August 30, 2011

HOCD and Emotional Contamination

I’ve had a pretty good week.  Of course, I’m at the beginning of my menstrual cycle, and I’m usually pretty good during this time.  I am convinced that there is a correlation between hormones, menstruation cycles, and OCD flare ups.  Of course, there are many other things that cause my OCD to flare up, but PMS is definitely one of them.  It’s amazing how – at this point in my cycle – I have such an ability to just let the thoughts go.  Not only that – I seem to be able to gain perspective SO MUCH QUICKER.  This frustrates me to no end – the fact that I can’t “get to the bottom” of it, and somehow find a way to control my hormones such that I can get my OCD under control.  Anyway – I have no choice but to continue to put one foot in front of the other, and do my best despite PMS and other stressors. 

Even though I’m not doing any “formal” ERP at the moment, watching my Mom fight such a courageous battle with cancer at the end of her life has inspired me to do whatever I can during this hectic time to battle my OCD.  I have vowed to my therapist that I am really doing my BEST to not compulse.  For me, this means, not avoiding, not analyzing, not reassuring myself and a few other things.  I am happy to report that I’ve had some “wins”!  The biggest one for me was re-kindling my relationship with my cousin who – in the past – was like a sister to me.  However, she went through a divorce (ramped up my ROCD), and she is very psychodynamic-leaning (ramps up my HOCD – maybe it’s not OCD, but denial?), so in the last few years since my big OCD flare up, I have done everything I can to avoid her.  In the last month or so – since my mom became very ill, she and I have spent a lot of time on the phone (we now live across the country from each other), and she has been very supportive.  Heck, we’ve even had some great “analyzing” conversations, and I survived!  (These types of conversations used to be huge triggers for me.)  The thing that I notice about some of these successes is that they tend to build on themselves.  It’s amazing how, after a few “wins”, my confidence increases and so does my perspective. 

I’ve been thinking about my avoidance compulsion a lot though, and why it is that I tend to avoid people like my cousin, who is very open-minded, and psychodynamic-leaning.  It’s not that they are gay themselves, so it’s not like I am afraid of “catching” her sexuality.  I think what it is though, is that I am afraid of becoming like her, or starting to think like her, which, in turn, might make me gay.  I’m sure to those of you who are reading this post that DON’T have OCD probably think this sounds outrageous.  Those of you who have OCD probably get it.  It’s the same thing as becoming physically contaminated.  But this has a different name – I think it’s called “emotional contamination”.  I’m afraid that their values, beliefs, personality traits etc might rub off on me.    

I did a bit of research about this type of compulsion, and pretty much all I could find is this article.  I plan on discussing this more with my therapist, but wow – I continue to learn more and more each day about this puzzle that I call my OCD. 

What does everyone else think?  Do you suffer from emotional contamination? 


  1. Yes, I know what you are talking about! I used to obsess about my previous therapist, about how if my depression was getting better with her help, but if I didn't have all the same moral beliefs as her, that somehow I was "contaminated" and just being in session with her was somehow warping me. That majorly sucked!

  2. Hi, Pure O!
    I too think that sucess leads to more sucess (an upward spiral) and giving in leads to more noticing and giving in to ocd ( a downward spiral). The more i give in, the more i notice ocd things i should be washing for but after a few days of NOT giving in i seem to not notice and/ or be able to say no easier.

    I'm back from my real and mental vacations and am catching up on everyone's postings this August. I will check out the website. That sounds awesome to have a canadian group. Sometimes i feel so alone, no one else i know has this problem.

    I'm glad that you're able to spend so much time with your mom right now and hope that ocd lets go a little. I've found that in crisis times my ocd just backs off. I don't know if that's just me, or if that happens to everyone else too.

    Sounds like emotional contamination is even worse than physical contamination. Not being able to conect to people when you need to really sucks. I remember when i couldn't hug my husband because i thot he would physically contaminate me and that was hard. thinking he'd emotionally contaminate me, or that my counsellor would would be awful. Funny tho, i've been able to make sure my counsellors can't physically contaminate me. I've always felt safe around them. Don't know why that is, except that it is a necessity.

  3. How meaningful that your mother's struggle inspires you and gives you strength to forgre ahead and fight your own demons.........You are a very strong person!

  4. Exp - Yes I can relate to those thoughts/anxieties!!!
    Karin - glad to have you back!!
    OCDTalk - thanks for the vote of confidence!