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HOCD (Homosexual Obsessive Compulsive Disorder): Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) is a psychological condition that hijacks the brain, forcing us to think unwanted, “obsessive” thoughts and perform behaviors to reduce anxiety associated with these thoughts called “compulsions.”  The obsessive thoughts are unpredictable and provoke extreme anxiety that leads us to believe we’ll never have control of our thoughts.  To cope with these obsessive thoughts, an individual performs compulsions or repetitive behaviors that we feel must be completed to regain control of our thoughts.

There are many types of obsessive thoughts that people experience during OCD.  A common obsessive thought is that a person’s hands are covered in germs that will make them sick.  To cope with this obsessive thought, OCD sufferers resort to excessive hand-washing and sanitization to the point of chapped, red, blistered, or bloody hands – all resulting from the perpetual hand-washing compulsion.

A lesser discussed form of OCD is known as “HOCD” or homosexual obsessive-compulsive disorder.  With this specific type of OCD, a heterosexual (straight) individual experiences obsessive homosexual thoughts.  These thoughts become a significant source of distress, leading a sufferer to believe that their brain chemistry has changed and/or that they may be transitioning from heterosexual orientation (straight) to homosexual orientation (gay).

What is HOCD (Homosexual Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)?

HOCD can be defined as obsessive compulsive disorder specifically entailing obsessive thoughts related to members of the same sex.  A person may feel as if their brain chemistry has changed and they cannot help the fact that they’re experiencing thoughts of homosexuality.  Those experiencing HOCD are typically very fearful of the homosexual-related thoughts, to the point that they attempt to suppress them or do whatever they can to avoid thinking them.

When these thoughts occur, a person experiences a fight-or-flight response and panics, thinking that they are becoming gay.  Deep down, they know they are not gay, but begin to question themselves, thinking that something is seriously wrong.  The more they attempt to fight these thoughts and avoid them, the stronger they become.

Those experiencing HOCD are often completely straight (heterosexual orientation), but begin to develop a fear that they are becoming gay (homosexual).  The OCD centers of the brain take this fear and use it to their advantage; circulating even more intrusive, yet inauthentic homosexual thoughts.  This provoke even more distress, and without proper intervention, a person may put up with HOCD for years or turn to poor coping habits (e.g. alcohol or drugs) in attempt to minimize these thoughts.

Causes of HOCD: Potential Influential Factors

There are many potential causes of HOCD, making it difficult to pinpoint one specific cause.  Certain factors such as genetics and environmental stressors may trigger symptoms, but the causal underpinnings are likely more complex than any one specific factor (e.g. serotonin).  The major problem with HOCD is that it creates a self-sustaining feedback loop.

The more we resist the obsessive thoughts rather than accept them, and the more we act on compulsions in attempt to reduce these thoughts, the more severe the HOCD becomes.  It’s almost like telling someone to imagine a pink elephant, and then telling the person to stop thinking about the pink elephant.  The harder they try to stop thinking about it, the more difficult it becomes.

A good way to think about HOCD or any OCD is like a Chinese finger-trap of the brain; the harder you pull your finger (try to stop thinking the thoughts), the more they have a stranglehold on your finger (your consciousness).  There are many complex factors that influence the manifestation of HOCD.

  • Brain circuits: Research has suggested that there are likely neural correlates for HOCD.  In other words, certain brain circuits are overactive, while others may be underactive. Researchers have discovered that in cases of OCD, distinct components of frontostriatothalamic circuits become dysfunctional.  This leads to errors in both cognitive and emotional processing.
  • Brain waves: Many individuals with HOCD have abnormal brain waves as recorded by a QEEG (quantitative EEG).  It has been thought that OCD triggers abnormally high concentrations of beta waves and low levels of alpha waves.  Alpha waves are associated with relaxation, whereas an abundance of beta activity is associated with fear, panic, and uncontrollable thoughts.
  • Genetics / epigenetics: It is possible that some people are susceptible to HOCD based on their genetics and epigenetic influences.  Due to the fact that most people do not have HOCD their entire lives, it should be speculated that epigenetic influences facilitate development of HOCD.
  • Fears of homosexuality: Those experiencing HOCD may know deep down that one of their biggest fears is becoming homosexual.  For a person’s entire life, they’ve been straight, but what if by some chance they became gay?  The OCD uses homosexual fears to its advantage, hijacking a person’s thought process and strengthening fear-based circuitry to promote the obsessive-compulsive disorder feedback loop.
  • Neural pathways: When you develop HOCD, distinct neural pathways in the brain are created involving fear associated with becoming gay.  Each time you resist or fight these thoughts, the fear-based circuitry keeps churning out more intense, intrusive homosexual-related thoughts.  The HOCD continues to gain power as a result of neuroplasticity or your brain’s ability to change itself.  These neural pathways become more active than necessary and a person may come to believe that they’ll never escape from the torture.
  • Neurotransmitter imbalances: Many have speculated that low serotonin levels is a root cause of obsessive-compulsive disorder, including HOCD.  This theory is derived from the fact that when individuals with OCD are administered an SSRI antidepressant, their symptoms improve or diminish.  Others have speculated that insufficient levels of GABA may play a role in perpetuating OCD and fear-based circuitry.  There are likely many neurotransmitters that become imbalanced and perpetuate HOCD.
  • Sympathetic overactivation: When your sympathetic nervous system is overactive and your parasympathetic nervous system is underactive, you experience the fight-or-flight response.  This fight-or-flight activation results in production of stimulating hormones like cortisol and epinephrine.  These stimulating hormones can trigger obsessive thoughts and make it more difficult to escape the trap of HOCD.

Note: For some individuals there may be one cause influencing symptoms of HOCD more than others.  For most people, a combination of varying degrees of the aforementioned factors will lead to the manifestation of HOCD.

HOCD Symptoms: List of Possibilities

Depending on the specific case of HOCD, a variety of symptoms may be present.  The most common symptoms include: uncontrollable homosexual thoughts and a fear of “becoming gay” despite having been attracted to the opposite sex prior to OCD onset.  Those with the condition often research their symptoms online and may question their sexuality for reassurance that it is merely their OCD and that they are heterosexual (straight).

  • Anxiety: Most sufferers of HOCD have significant anxiety.  This anxiety may be generalized, somatic, or take a number of forms.  They often have underlying anxiety that needs to be addressed in order to reduce symptoms of HOCD.  While anxiety may be provoked by the HOCD itself, there is often more anxiety than solely that associated with the HOCD.
  • Fear of “becoming gay”: Perhaps the most prominent symptom of HOCD is a fear of becoming gay.  A person will have been straight throughout childhood, but start to fear that their brain wiring has changed and they are now becoming gay.  They begin to fear that their old, straight self is now turning completely gay.
  • Distress: Individuals attempting to cope with HOCD may believe that they’ve sinned or done something bad to deserve their intrusive thoughts.  The thoughts alone often result in significant distress unless a person has learned how to properly cope via psychotherapy.  Until a sufferer consistently visits a psychotherapist, they may have a difficult time minimizing distress.
  • Emotional dysfunction: Those dealing with HOCD often have strong emotions associated with the potential that they’re experiencing homosexual thoughts.  This may cause significant depression, hopelessness, and maybe even suicidal thoughts.  A person is often emotionally imbalanced and has a difficult time coping with how they feel.
  • Homosexual thoughts (uncontrollable): Rampant homosexual thoughts circulate throughout a person’s consciousness.  It may seem as if over 90% of a person’s daily thoughts are related to members of the same sex.  These thoughts aren’t controllable, yet the more a person tries to control them, the more potent they become.  A significant portion of an HOCD sufferer’s daily thoughts are unwanted homosexual ones.
  • Lack of genuine homosexual attraction: Those with HOCD have no history of homosexual attraction or attraction to members of the same sex.  Even if their brain is spewing incessant homosexual thoughts, biologically they aren’t attracted to the same sex.  The thoughts are scary and meddling, but do not change a person’s sexual orientation.
  • Rapid thoughts: People experiencing HOCD often experience other rapid uncontrollable thoughts on a variety of topics.  It just so happens that since those related to HOCD induce the most fear and pronounced reaction, they continue to circulate.  You may find that you have other obsessions and compulsions that aren’t related to homosexuality.
  • Researching homosexuality: Individuals with this condition often spend hours of their time researching homosexuality online.  They may dig around in forums and on blogs in attempt to find reassurance that they are really straight. They may believe that HOCD can turn them gay or that if they have HOCD, there’s a chance they may become gay or bisexual.  In reality, they will never become gay and as long as they’re able to treat their OCD properly, the thoughts will subside.
  • Questioning sexuality: Most people with HOCD question their sexuality as a result of their thoughts.  In reality, a person cannot choose their sexuality – it is something they’re born with.  However, sufferers of HOCD start to question their own sexual orientation, believing it’s possible that their brain is turning them completely gay.
  • Sympathetic activation: Another symptom associated with HOCD is an overactive sympathetic nervous system.  This may have been triggered by a traumatic experience, drug withdrawal, psychiatric treatment, etc.  Their sympathetic nervous system is in overdrive, whereas their parasympathetic needs more activation for stress reduction.  The problem is that the sympathetic nervous system continues to fuel the fear-inducing HOCD.

HOCD or gay? Determining HOCD from Homosexuality

Below is a chart that you can use to help you distinguish whether you’re experiencing HOCD or are legitimately homosexual.  Understand that this chart may not apply to every case of HOCD or to every individual that considers themselves to be homosexual orientation.  However, the chart denotes some relatively obvious differences between those suffering from HOCD and those legitimately attracted to the same sex.

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My Experience with HOCD: Fearful of Becoming Gay

During my sophomore year of high school, I was exposed to many psychiatric medications in attempt to correct a hypothesized “chemical imbalance.”  The Paxil I had originally been taking had stopped working, and my psychiatrist was playing antidepressant roulette in hopes that a drug or combination would correct my neurotransmitter deficiencies and make me feel better.  Unfortunately, none of the drugs helped and actually dug me into an even deeper hole of anxiety.

From my anxiety manifested OCD, obsessions of all types.  As the OCD grew worse, I’d notice that sometimes the obsessive thoughts would change.  Sometimes they would provoke me to check all the locks on the doors and other times they would provoke me to perform cleaning rituals. One day, out of seemingly nowhere I began to have sexual thoughts related to members of my same sex.

When these thoughts occurred, I was only a teenager and thought that it was possible that my sexuality had not fully developed.  I thought that my brain may have been changing and that abnormal development may make me transition from being straight (heterosexual) to gay (homosexual).  I considered it plausible that psychiatric medications may have severely damaged my neurochemistry to the point that my sexuality had changed.

I feared that at the very least I would become bisexual, and at the very worst I would become fully homosexual.  These thoughts began to take over my entire brain.  I knew physically that I wasn’t attracted to members of the same sex, but the graphic, sexual thoughts cycled through my brain and I kept resisting.  The more I resisted the thoughts, the more intense they became.

Initially I didn’t even know there was a condition called “HOCD” and even when I found it, I wasn’t convinced that I had it.  I thought that I was completely different from other suffers in that I was more likely to become gay or bisexual.  It felt as if my brain had undergone a metamorphosis from one that was completely straight (heterosexual) to one that was now programmed with a homosexual orientation (gay).

It took a lot of courage to talk about this with my therapist because I thought she may just assume that I may be “in the closet” gay.  I explained my situation and how much I was suffering with gay thoughts that I couldn’t control.  She asked me some questions about my past such as: “Were you attracted to members of the opposite sex throughout childhood?” and “Have you ever been attracted to members of the same sex?”

The truth is I had never been attracted to members of the  same sex before my HOCD onset and was always attracted to members of the opposite sex in the past.  She helped me realize that this was a subtype of OCD that many people experienced and helped me learn how to cope with this condition.  It wasn’t easy to cope with, and actually took awhile to develop new neural pathways and overcome HOCD.

Eventually I would learn how to overcome OCD, but it wasn’t a quick and easy overnight fix.  It took consistent effort and an intelligent psychotherapist.  In total, I suffered from HOCD for less than a year, and recovery took months.  These days I haven’t experienced a homosexual-related thought or any unwanted thought related to sexuality.  My OCD is completely under control to the extent that I view my coping with OCD as a stint lasting several years; I haven’t had any symptoms now for approximately 7 years.

HOCD Treatment: How To Overcome HOCD (Homosexual Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)

HOCD is a tricky beast to overcome, it makes you think that you are really gay, when in reality you’re completely straight.  If you were to think of your brain as a mirror and the reflection showing you your authentic self, a brain with HOCD is like a mirror covered in dust.  The dust doesn’t reflect your actual nature, rather it artificially covers it up, leading you to second-guess your true identity.

1. Find a quality psychotherapist

If you want to overcome your HOCD, I would highly recommend finding a quality psychotherapist.  It may not be easy to find someone that you connect with, but it will be immensely helpful just to share that you are dealing with intrusive homosexual thoughts.  When the HOCD hits, you don’t want to tell friends or family as they may think you’re just now “coming out of the closet” and were really gay the entire time.

When I was dealing with HOCD, it was excruciatingly difficult to even tell my therapist.  I thought that she maybe hadn’t heard of this condition and would think I’ve really been gay the entire time.  Fortunately she had heard of “HOCD” and helped me address these homosexual thoughts that weren’t a true reflection of my identity.

My psychotherapist also helped alleviate my anxiety by suggesting that I’m probably not gay or becoming gay, rather I’m experiencing HOCD.  Just her telling me that it was a byproduct of OCD gave me a sense of comfort and reduced some of the HOCD-induced panic.  We discussed my lifelong attraction to women and she helped point out the unlikelihood of my newly-acquired fear-inducing thoughts related to members of the same sex.

2. Acceptance

The most painful aspect of dealing with HOCD is learning to accept the homosexual thoughts.  When a person first experiences homosexual thoughts triggered by anxiety, the initial urge is to panic and attempt to suppress them.  In other words, when these thoughts arise, most people attempt to “fight” them and try hard to regain control over their brain.

The irony is that the harder you try to control them, the more they will actually control you.  Attempting to drown them out of your head or focus on other thoughts without accepting the HOCD thoughts will only strengthen their intensity and give them more power.  My therapist helped me realize that in order to rid myself of these thoughts, I would need to accept them.

I understood that they weren’t related to my nature or authentic self – they were thoughts being generated by faulty brain wiring.  I had never experienced them before, and my therapist helped me realize that they are something that I will need to put up with.  Conjuring up tactics to “fight” these thoughts only intensified them.

3. Embrace the thoughts

Oddly enough, the next step given by my therapist was to embrace the thoughts and accept that (while totally unlikely), there’s a chance I could be gay.  She pointed out the fact that there’s nothing wrong with being gay and that there’s no reason to be ashamed if I’m having these thoughts.  Her homework given to me was to actually look up and watch “gay porn” or embrace the HOCD related thoughts.

I felt fairly uncomfortable doing this, but as I embraced the possibility of being gay, I began to realize that the HOCD began to lessen.  Rather than fighting these thoughts, I was accepting them and fully embracing them.  I understood that if I was truly born straight, I wasn’t going to somehow morph into someone that was gay.

I also realized that there was a chance I could be bisexual and didn’t fight that possibility.  The more I embraced these thoughts, the less scared I became of them.  The irony is that the combination of acceptance and embracing the thoughts diminished them significantly.

4. Relaxation techniques

In my case, the HOCD I was experiencing was caused by overactive fear-based brain circuitry.  To create new neural pathways and essentially help my brain recover, I was instructed to engage in relaxation exercises daily.  I had experienced PTSD and severe anxiety – all of which lead to a state of hyperarousal and fear-based thinking.

This state of hyperarousal was partially responsible for inducing HOCD.  I used various techniques such as brainwave entrainment with the hypothesis that reducing high beta waves and increasing alpha waves would help induce relaxation.  In addition to brainwave entrainment, I engaged in self-hypnosis, the emWave2, and even used essential oils for anxiety.

This helped reduce activity in the sympathetic nervous system and fear-centers of the brain.  Reducing both sympathetic nervous system activity and activation of fear circuitry lead to increased relaxation.  This meant that my thought-speed slowed and my body was less aroused, both of which helped decrease HOCD severity.

While acceptance and embracing the HOCD thoughts are the single most effective intervention for coping, engaging in relaxation can help rewire your brain and nervous system.  By giving your sympathetic nervous system more power and strengthening activity in your prefrontal cortex, it becomes much easier to deal with any OCD-related thoughts.

5. Let time pass

Once you’ve mastered the first four steps, then you can simply “let time pass.”  With consistent psychotherapy (CBT), you will have addressed faulty thinking and learned to correct it.  Your therapist will provide you with support and keep you on the right track to recovery.  With acceptance and embracing the HOCD, you will become less bothered by the thoughts when you experience them.

For some people, simply accepting and embracing them will serve as a “cure” due to the fact that you are no longer fighting against these thoughts (which give them fuel).  HOCD is almost like a Chinese finger trap in that the harder you attempt to pull (fight the thoughts), the more they’ve got a stranglehold on your consciousness – whereas the less you fight and more you relax, the easier it is to escape from the trap (the HOCD thoughts subside).

When you add various relaxation techniques to the equation of recovery, you are literally rewiring your neural pathways.  When you relax, you’re activating the parasympathetic nervous system, which perpetuates physical and mental relaxation.  This leads to creation of different hormones and neurochemicals that also reduce likelihood of HOCD in the future.

Assuming you’re consistently implementing Steps 1-4, you simply need to let time pass.  Don’t become attached to when the HOCD is going to fully subside.  If you’re doing Steps 1-4, you probably won’t care when the thoughts subside and won’t be concerned with time.  Keep letting time pass, and assuming you’re consistent with recovery efforts – you’ll eventually fully recover.

Bonus Options…

HOCD can be overcome with just the 5 aforementioned steps, or arguably just a couple of them.  However, if you’re in dire straits and want to utilize some alternative methods to recover, you have other options.  These include: using supplements, medications, neuroplasticity, and/or neurofeedback.

Chemical alterations: Most people with HOCD will panic and immediately jump on the medication bandwagon.  For immediate relief, medications can be helpful.  However, over the long-term, medication will not teach you how to cope with HOCD when it strikes.  There’s a chance that in the future, your antidepressant will stop working and you’ll experience even worse HOCD than before you took a medication.

Altering chemicals in your brain is helpful, but in my opinion not usually necessary.  In my experience, altering your brain chemicals is best achieved via supplements to help reduce some anxiety and improve your sleep quality.  For example, if your circadian rhythm has been thrown off-kilter by your HOCD, you may want to consider taking melatonin to improve your sleep quality.

There are a variety of supplements you can consider to help take the edge off and facilitate your recovery.  Assuming you want to take a pharmaceutical drug, you may want to consider something safe like Clonidine for anxiety; this is one of the safest psychiatric drugs and my provide some benefit among those with HOCD.  Work with a psychiatrist if you believe it’s necessary to take a pharmaceutical.

Assuming you haven’t had HOCD your entire life, it is possible to overcome the condition without drugs or supplements.  The goal is to reset your body into physiological homeostasis rather than fear-mode of sympathetic overactivation and activation of the fear-circuitry.

Neurofeedback: Those with HOCD can use a technique called neurofeedback to expedite recovery and cope with the condition.  Neurofeedback analyzes brain waves across your entire cortex and determines whether any regions are likely to be dysfunctional based on the norm.  For example, if most people have slower brain waves in one region, yet your brain is showing excess fast-wave activity – this could result in symptoms of the HOCD.

A neurofeedback practitioner would then work with you to correct this (potentially) faulty brain wave rhythm in a specific region.  The correction in theory should help promote healthy brain functioning and reduce the likelihood of obsessive thoughts.  Many people with OCD (of all types including HOCD) will benefit from working with someone who conducts QEEG neurofeedback.

Self-directed neuroplasticity: Another concept that you can take advantage of is that of self-directed neuroplasticity.  This concept is based off of the idea that you can literally control the way your brain works based on your focus.  If you focus on being stressed and fearing the thoughts, you become more rattled and manifest more of what you don’t want.

Self-directed neuroplasticity involves a four step process and happens to work brilliantly for suffers of OCD.  In fact, some believe it works better than medication – I happen to be one of those people.  The four steps are as follows:

  • Step 1: Relabel – This involves relabeling your thoughts for what they truly are, obsessions and compulsions. Each time you think a thought that you might become gay, you would immediately relabel it as an “obsession.”  Recognize that these obsessions and compulsions are just false-alarms, not actually a reflection of who you are.
  • Step 2: Reattribute – Next you reattribute the cause of the thoughts as being “faulty brain circuitry.” You don’t identify that you are creating the thoughts, rather you take a step back and view them with mindful awareness.  In other words, you view them from a third-person perspective, realizing that they are a result of faulty brain chemistry, not your fault.
  • Step 3: Refocus – After you’ve mastered the first 2 steps, you refocus each time you have an HOCD thought. You do this by having a list of alternative behaviors rather than the compulsions associated with the obsessions.  Make a list of benign, enjoyable behaviors such as: gardening, reading, journaling, biking, etc.  Each time HOCD strikes, you immediately perform an alternative behavior such as gardening for a minimum of 15 minutes; this helps activate a different neural pathway rather than the one associated with HOCD.
  • Step 4: Revalue – Ultimately you come to realize that you need to give your own life more value than the OCD generated by abnormal brain chemistry. You place more value on doing something productive or living your life than giving the OCD power.  You have now revalued your HOCD to the point that it has no power over you and cannot control your consciousness because you can work around it.

How long does it take to recover from HOCD?

It’s difficult to give an estimation regarding recovery time from HOCD.  Assuming you seek help from an experienced therapist and follow some of the tips mentioned in this article, your recovery may be quicker than expected.  Assuming your onset of HOCD was relatively insidious and long-term, it may be difficult to work around the ingrained neural pathways created by the obsessions and compulsions.

The early stages of treatment are the toughest, but as you gain momentum – things continue to get easier.  Individuals with severe cases of HOCD who aren’t willing to do necessary psychotherapy and put forth coping efforts may not ever recover.  Those who are willing to put forth effort will begin to notice gradual symptomatic relief over time; progress happens over the course of months, not usually days.

In my experience, it took a relatively long-term (at least 4 months) before my HOCD significantly diminished.  Once it diminished, it would randomly pop up to keep me “in check” but eventually even the random “pop up” spam-like thoughts would subside. If you have successfully learned how to cope, you shouldn’t be too concerned with recovery time.

Time is going to pass anyways, regardless of whether you put in the work or not.  If you want to recover, keep doing what works best for you and you’ll continue to make progress.  For most cases it will take several months to notice significant improvement, yet for others, recovery may seem like a long, drawn-out affair.

Have you suffered from HOCD?

If you have dealt with HOCD, feel free to share your experience in the comments section below.  Discuss how long you’ve been plagued with this specific subtype of OCD and whether you’ve also experienced other types of OCD.  If you’ve managed to minimize these thoughts and/or are successfully coping with them, mention any coping techniques that you think could help others suffering from the same condition.

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{ 16 comments… add one }
  • Isabella Jordan April 13, 2017, 12:16 pm

    Does this every go away? I would never want to be with a female. It’s revolting to think about. I want a husband and nothing else. I’ve always been boy crazy… I wish I can stop thinking about it.

  • fnu March 28, 2017, 11:11 pm

    Hi. I have recently experienced HOCD, since last week and I am in college. I am a straight “A” student but I am unable focus on studies at all. I don’t know what to do because all my life I have liked girls and fantasized about them. I am really scared and my finals are coming up. I cannot afford a therapist, so any can anyone tell me fastest way to recover it without a therapist?

  • Jake February 10, 2017, 7:05 am

    You have managed to explain every single symptom I’ve been experiencing in the exact words I would use. I’ve struggled with this since I was 17 and a half. I even thought that I should remember the day it happened as it was the day my life was destroyed. Before that I never tripped and knew I loved girls and had so many crushes and GFs.

    During those first weeks, I told myself that if this didn’t stop by a certain age I would just off myself or become a heroin addict. Fast forward to now: I am now 24. I’m in rehab for heroin and have 4 months clean. I first started smoking more pot when I was 17 as I’ve smoked since I was 14. I noticed that when I stopped for a while and lost tolerance and then started again, it would make the OCD far worse.

    After I kept smoking and was used to it, it was like normal and even helped coping… Then it became useless again after I was too tolerant to it. I gave it up many times only to go back to it later and suffer the panic attacks again. At 18, I decided that I would give my life to Christ if he would just take away these awful feelings. I feel a lot of people do this.

    I couldn’t ever fully commit and was always ashamed and resorted back to drugs. When I was 19, I discovered Xanax was my Savior. It literally took away every single symptom within 30 mins. I was back to normal. I lived life with 4-16 bars a day. Sold many drugs and went without a lot in order to keep this habit.

    I started school and put all my effort into getting A’s and did 2 semesters then At 20 I got into opiates while still with my benzos addiction (very dangerous) I soon got into heroin as it was cheaper than pills. I went to rehab at 21. After 3 months I was out and on a script of Klonopin (longer lasting benzos) which worked like Xanax but also came with horrible dependence and withdrawal symptoms and rebound anxiety. I decided to go back to school up north (CA)…

    I went a couple months while on k-pins and it was the best time in my entire life. Beautiful women, so many friends, acing all my test and doing a bunch of MDMA and Xanax as well as dealing and smoking massive amounts of weed. I got the nickname “Tarxan” because I had long hair and was wild. I then dreaded my hair and got real hippie. I started dating an 18 y/o girl and did a bunch of acid and got engaged.

    From 21-24 was amazing until I went back to heroin and meth. Was homeless in my single cab truck with my GF and my dog for the better part of 23. I went this whole time without any OCD symptoms but they were there waiting for me when I got clean. I attempted suicide 4 times in a month and landed in rehab but not before I overdosed and nearly died and woke up in the hospital with pneumonia.

    Now on Zoloft, Wellbutrin, gabitril (GABA reuptake inhibitor) and lamictal because of all the damage I did to my brain. 4 months later I’m starting to feel better. The OCD isn’t nearly as bad although it pops up from time to time. I naturally started accepting the thoughts and stopped fighting them out of instinct I guess. I have that E.D. problem that one person commented on where I get nervous and have a hard time the first time with a hot chick.

    I stumbled upon this when I clicked on a link that just said OCD. It was a miracle this helps even more and confirmed what I already knew but couldn’t fully accept. Thank you so much for this it is 100% me to a T. And also, I found out when I was trying to think of why this OCD just randomly started at that time and remembered I had strep throat around the same time.

    Come to find out there’s something called PANDAS, an autoimmune disease that happens in some people when they get strep where the immunoglobulins attack the basal ganglia part of the brainstem, inducing OCD. It was incredible to discover that and I wanted to mention that to see if anyone else had strep throat around the time their OCD popped up over night. Again, thank you so much man you have probably helped so many anxious H-OCD people frantically scouring the internet in hopes to find some relief.

    Also, I wanna mention my dog, Nala. I rescued her from the pound at 19 but she rescued me from myself. I probably would have killed myself if not for her to be there though everything and given me a purpose and Made me happy as hell – even when I was detoxing or high as f-ck. She’s a beautiful Brindle pitbull and my best friend. Unfortunately right now she can’t stay with me at my sober living so she’s at a friend’s mechanic shop.

    She continues to help me by giving me a reason to get a job and my own place as soon as possible. I highly recommend getting a dog for H-OCD sufferers. I even got her an emotional support dog certificate. And because I was always having withdrawals from benzos, I could tell people she was a service dog that notified people when I was going to have a seizure and nobody could refuse her access.

    • Saved By K9 June 23, 2018, 9:11 pm

      Touched by your story ad thinking of many people who could have been helped by this article. I would think it’s not “politically correct” because there are political activists who have nothing to do with medicine or mental health, who would mistakenly call this conversion therapy and attempt to delegitimize it.

      There are some practitioners who, regardless of the evidence or what a patient self-reports, who would insist the patient is “closeted”. I would suggest those mental health practitioners are dangerous in that they are imposing their own norms on their patient and I would suggest to anyone who finds resistance from their therapist or psychiatrist to realize the resistance is not your problem, it’s theirs… and you should find another mental health practitioner.

      Having said all of that – I am responding to the extremely important information about your dog, Nala. God Bless Her. A beloved dog who depended on me for his care saved my life as well. I had suicidal ideation almost as a matter of habit every day for years and also became dependent on benzos xanax and klonopin.

      It took months to titrate down from klonopoin and I literally felt like an invalid most of the time. I thought my life was over at 40. Were it not for my dog, I may well have made a lethal attempt. My dog is 13 now and, Thank God, as spry as ever.

      I don’t have the slavery of dependence on a medication that used to literally compel me to get up and leave events I had been looking forward to, It kept me trapped. If you are functioning well enough to care for a pet, it adds a dimension of love and richness to your life that you cannot imagine.

      Thank God, Jake, you never got arrested or in a situation where you could have abandoned Nala – she could have gone to a kill-shelter and you never would have forgiven yourself. I admire you putting your need to provide her with a stable home first- I think it is great incentive.

      I wish you luck. It is important to be able to care for yourself before caring for a pet – as he or she will be completely dependent on you, but if you can provide a stable and safe home, there is no greater joy.

  • John December 16, 2016, 1:16 am

    I’m 47, and I’ve dealt with this problem in the past, as I am now. I was diagnosed as obsessive disorder 7 years ago. I can’t stand it anymore. I’ve never had a romantic or physical positive thought about my same sex. Super into girls since elementary school.

    I love sex with girls etc. But yet again another relapse or whatever started two weeks ago. Meds help to keep me functional but so depressed, thought I was done with this.

  • Megan November 24, 2016, 10:16 pm

    As you have mentioned in your post, OCD is relentless even when you know the thoughts are just that-thoughts. Much like the Chinese fingertrap, the more one resists it, the harder it gets. I can tell you from personal experience what therapists treating HOCD do, and you can do it yourself. You must keep in mind that when you do this, as you try to stand up to the intrusive thoughts, they’re going to try to trick you again.

    YOU MUST NOT LET THAT HAPPEN. What my therapist did was, she would ask me questions so I could stand up to the OCD. Some of these might apply to you as well. How does the thought of being with someone of the same sex make you feel? If it is like butterflies in your stomach, that’s homosexuality; if you feel fear, that’s OCD.

    Other questions my therapists would ask me: Do you want to be with girls romantically, or do you just look up to them or find it fun hanging out with them? When you go on a date with the opposite sex, how is it? In my case, it wasn’t that good, the reason being that I was crushing on some other GUY who didn’t notice me, so went with him instead. Yeah. Keep on doing this until your anxiety levels go down.

    Or you can try taping your thoughts or doing a recording on your phone where you repeat the thoughts, and just listen to it over and over in your room until the thoughts lose their power over you. There is also a book called The OCD Workbook: Your Guide to Breaking Free from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder by Bruce M. Hyman PhD LCSW and Cherlene Pedrick, you might find it to be of some use to you. OCD can get pretty tricky, but with time you should feel your anxiety go down.

  • Mara August 2, 2016, 12:21 am

    Fantastic article! I enjoyed reading it, and I thought I would comment on here. I’m a 19 year old female, and I’ve liked guys since I was 5 years old. Life has been extremely difficult since the onset of my HOCD, for example I pretty much despise the female population as I see them as a threat.

    Sometimes I will admit that I’m afraid to talk to my own friends, I even went as far as cutting one off because I thought she was into me. While I haven’t officially gotten diagnosed (due to financial problems) I’m 100% sure it’s HOCD, because I have similar symptoms as all those mentioned above. Funnily enough even while struggling with HOCD, I have managed to develop crushes on the opposite sex.

    However HOCD is relentless and will try to tell me they’re “false” even though I know they’re real. Again thanks for the article, I do have a question though, what would suggest for those who can’t afford therapy? I’ve tried self-help, but it hasn’t been very helpful.

  • MylifeMyThoughts July 15, 2016, 10:12 pm

    I am 22, this HOCD hit me like a wall. I was all of a sudden drawn thoughts of men in a way which was crippling and mentally gripping. I have always viewed myself as a mentally fit person and have overcome many things in my life. I am accepting of the gay community I even went to the pride event to show my support for those in Orlando. It all began as I was traveling with a good friend of mine and we were road tripping around America.

    We had been sharing a bed of course as friends could so easily do. The stress of the travels due to us being different and not everyone can get along for so long became too much for me, all was too immense and I had and have a girlfriend who I had missed so much. All of a sudden this feeling came over me I am Homosexual because I was able to stay without sex for so long, but kept company with one male. Suddenly the thoughts began “He could be your partner!!”

    I was so overwhelmed by this thought, I have never had this before. I broke down on the inside, ran away from my thoughts by falling asleep not wanting to dig deeper into this feeling I had. Upon waking, as I had feared they came back to haunt me, bite for bite it came at me, everything became unwanted sexual connotations and I started replacing everyday words with unnecessary endings. It was scary to say the least. Piece for piece I became hateful of my friend and myself, questioning why is this happening to me, why now I have a beautiful girlfriend who makes me feel so special and comfortable.

    For example she was so supportive even about my fear of being homosexual, she laughed and said “my darling your the straightest guy I know”, this may have been reassuring at the time, but day after day it became this plague which swept my mind and ridiculed me. From my friend it became more powerful one male after the other I didn’t want to be touched at all, I wasn’t happy I was depressed. I had imagined life in this week all to many times living with a male partner, having to tell my friends this is me now and hoping they would accept me and not shun me.

    It has been now a week and a half and my mind has been shattered by HOCD. I have read a book you “You can be an optimist” by Lucy MacDonald within 3 Days in the hopes it would stop my negative thoughts as I saw them. Good book to keep the motivation of change at a high. For me it was bad as Hawaii and of course its the norm to walk topless for men here so my mind was being affected at every step with unwanted thoughts I would try to fight off. I lost my appetite and I was about to make break my girlfriends heart and I even prepared by run away to an isolated island.

    I would just like to tell everyone who thinks there is no way back acceptance helps and help is out there in my own words I say believe in change because it is only from within where change can begin. I will look for professional help and I would just like to express my gratitude to those who expressed themselves letting others know out there like us we are not alone and it will all be good again. I wish everyone the best of luck and I hope my brief touched will help someone who has been in our shoes recently.

  • Mehrgriw June 26, 2016, 10:03 pm

    Nice! I just recently discovered the therm HOCD and your article shed some light on my own thinking which could be HOCD. I intuitively used some advices 12 years ago when I had a sort of 30year crisis, after breaking up with my 5 year long girlfriend. I was obsessed with the possibility being gay that I started to try to be gay.

    Even when I never in my life wished to kiss a man, never romantically in love with a boy in opposite to the many girls I had a crush on and hardly any homosexual thoughts. With this fear being gay I ended up in awkward situations. I did not know what to do when a homo- or bi-sexual man showed interest in me, because we had a nice talk and were so how on a same wavelength.

    But still no sign of any sexual reaction from my side, no urge to touch, kiss, no erection… But again the next circle: “I am not attracted to men, because I do net let think myself about it, because I don’t want to be gay… and so on. Smoking a lot of pot these days did not help either, because these circling thoughts even spin faster when you are high. One day I thought enough is enough!

    It is completely irrelevant if I am hetero, bi, homo, or whatever. Nobody gives a sh#t what you are – it is completely unimportant and nobody cares as long you do not bother other people with talking about your sexual problems. So just with this “I don’t give a shit about being whatever I am…” attitude life got immediately easier. Also as mentioned in the article to see yourself in a 3rd person view helps a lot.

    Just think being a sport reporter commenting on the things “your name here” does. Do net let any detail out, like “now he is lifting the toothbrush, turns water on, puts the brush under the water, opens the toothpaste, puts it on the toothbrush… and so on”. Can be vey funny and you can do it with every single activity in your thoughts. Just a few minutes every day helps a lot. Also focusing on studies, work, art, interests, games helped me a lot.

    But I never was at a sort of psychological therapy, but I invented and used some of the mentioned strategies myself. And I have to say I never really overcome all thoughts that I could be gay. But they have been getting very seldom over the last few years. One trigger is for example a sort of ED every time when I am in bed with a new woman the first time.

    A voice: “…see you are gay, you even can not get a boner with this beautiful lady which you enjoyed to kiss…” But instead take your own sport reporter: “He is thinking again that he could be gay, because a voice in his head says so, because he has no erection with this woman. What will he do next? Take his matters in his own hands? kiss and eat her out? Cry? The tension is unbearable, stay tuned to see what he will do next…”

  • Elliott February 5, 2016, 7:41 pm

    Don’t worry people-I’ve had HOCD for a year and 4 months now but it’s different for everyone. I’m so close to the finish line, with just a bit more work required and I’ll be where I want to be. One way that’s helped me to deal with this, is that the anxiety/fear felt from thoughts/being exposed to men is a protection mechanism, and the science behind this illness is actually fascinating (would you believe!).

    It’s the fight or flight response system in your brain being activated, as the amygdala (a pivotal part of the brain) sends shock waves throughout the body as it perceives the stimulus as a threat (even though it isn’t in theory.) It’s part of human evolution, and is a sign that we have descended from primates- they were the ones who needed this defense mechanism more than anything to protect themselves from genuine threats (e.g. predators such as sabre-toothed cats, etc.) thousands of years ago.

    Unfortunately for us HOCD people, our brains don’t really care how these thoughts and fears are making us feel, it just cares about keeping us alive- our brains have been tricked into thinking that men are a genuine threat to us, because such thoughts about them go against our heterosexual egos. The fact of the matter is, is that the human mind has not been re-wired for 21st century life. But, please remember that this fear/anxiety is protecting us, and that this sensation is within our best interests.

    Fear is a biological mechanism, and its purpose is more than justifiable, even though it can be a little annoying and a bit scary. Keep going people, just imagine life after it! The sky will be the limit.

    • Tomas February 22, 2016, 9:29 pm

      HI… I am suffering with HOCD for more than 3 years!!! This article is really helpful as well as your nice comment! Please response! yesterday I was speaking with my girlfriend by internet chat… she told me she was going to make a hair cut – short hair like boy style… as it happens, when there is something new with girlfriend, you immediately start to imagine her during sex, in the bed.

      So as soon as she told me she was going to make her hair like a boy style, and idea of sex with her with her boy style hair came to my brain, I felt a strong electricity in my penis area (not erection, but strong electricity)… WHAT THE HELL IS THIS??? I know I am suffering with HOCD, but how the HELL my brain is playing with me and why I feel that kind of strong feeling in my penis?

      I have no idea how to stop, how to ignore that because this kind things happen to me with this kind of speeches and situations… I have NO wish to have a sex with same sex, no fantasy, no dream, no wish… so what the HELL is that??? Please respond.

      • Mehrgriw June 26, 2016, 10:23 pm

        WHAT THE HELL IS THIS?? It’s HOT! My Tip: Just think it this way, that you are exploring male-female, female-male stereotypes with yourself and you girlfriend. This can be a lot of fun also in bed. Active-Passive, top-bottom, dominant-submissive… I had once a girlfriend for 2 years who was 10cm taller than me, and it was great!

        In hardcore HOCD-mode this screams for “being gay because you have a taller girlfriend…” If you like sex with your girlfriend just continue and be proud that you explore her male and your female side! Relax!

  • Dane December 28, 2015, 6:48 pm

    This helped me so much. I’ve been suffering with HOCD for at least 2 in half months now. But I’ve got one question what in your opinion is the best way on this list to eliminate HOCD? I need answers and hope they are answered. Please leave a reply.

  • banjo ayomiku November 22, 2015, 1:53 pm

    Thank you so much for this wonderful piece, I am also from Africa, Nigeria to be precise. I have been dealing with HOCD for a month and half now, though I know I am not gay. It’s so hard to come to terms with my conviction. It’s even harder because homosexuality is a crime in my country with 14 years behind bars for it. By the grace of God I am recovering, but the spikes still hit like everyday. Will really appreciate it if I could get a reply on this just to feel more assured, thanks.

    • PARANOID ALWAYS September 11, 2016, 9:58 pm

      If you need a comment then here it is. I’ve struggled with hundreds of obsessions. This was one of them. Just relax. Only you know who you are, and random thoughts weather arousing or not do not make up who you are. Pornographic images at any level are garbage. Doesn’t matter what it’s about. Look outward for your pleasure. Yes I ‘beat’ this obsession, but honestly compared to some struggles, this was nothing.

  • Lulwando September 8, 2015, 1:02 pm

    Thank you so much for this post it has helped someone like me who has been a victim to this monstrous disorder that has ruined and crippled me to a point I felt like I should just end my life. I am a 23 year old black South African from the informal settlements of Cape Town. I feel the need to mention my background because not many people are actually aware that there is something like HOCD where I come from and I am really inspired in educating my community about it and help those who are plagued by intrusive thoughts. I am also in a road to recovery and it is not easy but I have a strong belief that I will beat this and be victorious.

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