OCD false memories

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karlchilders

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#1
Hi guys.

I have been suffering horrendous anxiety for the last 20 years (currently 26). For the last two years, I have had difficulty being able to tell the difference between imagination and memory.

For example:

I'll be doing something, then out of the blue, a thought will hit me. I'll try to tell myself it was just a thought, but then the details will arrive, and I will have a full memory of the event taking place, even though it is unlikely it could have happened.

Basically, I only have this with things I am worrying about. Things that could potentially happen.


Another example would be what I call the, "Body on the side of the road" principle.

It goes like this:

I am driving at night. I imagine what it would be like to run someone over. Despite there being no person there, the imagination is so vivid I am not sure. I turn the car in reverse, look for the body. There is nothing there. I get out of my car and look for the body. Again, not a thing. Then I have to look in the woods, because I imagine that I got out of the car and dragged the body into the forest.

These kinds of things go on all day. The only relief I get comes from the formation of a new worry.

I think about my past constantly, and cannot be certain that I have never done anything terrible to people. Most of my worries are of a sexual kind, but used to revolve around violence. I feel relentless guilt and worry about everything. Staying inside and watching movies is the only thing that gives me a bit of relief. I literally feel like a dead person, who only looks forward to death. It's like my life is totally screwed and I just want a fresh start.

The problem is, I have my family and a girlfriend who would be devastated if I killed myself, so that option is not on the table. I have to get better. But the thoughts seems so real. I FEEL like I have done these terrible things, and don't feel worthy of love because of it. I feel terrible all the time. I just want the pain to stop.

Is it possible to have false memories of things happening, and to FEEL like they are real?
 
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littlecat

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#3
I know exactly how you feel, I get the exact same thing; I always feel like I've done terrible things of a sexual nature towards lots of people I know and feel like I belong in jail and don't deserve friends, tell yourself when you are having these thoughts that they aren't true, I know this is hard when the details become very vivid but give it a go and see if it can get rid of the thoughts. Other than that you could get a CBT book from online or a library if you don't have one already, to help you overcome the thoughts, it can really help:)
 
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karlchilders

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#4
It is nice to know that some people understand what this is like.

Do you find that you go through periods where you think things are getting better, only to get too relaxed, and put yourself in a trigger situation, and end up worse than you were before??
 
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karlchilders

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#5
At first it seemed like the thing I am worrying about was fake. But now it feels like it happened. I have no idea if I have created these thoughts, because there is no way to verify if they are just thoughts or not. I am so depressed and anxious. My chest constricts, I can't breathe. I cry most of the day. I feel so GUILTY, and the prescence of that guilt makes me feel as though I did these things I worry about, even if the evidence is against it. God, I need help.
 
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littlecat

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#6
Yes, it definitely goes on and off.
Have you gone to see a doctor about this? If you haven't, I strongly suggest you do, they can refer you to the best people who can offer you help and advice. If it would help explain it to them you could print off the thread you have written here and show them. I went to the doctors as these feelings have come on very recently and I think I'm getting therapy soon (I haven't been diagnosed with anything yet) and I have felt more hopeful ever since knowing that people are going to give me help. I'm very sure you will feel the same. I know how difficult the guilt is, but you just have to tell yourself the thoughts aren't true, for example you have never found a body after you looked for it, so there was no body. Also, you sound like you are a self conscious person, something that can make you think you are being very mean when really you are being very kind and considerate of others. You have nothing to feel guilty about, I promise you that. Please understand that your brain has just replaced the parts of memories that you have perhaps forgotten with untrue imaginations of you doing things you never did. They are just thoughts and were never reality, don't worry and get some help for yourself:)
 
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littlecat

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#7
Yes, it definitely goes on and off.
Have you gone to see a doctor about this? If you haven't, I strongly suggest you do, they can refer you to the best people who can offer you help and advice. If it would help explain it to them you could print off the thread you have written here and show them. I went to the doctors as these feelings have come on very recently and I think I'm getting therapy soon (I haven't been diagnosed with anything yet) and I have felt more hopeful ever since knowing that people are going to give me help. I'm very sure you will feel the same. I know how difficult the guilt is, but you just have to tell yourself the thoughts aren't true, for example you have never found a body after you looked for it, so there was no body. Also, you sound like you are a self conscious person, something that can make you think you are being very mean when really you are being very kind and considerate of others. You have nothing to feel guilty about, I promise you that. Please understand that your brain has just replaced the parts of memories that you have perhaps forgotten with untrue imaginations of you doing things you never did. They are just thoughts and were never reality, don't worry and get some help for yourself:)
 
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LeeDav

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Apr 24, 2014
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#8
Hi guys.

I have been suffering horrendous anxiety for the last 20 years (currently 26). For the last two years, I have had difficulty being able to tell the difference between imagination and memory.

For example:

I'll be doing something, then out of the blue, a thought will hit me. I'll try to tell myself it was just a thought, but then the details will arrive, and I will have a full memory of the event taking place, even though it is unlikely it could have happened.

Basically, I only have this with things I am worrying about. Things that could potentially happen.


Another example would be what I call the, "Body on the side of the road" principle.

It goes like this:

I am driving at night. I imagine what it would be like to run someone over. Despite there being no person there, the imagination is so vivid I am not sure. I turn the car in reverse, look for the body. There is nothing there. I get out of my car and look for the body. Again, not a thing. Then I have to look in the woods, because I imagine that I got out of the car and dragged the body into the forest.

These kinds of things go on all day. The only relief I get comes from the formation of a new worry.

I think about my past constantly, and cannot be certain that I have never done anything terrible to people. Most of my worries are of a sexual kind, but used to revolve around violence. I feel relentless guilt and worry about everything. Staying inside and watching movies is the only thing that gives me a bit of relief. I literally feel like a dead person, who only looks forward to death. It's like my life is totally screwed and I just want a fresh start.

The problem is, I have my family and a girlfriend who would be devastated if I killed myself, so that option is not on the table. I have to get better. But the thoughts seems so real. I FEEL like I have done these terrible things, and don't feel worthy of love because of it. I feel terrible all the time. I just want the pain to stop.

Is it possible to have false memories of things happening, and to FEEL like they are real?
I logged in today to respond to this, because I have felt like this one and off for about 10 years (I'm 32). I have periods of imagining that I've done terrible things that I know deep down I haven't, but I go into kind of 'mind tunnels' that I can't dig back out of.

Sometimes I'm in tears as my own mind chews me up. I have hidden this from everyone I know since it started happening in about 2004, although I did suffer a milder form before that.
 
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blythegirl

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Dec 22, 2014
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#9
Hi! New to these forums, but googled 'OCD False Memories' and came across your post... I'm going through exactly the same thing right now, and it's not nice... especially since I know it's going to make yet another Christmas quite unpleasant .

It's really hard to enjoy the moment and *know* that your not guilty when your body and mind seem to be making you feel otherwise. I worry constantly that I've done something so terrible and awful - what it is, I don't know - but I imagine that the image will come back to me in some kind of flashback, and then that will be the end.

It's as if my anxiety is looking for a reason to be there or to attach itself to.

If you guys have any tips for dealing with this then please let me know! I tend to ruminate over one thing for 3-4 days, during which it feels like the most important thing in the world, and then it gradually wears off. For a few days I'm ok, and then BOOM, something will trigger another false memory/obsession and there will be another 4 days of internal wrestling with my brain. It's exhausting.

I've booked in for therapy after Christmas, but there is a 12 week waiting list for treatment - and that's a loooooong time to go when I'm feeling this way.

Hope you're all good! :) xx
 
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Tammyyy

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#10
Wow, I can't believe that there are others who suffer like me too. My boyfriend is my world. So the worry that I have is that I've cheated. And I know deep down I haven't but I can't convince myself fully. And it's so hard. It's got to the point where I've tried everything, therapy, medications to get better and I've had no luck. I'm so sick of feeling guilty about something that hasn't even happened. At the start of the relationship I did confide in someone at work and was playful with them, but I never did anything. But I think this is where the worry has come from. It's only been in the last month that I've had this awful worry, since an argument. And it's killing me. I don't want to die, but I can't live like this anymore. I can't forgive myself for being flirtaseous either. I've thought about the only way to end this guilt other than death is either quit my job (which will cause a lot of problems) but that way I can get away from the person that makes me worry, or to leave my boyfriend. Which isn't possible. Because I love and need him way too much. I can't imagine my life without him. But it's not fair on him. And because of the type of worry that it is I have no proof that I haven't done it. I can't explain how it makes you feel, although I do know I feel odd. Like I know I haven't done it, no way possible that I have. But it's trying to make me believe I have. I hate doubting myself. Obviously this puts massive strain on every day to day life. And I just want it to go away. :(
 
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blythegirl

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#11
I know how you feel Tammyyy - my worries for a long while were that I had kissed someone when I was out with friends. The guilt got so bad that I actually approached the guy in question and asked him whether we had kissed! He thought i was mad, but it was the only thing that made me feel better.

Interestingly, i noticed a pattern: after this i felt ok for a few days, and then suddenly another memory (false memory) or "what if i had..." scenario popped into my head witg such force that i thought i would be physically sick with anxiety. Again, i asked the new guy whether we'd kissed in the past and he said 'no'. I immediately felt better, but then a couple of days later a new worry came along.

I soon realised that by checking with people for reassurance, this was actually a compulsion in itself. The horrible thing is that i don't know how else to feel better?

Another thing i noticed is that i only ever worry about things i care deeply about. (I got a new job a couple of weeks ago for example, and was so happy until i started worrying that id somehow cheated on the tests and exams i had to take in order to get the job!) I won't go into all of my worries as i don't want anyone else to start worrying about the same things too (i know these things can be triggered easily)

I also know what you mean about how wierd it feels... like you know rationally that you didnt do something, but your whole body and emotions seem to tell you otherwise with an intensity that is hard to ignore.
and as much as you say to yourself 'it doesnt matter, forget about it', there is always that one doubting voice that says "but what if you really did it and you are in denial?" . For me, the doubting voice drowns out all other voices sometimes (mostly when im tired, on my own, or hungry/ill)

What do we do, though? I've not come across a conclusive 'cure' for this online, and CBT works sometimes, but the very essence of this form of ocd is that it can't be rationalised! There's a real emotional pull and a hunger for certainty that is difficult to satiate.

Hmm... when im in the thick of it i try to watch a film or read a book to take my mind off it for even a couple of minutes. Mindfulness meditation has helped a little too.

In terms of your work, it sounds as if you car e deeply about your boyfriend, and im sure you'd remember if you had 'done' anything with the guu at work. Could you talk to your boyfriend about this at all? Like test the waters by explaining that you worry a lot ? I told my boyfriend about my worries that i'd cheated, and he was wonderful about it. He even began to laugh at each new worry as i grew more confident in telling him. Eventually he just said "i know you love me - the amount that you worry shows it. Even if you did kiss someone in the past, the past is not now." We made a promise to draw a line under the past and start afresh.

It took me weeks of therapy before i could talk to him about it honestly, though! Do you feel you could do the same?

In terms of the guy at work, i understand how it feels not to want to flirt etx! (The other day a guy friend asked for my number so he could give me some running advice, and i felt so bad about it so i suggested facebook instead as it felt safer) . You've got to remember though that we are designed to communicate in a certain way, and flirting comes quite naturally to many people - i see many married people at work flirting harmlessly with coworkers for example! It doesnt mean they are being unfaithful, its just how they connect with others! Hope i've been able to help in a small way, even if it's just by showing you that you are not alone x
 
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Tammyyy

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#12
Thank you for responding to me. I'm sorry that you have to suffer this awful disease. I have spoken to my boyfriend and he knows I haven't done anything but obviously when I confided in this guy, it pissed him off which is understandable. He has forgiven me for that. But I still feel guilty about everything I had said etc and I don't know how to stop feeling this way. Whenever I have to speak to this person now it makes me worry. Also, on my walk to work this morning, a nice 2.4 mile walk, I was going over things in my head as I usually do and then when I got to work I got distracted and forgot what I was thinking, that in itself made me worry that I'd forgotten something important (something that I've done something wrong). I have to repeat things in my head and I have done for many years and it's driving me crazy.

When I was in Secondary School aged about 15, I used to worry I'd killed someone at school so I used to walk round the whole school several times until the anxiety supsided. I just wish I had been helped then because that incident made me feel scared and guilty and unable to be happy because I thought I'd killed someone. But this worry now is much worse than that. I've always worried about cheating, and I know I never would. But now I worry that because I confided in someone and grew fond of them and told them my problems that that is classed as cheating and that it makes me worry more like "does that mean I'm capable of something else?"

I know what triggered this worry, it was a big fall out with my partner. Due to me being severly depressed and possibly bipolar. I'm hard work. But since that fall out, he's okay, and I'm left with this worry.
It's so nice to be able to talk to someone about what goes on in my head who understands. The thing is therapists don't understand. They are just there to teach you how to challenge your thoughts. They can't cure you. I reckon if one therapist suffered like we do, a more rewarding approach that would cure us would be invented.

In the short time that I was writing this paragraph, took the anxiety away. :) x
 
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blythegirl

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#13
Hi Tammyyy - yeah i know what you mean regarding therapists. I just wish it was possible to describe or communicate how this form of ocd makes you feel! It's horrible and sometimes people aren't able to comprehend how much it can affect your life.

I do agree that sharing it with others that are going through the same thing is helpful and can ease the anxiety at least for a little while.

Glad that your boyfriend understood in the end. I think im a bit of a handful for my boyfriend sometimes too ! (That makes me worry too) i've been diagnosed with severe generalised anxiety disorder and mild depression (which i always knew i had anyway) but yeah, like you i wish i'd have got help back when i was much younger. My parents don't like talking about mental health - i think they get scared or don't want to imagine that it's in the family, so their line was always "there are people much worse off / pull yourself together / go to sleep and have a good dinner and you will feel better". After that i just kept myself to myself as i didnt want them to worry or get angry and frustrated at me.

As a result therapy was never an option!

At least i know i will be more understanding witg my own kids, if i decde to have them one day...

Hope you are ok, and have a good weekend!
 
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Tammyyy

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#14
I thought I was getting better but this morning is telling me that I'm not. Been able to get the guilt at bay, but today it's just over powering. I'm at work but all I want to do is cry. I KNOW I haven't done anything wrong physically, I just know. Yet, I feel guilty. I know what I did do was wrong, like confide in him and tell him I like him too much and being just over friendly, but I just can't get this guilt away. It started off this morning by me forgetting what I was thinking. And because I forgot what I was thinking, I automatically panic and assume the worst. Then from the back of my mind a thought came into my head that I didn't want; a while back a colleague said that this particular colleague told her partner (now ex) that he'd slept with her before she got with her then partner. At the time she told me this, I thought he can't say this to me because I didn't know him before. But if he did say this, I would doubt myself. And so this morning, I forgot what I was thinking and that popped into my head instead. To make matters worse he popped into the office to drop off the post for me. And everytime I see him I feel anxious and guilty anyway. So this morning was just bad.

Recently, the doctor has reluctantly been prescribing me with Lorazepam. I thought I'll try get through the day without one today, so I didn't take one this morning. That was a bad idea as I took one anyway once I got to work and started feeling anxious about all this. I just don't know what to do. I love my boyfriend so much and don't want to leave him or him to leave me. But I just don't know what to do. I can't take being in my head anymore.

Sorry I didn't reply last week.
 
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Tammyyy

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#15
I actually feel like I'm losing the plot. I'm exhausted, I'm having to remember every little word I think of because I'm worried that if I don't it means I've done something wrong. I don't know how much more I can take. I don't think there's much more help available left either. I'm on 2 different types of antidepressants and also been prescribed an antiphyschotic.
If I don't get better, he's going to leave me. I feel like I'm at the end.
 
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Tammyyy

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#16
It's getting too much for me now. I'm having to remember everything I'm thinking otherwise I panic and think that I've done something bad. I think about the past and feel guilty. But some of it, it's not even real. And my boyfriend is over the past, but I can't get over it. It's got to the point where I don't know what to do. I feel like ending it all. Because I don't want a life without my boyfriend. But I hate being the way I am. So at least everyone will be out of their misery. Including me.
OCD has always been my enemy.
 
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Larkie823

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#17
Hi Tammy. Are you doing okay? I read through this thread and your last message made me worried. It's just your OCD. It is a VERY evil disorder.
 
calypso

calypso

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#18
Tammyyy, I have sent you a PM, I hope you read it and know you aren't alone.
 
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Tonic

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#19
I find this thread really interesting.

I have false memories and they are a real problem to me. But with me they are more like delusions.

Mine are not self-persecuting like most people in this thread are talking about. Mine are about other people, mainly. I remember so many things that even just remembering things can completely take over my life.

I don't have OCD. I don't want to label myself but I believe my symptoms are because of psychosis.

I find it impossible to think that my memories are just false memories when they happen and for months afterwards. It is only years afterwards I stand a chance of thinking more clearly and perhaps identifying that that didn't actually happen. It is very difficult.

It has an impact on my daily life and because I believe what I remember, it effects how I treat other people.
 
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Kenyon

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#20
Hi I've read ur forum and I know it was a while ago and I need as much help as I can get.. I have same thoughts to.. not been officially diagnosed with ocd and I just need some help as my thoughts seem so real and think if I did the things my thoughts tell me I did then I would not want to live.
 

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