journal entry from 2008

i don’t think that people can really understand what it’s like to be tortured by your own mind for so long that the continuous agony of thinking becomes the new norm.  something kind of like i wonder if God is real then will i go to heaven but i don’t know what i believe and do i like that boy still is he even a good guy who are my real friends and are
people really people or are they really demons can i trust anybody if i don’t trust then what and if i think bad thoughts about the Savior then am i unsaved and what if those horrid things were right because it was something i felt inside but i need to not go with what i feel but with what i know what do i know do i really know anything is it even possible to really know anything will i be held accountable for the things i teach as fact when i don’t even know if i can even know and what if someone dies from doing something i knew was going on and i never said anything will i suffer with guilt my whole life will i suffer condemnation in the afterlife?

and to achieve respite only in the sweet hours of sleep each evening, waking to a morning that will begin it all again, as i lie in my bed, wondering where i left off the night before and where i should pick up again this morning. 

another poem


The smallest thing, a trigger,
a rooster.  Casual words
look like pointed fingers,
wagging in accusation,
and me, unable to process
advice for what it is,
feeling shame rip my heart
the way you’d tear a valentine.

(One time my friend Micah decided that we should each write a poem with the same name of his choosing– he chose “Pimp the Guilt”– I can’t remember why anymore!)

bad vision


I have a friend who struggles with an anxiety disorder, and she sent me this email the other day and told me I could post it on my blog:

I had a dream that I was in my back yard alone, and this huge wolf came around the corner. It was massive and growling and its hair was standing up. I started to panic and looked around to help me, but there was no one. The wolf started to run at me in slow motion, and it was getting bigger and bigger. As it lunged, I reached my hands out to try to grab its neck and strangle it. I closed my eyes as I began to wrestle with this snarling wolf, and I closed my hands around its neck as hard as I could. We were wrestling on the ground, me on top of it, and I opened my eyes. I panicked, realizing that the wolf had suddenly turned into this adorable house dog (practically a puppy) with a collar on. I jumped up, not understanding how I had suddenly been strangling a harmless puppy. Then I woke up. Sometimes this is how I feel, like I get terrified and paralyzed over things that are, in reality, not a big deal at all…

To which I responded:

I completely get what you’re saying.  For the majority of my life, I have been thinking that puppies were wolves.  It’s just SO HARD to see things correctly when something in our heads/bodies makes us see things wrong!!!

This is the brutal power of mental illness.


In Matthew 10:30, Jesus says, “And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.”

That is lovely to know as someone with trichotillomania.


Trichotillomania.  The compulsive urge to pull out one’s hair.  NBD. 😉

I’ve suffered from this for years, can’t remember how long– I think maybe I started compulsively pulling my hair out in college.  I am blessed though– some people have it waaaay worse than I do– to where I’ve googled some images and have deemed them too disturbing to post.

Here’s one that’s pretty mild:










My own pulling is from a very specific spot on the back of my head.  Over the years, there have been many times when the back of my head actually is sore because of how much pulling I’ve done.  For a long time, I’ve had a “tuft” there– a small “sprig” of shorter hair, since I let it grow to be a couple inches and then pull it again, so there is a patch of continually short hairs.  But now I have short hair, so you can’t see it, suckas. 🙂

It’s not as big a problem for me now as it used to be, although when I get stressed, I will just sit on the couch and pull and pull– just ask my roommate.  I am gaining mastery over it now, but it used to be this COMPULSION– if I didn’t pull I’d miss this tiny release.  I learned that if I squeeze my hand into a very tight fist, I could sometimes get the same release as a pull.

I know, I know.  One more weird tale from the obsessive-compulsive.

At least I didn’t eat my hair then, as many tricho sufferers do.  If you’re ready for nightmares, google it.


set up for failure? what’s your theology?

Once upon a time, I read a book called Perelandra, written by the amazing C.S. Lewis.

I happened to read it during a week when I was travelling in South Dakota, in a year before I discovered the joys of audiobooks.  It was engrossing– so much so that I may have been reading the paperback while driving down I-29.  This is not a confession. 🙂

Perelandra is Venus, and the protagonist of the book (Dr. Elwin Ransom) travels there, where he finds Venus’ version of pre-fallen Eden, including an Eve character.  There is also an evil character there (Dr. Weston/the Unman), and he and Ransom function as the good and bad angels on the shoulders of “Eve,” each trying to influence her either to commit that first sin or not to.

As you can well imagine, this “conversation” (especially in light of Earth/Eden/the fall of man) would be stimulating to the normal person– to an obsessive-compulsive, it was like sheer panic.  OCs want things to be solved/clear/understood NOW– and instead we are met with the panicked feeling that things will NEVER be that way.

I drove seven hours one day while I was still in the midst of reading that book.  By the time I got home, I screamed in my car.  No joke.

Here’s my question, as we consider Eden:

Did God set us up to fail?

For those in the free will/arminianist camp:
*Wasn’t giving humans free will setting them up to fail?  That is, if you give a created being an option to choose the wrong thing, aren’t you setting them up?

For those in the calvinist camp:
*Did God predestine humanity for failure?

There is also the thought that being set up for failure was perhaps exactly what He intended.

I’d like to generate some discussion on this, especially now that I can consider things without letting my brain blow up!  (Spattered gray matter all over just from obsessions was messy work! 😉 )

So, what do you think?
1) Did God set humanity up to fail?
2) Was His goal really that we would continue in perfection?
3) If He knew the cross would be necessary one day, then doesn’t that show that we were only pawns there in the Garden?

OCD and relationships

Not just relationships.  Boy-girl relationships.  Romance.  How does it work?

I’m thinking about this because I just had coffee with my dear friend Caitlin and we were talking about when we were first discovering that we had hormones.

Two memories for me:

1) Reading YM Magazine beneath a desk with a girl named Lindsay in 4th grade.  We paged through the magazine, and Lindsay would say of a celebrity, “Oh, look at him.  He’s hot.”  I had to think about it.  Was this okay to say?  It seemed kinda risque (ha!), but I figured it was all right.  Page turn.  My turn: “Oh wow.  Hot.  He’s totally hot, isn’t he?”  Repeat.

2) Watching Little Giants with my friend Jacki in 6th grade.  Devon Sawa made us giddy.   Like, lie-on-our-backs-while-screaming-and-kicking-our-feet-in-the-air giddy.  Hormones, I decided, were wonderful things.

As I got older and my struggle with OCD magnified, things got more muddied in this arena.  (Relationships got trickier than a tween crush on Devon Sawa and JTT?  SHOCKER!)

A couple thoughts on love/romance and OCD, the doubting disease.

In tenth grade, I liked Zac Hanson.  Yes, of MMMBop fame.

(Are you loving these pics? Because I am!)

It was 10th grade.  It was a stupid celebrity crush.  And it would drive me crazy– way too crazy for a 10th-grade celebrity crush.  I would overthink my love for him– and sometimes I would think that maybe I liked Taylor instead, which felt absolutely TREACHEROUS to me.  Then I would feel guilty.  Then I would think in circles until I could boil whatever “issue” I had down into one statement, which I would write in a notebook with a Crayola bold marker.

I mention this because I would carry this action with me for quite some time– thinking in circles until I could come up with a “summary statement.”  I can see now that this was my way of trying to get a handle on things that were too overwhelming for me.

I also mention this because, um, hello– this was too overwhelming for me.  And that’s ridiculous.  And that’s OCD.

Next story.

(Is this post getting way too long?  Just wait.  I have several more stories.)

One day in 7th grade, I thought my friend Lisa looked pretty.  Just a simple thought: “Lisa looks pretty today.”  Then I tore myself to shreds wondering if I was gay.  Years later I would discover that this is SO common of an obsession that there’s a name for it– HOCD, homosexual OCD.  Wow.  I was a textbook case.  I didn’t even want to be gay– and I definitely liked men– and yet, somehow (cough, OCD) I still worked myself into a tizzy.

Along came college.

Freshman year I liked a boy who liked me back.  We got along great, had awesome chemistry, enjoyed each other’s company, the whole shebang.  My OCD chewed the relationship up like a junkyard dog eats garbage.  I remember the night that he told me that he liked me.  We sat in his car till late that night, holding hands, talking over everything.  I was on Cloud Nine.  This gorgeous boy somehow liked little old ME– actually thought I was incredible!– and I remember going back to the Northwestern dorms, waking up Tracy to tell her about the DTR.  Then I went back to my bedroom and cried myself to sleep, completely sick over it.

Doubt creeps in that fast.

I spent the next day convinced that I had to end whatever had just begun.  I can’t tell you how sick I felt over it.  It’s that same feeling when you’ve betrayed your dear friend and she doesn’t know it yet.

He was crazy about me, but I couldn’t handle the sick feeling I had (OCD-induced, although I didn’t know it at the time), and soon after, I had to call it quits.  I remember spending many days down by Lake Johanna, doing another of my little rituals– making list after list, still trying to do the old trick of finding a summary statement I could live with.  I convinced myself that I liked his roommate (whom I did not like) even, which is another whole stupid story.  I just felt like a murderess all the time– and so sinful!  It was doomed.

(Don’t feel too sad– in the end, it wouldn’t have worked anyway!  I don’t regret it.)

One last story.  I hope you’re hanging in there with me on this post.

Post-college.  I had a massive crush on the sweetest boy in the world.  He was adorable, nerdy, wonderful, and we were good friends on our way to becoming even better friends.  I convinced myself that I was not “allowed” to like him and that God would not approve of my crush on him.  Let me be clear on something: this was OCD-induced, not Spirit-induced, which is clear to me now.  It was agonizing.

I felt torn between this boy, whom I loved and who could have helped me to grow in my relationship with Christ, and Christ Himself, who I half-convinced myself was against the relationship.  Notice: half-convinced.  Some days I was certain that it was sinful for me to like this boy; some days I thought I’d be throwing away God’s gift to me if I were to let him go.  OCD, the doubting disease.  I shredded my heart.

It’s interesting to look back through the years now and see OCD’s clear but ugly hand pulling the strings in my life.  What a thief.  Thanks be to God who has rescued me from such an ugly enemy (who sometimes masquerades as a friend!!  LIES!).  When the time comes, and the right boy comes along, this time I’ll be ready for him.  All glory to Jesus for that!!

bullying my bully, part two

Such an interesting post on this same topic on ocdtalk’s blog!

In my story, Neely discovers this concept through a brochure in her psychiatrist’s office, but in my own life, it came out of NOWHERE.  (God??)  All I’d ever heard of it before was from a friend with an eating disorder who called it “Ed” and talked about it as something separate from herself.  So I randomly started to do something similar, imaginging my OCD as a black dot. 

In real life, people stumble into things, but most of the time in fiction, characters have to be forced.  That’s why I altered my story a little bit as I told Neely’s story.  I mean, how crazy is it to just one day start imagining a little black dot riding in the car’s passenger seat?!

Here’s another scene:

“My OCD wants me to think that thought,” I’d spell out in my head as I continued through the neighborhood, realizing that autumn’s chill had definitely hit Minnesota at full force.  “It’s not actually my thought.  I’m just the messenger.” 

It was an awkward dance, one where I sidled up to the thought and tried to hold its hand.  One foot in front of the other, a stealthy warrior on a tiptoed journey toward freedom. 

“Oh, you’re along?” I said to the black dot that was jogging to keep up with my longer strides.  “Well, keep up, won’t ya?”  I “dressed” it in a child’s train conductor costume and laughed under my breath as it seethed in humiliation.  “Chugga-chugga-choo-chooooo!” I said, pulling a fake train whistle above my head.  “Aren’t you a cute little conductor?”  It glared at me.

Another day, another walk, this time my little black dot in a Scottish kilt and a tiny tam beret.  The day after, a doll-sized sailor suit and white sailor hat.  It had toddled behind me, trying to keep a low profile, which was just fine by me.  By the end of the week I’d landed on an outfit for keeps—a pink tutu with tights and ballet slippers, which my OCD hated worse than all the rest.  I was bullying my bully, and it felt powerful.  Whenever my mind started to race, I said to my OCD in its ballerina getup, “You there!  Start twirling!”  And so it would, even as it boiled with rage.  “Keep on twirling!” I said with a smile.  “I’ll tell you when you can stop … little one.”

I felt an odd sense of control that I’d never had before, not completely free of OCD, but like someone separate from it.  I didn’t need to get my toes wet; I could stand on the dry bank, command my orders, and get back to work.

Isn’t it interesting that something that seems so crazy is actually what’s keeping an obsessive-compulsive from craziness?  I’d love to hear your thoughts on this concept.  Leave a comment!