Happy Friday Friends!
I promised myself that once I made it through to the other side of the dark cloud of anxiety, I would tell my experiences so that some other obsessed Googler will happen upon them and be comforted.
Today I want to talk about the searchlight of OCD. OCD is an anxiety disorder in which the individual has repeated unwanted thoughts and is compelled by those thoughts to carry out certain behaviors to reduce or get rid of the thoughts temporarily.
Everyone, with or without OCD, has strange thoughts run through their mind. When waiting for a train at the station any given person may have a strange thought like, “What if I jumped in front of that train?”
But while the person without OCD immediately dismisses the thought and moves on with their day, there is a fear response that happens in the mind of the person with OCD. This fear response leads them to feel that there is significance to the thought. They begin to obsess about the train and may start to avoid train stations. They would then develop compulsions to deal with the obsessions in their mind. They may only walk into the train station at exactly 3:04 pm and stand 34 feet away from the train tracks until the train arrives. They do this because these numbers when added equal seven, a number that they have deemed safe. When the train arrives they take 25 steps up to the door making sure they sit in the seventh seat from the front.
As obvious as this all seems, someone can live for years in mental anguish without even knowing that they have OCD. The obsessions and compulsions are just a part of everyday life. It isn’t until trauma occurs or hormonal change like pregnancy occurs that the fear and anxiety becomes too unbearable to take on alone.
When I was struggling with OCD, I was sure that I had a reason to be so anxious about all of the things that I was obsessing about. Everywhere I looked there was proof. I couldn’t watch the news or be on the internet without having an anxiety attack that my fears were moments away from coming true. I couldn’t get through a conversation without crying because whomever I was speaking with never failed to say something that validated my worries. My stomach was constantly in knots and I felt that at any moment the proverbial piano was going to fall from the sky and crush me!
I shouldn’t have waited so long to get help but I did. I waited until I couldn’t shower for more than a few minutes without having to get out. On numerous occasions, I had to pull over to the side of the road and contemplate calling my husband to come to get me. Every time I walked into a grocery store everything would blur and I would feel like my legs were going to give out. Now not only did I have the focus of my obsessions to worry about but I thought I was dying too! The symptoms of anxiety are so physical!
I finally went to the doctor with dizziness and shortness of breath. The doctor asked me what was going on and of course, I burst into tears. He told me that he would do some blood work but that nothing was wrong with me. It was all in my head. I made an appointment to see a counselor the next week. God literally healed me through His word and this woman. I will tell you all the things that helped me because where I was, I never want anyone to be! So let’s begin with the searchlight.
See, all of this proof that I had for believing what I believed, as real as it was at the time, it was just my mental searchlight. When we are anxious our minds begin looking for proof of what we are worried about… and it finds it! So our anxiety grows and grows because we will keep seeing proof that isn’t really there.
So if this is you, next time you are watching TV or talking with a friend and that fear rises up inside of you because you are finding proof that your fears are valid, know that your mind is looking for that proof; no one else would see it. And second, make the conscious effort to find proof of the opposite. It takes practice but the more you do this the more your mind will begin finding proof of the opposite without you having to try.
I hope this finds you well! But if it doesn’t, know you aren’t alone and there is help to be found.