Give it up to God
What is OCD? From experience, I can tell you it can be a relived nightmare over and over each day and night. Held in a prison of relentless worry, fear, and rituals, one feels isolated and desperate. According to psychologytoday.com, OCD is, “An anxiety disorder that traps people in repetitive thoughts and behavioral rituals that can be completely disabling. Surveys conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health show that 2 percent of the population suffers from OCD—that's more than those who experience other mental illnesses like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and panic disorder. OCD might begin in childhood, but it most often manifests during adolescence or early adulthood. Scientists believe that both a neurobiological predisposition and environmental factors jointly cause unwanted, intrusive thoughts and the compulsive behavior patterns that appease unwanted thoughts.” Intrusive, as though your mind is not your own, and you will is no longer yours.
When It All Started:
At five years old, I recall worrying excessively about germs. I’d wash my hands over and over and over until red and raw. I’d worry that if I didn’t wash my hands, I might cause my family to get sick and die - a heavy burden for a young child to bear. Death was the ultimate end, and I worried about my death and the death of others. Though the OCD quelled, my anxiety continued throughout my childhood. Later, in my late teens, OCD reared it’s ugly head again with a vengeance to destroy me and all I held dear. I worried about hand-washing, doors locked, lights turned off, and stove knobs turned off. I had created a world where I needed to be in control or dire consequences to myself, and others would occur. This dread limited my ability to focus on much else. Psychologytoday.com further notes, “Unless treated, the disorder tends to be chronic—lasting for years, even decades—although the severity of the symptoms may wax and wane over the years. Both pharmacological and behavioral approaches have proven effective as treatments; often a combination of both is most helpful.” Though this is a claim that has perhaps helped others, these interventions did not help me. By the time I got married in my early twenties, I had begun to fear leaving the house as it would only result in obsessing about the events of my day and how much I needed to “fix” problems with ritualistic washing and checking. My burden lasted for 15 years. One of the worst aspects of having OCD: knowing your thoughts were irrational.
Crying Out for Help:
Though I had fervently prayed to God to help me, I remember driving in my car, fitfully crying and screaming to the point that I had to pull over. I sobbed and gave testimony to God that I knew He created me for more than just to worry and wash my hands. Exasperated and exhausted, I just couldn’t and wouldn’t do it anymore. I needed help from Him. I acknowledged that He made my brain, and only He could fix it. I gave it all up to Him - all of it!
It was not a lightning bolt movement. Nor did angels sing, but something very different happened in the days that followed. Given the gift of strength and peace, I let go of the worry, little by little, day by day, and step by step. When I felt the smallest twinge of strength, I used it and walked away from my fears. That strength began to grow. I slowly began to feel I could now choose not to worry, and slowly, I was able to resist the urge to wash over and over. Enough was gradually welling within me. In the weeks that followed, I continued to let my slow-growing strength stop the intrusive thoughts and urge me to check things and wash. I simply said, “I did my best; God will do the rest.” Because I always second-guessed if I had done something right, I would leave a unique token for the day that reminded me that, “Yes, I did turn off the sink.” I leave floss in the sink one evening, a coin by the sink on another. Those small tokens helped remind me that once is now enough—the same with the stove. I’d leave a spoon on top to tell me that evening I checked it, and now it is time to go to bed. I’d then pray.
If I felt the compulsion to check something after retiring to bed, I might ask my husband to check. His brain functioned fine; mine was healing. Again, I gave control to others in my life, and God helped me relax. I was so thankful that He heard me, strengthened me, and gave me the tools and skills to heal.
20 Years Later:
My OCD stemmed from my intense concern for others and wanting to protect them. But in my need for control, I lost control. God restored Feeling forever grateful I can say I am still no longer suffering from OCD. Though I occasionally get a bout of anxiety and may check a couple of times, it is absolutely nothing like it was before. It is manageable and does not take over my life at all. I can say I overcame this trauma and prison of terrible thoughts and rituals. I am free. I have God to thank.
Give Prayer a Try:
If you or someone you know is struggling with OCD, anxiety, or even addiction, try to reach out to God. Try to pray hard for help. An honest prayer in earnest will not go unnoticed. He hears all prayers, big or small, but in great need, He will find a way to help. Don’t give up on Him. He is there, He knows you genuinely, and He does listen. Give it up to God and go forth, enjoying your life. Be you! Be great!