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Is my anxiety regarding sexuality a result of shame?

Discussion in 'Sexual Orientation' started by chris123, May 20, 2021.

  1. chris123

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    Hi all,

    Long time poster/lurker here. I’ve posted on here before regarding my anxiety regarding sexuality, as well as the potential obsessive tendencies/thoughts I have surrounding the matter. For some background, here’s my previous post where I go into detail of how I felt a few months ago.

    https://forum.emptyclosets.com/index.php?threads/self-discovery-journey.486522/#post-6723823

    What I’m questioning is is whether this anxiety is due to OCD, or whether it’s actually some deep rooted shame I have in same sex attraction which is stopping me, even subconsciously, from accepting it in myself. I have done a lot of testing, particularly through masturbation. Sexually, I don’t think I feel particularly aroused by guys. I have masturbated my entire life to girls, and although not being particularly sexually active most my life, I do feel that “I wanna rip your clothes off and bang you” with girls. However, I notice that there are times when the moment presents itself that I freeze up, or lose interest/attraction. Potentially the same when I know a girl is interested in me.

    With guys, it’s different. I don’t think I’ve ever felt sexually attracted to a guy where I really enjoy the thoughts. I haven’t gotten hard to guys, whereas with a girl they can say/do something provocative and I will get turned on. However, it does almost feel like I can be “close” with a guy, and feel good. But then as soon as I recognise this feeling, I get anxiety about what it means. And I’m not sure if that anxiety is from OCD, or from the shame. Like, I think I would enjoy kissing a guy, or cuddling, or being close with them. But when my mind goes here, it’s like there’s some anxiety kicking in which I feel is a deep rooted shame or defence mechanism against accepting it. Now, while masturbating,I have tried quite often to fantasise about guys, or watch gay porn. But emphasis on try. It’s like I’m forcing myself to do it as a tes, rather than the actual natural fantasy my mind will go towards like a girl. But the one thing I notice is that as I climax, my mind will switch to a guy if I let it, and flash thoughts, mixed between guys and girls. It’s done this since I was a teenager. But then it would feel more like, an unwanted thought, and one which I would be anxious would come up, rather than one I enjoyed. And ofc the more I got worried about it,the more it happened. I would think “oh I hope it doesn’t happen” and it would.

    I almost feel like if I would admit it to others (I haven’t talked about this with anyone really) then the anxiety might dip out. And there are a lot of different views on OCD regarding sexuality. One of which is whether it would exist if being non straight would be any different than wearing a blue or red shirt.
     

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  2. chris123

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    For some reason I can’t edit, but forgot to say that the text file attached is when I recorded my thoughts in one of my “ocd / anxiety” moments
     
  3. chris123

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    And yet when I watch gay porn, it does almost nothing for me. The only way I can really get off is if I think of a girl. Like, My anxiety has gone down, shouldn’t impact my ability to get off. I test by watching gay porn, and although I guess it’s sex, that *click* just isn’t there for me, ya know? That little mmmph. Now I don’t know whether that’s something I’ve conditioned myself to do or not, but it is confusing. Purely watching gay porn does nothing. Yes, guys can give head better than girls, I’ll admit, but it’s just not doing it for me. Same with my fantasies. I need to think of a girl to get to the point of orgasm. Throughout the orgasm, like I said, a flash of guys will come into my head. But to actually get off, it’s girls. It just doesn’t really make sense to me, given the above. I wish I could get off to guys just for some certainty and closure.

    it’s this that kinda lends back to the idea it’s OCD and thought distortions. But then I look back and think it would almost make sense that I was into guys, given the lack of interest I’ve had in dating girls.
     
    #3 chris123, May 20, 2021
    Last edited: May 20, 2021
  4. QuietPeace

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    It is OCD, in reading what you have said I do not hear anything that says that you are really sexually attracted to men. Add to that the fact that you do have OCD and it all adds up to this being an OCD problem. In the linked thread you mention a therapist, keep working with therapy. I do not know if you have seen a psychiatrist but there are medications that can help. If you are not already getting the medications you should look into it.
     
  5. chris123

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    Thanks for your reply! Honestly, the anxiety is rather annoying. But in a sense, I feel myself agreeing more and more with the notion I could be bi/gay. After sitting with the anxiety, and resisting the urge to just google “anxiety regarding sexuality” which pops up a thousand and one results about OCD about sexuality (which kinda feels like I’m lying to myself) I can have the thought in my mind like “yep, I’m gay.” Or “yep, I wanna bang a dude” without a lot of associated anxiety, and even kinda agree with it like “yeah makes sense”. Whether this is me breaking through my shame/denial, or having done a form of ERP, I don’t know. But, like I’ve said before, the real real thing that makes me doubt it is the fact that my masturbation fantasies are pretty much all girls, and always have been. Granted, when I was growing up, I never tried with guys, but I also never felt my fantasies naturally going there (that I can remember).
    Would there be any benefit in seeking out an LGBT affirming therapist? I contacted one 2 years ago, who responded with the below when I asked about OCD surrounding sexual orientation. I know the approach of tackling “what makes it a problem” rather than the thought process may be debatable, but the therapist goes on to say in a follow up email that if I had a dream about a blonde, instead of my normally preferred brunette, then it wouldn’t cause me all this anxiety, but the fact society is prejudicial against same sex attraction is what gives all the anxiety, and this felt like it resonated with me and again lent credit to the idea that my obsession and anxiety is more related to internalised homophobia than thought distortion.

    Hi Chris

    Thank you for your email. The issue of OCD related to sexual orientation (same sex attraction) most often comes from internailsed homophobia and as such the work becomes more about what makes it a problem rather than 'making the problem go away' per se. The idea that being bi-sexual or gay creates ego-dystonia (feeling bad about yourself/conflict with self image) suggests that the work might be about addressing the negative associations to make the problem go away. If you actually are bisexual or gay then it would be unethical for a therapist to try to 'convert' you to 'exclusive heterosexuality' as conversion therapy is outlawed by all the major professional bodies in the UK as it is known to be harmful. That said, sometimes people fixate on an idea that is unappealing as a distraction from other anxieties, usually OCD features a thought train involving rituals preventing a feared outcome.

    Strictly speaking SO-OCD/H-OCD are not acknowledged in the diagnostic literature and even 'ego-dystonic sexual orientation' which was previously included was removed during the 1990's as psychiatry recognised the harm of conversion therapy.

    So, the clients who see me questioning their sexuality are invariably already on a journey of self discovery and its generally about self acceptance and overcoming blocks to legitimate forms of intimacy or recognising the sacrifices required to maintain a stability within an existing committed relationship and being comfortable with that.

    On a handful of occasions, people with OCD-like symptoms have focussed/fixated on a 'safe' anxiety (which they know isn't actually 'real') rather than face an uncomfortable reality which is too overwhelming.

    My diary is full for the next couple of weeks but I have clients who will be ready to move on shortly so if you'd like to book an appointment you're welcome to call me later in the week when I can see if any cancellations have come up or if there is space available.
     
    #5 chris123, May 20, 2021
    Last edited: May 20, 2021
  6. QuietPeace

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    It.all.says.that.you.are.straight.

    No.
    This one "therapist" that you did contact seems to me to have an agenda.
    You need to work on your OCD. Combine a therapist who knows and works with OCD and get on medication for it.
     
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  7. chris123

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    Thanks, I do appreciate you taking the time to respond albeit I get how it may feel like going in circles. :slight_smile:
     
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  8. chris123

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    Ok, so I don’t think it’s OCD guys, but anxiety of realising who I am. I spent a great day with my sister and her girlfriend, and following some more anxiety regarding the idea of being gay, with the urge to just come out, I just had about 30 minutes of calm, no anxiety, where I felt deep within myself that I was gay. The idea of being gay didn’t give anxiety, and it kinda made sense. I think the anxiety comes from ego-dystonia, and from the idea that I’m not conforming with societal norms. Internalised homophobia I guess. Or from trying to suppress something after hetero normative conditioning. The idea of spending my life with a guy doesn’t seem too bad. I think the fact I’m surrounded by hetero people and stuff has just programmed me to think that should be me too. And now I’m breaking this mould/expectation, I can say I’d want to be gay. The idea is scary, as it feels like I’m rediscovering myself, but I think I’d be happier if stop hiding behind this OCD diagnosis, and may have potentially tried to conform with it to keep me in denial. I never got officially diagnosed by a professional, I had a couple of sessions with a private OCD psychiatrist which was interesting, but not from a gp. And now, looking back, when I think “why didn’t I ever chase girls in clubs and stuff”, with this new feeling, this calm with the thought of being gay, which I have discovered, it’s different. Like I would actually want to approach guys and what not. The anxiety / reasoning that it’s OCD has just kept me in denial...

    Now, maybe I’m wrong. Or maybe substitute all of “gay” above with “bi”. But this feeling of calm and deep acceptance, following the anxiety, just feels like it would make sense. Maybe I’m finally coming to terms with myself and accepting myself. And that these “urges” of kissing, hugging, stroking guys, which always gave me a pang of anxiety, were just natural desires which were creating anxiety because they were ego dystonic in nature.

    7 years I’ve had these thoughts/anxiety. Since that gay dream all that time ago. I told my sister about it, but no one else, and haven’t spoken or talked openly about it for all that time. Maybe me, locking it up, containing it, with the hope it was OCD all this time, has stopped me with actually admitting to myself “Chris, you’re into guys. And that’s ok”

    I guess the last step for me needs to be masturbating to gay thoughts, without girls, and getting off to it. I want to have that certainty and closure. So I can finally know, embrace the challenges with being gay and accepting myself , and move on, leaving the constant anxiety behind.

    I guess I’d ask for your thoughts. And before pinning it on, what may or may not be OCD, I would ask to consider how this would sound without the OCD factor in play. Because now, the idea that it’s OCD, or that I’ll go back to that state of questioning/anxiety/denial, is what is giving anxiety.

    Thanks all :slight_smile:
     
  9. Chiroptera

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    As QuietPeace said, you need to seek therapy about these thoughts. If this is indeed OCD related (and it looks like it), nothing we say here will be enough to reassure you. Therapy, on the other hand, can help you to deal with these thoughts.
     
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  10. chris123

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    Thanks Chiroptera for your response.

    My idea behind OCD regarding sexual orientation was that the thought distortions and anxiety can cloud judgement and logical reasoning, making it impossible to land on a certain answer. However, in that moment I had, there wasn’t anxiety, just a deep sense of calm and acceptance. It’s what makes me think that the anxiety I have is rather a result of fear of the unknown, fear of accepting who I am, breaking the straight identity, and, to an extent, the anxiety behind changing my identity. How people perceive me I’m not too bothered about. And these, without OCD in the equation, are all very normal things which I have read about in other peoples posts here on Empty Closets, and much of it seems to resonate with me. Same with the idea that attraction fades once you embrace yourself and your sexuality. In this moment of clarity, it felt like this was the case. Like these feelings which I know I had for girls in the past, both attraction and sexual, weren’t legitimate or real, and that my feelings for guys was.

    Like I said, I don’t want to blame this on OCD. I think I would do myself a disservice if I didn’t at least try to challenge this OCD narrative, and think that instead it’s anxiety from shame. Say I had never had anxiety. Or that I had, but simply because I was scared of these same sex attractions, people may give me other advice which was more in line with what a lot of other people have received here who are coming to terms with their sexuality?

    My apologies if this sounds like I am disregarding your or QuietPlace’s input. I really do appreciate it, as well as anyone else’s. it’s just that I feel I’m lying to myself by keep falling back on this idea it is/could be OCD, whereas I’d be better off learning to accept who I am, and move forward from there
     
  11. Chiroptera

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    With therapy, you will be able to work with these thoughts. A good therapist is equipped to assist you in dealing with these questions in ways we can't through the internet.

    Like I've said before:
     
  12. Sadness

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    Hi chris.

    All i want to say is that, even without anxiety, ocd still ocd. There a lot of times that ocd attacks and i dont have anxiety too, but the fact that i keep having ocd and obsession, compulsion, those things are still there. So the fact that you still have those thoughts is ocd. You already tried this so much dont you? So why you still doing it? You already tried this same thing a lot of times. I k ow its condusing but its just getting over your head, i feel a lot this thing of "im lying to myself bc im not anxious" no you not, its still ocd. Ive been 2 days in a row without testing anything. You can do it too.

    You have ocd remeber that, doesnt matter how much you try to prove it wrong. Do the same as i do. It doesnt matter for me what it will be the end of this. I will stop those thoughts no matter what. Thats the thing, what will it result from this? I dont know. But i can say that im already feeling a lot better, i still think about woman and feels good lol.
     
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  13. Chip

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    Chris,

    Nothing you describe sounds like genuine attraction/arousal. You have a long history of posts here that point to OCD, you've met with a specialist which suggests the possibility of OCD, you have anxiety that is a hallmark of OCD. It seems near certain that the problem is OCD.

    Bottom line: If you masturbate without porn and find yourself instantly aroused and excited by men and not by women, you're gay. IF you find it's women and not men who arouse you, you're straight. If you're *equally* aroused by both (and I do not mean spanking yourself silly to get a tiny bit of arousal, or talking about silly tingling responses or whatever) then you are bi.

    From what you have described earlier, everything points to your being straight.

    But as Chiroptera has said, you need therapy, and probably medication. Without it, the OCD is going to hijack your brain and you won't have any clarity, as much as you think you might.
     
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  14. chris123

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    Thanks both for your responses.

    I think the issue with is the meaning I attach to these thoughts, and the anxiety it creates. I get loads of random thoughts popping into my head, but for some reason I guess my brain has latched onto those of sexuality as it regards it as a threat. And then I feel the urge/need to test different imagery, situations, scenarios, and compare my reactions or emotional response to each. But I guess it's hard to do that and get a certain answer, and when I feel like "maybe you thought you liked it, or you did actually get off" while masturbating, this sets off alarm bells in my mind and just gives me a wave of anxiety, doubt, and depression.

    I guess then the essence of CBT therapy is retraining the way your brain responds, or the thought patterns I go through, right? The issue may or may not be my sexuality, but as @Chip says, the first point of order is getting this thought process under control. Ugh, moments like these I have clarity, and it makes me annoyed that this gives me so much grief lol. And yet I know in a few minutes, hours, days, weeks, whatever, the anxiety, confusion, and questioning will be back.
     
  15. Chip

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    Unfortunately, that's exactly how OCD works. It is ilterally hijacking reason centers in the brain, so it's impossible to calmly, rationally, and logically look at what's going on, because the part of your brain where those functions are occurring are hijacked by the OCD processes.

    You've got it exactly right. CBT seeks to retrain how your brain responds, and that, eventually, repatterns the neural pathways that give rise to OCD. There are medications that are helpful if it gets really difficult, but the ideal solution, in the long run, is to use CBT and/or other types of therapy to change the neural pathways so the medication is no longer needed.
     
    #15 Chip, May 28, 2021
    Last edited: May 28, 2021
  16. chris123

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    Is there a good reason why I am so timid or non pro-active about seeking out therapy and committing myself to working through this? A combination perhaps of the fear of having to accept my sexual orientation which may be ego-dystonic, and shattering the self image I've built of myself? Or maybe the fact that I've grown so accustomed to these thoughts that I almost don't want them to go? That deep down perhaps I'd rather keep this facade up of "oh it's OCD" rather than facing the truth.

    I don't think I've ever been good at being pro active and in all aspects of my life won't chase / commit to anything really hard. I feel I can get away with it because I've been fortunate enough to have a stable upbringing, well educated, good job, friends, family, etc. But for some reason I'm complacent. I thought about what you said in a previous post of mine @Chip when talking about how anxiety is a learned behaviour passed on when an emotional need may not be met? I was thinking about this and it could make sense. I rarely open up to people, and probably don't process my emotions well, where I tend to more shrug them off or sweep them under the rug. Thinking back, my dad was/is very similar. It's almost impossible to gauge what he's feeling, I don't think I've ever had a real heart to heart with him, and my sister said when she started therapy, which was initially for mild depression but is now on SSRIs for anxiety, that she learned too that she didn't process emotions properly.

    It's almost like now I don't *want* to be rid of these thoughts, or learn what they mean, or learn CBT, cuz I'd almost be lost without them. I was on a weekend away with some friends, and people brought up a lot how quiet I was. I can laugh and pretend everything is okay, whereas basically every waking moment was me caught up in my own thoughts regarding sexualirt, ruminating, having an urge to come out to them, etc etc.

    Sigh, I know I'm taking the liberties a bit with this forum. Hell, I've opened up more here to anyone from my actual life. So I do appreciate the responses, even though if this is indeed OCD, I shouldn't be posting on here, as people who tell me it's OCD who's opinions I value, only acts as a form of reassurance and is essentially a compulsion.

    Thanks all!
     
  17. chris123

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    I’m almost 100% the anxiety is from shame. That the feeling of attraction comes first, and the anxiety is from this attraction. I’m starting to let down the walls/defences I’ve built up and noticing if I accept the thoughts and possibility of being same sex attracted and being okay with it instead of quenching it by reacting with anxiety it feels undeniably strong and genuine.
    This is scary...lol
     
  18. Chip

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    Because the OCD has hijacked your brain, or, specifically, the reason centers of your brain, and part of you is unable to recognize that. It is much the same way that opiates hijack the brains of those who become addicted to them. The person literally does not see the harm the drug is doing to him or her. In the case of OCD, it is virtually impossible to use any sort of logic.

    Well... when we look at OCD as essentially the byproduct of a strategy that, at some point, served a purpose, then yes. OCD is an anxiety-spectrum disorder, and thus, something happened in your family-of-origin that caused the anxiety to manifest, and the OCD to manifest as a byproduct of the coping strategy. In a weird way, it becomes familiar and comforting, and so the idea of living without it can take someone who is already prone to anxiety and make them more anxious.

    That feeds back into whatever the coping strategy is that served you when you were young. It may not be something you are consciously aware of. But your current behavior is a direct byproduct of what you learned was an effective coping strategy.

    Yes, that makes sense. The behaviors serve a purpose, and so the goal of treatment is to identify the purpose the behaviors serve, find more effective strategies to replace the current less-effective ones.

    Well, what matters is that you get the help you need to make you happy. Whether that's here or somewhere else isn't so important. And to the extent that your OCD is manifesting as an irrational thought that you are gay, well... that's probably not a bad fit here, and you certainly aren't alone.
     
  19. masterofnone

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    idk man from everything you’ve said it seems you’re straight. you know more about yourself then me. i have this type of ocd too. it gets very convincing
     
  20. chris123

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    Thanks Chip. Very insightful as always.

    Can I ask, given my latest post where I feel it's actually real after some further questioning, and the fact I feel like I can genuinely get aroused by guys, what would be the steps you would advise someone to take in my position to embrace / explore their sexuality, if OCD wasn't in the equation? I'm really doubting it's OCD. Yes, the obsessive thinking and anxiety in response to the possibility / fact I'm gay does fall in line with OCD tendencies, but just because I have these tendencies doesn't mean I'm 100% straight, I would think. It really does feel like internalised homophobia, where it feels like I have now accepted that yes, I can get aroused by guys, but I'm scared what this means for myself. I'm not homophobic, but a few of these from the list here feel like they apply to me https://www.rainbow-project.org/internalised-homophobia

    I noticed a very good looking guy today in a shop when I was out with two female friends. But then, of course, the associated anxiety came with it, and the questioning of whether I could be aroused with him, or maybe the anxiety of actually recognising I felt attracted to him, but trying to deny it to myself. I think that's what process I may be going through now. Denial. These feelings for guys feel strong. Stronger (I think) than I've felt for girls. But the associated anxiety makes it hard to properly gauge it.

    I appreciate my response may be frustrating to those trying to help and may just think "THIS IS OCD! STOP GOING IN CIRCLES." And I totally appreciate that. And, to an extent, I recognise I need to consult a therapist to find ways of reducing the associated anxiety. Whether that's an OCD therapist who will work with CBT techniques, or whether it's a therapist like the one I posted a response from to deal with why the thoughts provoke such anxiety, and that it's simply a question of working through internalised homophobia. I can't lie, when I read that the first time a year and a half back, it seemed to hit the nail on the head for something deep down.

    But then the way I "got over" this obssessive thinking when I first got it like, 7 years ago, was to just think "Yeah, maybe." Shrug, and move on. I guess one of the things I'm afraid of is losing my attraction to women. And I'm not sure if it's the anxiety, or if it's the slow acceptance / me breaking through my denial, but it seems to be in line with something with what I read here very often. Once someone who's gay starts to accept and embrace their sexuality, their attraction to women fades very quickly.