Can I ignore this OCD thought and finally move on?


Hi guys, I've posted before, and this is going to be my final ever post. Thanks to you, I've been able to overcome some of my most debilitating intrusive thoughts and the accompanying anxiety of them and reach a point where - as of this moment - I feel like I've finally overcome the pure-'O' manifestation of my OCD. However, in recent days, I've been hit with a final 'roadblock' that's preventing my release from this.

So, to reiterate; I'm a 23 year-old male with Asperger's Syndrome, clinical depression, generalized anxiety disorder, and (formally undiagnosed, yet it's pretty apparent to all those around me that it has always been another comorbidity of AS) obsessive-compulsive disorder. Whether it was repeating a mantra that consisted of the names of actors that I admire during moments of distress as a soothing mechanism, opening and closing doors compulsively, or crying during childhood whenever somebody would augment the position of an action figure on my bedroom's windowsill, etc., I've always had a proclivity for (what I perceive to be) cleanliness; both mentally, and physically.

As anyone who has experienced pure-'O' knows, it's horrible. Your mind - especially if you have a vivid imagination and rigid moral compass and are prone to over-worry, as I am - will literally contort declarative memories into something (false memories) that never actually happened, and goes against all of your moral sensibilities. For example, at the height of this anxiety last summer (exacerbated due to the social isolation of lock-down), an image arrived in my head that I'd sexually assaulted an old friend at age 14 by grinding against her buttocks.

The image seemed so very 'real', and I ended up crying and profusely apologizing on two separate occasions. She was bewildered, and said, ''As you said, all you did was give me a hug from behind, you didn't push anything into me; it was years ago! Don't worry about it, you're good''. I also knew this was true deep-down as while I remember being aroused being near her at the time, I knew what sexual assault was and knew that it would be wrong to touch her in any way, other than a hug, as I didn't want to maker her feel uncomfortable.

I also remembered that she'd sent me a Christmas card two months later (December 2012) and had said; ''You're kind, sweet, and fabby-tabby-tastic!'', which I knew, she wouldn't have done, had this awful thing occurred. Plus, every time I saw her years later in the street, she'd always beam and smile and say, ''Hey, love! How're you?'', which helped me eventually throw this worry out of the window. As you can see, it can be Hellish to be lied to so much by your own mind.

My older brother, who's 27, gave me a stellar bit of advice last June, where he said, ''Intention is everything, bro; never forget that''. This has massively helped me to rebuke subsequent false memories, or intrusive thoughts.

The pure-'O' arrived in my life literally overnight on Saturday, 13th April 2019, as the result of what I now realise was a mental breakdown due to multiple stresses that occurred during my first year of undergraduate study; namely, losing a friend to suicide and social ostracization from my course peers.

The two themes that developed thereafter were easy enough to determine the causality of. The totally irrational fear of becoming a pedophile came from the confused disgust I felt after finding out (a day before, on the 12th) that an ex teacher from high-school had committed heinous acts against young female students.

The second fear was a worry about being a misogynist/sexist, and was spawned from the deep empathetic response I felt towards seeing my close female friends being treated appallingly, as well all the dehumanization inherent in such behaviour.

So as far as this 'roadblock' goes, on Friday, 25th September, 2020, after waking up I went on Tumblr, and spoke to a lady called Grace Lynn who I'd befriended the previous day. At this point, I was 22, and she was (and still is) 26. After we chatted briefly, I went back to her blog, and saw a photo-set of 3 selfies that she'd uploaded. Due to the OCD, I scanned the photos to make sure there wasn't any children in the background (which, of course, there wasn't) and I viewed each photo and ground my thighs together for less than 5 seconds then stopped and moved to the next one.

The first was a close-up of her biting her lip, the second a wide-angled photo of her in lingerie and the third similar to the second, but with her pouting. In this last one, to her left-side, she'd added a sticker over something. Again, I ground my thighs together for under 5 seconds, focused on her face, then out of my peripheral vision, I noticed the sticker, panicked, and stopped immediately.

Now, the intrusive thought that first came into my mind and caused a panic attack in the middle of the night in December was ''What if one of her young sons was in bed with her?'', and as you can imagine, this really distressed me. I'd never worried about this up until this point, and in fact, it was later that initial September morning that I'd calmly added her on Snapchat and we'd spoken, and I'd even had a remote phone therapy session where this was never mentioned.

I'd never spoken about it to myself (as I often do, to sort things out in my head) and never mentioned it to family or friends. Mainly because I knew I hadn't done anything wrong, and at the the time, I was dealing with a false memory that literally left me bedridden for 4 months.

Back in December, she responded immediately to my panic attack that early morning, and told me that she'd deleted her Tumblr, which upset me massively, as then I wouldn't be able to verify my worry. She did, however, go through her camera roll of selfies with me and ask me which one it was, but it was clear to me that the only copy had been on her now-deleted blog. Since this worry came back into my head last Saturday, we've spoken and she confirmed to me that she doesn't have the original photo, but (as she assured me in December) ''I'd never take photos like that with my boys in my bed''.

And recently this last Thursday, she said: ''It was covering my clothes pile I'm pretty sure honey. You're okay and safe you didn't do anything wrong I promise. I love it when you message me I promise everything is okay''. She went on to say that ''You're unique and caring and you need to keep in mind that you were attracted to me, and that's why you did what you did, it had nothing to do with my boys''.

So there, that's it. At the moment, I'm suffering from heart-palpitations again and catastrophizing massively. To keep my brother's advice in mind, and as Grace alluded to, I know what my intention was in that moment, yet this 'what-if' is haunting me.

What do you think?