My Imagined Escape from OCD

One man's experience with a recurring dream forces him to wonder if OCD can trigger positive thinking.

Key Takeaways:
  • Chris is diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, which he discusses on his site
  • In this article, he explores a recurring dream he has about being trapped in a hospital bed, free of anxiety.
  • Please note: "Positive intrusive thoughts" are not professionally or medically recognized. This question is posed merely based on Chris' personal experience with his dream.

It is calm to perfection, as I lie there in the hospital bed. Tubes and wires taped onto and poked into me. There is no pain, there is no need for medication. It is just me. I have no permission to leave, and I don’t want permission to leave. Some people probably care immensely about my state, others surprisingly do not — but that doesn’t matter. Nothing matters. I’ve clearly had an emergency of some sort — an accident, a medical issue, something that will matter at another time. The reason I’m here is not relevant at this point. All that matters is the calm.

This is my dream, a sort of obsession. I think about this all the time, most often when I am in bed — my bed, not the hospital’s.

This is my OCD turned upside-down.

Many people with OCD obsess over such things as being hurt, hurting themselves, and all of the terrible eventualities that can come from those scenarios. I do it too. I even have compulsions to stop such things from happening. I obsess over house fires, I obsess over the condition of my heart — which in actuality is in fine shape.

That kind of OCD — the obsessions about safety, violence and the like — are standard aspects of my day-to-day. However, I have another, very different kind of ongoing thought that manifests itself in a strange dream state. It comes with all the markings of OCD, but elicits positive emotions. And that is very odd, at least I think so. I don’t read much about this kind of OCD response.

My question is: Can Primarily Obsessional OCD trigger positive recurring thoughts?

Let’s go back to that dream.

I often imagine myself in a hospital. I do not feel anything negative in these dreams. No pain, angst or worry. In fact, I feel in complete control of what is happening.

The hospital is my island. I am kept away from the anxieties of the real world. I am trapped and I love it. Even if I wanted to stress, I am strapped into an insular world by a higher power that keeps me from doing so.

I’ve had this dream, on a rather constant basis since I was very young. Over my forty-plus years in this world, I’ve only been in the hospital for physical issues a handful of times. None of which, have been defined by this unusual level of calm.

I think of why I want to be in this state. My mind has clearly constructed a scenario that is not realistic. Hospitals are not fun, they are not relaxing, and being trapped and not able to do perform my daily rituals is hell. But those realities don’t exist in this dream.

So then, why? Attention? This is possible — I sometimes think of people giving me extra care while in the hospital. However, not frequently. When I’ve been injured before, I am often left alone and enjoy the solitude. Other people — in real life and in my dream — are a trigger of my anxiety. So in this dream, I try not to think of them much.

What I really think is going on, is that my brain knows it has OCD. And if it’s going to suffer through obsessive thoughts and images the vast majority of the time, it might as develop some positive ones too. Especially when I am in bed, away from the world and the roots of my obsessions. I am one of the most anxious people you will meet, but it rarely extends to my time in bed. In fact, as is not uncommon, I will oversleep when over-pressured with anxiety. I avoid the world in bed.

Thus, if I am quite literally tied down by a power greater than me, there is a sense that I must feel the antithesis of anxiety. I am forced into the situation I use in daily life to avoid anxiety.

I know I don’t actually wish for this scenario, as the real life manifestation would be nothing like my imagined version. But my brain will continue obsessing over this thought, and I will let it. I am going to play with my upside-down OCD, and I am going to love it.

Christopher runs the site/blog Yeah OCD. Diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder for years, he worked with doctors to uncover his very atypical OCD, which he explores on his site. As well, he is an advocate for mental health issues and writes frequently about the world of mental illness.