Healthy Doubt Versus Unhealthy Doubt

This is what I am struggling with now. As I am trying to tackle my scrupulosity through therapy, I am often caught in the obsession of “Is this OCD? or do I really think this?”

My therapist is starting me small and wants me to say “this is OCD” whenever I have a doubt concerning my faith and just sit with that realization. But I am having a hard time with even this simple task because I’m afraid a thought won’t be OCD and I am labeling it wrong. After all, as Christians we are supposed to be inquisitive and curious to deepen our knowledge. I am afraid I won’t be able to recognize an OCD doubt and a real doubt when it comes to say, reading a book or hearing a sermon that doesn’t sit right. Because right now, nothing sits right. Everything feels wrong, sounds wrong. It’s a very lonely feeling that I struggle to share. Because someone who doesn’t understand could take my questions or doubts wrong and reassure me in unhelpful ways.

I have just restarted my therapy after a bit of a break (me avoiding treatment because of the anxiety) and I already feel hopeless. Scrupulosity is so different from my harm OCD. So many uncertainties that my OCD takes and runs with. I am already exhausted.

 

This is a great little article and I intend to look into this book.

ocdtalk

crossing NYC street

This post first appeared on my blog in August 2013….

I’ve previously written about how I used to scrutinize my son Dan, trying to decipher which of his behaviors were OCD related. I finally realized my intense involvement in his life was doing us both more harm than good, and I was able to let go and just trust my son.

What I wasn’t aware of at the time is that sometimes those who deal with obsessive-compulsive disorder aren’t sure themselves if their thoughts and behaviors are related to their disorder. Because those with OCD often have good insight in regard to their illness, I just assumed they knew when what they were thinking or how they were acting was OCD based. However, from reading blogs and connecting with people, I realize this isn’t always the case.

So how do we know if certain feelings and/or actions are related to…

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#OCDPoem #1

 

here

it comes,

an ambush

of obsessions,

untold questions push

my limits to the brink.

no truth left to hold me up.

where does my help come from,

when nothing seems real?

can’t step forward.

can’t step back.

I stand,

stuck.

 

© Caitlin Gramley

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I want to show what OCD and scrupulosity is like for me. I’ve tried so hard with drafts of informative posts, but nothing seems to quite hit the mark. So, for now, I am going to show glimpses of what it’s like for me through poetry. #OCDpoems.

 

This is in response to dVerse

 

I Just Need a Moment…or Two

 

I let the water fall over me
not hot enough to burn but turned up enough to hurt a little
to overpower the pain of the voices
the thoughts that pelt my mind
like pea sized hail in constant down pour
puncturing tiny holes in my sanity

 

I let out a whispered scream
don’t want to wake my husband and toddler
napping down the hall
my two boys are playing some game downstairs
but they might as well be right outside the door
their whiny voices

“Get your leg off me!”
“Ow!”

carry up the stairs penetrating my moment of solitude

I scrub at my scalp
wishing I could peel it off and massage my brain
maybe then it would relax
and give me peace, if only for a little while

I crank up the heat a bit more
Stopping at ‘pink skin hot’
I need a few more minutes

 

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This is my entry for day Ten of NaPoWriMo. It’s a day late but it took me a while to get what I wanted to say to come out right.

Prompt:  “write a poem of simultaneity – in which multiple things are happening at once”.

Exposures

My mind

Holds onto fears

Folds them up and keeps them

Forever

 

I was born this way

But I can break this code

Rewire

And freely live

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Written for #wispwrit

Prompt: Born

Mental Health Monday – Scrupulosity

I had read on a few blogs online from other OCD sufferers that OCD can effect one’s faith. I did not , however, know that there was a term for it or that it was it’s own condition.

Scrupulosity : “A form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) involving religious or moral obsessions. Scrupulous individuals are overly concerned that something they thought or did might be a sin or other violation of religious or moral doctrine.” –IOCDF

When I went to my first therapy appointment recently, she asked me when I started to notice my depression coming back. I thought for awhile and said it was a year ago, when I started to doubt my faith. She asked me to explain my doubts and fears about it. As the session went on, I explained my OCD thoughts and compulsions, not realizing that the religious stuff was at all linked to my OCD.

After a while she finally stopped writing notes, looked up, and said that I definitely have OCD with emphasis on scrupulosity. After she explained that OCD is sometimes called the doubting disorder and that it lies and attacks everything we love and everything we are, it all started to make sense.

My whole life has been about God. I grew up in church, I became a christian at age 5, I was active in youth group and strong in my faith as a teenager. My whole relationship with my husband was based on our faith together and before started dating  we spent a month in prayer and seeking God’s will for our lives. If He didn’t exist, if my whole life was based on one big lie, then what does that leave me with? Does that mean my choices were all wrong? What purpose does life have? I was completely lost and alone and I felt like I could tell no one. No wonder depression had taken over my life.

Practicing my faith became very hard over the past year. I doubted everything I thought and everything I heard about God. I started tuning out the pastor’s sermons because with everything he said there was this little voice that would contradict and pick and cause doubt.

If I tried to pray, I was convinced God wouldn’t hear me because I doubted. I didn’t read the bible because I could no longer accept anything it said.

I was in the praise band and every time I played I would be berating myself inside.

“How can you be leading worship when you’re not even sure you believe what you are singing? All these people look at you and hold you to this standard that you are failing to meet. They think you are this great christian woman. You are a fraud.”

After a while I couldn’t do it anymore so I pulled myself out of praise band. I was letting everyone down and they had no idea why.

But now that I know there’s a reason for this doubt, that this is not me but my OCD, I can start to fight back.

I will be starting ERP soon. It is going to be a slow process. My therapist said it might be a while before we can address my faith based obsessions because they are huge and we need to start very small. But it gives me hope that I will one day be able to have a relationship with God again.

For now, I am going to take a small step on my own. After being out of the band for a while and not being able to play christian music, I am going to try to play a song for the Christmas season. I can’t promise I’ll succeed, but I am going to try and push through even when OCD is screaming in my head. I am not going to let OCD ruin who I am.

I know God is real. I know he sees my heart through all the doubt in my mind.

OCD lies. That is the truth that will keep me pushing forward.

ERP – A New Journey

Yesterday I had my first session with a counselor who specializes in Depression, Anxiety, and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

Confession

One of the reasons I put off going to see a specialist (besides bad experiences and lack of finances) was that I knew that getting better, truly attacking OCD where it hurt, would mean going through Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) therapy. I follow many blogs and have read many articles and they all say the same thing. ERP is the best way to treat OCD. But the thought of exposing myself to my fears and doubts terrified me and thus I used the excuse “I don’t have the money and it’s way too expensive.” So I put it off and continued to get worse.

 

But after these recent dark weeks I knew I had to push through and take the first steps to getting better. I had no Idea how I was going to pay for it as we are currently struggling financially due to some unfortunate circumstances. But God saw the struggle I was in and even though I have been doubting Him and everything He is, (this, as it turns out, is a facet of my OCD) He has graciously provided for me through my church as well as other ways.

Sitting in that room with the counselor and listening to her explain how my OCD worked and how she can treat it was eye opening. I already knew some of what she talked about but hearing it from her seemed to help me come to terms with my disorder and be willing to commit to ERP.

I am so fortunate and greatful to have a great support system. I had my husband, a close friend, a mentor, and a few fellow Christians praying for me yesterday and I could feel it. There was such a peace when she spoke and i felt like I was exactly where God wanted me to be.

This new journey is going to be hard. I know that it may get worse before it gets better, but I have to be willing to go through the pain of demolition before rebuilding can happen.

 

Mental Health Monday – Seeking Help

Some of my readers may have noticed that I have been away from my blog for a while.

The truth is I was am in a dark place. I sunk so deep into myself that I could not see the light. I felt like I was trapped inside my mind clawing hopelessly at the walls of my skull.

My thoughts were so twisted I didn’t know what was real. My beliefs were shaken. Truths that I have know my whole life felt wrong.

The anxiety overwhelmed me. I felt like there was something wrong when there was no danger.

My OCD was in overdrive.

I had thoughts of not wanting to be here anymore.

 

Confession

I have not been seeing a therapist for quite a while because of a bad experience with the last one. It’s been over a year since I’ve sought out help. I had it under control though.  My depression had gone away due to diet and lifestyle changes. I was doing great. Until I wasn’t.

 

Taking action

After two breakdowns and a major panic attack I finally reached out to a close mentor a few weeks ago and after hearing my doubts and fears out loud I realized I needed to do something about them and soon. So I sought out a qualified therapist to deal with my conditions. Unfortunately I live in a tiny town with very little good-quality mental health resources so I had to look in towns an hour or more away. But I found a therapist that I’m hoping will be able to help me.

Today

Today is my fist session. I am so nervous because I have trust issues when it comes to therapists due to past experiences. I can’t let that stop me, although right now I want to crawl into a ball and “forget” about my appointment. The depressed little girl in me just wants to hide away where it’s dark and safe.

 

I am hoping that this therapist is the right fit for me because I don’t know if I have it in me to search out another one.

 

 

 

You can’t Ignore Me

Don’t go to sleep yet, sweet one.

Silly naive girl. You can’t ignore that nagging feeling you have.

Get out of bed and check the front door.

Again.

Again.

Again.

What about the stove? Go back down and make sure it’s off. You don’t want the house to burn down, do you?

That’s a good girl.

Lift those heavy lids, my darling. You didn’t say your prayers. You know that if you don’t say them just right your family’s deaths will be your fault.

Come on, start over. You drifted off a bit.

Start again.

No! No! No!

You said the names in the wrong order.

Start again.

That’s better.

Check the clock.

3:00am

You have to be up at six.

I’ll see you then.

 

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This story nabbed an Honorable Mention over at Flash! Friday. This excites me not only because there are so many talented writers (who, I can admit, are intimidating to compete with) every week that I consider it a privilege to be among the few chosen ones, but also because of the deeply personal subject I chose to write about. Last week was OCD Awareness Week and I submitted a few pieces to different competitions that had OCD themes, showing what it’s really like to have this disorder. I am elated that our wonderful judges Foy S. Iver and Holly Geely were able to see the true meaning behind this story. They seemed to be able to relate to it , whether it be from personal experience or second hand from a dear loved one (I don’t know for sure).

This disorder is so watered down in many cultures that it has become a joke. I am so glad that I can use my writing as a tool to spread awareness as I continue to fight the stigma attached to OCD.

Here are the judges wonderful comments on my story.

FI: I love a left-fielder! The ‘cost of obsession’ was a popular element but “You Can’t Ignore Me” sucks you in, almost convincing you that the voice is inside your skull. The syntax drives that impulse to heart-root, compelling you to get up and check the stove (did I turn it off?), or the lock (maybe I only thought I turned it). For me, it resurrected dead memories of compulsive prayers whispered in the dark, never good enough for the ears of God. Absolutely gripping, friend.

HG: You…wow…Whether or not it was the writer’s intent, this story captures the essence of Obsessive Compulsive disorder. I had to take a moment after I read this one, it strikes so close to home. Beautifully done.

 

 

 

The Cure – #Fieryverse

Photo Credit: Matt Brown via CC2.0

Photo Credit: Matt Brown via CC2.0

Where is the cure

for my obsessions?

the exit for this maze?

the solace for my weary soul?

Am I to be forever tormented?

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Written for #Fieryverse

Prompt: The Cure

Micro Bookends FIVE FAMILIES

Photo Credit: Enric Fradera via CC.

Photo Credit: Enric Fradera via CC.

For last week’s Micro Bookends I was inspired twice! That almost never happens. The bookends were FIVE and FAMILIES/FAMILY. Here are my two stories.

 

Less Than One Percent

 

“Five days? But it’s not possible, is it? I had a vasectomy.”

“Hold on…. Google says there is a less than one percent chance. Oh my goodness! Look at all these stories of pregnancies after vasectomies!”

“Did you take a test?”

“No, but I have one in my purse.”

“Well, what are you waiting for?”

“I’m not going to take a pregnancy test in a restaurant bathroom!”

“Why not? Aren’t you dying to know?”

“But knowing will make it real. Six kids, Brett! I do not want six!”

“It could just be stress from moving.”

“Stress. Yes, maybe. I can’t believe I ever wanted a big family.”

 

Mia’s Job

 

“Five, six, seven, eight.”

Wait, that’s not good enough. Go back and start over.

“Again?”

You paused on seven.

“No I didn’t.”

Are you sure?

“Yes…. I think.”

If you didn’t do it right, your sister will die.

“That doesn’t make sense. You’re lying”

Want to chance it? If she dies, it will be your fault. Now start over and DON”T step on a crack.

“But I’ve recounted 6 times, I’m already late, and people are watching.”

It doesn’t feel right though, does it? She will die; deep down you know it.

“You’re right. Ok. One, two, three…”

That’s it. Remember, it’s your job to save your family.