My Mental Illness Recovery Story: Chapter 18

My Mental Illness Recovery Story: Finding Freedom From OCD

 “Courage is to confront what can be imagined”. (Leo Rosten)

My Illness Today

The trauma of my abuse was a giant that I had to face and defeat every day. Before now, it was a stronghold that haunted me day and night. For too long, I tried to prove that the “stepdad in my mind” I was good, worthy of love, and a beautiful creation. Through success and performance, for too long, I tried to avenge the “teacher-choking incident” and the “threatening to kill an officer” experiences – memories my OCD didn’t want to forget. Now, I can gladly say those demons are gone.

Right now, the main obsessions I sometimes struggle with are: “blurting out obscenities” (or other fears of doing something inappropriate, potentially leading someone to reject me), checking obsessions, ruminating, saving computer files several times before closing documents, and obsessively calling people on the telephone.

“Blurting out obscenities” includes “saying the n-word in public.” Starting in about 2006, every time I see a black person, I would have an obsession. Imagine every week being in church and being afraid of screaming out the “n-word” in the middle of the service. Or saying it in a movie theater, at work, around African American neighbors, or at the YMCA. If I committed this transgression, it would be another example of me “choking a teacher” in high school or “threatening to kill an officer” in the Navy. People would reject me like how my stepdad and others used to do it, and “I would be further proof” of these people’s “assumptions” that “I am no good”; thus, I would relive those traumatic experiences again. Yes, the abuse and my OCD made me a “prisoner” of my own mind, as I fear experiencing the shame of a “failure who got rejected and abused” again.

God has freed me from the chains of my past; thus, my “blurting out obscenities” (including saying the “n-word”) and the fear of doing something inappropriate have radically decreased in the frequency and intensity of experiencing the obsessions over the last few years. I experienced these obsessions a lot less frequently, and when I do experience them, these obsessions are usually mild in nature, and I can normally control them relatively easily, with the help of prayer and taking captive these thoughts.

Praying to the Holy Spirit for power not to say those bad words (or commit other bad obsessions) has helped dramatically in me not committing the obsessions, but also given me much peace in the process. When afraid, I ask the Trinity for His power not to commit those obsessions as I ask Him to fill my words with His – which are ones of love, peace, and purity. I also focus upon the perfect love of Abba Father as I take captive these thoughts by immediately replacing the fear with truth and or a positive thought.  This usually works and gives me peace, but if it still doesn’t work, I then break the agreement with the fear by admitting I am afraid and making a choice to no longer be afraid and asking the Holy Spirit for the empowerment not to be afraid and to move onward with life courageously in whatever I am about to do in spite of the fear of the obsession. As I move forward with my next, or continue with my current, activity and not think of the fear, the power of that obsession loses control over my mind, as I believe in truth rather than the lie of the obsession, and I try to keep my mind too busy to think of the obsession.

Thanks to God, I am no longer controlled by these fears today. I now firmly believe in my identity in Christ as I know I am God’s child, loved by a perfect Abba Father in heaven, whose perfect love trumps all my past hurts from all the earthly fathers I experienced during my childhood. God’s perfect love has healed me from my father’s wound, and I now totally love and accept myself unconditionally. I am now a “social butterfly” who regularly experiences joyful and meaningful relationships with people, as my former rejection mindset self no longer tyrannizes me. I interact with people freely and confidently now, unafraid of being rejected by them. And my relationship with my biological father and stepfather has been healthy for the last several years.

Like how defeating “lions and bears” built David’s trust in God’s ability to deliver David from his trials, my previous victories of defeating “blurting out obscenities” (by not committing them in that situation) through God has also made me more confident and trustful, in God’s deliverance, when I face future battles with OCD. In essence, God has conditioned me to increasingly be less afraid of my OCD as I rely upon Him to overcome it. “With man, this is impossible, but with God, all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).

I have never committed the “blurting out obscenities” before. If I ever do, my Father in Heaven will still love me unconditionally the same, even though others may not. In essence, that is what really matters!

My checking obsessions are mild – I usually check my stove a maximum of three or four times before leaving my apartment; I usually check a maximum of two or three times when I check to see if I left my car headlights on before leaving my car. The maximum times I usually check my wallet is about twice. However, when I save a computer file, I sometimes click save three or four times before exiting, and I sometimes reopen the file to see if it has been saved properly. Excessively calling people on the telephone has improved a lot, as it now only hardly leads to complaints.

Listen to this inspirational song, related to the theme of this chapter:

Matthew West, David Leonard – Maker (Official Music Video)

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