Through my website, I can see what search terms are bringing people to my blog, and this week, the number one search term was “OCD torture.” It breaks my heart. But I can completely understand and relate.
For those who are in the throes of such torture:
Welcome to my blog. I know what you’re going through– I was there myself, only about 5 years ago. And the torture was long-lasting for me– nearly 15 years of it. It’s crazy how we can even bear up, isn’t it? Sometimes I am amazed that I survived, was able to get through school, was able to keep my job. Every single day, I hurt so bad. Every single day, I had this feeling that something was wrong, something was off. I felt frantic. The weight of the world was on my shoulders, even from when I was young. Personally, my OCD attacked my Christian faith and made me doubt my salvation, and that doubt is like pure agony to one who loves Christ. So many evenings I spent weeping, almost keening, because I couldn’t handle the thoughts and doubts that were inhabiting my brain, burrowing into it as if they’d stay forever.
My OCD attacked whatever was most important to me. It made me think people were secretly against me, it made me think I shouldn’t tell my problems to my best friend, it made me think it was sinful to write (one of my life’s greatest loves), it made me think I was gay when I clearly was not, it made me think I was a sex offender, it made me think it was wrong to meet new people or to talk to anyone I didn’t know (not helpful when your job is recruiting!). It made me feel guilty if I brought home a STAPLE from work. It made me feel guilty and sinful all the time. And TERRIFIED too. It wasn’t always just a dull agony. Quite often it ramped into a shrill, turbulent nightmare. Overwhelming, engulfing terror would swallow me whole. And then sometimes, to hide itself, it would make me even doubt that I had OCD (tricky bastard!!).
Notice I say it made me feel this way. OCD, my disorder, made me feel this way. The guilt and terror were not from God. The thoughts and doubts weren’t my own. They were given to me, like the ugliest of gifts, from my disorder.
I remember reading blog post about the unpardonable sin, thinking that is me. I am in those shoes, and I will never be out of them. Guess what? I have been delivered from that ugly hold OCD had on me. I still have it. But I’m the boss; it’s not.
How? Cognitive-behavioral therapy, specifically exposure and response prevention therapy, which I’ve explained on my blog here. Now, after twelve weeks of CBT, I have been in control of my OCD for the last four years. It’s like another life. When I feel guilty now, it’s because I’ve done something wrong. When I doubt something, I don’t freak out– I seek out advice from family, friends, and the Holy Spirit. I know my soul belongs to God. I can look at OCD’s silly suggestions and see that they are ridiculous. I don’t have to entertain them. I can toss them aside like I never could before.
And my OCD knows it’s not in control anymore. To be honest, it doesn’t even fight me as much now that it knows it loses every single time. It knows I have the tools to toss it out the window, so it keeps pretty quiet around me.
Meanwhile, it is torturing you. I hate that. I want you to be free like I am. It is going to be a rough road, but there is help. Find a cognitive-behavioral therapist, buckle in, and do whatever you have to do to complete your therapy. And when you want to quit, you can post a comment on this blog, and I will be your cheerleader. Skip the traditional talk therapy. You need someone who knows how to do ERP.
Start today. It’s time for freedom.
Note for those without health insurance: If you can’t afford to see a cognitive-behavioral therapist, and if you’re ready to take back your life, you can try a self-guided CBT experience with an iPhone app like the one at http://www.liveOCDfree.com or by using a book like “Stop Obsessing!” by Edna Foa or “Freedom from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: A Personalized Recovery Program for Living with Uncertainty” by Dr. Jonathan Grayson.
You describe the torture of OCD very well, Jackie. It hurts to remember feeling that bad, and it hurts to know that others are feeling like that right now. Thanks for being a light in the dark for a lot of people.
I know … it breaks my heart to think of others in that same place! Thank YOU for doing what you do, Tina, in shedding light on OCD!!
Excellent post Jackie with great recommendations. You are the “poster child” for OCD recovery! Thanks for spreading the word! I’m sure you are helping a lot of people.
Thanks, Janet. I know you know what I mean when I say that sometimes it feels like we’re just shouting into the void. There is still so much to be done … but I am truly grateful for each individual who is saved from this torture!!
Love your blog Jackie. It is awesome to see that you are so passionate about others.
It is really cool that you can distinguish your OCD from YOU. I’ll be honest… I haven’t been able to do that.
Thanks for all you do!
Someday soon, AJ. I believe it’s coming for you!
I currently am being tormented by thought related ocd nearly ever hour I’m awake. I thought it’d gone away years ago, but now it’s back and seems to just evolve every time I try to defeat it…
I’m just so sick of this. I don’t know how much longer I can go on at this rate, but I guess I have no choice.
Elizabeth, I am so sorry to hear that! I can totally relate. I spent years spinning my wheels that way.
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I’m a British Muslim with very severe OCD and have spent time in a mental institution due to the disorder. I find your blog truly inspirational and so accurate in its depiction of the mental agony caused by OCD. I used to be someone of faith but everytime I have reached out to god to help me cope with my OCD I have been bitterly disappointed. From feeling betrayed by god I have now almost lost faith in him and am teetering on the edge of atheism. I just can no longer understand how god could still exist after just leaving me to suffer for so long, literally crying and begging for help. I have no clue how you reconciled your relationship with god as I just think the hurt and sense of betrayal have been too much for me to overlook.
Hello Ihsan, I’m so sorry to hear about the agony that OCD has caused you– it is one of the most devastating, damaging disorders I know of, and my heart truly hurts for you, my friend.
You bring up a fascinating question about faith. I am a Christian, and I believe that Jesus Christ is God’s only son, and it’s actually the story of the cross and the resurrection that have allowed me to cling to my faith. Believing that a) my God understands my suffering because of the cross and b) that I can have hope in suffering because I know what happened after the cross (the resurrection). I will be very, very honest with you: without the gospel of Christ, there would not be an easy way for me to reconcile or justify my continued faith. Not that this way is particularly easy, but I believe it to be true with all my heart, and that is how I can love and cling to God in spite of the agony that OCD has caused me.
I’m having awful awful thoughts with my OCD. I’m a christian, and recently became a Lutheran. The beautiful thing about faith is that God is the giver of faith and the holy spirit draws us to him. God does all the work. I know somewhere deep inside Crist did die and rise again and has forgiven my sins. BUT, I feel like I don’t believe. I still pray, I still ask forgiveness for my sins, but I feel scared like I have lost my faith or lost my belief in God completely. I don’t know how this happened. I am on the same medication I’ve been taking which helped my OCD and my faith struggles, and now all of a sudden it has come back HARD. I feel empty and alone. If Christ didn’t die and didn’t rise from the dead my life is meaningless. If God is not real there is no such thing as sin and no such thing as evil. I can comprehend that the law comes from God but yet at the same time my OCD is messing with my beliefs. The only comfort I cling to is that God draws me to him and is the giver of my faith as a gift. I just keep telling myself this is my OCD, this is my OCD. It’s like I’m in a coma. I have faith yet I can’t snap out of where I’m at in the now. I want to scream! If you wouldn’t mind, please pray for me. I really want my medication to start working again 😦
Yes, I will certainly pray, friend. I can relate to all your concerns– they were once mine! Thankfully, exposure and response prevention therapy (ERP) broke OCD’s power over me. I can’t recommend it enough. I am closer to God than ever before.
Can relate to the bit about doubting if i had it. And yes i get scared like something bad would happen if i didn’t. OCD ain’t fun.
The worst part of ocd is that it’s in your head. It’s thoughts and thoughts are something that you can’t stop, it’s all about how you handle them, but it gets to a point when you can’t handle them, that is when you seek for help and overcome the terrible thoughts.
I so appreciate this post. I am a mother of three and again pregnant with my fourth child. After the birth of her third child about a year and a half ago this battle came on me full force. I was able to get through the time I did take medication, but I’m not sure if that was the helper or the ability to release the thoughts. I am being tormented about them again now. I am not on medication and have not been and I’m contemplating if I need that to help, but I am very strong in my faith. It is always been everything to me and everything that has gotten me through everything. I started having intrusive thoughts about the kids again and was able to get past those, but started having doubts about God and whether not he really exists. This is so hard to train and I don’t know how with therapy because I want to pray I want to read my Bible but the doubts continue to come and I start believing that they may be real. It scares me to death and it’s pushing me away from God and I don’t want that at all and I keep screaming out to him that he would rescue me from this. I’m at a loss of how to tackle this one. Any advice or experience that you had with this as I see that you’re also a believer would be very helpful. Thank you so much.
Hi friend, God ultimately rescued me from OCD in 2008 through exposure and response prevention (ERP) therapy, which is the frontline treatment for OCD. You can learn tons more about it at http://www.jackieleasommers.com/OCD. There’s even information about how to do exposure therapy on your own if you can’t afford to meet with a professional. Blessings!!
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Hi there, this has been so encouraging to me. Everything you have explained is identical to what I have been experiencing. Time and time again I find myself researching this topic to find relief, but the OCD and anxiety only stops for a little while then soon comes back. I definitely need to intervene, this has been going on for six months now and I haven’t been able to gain victory. I’m just wondering about the app you suggested, I noticed it’s around $40 or so. I just wanted to hear your thoughts about it before making the purchase.Thank you so much for your wonderful resources. God Bless!
Hi Larissa, I’m so glad to hear my blog has been an encouragement! Honestly, before purchasing the app, I would recommend checking out a book from the library about ERP therapy and giving it a go without the app. I think the app is cool, but it’s certainly not necessary!
Thank you so much, I’ll give it a go!
This is GREAT, Larissa. A huge step. Very proud of you.
I feel so hopeful now to see someone recovered from this! Now my thoughts only come suddenly out of no where. they don’t scare me anymore as they used to but I’m get scared that because I don’t feel guilty about them that they are me. I still have the doubt in my mind of “what if I did”. All I want is to be able to feel Gods presence again and the Holy spirt. but I worry I won’t be able to get it back. how was your recovery process and feelings u went through?
Hi Jennifer! My recovery process was all through exposure therapy, which you can read about (extensively!) at http://www.jackieleasommers.com/OCD! 🙂 Blessings!!!
Hi Jackie –
I think I have OCD but my therapist I am seeing says that I just have obsessional anxiety. She doesn’t offer ERP or CBT therapy (maybe a little bit of CBT) just regular talking therapy. I feel like I need to find therapist that will help me. I have dealt with many obsession phases through out my life. I have even dealt with the intrusive thoughts about if god was real. And let me tell you that was HELL. As of right now I’m also dealing with HOCD with what started as ROCD. Any suggestions in finding an OCD specialist that will properly diagnose me and get me on the right track?
Hi Amber, yes indeed! I would recommend starting with the International OCD Foundation’s website– they have a database of providers there as well as information about what to look for in an OCD specialist, info about support groups and local affiliate groups too: https://iocdf.org/about-ocd/finding-help/
P.S. For whatever it’s worth, I think that you’re making the right decision here. Very wise.