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Struggling with ROCD

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Please bear with me as I have never posted before and this is very difficult to write. I do not seek sympathy, far from it, and realize any harsh criticism I get I most likely completely deserve.

I am a 40 year old man and grew up in a loving house with good loving parents. I have suffered mentally for as long as I can remember. Since I was 10-11 I have had many varieties of ocd. Hocd, Pocd,’Driving on the wrong side of the road’ Ocd, Harm Ocd. I was finally diagnosed in my early twenties, and put on Clomipramine 75mg which I have taken intermittently since.

These pills were literally my lifesaver. They took away the ruminations, intrusive thoughts and constant worry, so instead of operating at 10% I could operate at 85% and lead a reasonably normal life, with only the occasional blip.

I met my current partner in 2000. She is an angel. She is loving, caring, compassionate, beautiful and anything a man could ever want. We have two beautiful children who adore me and who I adore. The relationship was good with the usual ups and downs, but in 2013 we started to drift apart. She would ridicule and belittle me, and whilst that hurt deeply at the time I think in hindsight she may have been suffering from depression after a bereavement, and we became distant from one another. At this time I genuinely thought she did not want to be with me, so, lacking the courage to end things, I would manipulate her into believing we would be better off apart. After all, what was the point in living a miserable life together? Gradually we became resentful of each other and last year we separated, but remained living together as friends. Whilst living together, to my shame, out of fear and the need to feel appreciated, and the desire for excitement and newness I met somebody online.

I bought a holiday home close by where I stayed, and things remained civil and cordial. However I missed my ex so much, suffering panic attacks and anxiety without her, so I cut contact with the new girl and we got back together. At first things were better, but the relationship remained unstable, and during the last year we have split up numerous times only to get back together.

The problem that torments me now is that I cannot stop worrying. Since we reconciled the first time I have experienced what may or may not be rocd. That is, constantly questioning the nature of the relationship. I have been struggling with my anti depressants recently. My work is really suffering, and the pills don’t seem to work consistently anymore. The hysterical episodes and depressive bouts occur more frequently and last longer, the periods of wellness less and less. I stopped taking them completely a few weeks ago because they were not working. Maybe my tolerance went up so a break would reset and they would again become effective. At least that is the theory. However, even this sliver of hope is a paradox. When the tablets are effective the desperation to save the relationship disappears and I become relaxed and blasé – from ‘I am desperate to keep you and love you so much’ to ‘people split all the time, what’s the big deal?’, so even the faint prospect of getting well now terrifies me.

Every day I repeat to myself hundreds of times: ‘On the children’s lives I will never leave her’ and ‘I am going to kill myself’. If I see a young, petty girl in a film I cannot help fantasizing about her. I do not want to but cannot seem to help it no matter how hard I try. Is that normal? Sometimes I spend hours wondering if a feeling was thrill / excitement or anxiety. But a small part of me feels excitement at the thought of splitting and freedom. I know this is wrong. This frightens me. It is like if I could split myself into two, and one stay here, and the other go and have adventures, to feel the excitement of new love, the thrill of somebody new desiring me, then I would. But I want to stay with her. I just want the torture to end. I look at pretty girls and feel excitement. I have the urge to visit dating sites for gratification, although I have refrained since we got back together. I wish all of that would stop, I try so hard.

Then, when she threatens to leave I even find myself manipulating, shamefully baiting her to make it happen.

My thought patterns and moods cycle constantly, changing from minute to minute, all day every day as waves of fear, dread and anxiety wash over me. I cannot concentrate on anything. I research mental illness and ocd compulsively. I have no interest in anything.

I sit on my own, and cry. But still the doubt, the fission of excitement at freedom, driving me mad. I contemplate taking my own life frequently. I think of how everybody would be better off without me. I cannot even look in the mirror anymore through loathing, guilt and shame. The sheer anxiety is horrific.

As for my partner, She accepts it is an illness and believes my thoughts are rocd, but I am not so sure. She is very religious and thinks that if I open up to God, He would solve my problems, But I just cannot take that leap of faith in something I simply don’t believe in. I wish I could, I would like nothing more.

She says she is 100% committed to me and has never experienced a moment’s doubt which makes me feel worse. The irony is she is even happy to let me leave, if that is what I want.

The weird thing is that I do love her. I isolate my brain and think of this, and if I could bottle that moment and keep it for the rest of the time, and be only with her then I would. If I had 2 buttons, one which would set me ‘free’ to seek new, and one to banish these thoughts and stay with her happy, I would honestly press the second.

I feel like a fraud, and wonder if I am living a lie. I feel like I am lying even when I talk to her, even though I am not.

She even, bless her heart, told me to leave and said that she only wants to see me happy and if that means losing me and seeing me with someone else then she would accept that. But I don’t want to go – I don’t want to lose her.

She wants me to sell the holiday home I bought but I don’t seem to be able to – it is like a commitment phobia, a way out I cannot lose.

It is not fair on her, she deserves better. I do not want to ruin her life. This wonderful girl has saved my life so many times, in so may ways.

PLEASE UNDERSTAND I DO NOT KNOW IF THIS IS ROCD, MIDLIFE CRISIS, BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER OR LOVE ADDICTION. It could be any or perhaps a mixture? I have obsessively researched all and am still no wiser. What I do know is I want to be better and feel relief.

I feel so so guilty. I am so sorry. Please please help me. I do not know what is happening to me.

Is there a help or am I “doomed?” (From the UK)

Struggling with ROCD

Answered by on -


You are not “doomed”. The core feature of what you are experiencing is called a “double-bind” . I highly recommend working with a specialist in OCD. It doesn’t really matter what we call it: OCD. ROCD, MIDLIFE CRISIS — no matter what the label, the issue is that you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t — and this is something and OCD specialist will understand right away. You move away and it isn’t right, you get another woman and it isn’t right. Your girlfriend tells you she loves you but you can leave if you want, however you are commitment phobic yet don’t want to lose her. Every direction is dissatisfying.

The double binds continue with each thought and each action. This is very commonly at the core of obsessive thoughts and there is genuine help available to untie these binds. Medicine can of course play a part (but notice how that has created its own double-bind.) Yet the most helpful thing may be Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy. CBT is one of the treatments that will help you manage the thought process itself.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

Struggling with ROCD

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2018). Struggling with ROCD. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 1, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018 (Originally: 26 Jan 2017)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.