Sweet Freedom

freedom in redAlison Dotson, president of OCD Twin Cities, and I were emailing recently about how sometimes we feel as if we say the same thing post after post, article after article, especially since they usually involve our own stories with OCD, and history doesn’t change.

But I reminded her that even if we’ve heard our stories over and over, someone else might be hearing it for the first time. Not to mention that sometimes those of us with OCD need to hear the truth multiple times before it is finally able to sink into our heads and hearts.

So here it is again:

I was in bondage to obsessive-compulsive disorder for twenty hellish years. I was plagued by ugly, intrusive thoughts that caused me intense anxiety and even terror. Many days I felt completely out of control of my own thoughts, and I hated the ugliness that polluted my mind. I was sad, lonely, depressed, lost, engaged in an ongoing war where the battlefield was my own brain.

And then an amazing psychiatrist named Dr. Suck Won Kim gave me not only a prescription but also the phone number to a cognitive-behavioral therapist in the area, along with the warning that ERP therapy “will be hell” and the encouragement that I had to do it anyway.

And I did. For twelve grueling weeks, I practiced the exposure therapy assignments set out by Dr. Christopher Donahue, and after twelve weeks of hell … I was free. Free for the first time since I was seven years old. I could barely even remember what freedom felt like, what it felt like to be master of my own thoughts, to rule over my OCD instead of having it rule me, and so it was actually a little scary at first.

But let me tell you: you get used to freedom, joy, and light pretty darn fast.

The last five years have been magnificent.

Please, please ask me questions if you have them.

For (lots!) more about OCD and ERP, go to jackieleasommers.com/OCD

Image credit: Jesus Solana

eternal life

Price: “Eternal life is not a substance, it is a Person, and it is enjoyed by knowing the Person.  It is knowing God and knowing Christ.”

I remember reading this in college and having something click inside of me.  It’s not about Heaven.  It’s about JESUS.  Which is why my favorite verse is now John 17:3, which says, “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”

It reminds me that my eternal life has already begun, since I know Jesus now and will continue to know him forever.

For someone who has religious-themed OCD and scrupulosity, this is like a rock beneath my feet.

scrupulosity and the unforgivable sin

Scrupulosity: OCD centered around religious themes.

The story of my life.

The obsession: for many years, my head would repeat blasphemous things over and over, sometimes triggered by certain sounds and sometimes by non-specific phrases about hell, demons, souls, the devil.

The compulsion: I began to repeat one particular phrase– “Father God, I love You”– over and over in my head as a way to stem the other thoughts.

It became very difficult to handle everything that was going on: these blasphemous thoughts would crowd me– I mean, really crowd me (the image I have is of these thoughts bumping and grinding on me like dirty brutes at a dance club), and I’d be warding them off by repeating this repetitive prayer over and over (and over and over and over).  And on the outside, it didn’t look like anything.

Those who were closest to me (dear friends and roommates and family members) knew that I was going through hell, but they couldn’t see the battle that was taking place.  They only knew of it when I told them (or on nights when I broke down sobbing in fear of eternal damnation … thanks for speaking truth to me those nights, Desiree!).

It is hard to describe exactly what it feels like to feel as though you’re wearing a sentence of hell on your shoulders.  Here’s a shot:

Condemnation (or supposed condemnation) is like being in a tank of water with only inches of air at the top.  You have to lean your head back to put your lips to the air, and the whole while you must keep treading water.  There is no opportunity for distraction.  It consumes every moment of your life.

Anyone reading this understand me?

If so, please read this sermon.  I think it might help.  My heart aches for you, but there is hope.  Lovers of Jesus Christ don’tbelong in hell.  Let’s talk.