Sensorimotor OCD

Have you ever been hyper-aware of your heartbeat? Or thought about breathing and now have to do it manually? Maybe you think about the feeling of swallowing and cannot escape it despite trying your hardest.

Sensorimotor OCD involves being obsessed or hyperaware of our bodily functions. It is an obsession with bodily functions and sensations, often causing anxiety. Some common sensorimotor obsessions involve the sensation of breathing, swallowing, heartbeat and blinking.

I suffer a couple of these, and it really can be a terrifying ordeal.

Sometimes, we discover things we just can’t forget

Did you ever noticed your nose one day?

Like, hang on, has that always been in my field of view?

Five hours later, you’re in a work meeting and cannot stop noticing your nose is there…

This is an example of sensorimotor OCD. Being hyperaware of our body and bodily functions with great difficulty forgetting them again.

You may have always had this, or it could be something that just occurred one day.

The different kinds of Sensorimotor OCD

Like so much of OCD, the list can be endless. But it seems many of us share the same obsessions.

Some common sensorimotor obsessions are:

  • heartbeat or pulse
  • swallowing
  • the tongue not feeling comfortable in the mouth
  • skin itching, tingling or general sensations
  • eye contact, or floaters in the eye
  • breathing and feeling we have to breathe manually
  • blinking

What makes this harder to ignore is that these are functions our bodies are constantly carrying out. The heart continues to beat. We have to blink and inhale/exhale every few seconds.

We are constantly seeking out sights and sounds that fuel this OCD.

It is easy to feel like you are going insane.

To forget about these is a challenge.

For me, particularly when breathing, I really have to find something else to occupy myself until breathing becomes subconscious again. Until then I am in a panic-like state, wondering if this is going to last forever.

Therapy has helped me understand what this is

When I was young, I believed this was another ‘weird’ trait of mine that no one else had. It was only thanks to therapy and searching online that I realised many others go through the same struggles, even if the obsession differs.

Like much of OCD, many of these worries and obsessions stem from the same thought processes, even if the obsessions are different.

I don’t want to go into what therapies or medications worked for me, as I am just a sufferer. However speaking to a professional really helped make sense of this kind of OCD, and helped me understand how much of my life has been taken up by obsessions and compulsions.

I highly recommend you talk to a specialist or your GP. They will be aware of OCD to some degree, and I promise you won’t look silly in the process.

As I type this today, I find it much easier to remind myself of these bodily functions without having the same panic attacks. I no longer feel the urgency to breathe manually, nor am I checking my pulse when I am resting.

The sooner we realise what causes the obsession, the sooner we realise how to deal with it. And this has really helped improve my quality of life.


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