This morning, the OCD monster got up pretty close to when I did. I guess you could generally put it under scrupulosity. It has to do with relationships and being appropriate and fear of not being appropriate. How's that for a general specific definition? Because that's about as specific as I want to get right now. So I was like, "Bring it on. But I don't mean that I want OCD to bring it on, I mean that I'm ready to fight it." Since, obviously, I'd better define my statement, lest something bad happens. Oh, sneaky, was that you, OCD? I was fighting you in another area, and you aren't supposed to switch battle fields. Ha! I know you don't follow that rule.
Anyway, I told myself I was probably one of those bad people planning on doing what my obsession thought I was at risk of doing. I tossed around the idea of trying exposure scripts later (I was getting ready for Church, so my time was limited). At the moment, I was actually planning to do the exposure scripts. But things got better. Maybe my cognitive behavioral response tricks worked. Maybe the meds helped. For sure, I got distracted by other things. And so the battle was won, or at least put on hold.
Then was church. The subject was touchy for me - the passage was a wide open door for a how-to sermon, which my former pastor probably would have given. Remarkably enough, this pastor did pretty well at staying on solid ground and avoiding the slippery how-to slope. But I was pretty agitated. I played with my toy Koala (he's brilliant light green, and he's one of those squishy, textureful toys like the balls with a thousand soft rubber spikes that light up when you throw them on the ground and that squish like an amoeba. There was a time when I tried to keep him hidden in my hands, not letting the world or the church know that I was playing with a toy in church, a stress-release type toy. But by the end of the sermon, I wasn't really caring too much. So what? So what if they see I'm playing with a toy during the sermon. It isn't a complete secret that some people do better with a stress ball or doodling (though I don't usually hear of doodling as a stress reliever, though it is for me).
Anyway, we got through the sermon with no terrible problem. Then I looked at the small groups available. I'll be trying one out tonight. Then I picked up the little packet of papers to help us with self-evaluation of where we are in our Christian life and growth. And then I walked to my car and looked it over. And then (do I sound like a little kid telling a story yet? "And then... and then... and then... ) I looked through the papers. It didn't take long to realize that my depression and anxiety were going to through a monkey wrench into the evaluation. There's a question about whether hope, joy and peace or anxiety and worry manifested themselves in my life. Um, my Anxiety disorder(s?) and Depression are going to get in the way.
So I really thought, today is the day to ask the pastor about his view on mental illness, though my counselor thinks I might get better results if I say "depression and anxiety" instead of "mental illness." However I word it, I'm really wanting to know now. Like, I feel the desire for tears coming up, so this is a really important matter for me. So I returned to church, but the pastor was busy talking. So I chose option B. He should be at the small group tonight.
So here's a question for me; how important is it for me that he or whoever ends up being my small group leader understands mental illness? Is this an issue I could get around? Because I'm liking this church. Anyway, I'm not sure. Maybe I could get around it. Maybe it depends on exactly what their opinion is (there are ways to disagree that are more hurtful and that are less hurtful).
The youth pastor at my other church - the one who moved on to another church - he didn't have too good a grasp on OCD. The time I got into particulars about ERP in the hope for pastoral approval, well, he didn't have the most helpful understanding. But what he did have was this; respect, willingness to listen, and care. He cared about me, he prayed for me, he respected me, he listened to me, he didn't assume he had all the answers, he didn't rush in to judge me. So here was a pastor who didn't have the most helpful understanding of anxiety disorders, yet he was able to support me anyway. That's what I mean by thinking maybe the people at my new church don't have to understand. Maybe they can't understand yet, or don't know enough to understand yet. That's okay. It's maybe more about how they treat me and how they assume or don't assume that they know the answers. Because really? I don't need people to have the answers. I just want them to respect me, trust me, still care about me.
What would you look for if you were looking for a church that would help or at least not hinder you in dealing with your mental illness?