same secrets

“I have come to believe that by and large the human family all has the same secrets, which are both very telling and very important to tell.  They are telling in the sense that they tell what is perhaps the central paradox of our condition—that what we hunger for perhaps more than anything else is to be known in our full humanness, and yet that is often just what we also fear more than anything else.” Frederick Buechner

While I think this quote is universally true, right now I’m thinking specifically in the context of obsessive-compulsives.

Alone, we imagine that no one else could think the horrible things we do.

But when we are in community, we realize that our secrets are pretty much all the same.  I know that’s it’s not necessarily an abracadabra moment, but when you start realizing that other people share your secrets, you feel less like a monster and more like the victim of an ugly disorder.  In other words, you start seeing the TRUTH.

The TRUTH is…

You are not the only one who imagines harming a child.

You are not the only one with excessive concerns about contamination.

You are not the only one who fears you’ve done or thought something blasphemous.

You are not the only one who fears you might be homosexual.

You are not the only one who needs symmetry.

You are not the only one with counting compulsions, who makes lists excessively, who feels a NEED to confess, who is driven to accumulate useless things, who counts, who has unwanted sexual thoughts, who needs to check “one last time” a hundred times.

You’re not a freak– you’re just a textbook case of OCD.  One amongst an entire community of people whose lives have been affected by this thief.  I love the online OCD blogging community– I love that people are sharing their secrets and learning that all our secrets are pretty much the same.


Christmas isn’t fun for everyone

My roommate is a Christmas fanatic– every year, she chooses one day after Thanksgiving where we pause everything else to put on some Christmas music, drink hot cocoa, and decorate our apartment.  Every Christmas decoration in the entire apartment belongs to her.  Well, time out, I guess we each paid half for our little four-foot tree.

Desiree has this entire Willow Tree nativity set, as seen below.

Can you picture her as a senior in high school, eagerly opening up each element of the scene?  It makes me laugh– but in a good way!  Des is the sweetest girl ever, and this is a great metaphor of each of us.  Des is “steady eddie”– not that she doesn’t have her own issues to deal with– but she is strong and caring and clean and a good cook.  And then there’s me, a tornado who is still learning how to take care of herself.

Christmas is an interesting time for me– to be honest, I am learning to enjoy it.  Growing up, it was a very difficult time of the year for me.  Picture Minnesota in the winter: it gets dark so early, there’s usually piles of snow, and the temperature is below freezing– sometimes dangerously below.  It’s like a dream location for seasonal depression.

And then, with OCD stacked on top of it, pretty much everything about Christmas was a trigger: my mind would race with thoughts of whether I believed in God, and if He was real, if He had saved me.

There is an image of me that we still have somewhere at my parents’ house– me, hovering somewhere around 17-20 years old, with this look at the camera.  I can remember exactly what I was thinking in it.  I was looking at the camera and asking my future self, Are you okay yet?  I hope you don’t feel this way still.

These days, I can answer my past self, I am better.  I am healthier.  And no, most days I do not feel that way.

Praise GOD!  Thank You, Jesus, for cognitive-behavioral therapy.

So tonight I’m thinking about different kinds of folks– I know there are some– actually, MANY– who are like Des, yearly filled with holiday cheer, basking in the glow of the Christmas lights, huddled comfortably around the tree and the nativity scene.  But there are others who spend their holidays the way I did– filled with doubt (laced with the tiniest bit of hope), depression, confusion, and sickness– and all while feeling that instead, they really ought to be happy.

If you are in the second camp, I hear you.  I’ve been there.  This prayer is for you:

Jesus, I celebrate You– I celebrate Your marvelous incarnation, the Word becoming flesh.  Tonight, Lord, I lift up to You all those who are burdened with heavy, laboring hearts this season– whether from depression, anxiety, mental illness, or internal crisis.  YOU ARE STRONG ENOUGH TO HOLD US ALL.  Just as that first Christmas was the initiation of Your inexplicably great rescue plan, I pray that this Christmas will be the start of Your new rescue mission in the lives of these sufferers.  You are Love.  You are Truth.  You are the mighty redeemer.  I entrust my heart to You and ask that You would hold those for whom I’m praying– in a way that is felt.  Amen.

I boast in the cross.

I give the credit for my rescue from OCD to Jesus Christ alone, and I believe that CBT and medicine and doctors were the tools He used.

Tonight I listened to a sermon online given by John Piper of Bethlehem Baptist Church, right here in Minneapolis.  He was talking about something that won’t make sense to some:

“[F]or redeemed sinners, every good thing–[and] indeed every bad thing that God turns for good–was obtained for us by the cross of Christ. Apart from the death of Christ, sinners get nothing but judgment. Apart from the cross of Christ, there is only condemnation. Therefore, everything that you enjoy in Christ–everything you boast in, everything you exult in–is owing to the death of Christ. And all your exultation in other things is to be an exultation in the cross where all your blessings were purchased for you at the cost of Christ’s life.”

Essentially, if I follow the path of blessings back to its source, there I will find the cross–the death–of Jesus Christ.  Because the death of Christ was an act of grace, an act of rescue.

I am grateful and blessed and pleased to be free from the clutches of obsessive-compulsive disorder.  In doing so, I am exulting in the cross of Jesus.

As Piper said, “[Being dead to the world] means that every legitimate pleasure in the world becomes a blood-bought evidence of Christ’s Calvary love and an occasion of boasting in the cross.”

how CBT helps me to see clearly

OCD-related blogs I have been reading:

The other day, there was a post on Lolly’s Hope that seriously could have been written by me, only a couple years ago.  It told how she was nervous that she’d been rude to the secretary at the doctor’s office and was wondering if she should call back and apologize.  OCD induces such confessions and apologies that are not necessary, simply because the obsession causes such PANIC, and the confession/apology temporarily alleviates that panic.  Your heart will be racing, as well as your mind, believing that things must be solved NOW and that you are going to feel this terrible panicky sensation UNTIL things are solved.  That’s why most of us give in right away.  Heck, I’m the girl who emailed Caribou corporate because my barista gave me a 10-cent discount and I felt guilty as all get-out.  Ridiculous, right?


I’ve been reading things from people at all different stages– people who have never heard of CBT/ERP (cognitive-behavioral therapy/exposure and response prevention), people who are undergoing it now, and people like myself– who have gone through that hell, survived it, and are HAPPY on the other side!

I can see clearly now that I’ve undergone CBT.  I am a huge proponent of it as THE BEST TREATMENT THERE IS FOR OCD.  Yes, it is one of the most difficult things I have ever done, but God has given me my life back through it.  It was all worth it.  And the eyesight of my head and heart is 20/20 again!!!














Image credit: See Clearly