Faith In Christ

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

     Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: a disorder in which the individual is beset with obsessions, compulsions or both and suffers anxiety and/or depression through failure to think through the obsessive thoughts or perform the compelling acts. Obsessive Compulsive disorder is an anxiety disorder that pertains to the part of the brain the warns you of danger. The disorder causes this part of the brain to overreact. OCD attaches itself to whatever the person loves or fears the most, such as family, germs, death or God. This also causes horrific or unwanted thoughts, which I will cover more later. The United Nations’ World Health Organization ranks Obsessive Compulsive Disorder high among the most disabling of all illnesses in terms of the monetary and personal cost. Millions of people have their lives dominated by some form of OCD. The older and mature the person with OCD gets the more "mental" it becomes. Such as unwanted thoughts instead of touching a doorknob. Here is a few examples of some common forms of OCD, with different aspects outlined in each story.

      Sally is afraid of germs, and she has OCD as well. She spends hours washing her hands, washing and washing, "just to make sure she got them all." Even after 45 minutes of hand washing, she still isn't quite sure that she got them all, so she starts again. Even after her hands are raw she keeps going. If she's not at home, she brings hand sanitizer wherever she goes. Her fear is germs and uncleanliness, this fear causes her to obsess, and then she spends unneeded amounts of time washing, which is her compulsion.

   Bill had persistent fears about committing a sin. Terrified of God's wrath, he would spend hours in church, confessing to his priest, trying to convince him that some thought or feeling he had was leading him straight to hell. After mass, he would come to the front every time, asking to be lead in the prayer of absolution again and again. Unable to accept God's love and forgiveness, he finally just gave up on church altogether. His religious obsessions then turned to an overwhelming attention to detail, fueled by a fear of disaster. He had images of something terrible happening, and of it being all his fault. Bill lost his ability to drive because of fears that he might have an accident and injure a child. He lost his job because he spent hours checking and rechecking details; as a result he made no progress on his projects and was late all the time. Eventually, he fell into a deep depression, his life having degenerated into a series of fears and rituals, repeated over and over again.

Source: http://www.suite101.com/external_link.cfm?elink=http://brainphysics.com/ocd/ocdchristian.html

     As you can see, the fears these people have are irrational, they are afraid of things that will never happen or things they will never do. Here are a few symptoms of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

  • Repeated washing
  • Obsessive checking and double checking
  • Repetitive touching
  • Fear of left and down, and favor of up and right
  • Mental counting, doing something 2,3 7 or 12 times or some other "Safe" number
  • Compulsive confessions
  • Asking for reassurance frequently
  • Thinking about topics with no answer
  • Checking locks
  • Rewriting words over and over
  • Need for extreme order and symmetry
  • Intrusive thoughts
  • Excessive list making
These are but a few of many ways that OCD can manifest in ones life. However, just because you see one of these in your life doesn't necessarily mean you have OCD. The difference is when it's when it becomes an interference to your daily life and causes an amount of distress that causes anxiety and or depression. So why am I writing about Obsessive Compulsive disorder on a Christian website? Even if you don't have it, someone you may love or someone in your congregation might.

Scrupulosity

     Scrupulosity is a form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder that plagues people who want to please God. For them, the unwelcome thoughts or images feature God or the devil and the compulsions feature the need to keep seeking assurance of salvation or praying for excessive amounts of time. Scrupulosity often involves mistakenly thinking that innocent or unavoidable things are sin and so feeling needlessly guilty. As previously mentioned, when scrupulosity turns to obsessive thoughts it can generate upsetting, and uncontrollable blasphemous thoughts or images about God, Jesus or the Holy Spirit.

      Just as many people with OCD need to keep checking locks or washing their hands, others can't stop obsessing over blasphemous thoughts that they hate. Others can't stop doubting their salvation or worrying about committing a sin. Scrupulosity has been called “pathological doubt, or the doubting disease.” OCD sufferers do something simple. They do something such as locking a door or turning off an oven or a light, or even asking God to save them. Then they doubt that they did it right so they repeat it over and over again. Scrupulosity usually manifests itself in one of two ways, doubting or unwanted thoughts.

Unwanted Blasphemous thoughts

     Let me start off by saying that unwanted thoughts are not sin. You have these thoughts and they horrify and disgust you. God knows your heart, and he knows you detest these thoughts. Why are they coming back then? Well as I've previously stated, OCD latches on to whatever we love the most in life. The reason they keep returning is because we are so horrified by them. It's like holding a gun up to someone's head and telling them to not let their heart rate go up or you'll shoot them or like saying that you will shoot someone if they think of pink elephants. They will be so scared to stop having the thought that it will always be on their subconscious. The thought comes because we are terrified. Unlike common phobias, OCD is unique. People with phobias can escape their fear by distancing themselves. OCD however, is different, you aren't able to hide from your own mind.

     Normal Christians get these thoughts, but they can easily dismiss them as nonsense. But if you tell someone that they will go to hell if they have a certain thought, they will be so terrified that they won't stop thinking about it! The thoughts come back because you are scared of them. The devil can easily use this, and make this whole thing worse as well, which I'll cover later. These thoughts are not a sin to someone who doesn't want them in the first place. These blasphemous thoughts are just fears that concern you to the point of dread. Don't let these thoughts scare you, they aren't your thoughts, they are just an over reactive part of your brain.

   Now I will finally describe how to stop these thoughts. I myself have had blasphemous thought phases. Their are many ways to treat them, but just remember these things.

  1.  These aren't my thoughts
  2. Disliking these thoughts is the exact opposite of enjoying them
  3. My concern over these thoughts is proof that I don't want them!
  4. Everyone has these thoughts but....
  5. The thoughts return because I fear them
  6. The thoughts are not sins, I'm being tempted just as Jesus was
  7. God knows my heart
  8. God is love, and He loves me
  9. Jesus died for all of my sins, and I'm eternally secure in his hands
     In the end of this section, I will discuss the treatments that help in all cases and areas of OCD. I now want to move on to the kind of Scrupulosity that dominated my life more so than the thoughts.

Doubting Disease

    People with OCD are very critical. We want to know things are 100% correct and that we are right. Glenn Miller describes it like this.  "We as OCD types always assume that some fact is gonna blindside us, and we are terrified of uncertainty. As OCDers, we HAVE to feel ‘in control’ of the environment. We have to create safety, where no ‘surprises’ can arise....."

   Here is how it happened with me. I began to wonder why Jews don't believe in Jesus. I read so much and it scared me. All those Jewish scholars and I couldn't even read the original Hebrew! I no longer felt secure with the scriptures that lead me to belief. I researched for 7 months and bought numerous books, and I even book marked about 30 websites. I soon found out the deception that was used by these anti missionaries, and I found evidence that refuted them easily. This can be seen in my Isaiah 53 piece. But even after I found and discussed and studied these answers I was still doubting. I already knew the answers to my doubts, but I kept doubting them anyway. Now that I look back, I see that it was like me checking a lock over and over again to make sure it was locked. I was checking and rechecking the prophecies and apologetics to create assurance. I felt scared and scarred from when I first heard these objections, so I began to try to create safety by checking over and over again. I wanted to know 100% that I was correct.

   Shortly after this, I began to question my salvation. I wanted to be sure I was saved, so I prayed and asked Jesus to come into my heart and save me again. Well, the next day, I prayed again to make sure. Then the next day I did it again. But oh, I worried that I didn't pray right or that I did something wrong so I would do it again. I did this for about two weeks. Just like the lock, I kept checking and rechecking my salvation, because I wanted to be secure.

    What I finally realized is that the prophecies won't change while I'm away. The interpretations I found and seen didn't change over night! Neither did my salvation! So how did I overcome the doubt aspect? I did it in steps.

  1.  Identify the doubt, do not hide it
  2. If you don't have answers, find them
  3. After finding information, analyze it fully, make sure to understand it.
  4. Find your answer

     Now at this point, you need to cut yourself off from steps 1-4. Take the Resurrection for example. You researched history to find out that the only the Resurrection can explain the flow of history and the miracles in Jesus name today. You are going to want to check and recheck information so badly, but you already have it in your head. You have answers! We as people with OCD are known to be brutally honest with ourselves, analyzing every last detail. We of all people should know without a doubt we are right because we want to know the truth and know it 100%! So give yourself some slack, you've done research and weighed it accordingly. Give yourself the benefit of the doubt on this one.

     This is the hardest step, because it breaks the cycle that OCD causes. Obsession leads to compulsion which leads to relief which leads to more obsession. We need to cut it off. That's how it stops. After cutting off the OCD flow, you will able to see clearer, and analyze things much easier than before. We can go through times that I like to call "OCD storms" where our minds turn into vacuums and the cycle goes out of control. Once you break the cycle, you'll see some recovery.

     So at this point whenever you feel the OCD doubts coming on, don't jump on a computer or bury your face in a book, just remember that you have found overwhelming evidence of your specific topic, and that you have been honest in judging the evidence. We as OCD types don't really have a choice but to judge fairly am I right? That 100% certainty is a strong number. Now this is where it starts to get hard. We need to stand upon what we have found and have faith in the scriptures and in God.

     As you begin to act in faith, things will become clearer. You will not doubt as much and when you do, you will be able to think clearly for a change. Once our brains get on that OCD track, we begin to lose sight of a lot and we tend to overlook things. Just remember, you can slip back into this cycle easily! You need to be aware of your OCD and be able to tell yourself that God is faithful! At this point I want to move on to more ways to treat OCD in general.

 

Can OCD be cured?

At this point in history, OCD cannot be cured, but it can be treated. I will cover various methods and ways to treat and soothe OCD when it comes around. The first subject I want to discuss is medication. Some people are opposed to medication, but listen to what Grantley Morris has to say:

      When the Bible says there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus and our conscience says there is condemnation, which will we call the liar? Opting for medication declares to the entire spirit realm that you have correctly chosen to regard your conscience as malfunctioning when guilt feelings contradict the basic Christian revelation that Jesus saves from all sin. Scrupulosity can be spiritually crippling. Honor God by doing everything you can to fight it, including taking medication. You might convince yourself that it is “faith” that is keeping you from seeing a doctor, but could it actually be pride or fear?

      Suppose we were missionaries whose vehicle has broken down, thus render us unable to reach the remote peoples we are called to minister to. Would it be honoring to God to refuse to call a mechanic and instead spend years sidelined doing nothing but pray that God “heal” the vehicle? Everyone knows God would expect us to do everything we can to get the vehicle fixed, including seeking human help. What matters is that we leave behind pride and stubbornness and get on with serving God. So why should anyone throw all logic out the door by refusing help from someone who fixes human bodies?

For most illnesses, currently available medical options cannot be guaranteed to work for everyone. Except for a revelation from God himself, however, you will never know how much it could help you unless you try it. If medication works for you, it could help you successfully concrete the truths of this webpage into your life. (Not to be sold. © Copyright, 2007, Grantley Morris. Not to be copied in whole or in part without citing this entire paragraph. Many more compassionate, inspiring, sometimes hilarious writings by Grantley Morris available free at the following internet site www.net-burst.net Freely you have received, freely give.)

     I myself take medication and it has helped me enormously. I have been weening off of it now, and I will eventually stop taking it as my brain begins to function as it should. You can do the same as well, take it and then ween off slowly. If medication interests you,you should speak with a doctor or a guardian. If anything, it will help you see clearly for a while so you can exercise your ability to mentally fight the OCD.

 

There are alternatives to medication however. Many vitamins are helpful to treat OCD as well! I recommend taking a multi-vitamin to cover all your bases.

  •  Iron helps to fight anxiety, please use caution though, too much Iron can cause health problems!
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Potassium
  • Selenium
  • Garlic!
  • Flax seed oil
  • Omega 3 fish oil
  • All B vitamins

 So I would recommend taking doctor prescribed medication, accompanied with a multivitamin. At the same time, use the techniques described above to train yourself. Finally, relax. Smile! Even forcing yourself to smile is beneficial. It helps, believe me. Now you need to relax and have some fun for once! 

     I am always available to talk or explain more. I'm just an E-mail away and I check everyday! If you want to talk to a community of Christians who have OCD I recommend this group

 http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/the_scrupe_group/

A  Blessing in Disguise

     So as I was writing, I began to reflect on how my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder shaped my faith. The story is common among many Christians with OCD. Excessive doubt and spiritual hardship. I began to see why in the long run, that OCD is beneficial to the believer. I can always stand on the ground that I have investigated every fact and every opinion, challenging my faith from every angle, only to find that I was right. We as people with OCD have "perks." We make great fact finders, even though we may not be confident in ourselves. We search for truth and follow only what is truth, even if it is sometimes confusing. We go through times of great hardship, only to refine our faith. Those with OCD have faith that makes the angels rejoice. We hang on, even if our minds scream that we are damned or condemned. 

     It's so hard, but when we finally get through it, we can look back and see the great triumphs and strides that we made. Glenn Miller provides his insight:

"This process, [OCD], is GREAT for making us SMART and SWIFT, but that doesn’t help us on the inside… but when God starts to use it (later in life), then you can be thankful for all the factors that ‘accidentally created’ it."

    When I go through these OCD periods, my mind becomes a vacuum, and I begin to look for evidence, facts or apologetics. As I've states elsewhere, I have about 54 websites bookmarked that are about apologetics. OCD is good at making us smart. It drives us to find answers. When we finally get through these periods of darkness, we can look back at what we found with clarity and be amazed at what we found!  (I for one noticed this, because I tend to overlook things when my brain is amped up on the OCD cycle.) Then we are able to share this information with others, which is what I've decided to do.... This very process builds faith in the long run...

    Faith unchallenged is barely faith at all. Real faith is hanging on when your mind is screaming at you to give up. Real faith doesn't count on the "warm fuzzy feelings." Real faith relies on trusting God in the midst of darkness when you can't tell up from down. Obsessive compulsive disorder is nothing except a refining process that makes our faith in gold. It does takes pressure to make a diamond.