I am 23 years old, and a female. I have never been in a romantic, sexual relationship with any man (although I have kissed many and really enjoyed it). I knew my whole life that I was emotionally and physically attracted to men. I know that I have always wanted to marry a man. I have never had, nor am I a crushing on a girl. I have only ever wanted to be in an emotional intimate relationship with a man. However, I feel aroused when I watch two women having sex, which scares and confuses me. Over the last week I have this screaming thought in my head that I am gay, and I can’t seem to get rid of it no matter how hard I try. However the thought of being romantically attached and in a relationship with a women repulses me and makes me sick. I feel extreme anxiety, and it has severely changed my sleeping and eating patterns. I am up all night wondering if I am gay as well as wondering if I will ever have any romantic attachment with a man. As soon as I try and convince myself that I am straight, I panic and feel like I’m lying to myself, and tell myself that I am deep in denial. Every time I go out, I am scared that I will see a girl and fall in love with her and lose all my interest in men, which scares me even more. I came across information about HOCD, and immediately identified with of all the emotional and physical experiences that other people went through, which made me feel a bit more calm. But now I have started to convince myself that what I identified with when I read HOCD was a lie and that deep down I am a closeted gay (even though I know that’s not true). I have spoken to my mother and a few of my friends about how I am feeling which helps me feel less stressed but five minutes later to an hour I convince myself that all I have said was a lie and I am deep in denial, which makes me more depressed. I don’t know what I am feeling and it scares the hell out of me. I feel like I have lost my identity. I was wondering if there was any techniques that I could use to make me feel calm and think rationally. I would love to see a therapist but I have too many other expenses in my life so I can’t afford it. Please help me. I want to feel the way I used to, which was excited at the prospect of meeting a man and falling completely in love with them, and not depressed and repulsed by the thought of falling in love with a woman. (age 23, South Africa)Homosexual Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or Denial?
Homosexual Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or Denial?
Thank you for writing in with your question about what some refer to as Homosexual Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (HOCD). Anxiety disorders can seem to come out of nowhere and can be quite confusing when the focus of your anxiety doesn’t make rational sense to you, such as someone who has a phobia of an animal that they have never seen or encountered. However, as severe as anxiety disorders can be, they are very treatable.
The fact that you have never experienced romantic or sexual feelings for people of the same gender and you have never wondered if you might be homosexual, suggests that this is more about a phobic fear than your sexual orientation. Also, the fact that the thoughts came on suddenly and are obsessive in nature lends more support to them being anxiety related.
As much as possible, put your fears about your sexuality aside and get back to the act of just living your life. The right relationship for you will present itself in time. This task would easier and/or quicker with the help of a therapist but you may be able to find some relief on your own. I would suggest doing some research on the technique of “thought stopping” and just general cognitive interventions for the obsessive part of OCD. If you can’t afford therapy right now, purchasing a well-reviewed book or workbook written by one might suffice. However, consulting with a therapist or psychiatrist for even a few sessions may be enough to help you get back on track.
All the best,
Dr. Holly Counts