September 9, 2011

Denial about OCD

I had a very interesting and thought-provoking session with my therapist a couple of weeks ago that I’ve been meaning to write about.  As you know – one of my OCD fears is that I’m in denial about being gay.  Well, my therapist so boldly proposed to me that he believes that I’m in denial about having OCD. 

I’m sure if you read my blog, you can understand how that very word, and that concept – DENIAL scares the crap out of me.  We were talking about it because my Mom is in COMPLETE denial that she is dying.  She’s been in the hospital for 7 weeks now, declining regularly, requiring more and more medication for pain, vomiting, unable to eat solid food (therefore struggling to get any real nutrition), and barely able to remain lucid, but if anyone brings up the fact that she might be dying (barring a miracle of course), she gets very angry.  Of course the fact that my mom is so able to be in denial spurred me to think about my family pattern and how things were so quickly and easily pushed under the rug.  Of course this all triggered me to think “maybe I’m in denial that I’m gay”. 

My therapist’s assertion that perhaps I’m actually in denial about having OCD definitely hit me with some anxiety.  If I’m in denial about having OCD, what else am I in denial about?”  But once I got past the initial anxiety I started asking questions.  What did he mean by that?  Why does he think that?  He didn’t give a lot of concrete “answers”, but he said to me that perhaps I am scared to face and “commit” to the diagnosis of OCD, because I MIGHT BE WRONG, and what would that mean about me?  YOU COULD’VE KNOCKED ME OVER WITH A FEATHER AT THAT POINT.  Of course, as soon as he said that, our time was basically up, so we had to end our session for that day. 

After I finished my session, I continued thinking about what my therapist said to me.  I wondered to myself what I really was scared about.  Why I didn’t truly want to embrace my treatment and the fact that I have OCD.  As usual, though, I think my therapist was DEAD ON.  Not only do I fear that I may be in denial about being gay, what goes along with it is “What if I don’t really have OCD?”  From what I understand, many OCD sufferers have struggled with these thoughts, and Dr. Grayson even wrote about it on his blog recently.  You can read what he wrote here.  So, what my therapist meant in this situation is that although most of the time, I will admit to myself that I have OCD, I still haven’t truly embraced it, LIVED IT, and acknowledged to myself that this is a condition that I have and need to cope with for the rest of my life.  I also think that for the most part, I haven’t fully embraced treatment, because I didn’t want to accept that I have OCD, because WHAT IF IT WASN’T REALLY OCD???? 

I realized that I really didn’t want to accept and move forward with dealing with my OCD, because what if, for some reason, the diagnosis was wrong?  What if I really am gay and in denial?  That would mean that my ultimate fear would happen, and I would live a less-than-satisfying life, and will have harmed myself and many others in the process. 

This session was a breakthrough for me.  I knew all along that I had the fears that I might not have OCD, but I really didn’t realize how it was affecting me and my treatment.  I made the choice to take the chance, to embrace the fact that I have OCD, to trust my therapist, and to follow through with treatment to the best of my ability.  (Actually, I should say that I make the choice on a daily basis, each time the thought "What if this isn't really OCD?" comes into my head!) If I find out at some point that everyone was wrong and I don’t really have OCD then I will have to deal with it then.  If I discover at some point that I really am a lesbian, then I’ll have to deal with that too. 


  1. Hi Pure O!

    First of all, I am so sorry about your Mom. That must be so sad and stressful for you.

    Also, I can see why that therapy session was a breakthrough for you! OCD is always trying to make us second guess ourselves, isn't it? Even to the point where we wonder if we really do have OCD (I've been there as well). You are being really brave by trusting your therapist and embracing the fact that you want to believe you have OCD. Good for you!


  2. I struggle with denial. Maybe I don't have OCD, aside from the fact that it explains some of my rediculous thoughts in a sensible way. But even more, what if I'm not depressed? What if I made it up? I like asking my therapist and doctor that. So far they've kept assured me. I guess I should stop asking, and if I'm taking meds and spending money on medical appointments and letting myself rest and have intentional fun for no reason, well, that would just be aweful! I'd be a lazy, selfish person! - or so I think. And I can see where it gets in the way of OCD treatment for me, too. If I don't have OCD, why on earth would I put myself through unnecessary misery to try to get rid of something I don't have?

    Good post. Thanks.

  3. Elizabeth - Thank you for your kind words about my mom and thank you for your comliment about me being brave - I don't think of myself as someone who is brave at all! But I think many of us with OCD are quite brave.
    Abigail - Yes - I've read on your blog that you stuggle with this too. I suppose in the end it's taking the leap of faith and making the choice one way or the other. That's what I keep reminding myself anyway.

  4. Speaking as someone who does not have OCD, it constantly amazes me how complicated and insidious this disorder is.....I think everyone who struggles with OCD and "figuring it all out" is indeed very brave.
    On another note, my Dad passed away from cancer a couple of years ago and seemed to be in complete denial also that he was dying. Maybe it's not that uncommon, and a way for some people to deal with impending death? Maybe it's just eaiser to pretend you're not dying than to accept the fact you are. My thoughts are with you and your mom at this difficult time.

  5. OCDTalk - Isn't OCD incredibly insidious?? It amazes me too the permutations and combinations of thoughts along a few themes that I can come up with and that never cease to scare me! So frustrating. Thank you for your support re: my mom. I think denial probably is a very common reaction to death. It would be very hard to wake up every single morning knowing without a doubt (unless of course a miracle happens) that you are dying in the next few days/weeks.

  6. Pure O Canuck, I'm a Pure O myself, and I've struggled with HOCD in the past. Have you read much about it? I've found that the more I read about how common HOCD is-- when I read stories that are like examples straight out of my own life-- it makes everything look sillier. My psychiatrist said that education is the weapon against OCD, and that seems brilliant to me.

    I hope you'll check out my OCD blog (! I'll be visiting yours!

  7. Hi Jackie! Thanks for visiting my blog and great to meet another "Pure O"! I'll definitely check out your blog! Thanks for your comments. Isn't it amazing how "cookie cutter" the OCD stuff is? Doesn't seem to matter what the thoughts/themes are either. It certainly does seem to help take the threat out of it.