Recently someone emailed me and asked if my OCD was more about worrying about hell than it was about worrying if God was real, and I had to say honestly that after twenty-five years of OCD, there aren’t a lot of themes I haven’t experienced. Is God real, is Jesus real, is heaven real, is Christianity legitimate, was Jesus really God’s son or was he the devil in disguise, have I committed the unpardonable sin? OCD can cycle through a lot of themes in a quarter of a century.
That’s the thing with OCD: it often doesn’t remain in one place. When I was still in high school– and even into my college years– I kept thinking, “If I could just sort out X, then I would be happy.” So I’d wrestle with X, read books about it, seek reassurance, talk things over with my youth pastor and parents, research things online … and if I was ever able to “solve” it, then … my OCD moved onto Y.
I was in perpetual motion for so many years– but I never got anywhere. It was all spinning my wheels.
Exposure and response prevention ignores the emergencies that OCD is sparking in every corner and goes after the OCD itself. Instead of relying on compulsions, which temporarily help to “solve” individual issues, ERP is like a hitman with a mission to assassinate the OCD.
You can see why one is far more preferable than the other.
My OCD has had many themes, too. It’s interesting how things I once obsessed over fade, and new ones take their place. Attacking the OCD itself is key.
Excellent post, Jackie, and you continue to write eye-opening descriptions of what OCD is like. The bottom line is always the same, though. Kill the OCD. Love your analogy of ERP to a hitman!
Thanks Janet! I spent far too many years trying to solve individual obsessions … now I know better!
Same here. Went through them all. Great post!
Oh Jackie do I relate to this … all the themes you mentioned. I recently saw a psychologist and told him how I’ve been feeling. He said I’ve definitely got an anxiety disorder with OCD tendancies – now was he saying I have OCD or just tendancies? I have gone through (and am going through) the exact things you have and other blogs I’ve read on scrupolosity. I’m just about certain I have OCD, not just tendancies. I’m not even sure if this psychologist does ERP therapy. I’m not sure if I should keep seeing him, he was lovely and kind, but I’m not sure he’s really going to understand. He kept trying to reassure me that God does love me and understands and I’m not going to hell. If only he knew just how much I want to believe that.
Reassuring you will only enable OCD; you need to fight it with exposure therapy. Sounds like your current therapist doesn’t understand how to treat OCD, which is sad but quite common! Find someone who will help you with exposures. It’s the key to beating OCD. From everything you say, it really sounds like you’re dealing with OCD/religious scrupulosity, which is hell on earth, I know. ERP can help!!!
Pingback: HOCD Q&A with Hannah! | Jackie Lea Sommers
Pingback: Question & Dancer: When OCD Makes You Doubt You Have OCD [& More] | JACKIE LEA SOMMERS