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Harm OCD and Halloween Triggers

Posted by Marigrace Pilger on

Hello mental health champions, how are you doing? 


I hope you are all doing so well! I unfortunately haven’t been making Tik-Tok content much recently which is largely because they take a lot of time which I would rather be spending on other things. However, I know my previous Tik-Toks helped a lot of people with intrusive thoughts and so when they say they want more info or more tips, I usually send them to this blog! I figured that since it is finally spooky season, (now my favorite holiday) intrusive thoughts sufferers may be having a hard time.


 I actually used to hate October. I loved the fall season, but everything spooky and scary was too much for my brain to handle at the time. Intrusive thoughts can be relentless and when you struggle with Pure OCD, these thoughts can be violent, hateful, and horrific. I haven’t really gone into too much detail about this and I don’t know if I ever will feel comfortable to do so but I wanted to at least try and help someone today and part of that is sharing my experiences. A subset of Pure OCD is Harm OCD. Harm OCD is actually a fairly common obsession or fixation for OCD sufferers. You have thoughts of hurting yourself or other people and they’re usually very violent. You may even picture disturbing images. Everytime I talk about intrusive thoughts, I have to be very careful to not misrepresent what they are. In today’s day in age, it seems like a lot of society has fixations with murderers and serial killers and I get it. I am the same way. I would love to see how their brain works and the mystery behind cases is interesting. However, I think sometimes the way these stories are told could give mental health strugglers a bad rep and can then cause people to misinterpret other symptoms of other disorders. 


So for anyone who hasn’t read one of my blog posts on intrusive thoughts before, I will once again tell you my spiel on them. Intrusive thoughts are ego-dystonic meaning they go against everything you believe in. This means you could be the kindest person that wouldn’t hurt a fly and still have these horrific and scary violent thoughts. It is VERY IMPORTANT to note that OCD sufferers are NOT violent and that these thoughts are uncontrollable. It is also important to note that it has NEVER once been recorded that someone has acted on an intrusive thought. Intrusive thoughts are UNWANTED. People will sometimes ask me about how you can have these thoughts if you’re a good person. The answer is that they’re not consciously being thought of. The person suffering would do anything to get the thoughts to stop. I don’t like comparing the two because they are beyond different from each other, but an actual sadistic murderer enjoys thoughts of hurting others and doesn’t have emotion or guilt tied to their thoughts or actions. Someone with OCD tortures themselves so deeply and the guilt of just having these thoughts can eat them alive. It is also important to note that every single person on Earth has had an intrusive thought. Have you ever been driving and just had the thought of, “what would happen if I just veered off the road?” or “what if I swallowed this chemical?” They happen everyday for people who don’t suffer from disorders. With OCD sufferers, they have these same intrusive thoughts but they ruminate. They circle and pop up in your mind in this endless cycle and then once one thought finally gets let go, usually a darker and scarier one takes its place and this cycle continues endlessly. 

Intrusive thoughts can be so strong that the person with the disorder may start hiding things that scare them and can do harm. They are so scared of their own thoughts and mind that they feel like they need to be locked up and away from society. It is incredibly lonesome and debilitating. Days are just filled with thoughts rampant in your head as you try to do basic things like work or relax. I remember nights and mornings were the loneliest and the thoughts were the loudest. I remember throwing up and having panic attacks in response to the thoughts. I would pray that God would punish me for having these horrific thoughts. The guilt was unlike any pain I have ever felt. I frequently tell people that I preferred physical pain over mental because at least there wasn’t guilt there. 

With that being said, it can seem obvious now why Halloween time can be so scary and triggering for people that suffer with Harm OCD. I noticed a lot of the thoughts that would pop up and disturbing images were all from movies, the news, tv shows, books, etc. For many periods of time where I was deeply suffering with these thoughts, I would avoid all of it together. If I saw something it would stick in my mind on a never ending cycle. Halloween decorations or costumes may even be very triggering to people. If you are suffering with intrusive thoughts during this season, there are a few things I want to remind you of. 

First off, I genuinely don’t think there’s anything scarier than being scared of your own mind and being scared for the safety of the people around you. So guess what? You are fighting your own literal hell on earth off right now and so you have nothing to be afraid of. It is totally okay if you don’t feel like you can stomach scary movies right now. Throw on a comedy or cartoon and do what makes you feel comfortable no matter what other people think. Remember you’re the one going through this right now, not them. Another great reminder my counselor told me was that someone who actually wanted to hurt people wouldn’t feel guilty or make themselves sick over a thought. They actually enjoy those thoughts. And NO- you’re not crazy and you’re not a danger to those you love. You are trying to work through a disorder that makes your brain process things differently. Who you are doesn’t change because of the thoughts in your head. Remind yourself that they are ego-dystonic and attack the people and things you love and believe in and that you have no control over them. What finally allowed me to get over my intrusive thoughts was NOT trying to ignore them,- (they usually will be louder when  you try to ignore them) but instead I would treat it like someone else was saying these thoughts to me. I wouldn’t read into them. I would give myself a second to respond and in my head or even if you have to say it out loud, I would think “Well that was weird and gross” and move on. MOVE THE FUCK ON. Sorry, but we needed some angry emphasis there! LOL. Treat the thoughts like any other thought you have during the day. Remove the emotion and guilt and remind yourself that it’s the disorder talking, not your heart. 


I hope this has helped someone who may be going through this. I also hope if you have never experienced violent  intrusive thoughts or even heard about them, you have a better idea about what they are and won’t stigmatize the people that struggle with these. I actually had a friend who did some time at an inpatient mental health facility and she told me that the Pure OCD sufferers struggled so much that it would break her heart. She said they were the kindest people and just were battling the guilt and pain of their thoughts. She noted that they seemed just as if not, more debilitating than the couple of patients that had Schizophrenia. So please, be kind and help spread truthful information about OCD. You truly NEVER know what someone is battling in their brain.


Talk to you soon brain battlers, Gracie <3


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The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.



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