very often.