Have you ever been walking across a bridge when suddenly, for absolutely no reason, you felt the urge to jump?
Yes, this sounds absolutely insane but it’s a feeling that a lot of people have – even if they’d never admit that. It’s so common that the French even have an expression to describe this feeling: l’appel du vide (“the call of the void“).
But then, what happens if you have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and you feel the call of the void?
A total disaster.
So, as I’m pretty sure that I’m not the only one who is suffering from OCD and experienced the call of the void, I’d like to share my personal story – and I really hope I can give you a couple of useful tricks to overcoming this terrible fear.
I had my first call of the void experience a couple of years ago, when I was walking across a bridge. I’d have a sudden thought – literary out of nowhere – what If I just jumped and threw myself into the river?
To people who do not have OCD, this sudden urge wouldn’t cause severe distress, but to me, this was the beginning of a new obsession. I had a terrible feeling that was more than just a simple urge. I really felt like I could just jump into the river at any single moment. It all felt so real. And I used to ask myself:
– What if I actually want to jump? What if one day, I will lose control for a couple of seconds and I will do it? I think I do not want to die but….what if I do? How can I ever know?
And it really felt like a never ending story with all the typical what if questions familiar to every OCD-victim.
And obviously, it was not only about the disturbing thoughts, but I’d start avoiding any situation that could trigger my fears. So, during those dark days, I’d never ever cross a bridge or I’d never smoke a cigarette on the balcony – and in the most extreme period, I never actually dared to open the window cause I’d been terribly afraid of jumping out of it.
This happened years ago, and I can say that nowadays, I’m doing just fine. It was a very long and difficult journey and I’d not have been able to do it alone. I was lucky to have very supportive friends and family.
How did I overcome my fear?
– I faced my fears (okay, I know this sounds clichée but it actually works!). So I started to walk across bridges, spent time on the balcony, went to sky bars and the final step that I took was: moving to a flat on the 8th floor.
– I told my family and friends about my fear: it may be extremely difficult to tell others about your feelings (especially if these feelings are weird), but it’s really worth it. Furthermore, talking about your feelings will make you realize that you’re not alone. I’m pretty sure that most of us have at least one friend who’s (or was) suffering from the call of the void.
– I was reading about it: one can find a lot of great articles on the internet about OCD and about the call of the void – and the more you know about it, the better you can fight it.
Want to read more about OCD?:
– 6 types of OCD
– Pure O: Living in Endless Fear
– OCD: Living a lie
– 12 things that will help you overcome OCD
– OCD: a vicious cycle of doubt and guilt
– Demons are real: Stop Negative Self Talk!
– I accepted it. Let’s be honest: I’ve been living with OCD for most of my life and I’m getting better and better at handling it, but it’s a very long process – I hope to believe that it’s possible to cure it completely, but even then one will always have crazy thoughts and urges, so we need to accept them.
– I made fun of it. Okay, I’m pretty sure a lot of experts would disagree with this method, but then I’m not a psychologist or a researcher just a guy who’s pretty experienced when it comes to OCD and this actually works for me. In the middle of a panic attack, it’s not really possible to make fun of your fears but during “calmer periods” it’s something you can do. Because if you think about it: at the end of the day, it’s pretty weird that someone is afraid of jumping off a cliff when they do not actually want to do it, right?
So, with the combination of these techniques, I could finally overcome my fear. Sometimes I still feel the call of the void, but it won’t scare me anymore!
I really hope my story will help some people out there and I’m also looking forward to hearing about your call of the void stories in the comment section! 🙂
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