Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Encouragement, followed by a battle with scrupulosity (I won)

Recently, I was there when a pastor in front of a church actually said that it was okay for a person to get therapy and take medication. Of course, I'm not quoting exactly, and I may have way oversimplified what he said and I'm not giving you the context, either. But it meant the world to me. It was like finally feeling acquitted (well, I guess just from myself and/or my OCD and maybe a few people who have said things that hurt; I've never been on trial in a court of law). Do you know just how wonderful it felt? Wonderful enough that I actually got up the courage/persistence/whatever to actually wash and dry and put away all my dishes in my house. That may sound like a small thing to some people, but let me suggest that it hasn't happened in over a month, maybe multiple months (I don't know when the last time I washed them all was). My dish washing or lack there of is remarkably tied to my mental health. (My counselor even said that she uses dish washing as a gage of how well people are doing; if they don't get around to washing dishes like I often don't get around to it, that can indicate a problem, like it seems to for me.)

I had a super exposure recently. Perhaps it will suffice to say that I'm fairly certain 9 out of 10 (or more) of people would think I had done perfectly fine, but my OCD was convinced I had sinned terribly. When I tried to figure out if this act was cutting between me and God, breaking our relationship, it was a solid OCD trap. See, reasoning is hard when your brain convinces you that NOTHING is worth messing up your relationship with God and then suggests that some act you have done is messing up that relationship. So then I moved on to the script stuff. But I was in my car, so I didn't write. I just went with the worst case scenario, which landed me in jail with people sadly shaking their heads that I had stooped so low as to do what I did.

And then, I had a great idea. Most of what I did was a necessary chore, and then there was the act that turned into an OCD exposure. So I decided that I needed to reward myself for completing the chore. I would go to the dollar store and pick something out that I would enjoy that night.

And then, my friends, sarcasm came to my rescue. I went ahead to the dollar store to get something fun for myself so that I could enjoy that last night of freedom from incarceration. Gotta love OCD. But the sarcasm helped so much, because it made the exposure a little easier to bear. I knew that my worst case scenario and sarcastic "planning" to enjoy this night of freedom before going to jail was not realistic, but it enabled me to live with the anxiety of the exposure I was stuck with as a result of disobeying my OCD in that one "terrible" act.

Remarkably enough, my "guilt" (or rather, worrying whether or not I was guilty) has shrunk immensely after exposing myself to my fear. Scrupulosity showing itself yet again to behave remarkably like (as in, a kind of) OCD.


  1. Good for you Abigail! Yes, I totally understand the relief of having a church leader speaking about how its ok if people need therapy and/or medication. For a long time I wondered if God was disappointed with me for needing those things. I don't worry about that anymore.

  2. I'm so glad you were able to hear that in church and that it made you feel better. For a long time, religion was not a friend to my OCD, so I know encouragement like that helps!

    I love the creative way you dealt with the scrupulosity!

  3. Scrupulosity is one of my greatest battles in this life. I am encouraged by this post.

  4. Abigail, you are awesome! What a great victory. And I'm so glad your church is becoming an understanding and loving place for you.