There I was, 11 years old, stuck in a cycle of compulsion; in the door, back out of the door, repeat. If not done just right to medicate my obsession the ritual continued; in the door, back out of the door, repeat.
Many don’t understand OCD (Obsession Compulsion Disorder). It’s often brought up in a humorous tone.
“I have to keep my desk clean, I think I have OCD.”
Something of this nature is what many people might attribute to OCD tendencies, but it’s not an accurate depiction. OCD is an anxiety disorder that usually develops during adolescences. Little is known about the disorder and it’s estimated 1 percent of the population suffers from it.
I suppose I was a part of the fortunate 1 percent who was dealt this mental card. The way the illness operates is it runs your mind in a loop over a certain anxiety, which becomes an obsession. At age 11, my obsession hovered around two things, family and faith.
I would often obsess over the fear of harm coming to my family members. My morning thoughts were plagued with the idea of ill-fate befalling up my parents or sisters. Unlike normal anxiety, an obsession is a loop your brain is stuck in, similar to a broken record, it’s very difficult to move on from it.
This is where the compulsion came in. Compulsions act as a vent for your brain, they let out pressure the obsession is causing. The cruel nature of OCD is that although compulsions were a temporary relief of the obsession, they strengthen the disorder.
My compulsions came in various many forms, the first one I remember having is to flip a light switch on and off multiple times. I would often spend minutes turning my bedroom light on and off. However, this was not my only compulsion, I would back in and out of doorways, count to ten a repetitive amount of times, blink obsessively, and even pray the same thing over and over again.
The question you might ask is why did I do this?
It’s hard to explain. Try to think of something that makes you anxious, your teenager starting to drive, or a family member going into surgery. Okay, now you’re anxious (I apologize for this analogy). Someone with OCD has anxiety in them almost constantly, they can’t help it. The brain does not let the anxiety go, it runs it on repeat. This leads the person to act upon the anxiety, they’ll think,
“If I don’t do XYZ, something bad will happen.”
The weird thing is we know this is all “silly”. Someone with OCD is not under the delusion something will actually happen. However, the “what if” is king in our minds. It’s like an itch that must be scratched, and if you scratch it, it only gets worse.
This is why it’s called Obsession Compulsion Disorder. The person has an obsession and a compulsion is done to alleviate the obsession, as a vent to a kettle.
Now, it is believed that those who have OCD will never fully recover from it because it sits in a category of mental illness.
So how did things change?
For a long time, they didn’t. I suffered daily from the age of ten to my late teens. I would say the age of twelve was the worst. The anxiety was so bad I found myself crying in my classroom, often attempting to wipe my tears away so no one would notice.
My parents were awesome, though they knew little about my pain because I hid it so well. In addition, little was known in the late nineties about this disorder and there was little to zero education on it. When I was caught in one of my compulsion rituals, I would dismiss it quickly. From the outside, I was a pretty normal kid, but in my mind, a battle raged.
To only make matters worse, one thing that is gas to the fire for OCD is doubt. Now, imagine growing up in a Christian household where I heard fire and brimstone preaching from the pulpit.
“Are you really secure with Jesus?” The preachers would say. “How do you really know you will get to heaven?”
You guessed it this was a cocktail of torture for me. My mind would…. not…let…these…questions…go. Because my mind was already wired to obsess, it was an easy transition for me to doubt my salvation. I probably hold the record of rehearsing the sinner’s prayer.
Everyday I would say the sinner’s prayer around fifty, to upwards of a hundred times. I know it sounds crazy, I knew something was wrong, but I didn’t know how to handle it.
By age twelve my day was as follows; In the morning I would find myself doubting my salvation repeatedly. Throughout the day I would have anxiety for my loved ones creating acts of compulsions, walking in and out of door frames up to five to ten times, or something like that, this came in multiple episodes a day. By the end of the day, I had worried myself into multiple episodes of compulsions and had probably said the sinner’s prayer fifty times, wake up and repeat.
Yet, there is power in the Blood of the Lamb.
This is all changed when my disorder met Jesus. It was called to account and crushed underneath His heal. It was when I was 20 years old I cried out to God one night on the floor of an Indian restaurant in Stillwater, Oklahoma. If I were to use the cliché’ phrase, which I dislike, “I came to Jesus.”
For the first time in my life, I realized that God is in control and God is sovereign. It was not that he wouldn’t let bad things happen, it’s that if bad things happened, he is still sovereign.
Do you not understand?
All those who trust in Christ will walk with him in life, we’ll dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Anxiety only has power when you dwell on this life, not the next. For my whole life, I dwelled upon this life as it were my only. Not to say misfortune is not painful and crushing to a spirit, it is. However, it does not have the last word, Christ does.
Soon after I met Jesus, anxiety had lost its power. This is not to say I don’t struggle with anxiety because I do. What I can say is I do not obsess, and I do not have compulsions. For someone who spent a decade living under the weight of this disorder, it’s a miracle.
As far as doubting my salvation. When I understood that I was known by him, the doubting ceased there was no room for it.
Do you understand the weight lifted by going from fifty sinner’s prayers a day to zero?
One thing I do want to be careful of is to say this will happen to everyone with a disorder or struggle. It’s often found that we are not healed of our burdens. But I’m here to say God is good. Unfortunately, bad things do happen, and this fear does loom, yet I am free from obsession and compulsion by the grace of God.
PSA, OCD develops typically (but not limited to) in adolescence 10-12 years of age, more common in males. If you notice one of your little ones having compulsions, approach them and talk them about it. The best thing you can do is expose the disorder and help talk them through. Now a days there is counseling and many resources to help.