Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

Let’s Unpack That

How OCD can destroy relationships: ‘I had the obsessive fear that I might cheat’

Obsessive compulsive disorder can cause obtrusive thoughts that undermine attempts to create a loving bond – but there are treatments, discovers Sarah Ingram

Wednesday 31 May 2023 11:52 BST
Comments
‘I was terrified of everything; I was terrified to sleep. It was just a constant state of panic’
‘I was terrified of everything; I was terrified to sleep. It was just a constant state of panic’ (iStock)

Zachary James remembers the exact moment that his first intrusive thought lodged itself in his mind. He was 19 and working in a store when a “creepy man” entered the children’s clothing section. “A very human conversation started among me and my friends, discussing the psychology of someone who is a sexual predator. And my head said: ‘What if you’re a predator too?’” The question sent him on a frightening spiral in which he interrogated his identity and all his past experiences.

“The onslaught of graphic intrusive thoughts that followed left me paralysed. I vividly remember crying in my shower before work because I was that terrified that I was going to cause harm to someone, based on no evidence at all – other than these gross thoughts telling me I was a monster,” he says.

The obsessive thoughts preoccupied his waking hours and caused him intense anxiety, but James kept them to himself, outwardly living a normal life. He carried on socialising, going out clubbing with friends and distracting himself with party drugs – eventually becoming dependent – unaware that he was suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder. When he began self-harming, he knew he needed help.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in