It’s been a while since I have done an update on my anxiety/OCD journey. Here’s the latest! Click the Title to view the video.
It’s been a while since I have done an update on my anxiety/OCD journey. Here’s the latest! Click the Title to view the video.
If you are a Christian who suffers from anxiety, you have more than likely been sent Matthew 6:25 (Do not worry about your life…) If you are like me, and only ended up feeling worse after reading it, join me in reading on in Matthew 6 to the verse below it that we MUST read first.
When doing research for these posts, I came across this article.
The article summarizes and lists the symptoms for OCD. As I read through the symptoms, I thought about how strange recovery actually is even though wonderful at the same time. Though our thoughts eventually become so torturous we have no choice but to seek help, for much of our life, the obsessions and compulsions aren’t torturous and are just our world. When our eyes are opened to reality, it can be uncomfortable, even alarming. The realization that what we have been thinking and feeling for so long is not reality is no doubt a jostling experience. So today, for those you who are experiencing this right now, here is the beauty for the ashes.
She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.
Beauty for Ashes:
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
2 Corinthians 10:5
No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees. Psalm 119:71
Friends, whether you are in the struggle or struggling with the time lost from it, there is good in it all. The time was actually not lost at all, you were being refined. Today, reflect on the beauty that has come from the ashes.
If there is one thing that has been burned into my mind throughout my crazy OCD journey it is this…
There is peace in the pasture.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.[a]
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness[b]
for his name’s sake.
Us humans, we love to try to be the shepherd right? Who doesn’t want to be in charge and not have to answer to anyone? Let me tell you who. You.
Think of a shepherd with his sheep in the pasture. The sheep have everything they need. They have food and water, there is a fence to keep them safe. They have everything they need because of their shepherd who watches over them.
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. John 10:11
Jesus is our good Shepherd. We are His sheep. If you are having a hard time accepting that, I’m telling you, there is NO peace in trying to be your own shepherd. You will find peace as a sheep. And it really is a peace that surpasses all understanding.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7
What is keeping you from submitting? Is it pride? You just want things your way? Friend, here’s your sign, you’re doing yourself in. Is it fear? Are you afraid that if you submit you will not enjoy God’s will? I thought that too! But you can’t let that hold you back. Seriously. No matter what it is. Remember Abraham.
Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. Genesis 22:1
Just do it. Just call to God and say “Here I am!”
Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’ Jeremiah 33:3
Today, just surrender it all. Be a sheep. There is peace in the pasture.
To medicate or to not medicate, that is the question.
Today I want to discuss the topic of medication for anxiety/depression/OCD to hopefully help those of you struggling with this hard decision.
*I am not a doctor. I am just someone who God brought through debilitating OCD with the blessing of counseling and medication. I am sharing my experience for those of you who are either afraid of medication or have fallen victim to the stigma of it.
First, let’s talk about why the decision to take antidepressants is such a hard one to make. One big reason is the stigma given by the ignorant. People have a really hard time identifying with things they haven’t experienced and often times dangerously discredit them. Another reason is that OCD is so darn deceiving making us who suffer from it think we don’t need medication. I refused to take medicine for far too long because I figured “I thought myself into this. I can think myself out.” I believed this because my disorder did not make itself known until I experienced hormonal changes and then trauma in my life. Unaware that hormones played a role (or that I even had OCD for that matter) I believed it was the trauma that caused the intrusive thoughts and feelings so I could definitely just get counseling, talk it through, and eventually they would go away. When they didn’t, it was really helpful to learn that the disorder is genetic. The OCD was there my whole life and the traumas and hormonal changes only caused “flare-ups”. These genetic predispositions are the same ones that keep the alcoholic coming back to the bottle when someone else can have one drink, or why the person who eats right and exercises every day dies at forty of cancer while the smoker lives to ninety.
I am a Christian and I have OCD. I want you to know that you can be a Christian, love the Lord your God, and still suffer from mental illness. This doesn’t mean that your heart is in the wrong place, but it does mean that it is time to draw more near to the Lord than ever.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
This is a fallen world. God has so graciously saved us from death by sending His son in our place. But here, we are being sanctified. Christ has not only saved us from the grave but also refines us to be more like Him! Refinement is not a pleasant experience, guys.
And I will put this third into the fire, and refine them as one refines silver, and test them as gold is tested. They will call upon my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘They are my people’; and they will say, ‘The LORD is my God.’” Zechariah 13:9
And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.
1 Peter 5:10
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4
Most of us consider diseases, birth defects, and disabilities trials but for some reason have a hard time even crediting mental illness as an actual problem though suicide is the leading cause of death in the U.S. And in case you read the previous sentence and think this it is just a western issue, it’s not. We are just the most open about it. Look it up.
When we have a loved one who has cancer, we thank God for chemotherapy and we pray that He heals them through it. When a loved one has a heart condition, we thank the Lord for doctors and surgery and stints. Sure, God can certainly heal miraculously and sometimes does but usually, He draws it out for a purpose.
No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields a peaceful harvest of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:11
If you read this blog, you know I can attest to this. No, I did not enjoy going through the torture of mental illness but I can without a doubt say that if I hadn’t suffered for the duration that I did, I would not be as thankful for Christ as I am, I would not feel as loved by God as I do, and I would not have nearly as much knowledge about OCD to help others who are suffering. The LORD is my God.
Bottom line, if you are being torturously attacked by your mind, I am here to tell you that medication, my friends, is a blessing from the Lord and do not let anyone tell you otherwise.
Now onto what medication will and won’t do for you.
You can read in this post and this post about the nature of OCD. In short, all people, OCD or not, have weird thoughts that sporadically pop into our brains. The difference for the OCD sufferer is that there is an intense fear response that arises afterward “warning” us that we need to pay attention to them when we really don’t. For me, medication dramatically lessened these feelings of fear so that I could finally take my thoughts captive and examine them.
If you have OCD and only take medication without receiving any therapy, you will likely not get better. For me and many others, it is the mix of medication and therapy that led to success. My counselor says you can’t run a race without your shoes. Medication is your shoes. It brings you to a point where you can actually do the work toward lasting success.
It wasn’t until my chemical imbalance was balanced that I realized how many things were affected by OCD.
Not a bad thing! And please don’t stop reading. The next one will be even better news. I know this sounds really terrible for those of you who are currently being tortured by your thoughts but I promise it’s not. Remember, it’s your response to the thoughts that is the issue here. Everyone has strange thoughts but not everyone has loud warnings in their minds begging them to pay attention. If the thoughts weren’t scary, they wouldn’t be scary, would they? But read on!
Medication will drastically quiet the noise. The incessant intrusive thoughts that beat their way through your brain day in and day out will be much less intense. Thank God for antidepressants.
Just as with most medications, antidepressants are no different. For me, the good FAR outweighed the bad. It is just important to keep in mind that it takes these drugs a few good weeks for the therapeutic benefits to kick in so try your best to be patient.
I hope you are well but if you aren’t please do not be afraid to take the help that is available to us. If you are currently suffering, please know that peace is so very possible. Do not let a stigma keep you from it.
Any brave souls want to share their medication before and after stories? 🙂
It’s Friday! In case you are just tuning in, Friday’s around here are all about anxiety relief. Today’s post is for EVERYONE. Those struggling with extreme anxiety, depression, OCD, eating disorders, everyone mentally ill (not as bad as it sounds.) In today’s post, I am discussing YOUR PART in the journey to peace.
If you have been reading this blog any length of time you know that my war cry is to GET HELP. You can click on the Anxious? tab above and probably any post you choose will be urging you to get medical help for your mental illness.
But it is crucial that you know that you have A LOT of work to do on your end. You can’t just go in for an hour appointment once a week or so and expect to get better. A therapist is crucial but their job is to educate and guide you in your journey. Do not underestimate the importance of this. Knowledge really is power and we are not meant to go it alone. I thank the Lord so much for doctors, therapists, and medication. They are truly blessings to all of us.
But here are three things that you must do to make sure that getting help actually helps.
I struggled with anorexia, bulimia, anxiety, depression, and OCD for close twenty years. Geez, when I type it all out like that I was quite the mess. Haha! In those twenty years, I saw five different therapists. One when I was fifteen. One when I was eighteen. One when I was twenty-two. Then two in my thirties. I tried one but then switched to another that was a better fit for me.
So why did most of those bouts of therapy end up unsuccessful? Not because of the therapist. Because of me! It wasn’t until my thirties that I finally wanted to get better. I know that is hurtful to some of you because it was hurtful to me when I heard it back then. But it was true nonetheless. I had so many fears of what would happen when I let go of my disorders. I had no idea what was on the other side. Until you get to the point that you are so sick and tired of living the way that you have been and decide that you will take whatever is next no matter what it is, you don’t want to get better.
Mother’s sending your daughter’s to therapy because you are terrified you will lose them, know that it isn’t a waste of time and money. Many of the things they hear will stick and be applied later on. But do not be discouraged if the therapy is not effective at this time. Because right now, you are the one that wants her better. Don’t give up. Just keep praying that you will both have the same desires soon.
This is crucial. You must tell the therapist what is going in order for them to be able to help you. I think of the times that I went in for a session when I was younger. The therapist would ask “How are you?”, I would say “fine” even though obviously I wasn’t or else I wouldn’t be there. I guess I just expected her to draw my problem out of my head. That’s pretty ridiculous, right? We can’t expect them to help us with things that they don’t even know we are struggling with!
Many times the reason it is so difficult to tell them everything that is going on is because we are embarrassed. When it comes to mental illnesses, things get WEIRD. Most of us experience a lot of shame and are embarrassed to share. Please, let me put your mind at ease. You are not alone my friend. Even if your therapist hasn’t heard your particular weirdism (my friend Sarah’s term), they either have heard something similar or will in the not so distant future. But most likely that have heard your issues before. Really. I need to make a post of a bunch of the weird things that my brain sent my way throughout those twenty years. I’m sure you would at least find it highly entertaining if it didn’t make you feel better about opening up in your sessions. Actually, I just shared one of my weirdisms the other day in this post! Check it out! I was obsessed with the apocalypse. 🙂
Every therapist I saw gave me action steps to do until the next time I came to see them. Until my thirties, I did not give priority to them and therefore it wasn’t until my thirties that the therapy helped. DO THESE. We are all busy. We have many commitments. In my last post, I made a point to stress what we should actually be committing to. This is your wellbeing. DO THE ACTION STEPS.
I hope you all are well but if you aren’t, you are definitely not alone. There is help to be found and hope to be had. Please do not hesitate to ask me to pray for your journey. I would love to and promise I will!
Blessings and peace to you all,
Good Morning Peaches!
I hope you are well, my friends, but if you are not, maybe something in my Friday’s anxiety post will help.
Today’s topic: Assigning meaning.
*Note- What I am discussing in today’s post is going to sound extremely strange to those of you without OCD. It is important to know that though these people are suffering in their minds, they are still intelligent, highly functioning members of society. Your boss, your best friend, the neighbor you wave to daily may very well have OCD and you don’t even know. A person with OCD is aware that what they are experiencing is not normal and want desperately to be better. A silver lining is that your friend with OCD has had to work extremely hard to find out what thoughts and feelings are worth following. They would be a good one to ask if you are looking for advice. 🙂
What does it mean to assign meaning?
We assign meaning when we give ourselves a personalized significance to something. It’s not the meaning. It’s our meaning.
The inclination to assign meaning to things is something that everyone has, not just the person with OCD. But while someone without an anxiety disorder will not be distraught by the meaning they have assigned, the person with OCD will become highly anxious, fearful, and obsessed.
The nature of OCD is to try to bring order in a very disordered way. If you have OCD, you know that numbers play a huge role in the disorder. Our brain brings certain numbers to mind and those become part of our compulsions (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder).
Let’s say that you have assigned meaning to the number seven. You have done so because at some point your brain has given you a signal to pay attention to the number seven. In the person with OCD, these signals are so strong that they are extremely difficult to ignore. Because of these feelings of urgency, they think there must be significance to this number so it becomes a part of there compulsions.
I will detour for a minute to discuss compulsions for those that don’t know what they are.
OCD stands for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. All of us, OCD or not, have random weird thoughts. But there is a fear response that arrises in the person with OCD that causes them to obsess about whatever it is. Because the fear response is so strong, the person begins to act out compulsions to get relief from the anxiety that they are experiencing due to the highly disturbing thoughts.
Here is an example of how this is played out. Someone hears of the terrible tragedy that someone has run over their child. It is the normal response to imagine this happening to ourselves. But where someone without OCD is deeply saddened by the news, they are able to carry on with their daily lives as they did before. But for the person with OCD, they are not only deeply saddened but their brain sends all these warnings signals (fear response) to the point that they feel they need to protect themselves from this happening to them. They now have intense anxiety when getting into the car to back out of the driveway or parking space. They check behind the car seven times. Getting in the car, closing the door, opening the door, getting out, checking for children, repeating seven times. When they have completed their “ritual”, there is a brief feeling of relief. But it doesn’t last long and the urge to act out the compulsions only grows stronger each time they complete a ritual.
So back to assigning meaning.
These posts are not therapy. These posts are to hopefully make you aware of what is happening to you and that you are not alone. You are not crazy even though it definitely seems like it. And that there is help!
First, you must become aware of your obsessions and compulsions. What are you obsessing about? What numbers is your brain bringing significance to? Many times it is blatantly obvious what your obsessions and compulsions are. But other times it not. I will tell my experience to help those of you that are unaware that what you are experiencing is OCD because it is all mental. Yes, this will all sound insane but lucky for all of you I am not humiliated by anything anymore. 🙂 From a young age, after hearing about the book of Revelation (not reading, hearing), I became obsessed with the end of the world. When I was around eight years old, I had a dream that I was in my bedroom looking out the window. I saw the moon even though it was daytime and was overcome with fear that the apocalypse was going to occur shortly. When I woke up I was distraught (fear response). From then on my brain sought out evidence that the end of the world would occur around something to do with the moon. The nature of OCD is to find evidence that there is significance to your obsessions. Everywhere I looked after having the dream, I saw the end of the world coming. On the news, in the Bible, in my community, everywhere. You can read more about why this is in my post The Searchlight of OCD. Because the nature of OCD, is to convince you that your thoughts and feelings are true, I believed that the end was near from the time I was eight years old, until I was in my thirties.
No one, not even me, new I had OCD. Why? Because my compulsions were all mental. Because I wasn’t washing my hands five times or locking my doors ten times no one noticed. But I did have compulsions. Because my apocalypse obsession began with hearing about the book of Revelation, the numbers that I assigned meaning to were the numbers given significance in the Bible. Seven, twelve, forty. My brain’s way of keeping check on my obsessions was to do everything in sevens. I was constantly counting in my brain in sevens, doing things on times that either was seven or added up to be seven. If I was doing something important, I made sure it was on the seventh of the month or the seventh day of the week or at least the numbers of the date would add to be seven. Twelve and forty had different meanings. If there were forty days between moons or anything that I deemed significant for that matter, I was filled with anxiety and worried that the end was near. Same thing with twelve. You can bet I was a nervous wreck leading up to 2012. Haha! It’s all obviously ridiculous but it was very real to me at the time and I know so many of you are experiencing the same kind of thing and need to know that it is ridiculous. You are longing for someone to show you proof that it is ridiculous.
Friend, there is proof everywhere that your obsessions are ridiculous. But your brain is programmed to find proof otherwise. Understanding this is crucial.
I also share my OCD experiences with you so that you can see in black and white what happens. You see how my obsessions and compulsions stemmed from some truth. There is a book in the Bible that is about an apocalypse. The numbers seven, twelve, and forty are in fact significant numbers in the Bible. There are verses about the moon and stars being signs from God. But the truth stops there. My OCD brain added a bunch of NON-truths to this and then found evidence to support them! But even though I assigned a meaning to all of these things, none of them were the meanings. Nothing good will happen because it is 7:00. Nothing bad will happen because it is the 6th of the month. It doesn’t at all matter how many days are between full moons, or constellations, or eclipses. Do you now see what OCD does? It spins the truth in your mind and then seeks out evidence to make it true to you.
I hope this may have opened your eyes to what is going on. If you identify with any of the above, here are some action steps to take.
I know a lot of shame comes with OCD so let me just give you some encouragement. You friend, are learning to do something that many never will! You are learning to not be driven by your thoughts and feelings. This is such an IMPORTANT lesson that unfortunately many don’t learn because they don’t have to. Believe it or not, all of this will help you on this crazy journey called life.