I am Mark. I am gay man with obsessive compulsive disorder.

I turned 40 a week ago, and I have been out of the closet for almost two decades. In that time, I have helped other truly gay people come out of the closet. If I thought for a minute that even one of the straight HOCD sufferers on the board was gay, I would do the same for him or her. Yet, while I have done my best to help many on the board, I have helped no one come out of the closet.

The Mental Agony

As of this writing I have been bombarded by threads, private messages, e-mail, and instant messages by straight folks terrified that they are gay (and a very small number of gay and bisexual folks terrified that they, too, are not their real sexual orientation). My initial assessment of HOCD stands firm: Whatever HOCD tells the sufferer is a lie. I have had the wonderful experience of talking to people who had initially talked to me in HOCD mode but have since gone on medication and undergone behavior therapy; they now tell me that they are clearly heterosexual and don't know what they were thinking before. Yeah, well, I could have told them that. In fact, I did.

The only part of my initial assessment that has changed is my realization that HOCD is far more common in the OCD population than most people think. I don't think most OCD sufferers get it; I know I have never had it (although I could have gotten it and shudder at the thought). Nevertheless, it is sufficiently widespread to warrant more specialists in the field, more media exposure, and more understanding among therapists relatives, friends, and, especially, gay people who give the wrong advice. Before November 2004, I would have given the wrong advice, too.

So why do some OCD sufferers get HOCD when others do not? Who knows? Why did I have terrors about earthquakes and research them for close to two years when I never had, say, Harm OCD? Again, who knows? To a large degree, I believe, the mental daggers our OCD sends us are random. To a small degree, I also believe, they have something to do with what we fear most. In Harry Potter language, OCD has the same power as a Dementor: It fills us with our most unhappy thoughts and saps all happiness out of us. It is what a Boggart becomes, a manifestation of our worst fears. Of course, Harry learned to defeat Dementors and Boggarts.

Article Title:
I'm Gay and You're Not:
Understanding Homosexuality Fears
Am I Gay? Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Takes Many Forms
Accessed: April 06, 2009

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