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How can you "know" if it is imagination or memory

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Old 11-14-2006, 12:31 PM   #1
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Question How can you "know" if it is imagination or memory


I had a terrible night last night as for financial reasons I was unable to continue with my zoloft. I find myself crying alot and as I have shared before, I am mostly a pure o.

Last night I started to think, what if something happened to me and I blocked it out, which is a different play on my usual obsession of maybe I did something horrible and blocked it out.

I do have post traumatic stress disorder from an violent crime against me about 15 yrs ago, and I just never feel safe. My therapist tells me go to your safe place and there is nowhere where I can think of.

I do live in a toxic atmosphere and do plan on taking myself out of it as I can, but in the meantime I cannot stand loud noises, or alot of commotion.

Last night I started obsessing about maybe something has been done to me and I blocked it out, then I come up with a time maybe this occured and maybe who and then I try and try to remember to see if something took place and then I imagine a senario and then now I am confused if I made this up or is it a memory.

Now I cannot tell if this is imagination or memory and how can I ever tell the difference.

My other obsession of maybe having done something and blocking it out makes me feel that I don't deserve to live my life because maybe there is something horrible out there that I have done and until I "know" for sure I feel like I can't move on. But I can't tell the difference anymore if it is imagination or memory since I thought it to death.

I guess my question is does anyone go through this and how do you "know" and if you can't "know" how can you move on.

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Old 11-14-2006, 01:16 PM   #2
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Re: How can you "know" if it is imagination or memory

Hey Karimah

At the end of the day, all the "what ifs" you ask yourself are OCD thoughts. As people, we can't possibly ever be sure of many things... and this is why OCD is so damn tragic. It forces overcompensation and this need for certainty on us, which in this world is often impossible to attain. We feel like we can't live and be happy until we get this absolute certainty. This is exactly why OCD has such a grip on people, and why some people suffer for years.

I really dont think you've ever done anything terrible and blocked it out. I especially think you've never done anything that terrible that you dont deserve to live (in fact, I'm pretty sure of it). But of course with the OCD there's the what ifs. And I think that cruelly your OCD is feeding off your experiences of PTSD.

The way I get through things like this is to just accept that I dont know for sure, take the risk of it, and move on. It's easier said than done, I know. For example, I've had a lot of crazy obsessions over the years.. what if I could abuse a child, what if I am gay, what if I could murder somebody, what if I have done something evil in the past, etc. The chances of those things having any truth in my life were so remote that they were not worth worrying about... but my OCD forced me to worry because with everything there is always a risk, no matter how small.

We have to learn to think like people without OCD... they concern themselves with actualities, not possibilities, risks, or the things they dont know for sure. It's only the actualities that really exist... everything else is a construct of our own minds.


Old 11-14-2006, 03:50 PM   #3
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Re: How can you "know" if it is imagination or memory

OK, this is my OCD to the T!!! I obsess over what if I kissed someone, what if I was rude, etc...and I imagine things and not sure if it is real or imaginary and then have to remember... I can go crazy! What I am recently learning and actually doing, after about 4 years of CBT thereapy, is to sit with the unknown and deal with the is sooo hard to not ask for reassurance and confess....I am here if you need to talk!!!

Old 11-14-2006, 07:04 PM   #4
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Re: How can you "know" if it is imagination or memory


It sounds like you've got alot of things that you're dealing with at the same time, and you have to take them one at a time so you can concentrate on them individually and not overwhelm yourself.

First your toxic enviornement. It doesn't surprise me that you have OCD because our "home" should be a soft place to fall when we need to get away from things, and with you saying you live in a toxic enviornment, where do you have to fall? We go out and have an obsession or compulsion, and where do we have to come home to? I lived in a toxic enviornment myself for years, and finally it ended this year with my parents getting a divorce, and everyone is alot happier being separate. My parents constant arguing and bickering literally turned the envrionment of the house "toxic" even if I wasn't involved in an argument. You should work on getting yourself out of there because therapy and medication won't help if you try to help yourself while living in an unhealthy enviornment. Alot of OCD is about control, and you DO have control to get out of that type of situation, so work on that first so you can work on yourself next.

I highly doubt you did anything and don't remember it. This is a common obsession among us OCDers. What if I kissed another guy and don't remember? What if I kissed another girl and don't remember? What if I was driving down the road and ran someone over and don't remember? The fact is that your brain is so overwhelmed with other obsessions you're going through what Psychologists call a dissasociative phase. Your brain basically can't put up with the constant obsessive thoughts, so the line between reality and a "dream world" is harder to distinguish because it's your brains way of saying, "that's it, I've had enough and I'm shutting off."

If you can I would recommend you get back on Zoloft and start some cognitive behavioral therapy as soon as you can so that your therapist can help you start to gain control over your obsessions. Were all here for you..

Old 11-15-2006, 03:46 PM   #5
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Re: How can you "know" if it is imagination or memory

Thanks for what you wrote. It makes a lot of sense. Isn't it so weird how people w/o OCD dont think this way - I can't imagine how life would be if I didn't obsess on things... it such a huge part of me, and my personality at times, that if I am not obsessing on something it doesnt' feel right!

Old 11-16-2006, 10:57 AM   #6
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Re: How can you "know" if it is imagination or memory

Thank you so much for your replies, they were very helpful. It is hard to not have that certainty but that can never be and sometimes it affects me worse then others.

I agree that the toxic home is the first thing that does have to change and I am working to make that happen.

I do find that when I say o.k. I am not going to obsess on whether I've done something or not then if I feel irresponsible, like I am choosing denial (too many self-help books )

It is such a relief to have found this board and the comfort it brings me I am truly thankful for.

Have a wonderful day!!!

Old 12-28-2006, 09:58 AM   #7
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Unhappy Re: How can you "know" if it is imagination or memory

Wow! Reading your post was like reading about my own life. I am so afraid that I hurt somebody because I lost control of myself, and then I blocked it out of my mind, in order to not have to deal with the consequences. I think I remember the incident, and I start panicking. I have these feelings where I just feel like doing the bad thing, so I know what it would feel like. And then right after, I feel this complete loss of control, and I am convinced that I did it. If you ever suffer from this or something similar, please leave a post, so I can know that there are more people out there like me, and not feel alone.

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