Am I Gay or is it my OCD?

I first started to worry about the possibility of being bisexual when I was 12.  I was afraid of being gay, like many people who are confused about their orientation.  I remember having my first crush on a girl in elementary school, but  I struggled with sexual obsessions from my early teens, which casued me to repeatedly question my orientation.  Was I bi?  Was it my OCD?

I got relief once I learned it is very common for OCD sufferers to have obsessions regarding their sexuality.  This was only partly the case with me.

I did suffer from some sexual obsessions, but not all of my thoughts made me anxious.  An intrusive thought causing anxiety is an obsession, but a repressed thought that causes no anxiety is not.  I knew many of my sexual obsessions stemmed from OCD, but the attraction I felt towards women caused me no anxiety, no strife and in fact was not something I obsessed over because it fit into my shameful loops, but because I had repressed my desires along with many other sexual obsessions I wished to ignore.  It all got mixed together.

The key for me was to separate my thoughts into what caused anxiety and what did not.  This was difficult because I had to get through the confusion and bias in regards to my orientation.  I had to think about what it really meant to be bisexual or gay.  I had to listen to my true feelings and decide what was OCD and what was not.

Understanding OCD brings a lot of clarity.  Understanding my thoughts was crucial in separating my OCD from my real self.

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2 thoughts on “Am I Gay or is it my OCD?

  1. Hey–

    I came across your blog because I was trying to figure out the link between PMS and OCD. Then I saw this post and I was like oh my god this person goes through the same thing as me.

    I’m 22 years old and it’s taken me the past 4 years of analyzing and thinking about myself and my past to figure out the things I’m about to tell you.

    When i was 11 or 12, i got my period for the first time. The year leading up to this event, i developed OCD and depression. I didn’t make this connection until last year that the hormonal change causing me to get my period also caused me to get OCD and depression.

    I went on Zoloft in middle school and it helped. Then I was fine through high school. But when i went to college, my PMS got really bad and then OCD came back again, always during PMS. I always had a slightly paranoid/neurotic personality. But during PMS, especially a few months out of the year, my OCD would get really bad.

    I remember when I was in this cloud of depression and OCD when i was 12, I came home from school and put on the TV. There was a talk show, Ricki Lake, on that talked about lesbians coming out. At this time, i didn’t even really know what it was to be a lesbian. Also, the whole audience and the show itself was completely harassing these people that were coming out to their families. It really freaked me out… I already felt like there was something wrong with me due to my depression, and then my fear LATCHED onto this idea of being gay. I was like, “oh no, look how scary this secret is these girls are hiding on this show… what if I am like that too and theres something wrong with me???” and then I started being afraid of being gay, even though my whole life I had crushes on boys, fantasized about boys, etc. As you know, the OCD mind can rationalize that it doesn’t make sense, but the fear keeps obsessively popping up and you get that pit in your stomach and you just feel frantic…

    Anyway, all through college i was madly in love with my boyfriend (who i’ve been with for 4.5 years). Then, last year I had a really bad bout of PMS, and OCD. This girl i knew in high school came over and told me she came out and is a lesbian. Since she told me this during my PMS/OCD state of mind, all of that fear from middle school came rushing back, and for the next week i was VERY OCD about being a lesbian. Even though for the past 8 years I hadn’t thought about it at all!!! It just shows you that the fear is irrational. I even KNEW i wasn’t a lesbian, but it didn’t matter. The thought still had a hold on me. I would test myself and look at a girl and try to see if I was attracted, and I wasn’t! But I was still afraid! I couldn’t imagine kissing or doing anything sexual with a girl, but I was still afraid! Then I would get my period, and my OCD would go away. The next month I started getting very bad OCD during the week before my period about having cancer. I went to all of these doctors and it was completely in my head. Then that went away after I got my period.

    Then last month I had REALLY bad PMS, very very bad symptoms, extra large breast swelling, etc.. and my OCD was also VERY bad… and i read an article on CNN about “people who come otu later in life”.. and i started getting the obsessive fear of that again. It’s sooo weird! I won’t even think twice about it for years and then when i’m in that OCD state of mind, if I see something that has given me discomfort AT SOME POINT IN MY LIFE, my OCD brain will latch onto that. My sister made me feel better. She said “Listen, are you still attracted to Rory (my boyfriend)?” and I said yes. She said “then why does it matter? And i realized that me having OCD about being gay wouldn’t change how i feel about my boyfriend, BECAUSE I’M ACTUALLY NOT GAY, HAHA. It is really just these fear chemincals in our brains attacking us…

    Some changes that have made ALL THE DIFFERENCE is cutting my caffeine intake completely. No black or green tea, no coffee, no soda. I’ve tested this myself. If i have a cup of coffee, my OCD is vicious. HORRIBLE. Since i stopped drinking coffee last June, I haven’t had nearly as bad PMS or OCD. Caffeine creates a state of anxiety.

    Also, I did some research and it seems that the physchological aspects of PMS are often caused by a drop is serotonin levels in the brain. Guess what? I looked up OCD, and the main cause of OCD is low levels of serotonin in the brain. THESE ARE STRONGLY LINKED! Blame your serotonin levels. Now when I get PMS and OCD I know its the serotonin levels. Try to eat foods that increase serotonin. TURKEY, foods with carbs and sugars, etc. . ALSO take fish oil supplements for the omega 3 fatty acids. My mood has improved dramatically since i started taking those every day.

    I hope this helps you.

    • Alicia,

      Thanks for your response! Isn’t it funny how so many things in the body are connected to each other? What I love about your post is that you mentioned various things you’ve tried; and I love hearing about treatments that are natural. You are exactly right about serotonin! The reason why tryptophan helps is because serotonin cannot pass the blood brain barrier without tryptophan. I will also give fish oil a try; that is a great idea.

      And like you, I cannot stand those fears and concerns I get about who I really am. I am affirmatively a bisexual, but still, even after figuring this out, my PMS at times causes me to question my orientation. Just remember that these thoughts you get during your period are from your hormones and are not always a true reflection of what you really think. Secondly, if these thoughts about possibly being a lesbian cause you anxiety, rather than pleasure, then that is simply your OCD. This can be confusing, especially for someone with OCD because people who are gay can also feel anxiety about coming out or what they might be feeling. The difference is that suppressing a desire or fantasy because you are afraid is not the same as having thoughts about same sex situations that only cause you concern and no pleasure. It’s fantasy v. obsession. Sometimes the line crosses, but it’s much easier to figure out during times when your OCD is manageable.

      Great to hear from you!

      Stay Strong,
      Julia

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