OCD: a vicious cycle of doubt and guilt

Two of the key characteristics of OCD are doubt and guilt. But what does it feel like to suffer from them? That’s what I’m going to write about today and I’ll share one of my personal stories with you.

First of all, let’s take a look at doubt: this is something I have already mentioned in a few of my previous posts. People who’re suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder are living in doubt: and this is one of the main reasons why it’s so hard to get rid of OCD and to move on.

Doubt: what does it actually feel like?

If you have OCD, I’m pretty sure you have already experienced this terrible feeling. To me personally, doubt usually means the “what if” type of questions. The majority of people wouldn’t be scared by a sudden intrusive thought: such as throwing themselves under the train or jumping off the cliff, because they’d KNOW for sure that they do not want to do it.

Now one of the scary things about OCD is that you NEVER KNOW. If a random thought comes into your mind, you’ll not let it go – that’d be way too simple. No, you’ll start analyzing it – and that is when the feeling of doubt and guilt comes into the picture. So let’s say that you have just had a scary thought – throwing yourself under the train for example. What happens next?

You tell yourself that it’s just crazy and you do not want to do that. Why would you?

This is the point where the OCD monster (yes, I usually imagine OCD as an ugly little monster sitting on your shoulder and whispering random stuff into your ears) joins you:
How do you know you do not want to do it? What if you actually want to do it?

Answering Mr. OCD’s questions are usually very difficult, but let’s try:
– Because I do not want to die.

But the OCD monster will never give up, so it carries on:
You said that word yourself, did not you? What if that means that you want to die – you just do not know about it.

And carrying on with this inner conversation is very distressing – and the more you do it, the worse you feel.

So what are the best things you could do?

1. Label your thoughts:

Recognize when you have an intrusive thought and tell yourself that this is just OCD and that it’s not real and not rational at all.
Doing this requires a lot of practice. I wouldn’t have been able to do this a few years back – and even nowadays, it can be very difficult, but I promise you one thing: it’s worth the effort. This will help you a lot.

3. Do not try to stop your thoughts:

This will have the exact opposite effect than the one you’d want to have: if you try to get rid of your thoughts and to force yourself not to think about them, you’ll actually think about them more.

3. Be angry at your OCD monster:

Anger and fear are not compatible feelings: so it’s unlikely that you’d feel the 2 of them at the exact same time. So by being angry at your little OCD monster will help you overcoming your fear.

Guilt: What does it actually feel like?

Now let’s speak about the feeling of guilt.

It’s very much related to the feeling of doubt. You just start blaming yourself for the things that you’re thinking about and for the feelings that you have. And you start thinking that these are actually a part of you and they define who you are. So, the fact that you’re having these thoughts and feelings means that you’re a horrible person.

As you can already imagine, this feeling of guilt is also responsible for giving you even more doubts (and also the other way around – your doubts will make you feel more guilt). So the two of them are pretty much completing each other. What a beautiful relationship, isn’t it?

For me, the feeling of guilt is one of the major obstacles when it comes to overcoming OCD and for a very simply reason:
I feel guilty for wasting so many years of my life on my obsessions and compulsions and I’m afraid that If I do not have them anymore, my life will become worse.

Okay, let’s stop here: reading this, you’ll think that I’m totally insane (which is partially true, but not becaue of my OCD). But I’ll explain you why I feel like this:

Magical thinking

To explain what it is, I’ll just literary copy and paste the definition from a book: unreasonable and irrational thought patterns that are characterized by connecting actions and events that have no relation whatsoever.

Over the years, I have managed to overcome most of my fears and I’ve become relatively good at handling OCD, but there’s a final fear that I have to face and that’s OCD itself. And it’s the feeling of guilt that makes it so difficult. I just feel that I wasted so much time on worrying about things that did not actually matter that I think I’m not worth of being happy anymore. I feel that I’m a sinner and my biggest sin has been destroying my own life with my disturbing thoughts. I’m living a pretty decent life nowadays (except for the OCD part of course), but I’m just scared: what if I manage to overcome OCD and things will get worse?

Note: check out this article for learning more about the magical thinking OCD

Now this is what we could even call a Stockholm syndrome. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a kidnapper who wants to make you feel guilty for living him.

If you want to read more about what living with OCD feels like, please check out:
What it is like to live with OCD? – A day in my life
OCD: afraid of blinding yourself (a few more details about the feeling of doubt)
6 types of OCD

There’s one thing that I like more than sharing my own personal stories: reading yours. So, please do not hesitate to share your own story in the comment section! 🙂

Mark Wester


29 thoughts on “OCD: a vicious cycle of doubt and guilt

  1. I am so sorry for your struggle, but I’m glad you have an outlet with your blog. My son, now in his thirties, struggled for years with OCD. As you said in another post, it is NOT funny but it’s common for people to openly joke about it. I sometimes want to slap these insensitive and ignorant people upside the head!
    My son’s obsession was germs and his compulsion was to wash until his hands until they bled. He was afraid of many things, including doorknobs, dead animals, and almost anything out of place – whether inside or outdoors. He saw a counselor and was on medication for a few years, and it helped some. The biggest change happened after my ex and I separated. Once she was out of the house, his OCD all but disappeared within a year! He has occasional flare-ups when he’s under a lot of stress, but nothing major.
    I wish you the very best and want to remind you – you are not alone!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad to hear that your son is now doing better and thank you very much for your comment – it is really important to know that there are people out there who understand you and that you are not alone with this (one of the main reasons why I started writing my blog – lately, i have been feeling much better but I really hope that I can help others by sharing my personal stories).

      And yes, it is very annoying indeed when people make fun of it. Especially when they think that it is just an exaggerated cleaning obsession. But let’s hope this will change: more and more people share their stories so I think OCD awareness will raise in the next couple of years 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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