A Note on Intrusive Thoughts and the Internet
A few people have asked me if I would be willing to write about some aspects of my experience with OCD in more detail – specifically, what my compulsions are, and what intrusive thought themes I deal with. I wanted to write a quick post explaining why I won’t be covering those things, and I hope you’ll hear me out.
So, yes, first off, I have talked a little about my compulsions and intrusive thoughts before in the past, in the early days of writing my series about OCD. I’m not planning on taking those articles down or anything, because a few people have let me know they find them useful and I don’t want to take away from that. But I also don’t intend to share details about my compulsive behaviour and intrusive thoughts in future, and that’s for a few reasons.
Firstly, and I think most importantly, because I know how OCD can attach itself to seemingly-random things without warning, and descriptions of other people’s compulsions have the potential to trigger those compulsions in those susceptible. I don’t want to risk putting something out there with the intention of helping, only for it to worsen someone else’s condition or anxiety. Much as I want to be honest about my experiences and the reality of living with OCD, I also don’t think going in to specific detail about my compulsions has much impact on how well I can depict that.
And secondly, when it comes to intrusive thoughts – look, I’ll be honest, it’s because I don’t trust the internet with them. Intrusive thoughts are, by their very nature, incongruous with the morality and beliefs of the person having them; they’re distressing because they represent the repeated intrusion of something that you find really horrible, even unthinkable. And I know that most of you understand that, many of you even deal with it yourselves. But I’m also aware of how easily the internet can twist these things out of context – I can write “I am plagued by distressing thoughts about X terrible thing”, and someone, somewhere, is going to read that as “I constantly, willingly think about X terrible thing and am therefore a fan of it”. I have huge, huge respect for people who feel able to be open about their intrusive thoughts, but for me, it’s just not something I’m willing to put out there. Regardless of how much I couch it in the reminder of this coming from a mental illness, there are inevitably going to be people who use whatever I see as proof of my moral worth, or lack thereof. If I can avoid giving them that ammo, I will.
I hope this make senses and I hope those who asked for me to cover these topics in more detail can understand why I’ve chosen not to. If you would like to read about my experiences with OCD, please feel free to check out my OCDiaries series here.