Jump to content
leftyhelen

Religious/Moral OCD (Young Adult)

Recommended Posts

Hello all,

So first of all, I am an 18-year-old female with OCD. I'm in my freshman year of college, and my obsessions/compulsions are really getting the best of me. 

I have struggled with different types of OCD my whole life. I'm not a super organized or clean person, in fact I would say I am messy. But I have suffered other compulsions and obsessions that fellow sufferers will recognize. Preoccupation with numbers, repetition until words sounded "right", erasing and rewriting math homework numbers, POCD, obsessions about my relationships, etc. 

RIght now however I am acutely suffering from moral OCD. And I don't know how to stop it. 

I have been raised Catholic my whole life. My family is faithful (we go to church every weekend) and a lot of my relatives are too. However, my family has never been pushy or overbearing. They are not super stringent in their beliefs, rather they try to focus on love and charity, which is important to me too! (Especially for me, since I'm an ENFP Meyers-Briggs. A little bit more relaxed...)

Through my childhood there have been some "traumatic" events that may have shaped my disorder. I moved around a lot when I was little, my parents were deployed in the military, they had marital issues involving infidelity on my mother's part...despite this, we are still close as a family and try our best to work through things. But I think this may have encouraged (along with my strong faith background) my preoccupation with doing the right thing. 

I still believe in God, and I do not want to stop being Christian/Catholic. But I feel like I'm dying. I want to be able to live the life of a normal college student - go out, curse sometimes, party sometimes, gossip with friends, enthuse with them about their hook-ups, be supportive of my LGBT and sexually-active friends because personally (despite my faith background of a relatively conservative religion) I lean more liberal.

But every time I do those things ever, I feel enormous pangs of guilt. The thing is, I think I'm a good person otherwise. I do care a lot about the well-being of others, my friends, loved ones, and the world. But I feel so much enormous pain and scrupulosity about all my actions. I feel as though I'm definitely going to hell. And the thing is, I don't want to stop my behaviors. I want to enjoy being a normal, 21st-century teen. And I feel like it's my OCD, not my faith, that is causing such enormous terror about it. 

Through my "OCD lens", I can see that I'm applying a very limitation of the Bible to myself. You have to follow every precept specifically, or you will be damned. I know not all Christians think this way, and many are much more lenient. But I worry-if I am lenient in my beliefs, and simply "believe" in Christ-will I be damned forever? Am I going to perish? Is this the end? How wicked am I? And I simply cannot stop going in this doo-loop!

I would love to simply live my life and expose myself to the things I've mentioned above so I can just be NORMAL for college. But it's different to dismiss for me than my other previous obsessions, because I cannot ignore that this does not have some merit, at least in my mind. In fact, several pastors have told me it's a blessing to have religious scrupulosity, because it will make me a better person. But I feel like I am trapped, that I am making my choices out of fear rather than decision.

I hope this makes sense. And I hope you guys still think I am a good person, which is what most of my friends and family tell me. But I am scared I am too doing too much evil and I will go to hell. For response criteria, please know I don't want to stop being Christian. I think I need advice on how to deal with this and mold my faith around this difficulty.

Share this post


Link to post

Hi Helen,

Welcome to the forum. 

6 hours ago, leftyhelen said:

In fact, several pastors have told me it's a blessing to have religious scrupulosity, because it will make me a better person.

Oh no, with all due respect, they are so wrong, it is NOT A BLESSING to have scrupulosity at least not for a normal lay person such as myself. I had to go through the hell of hours of non-stop compulsive bowing, prostrations and mental neutralisation, confessions and the constant fear of offending heaven and incurring bad karma, and I don't consider that a blessing by any measure.

Being mindful of my behaviour and conducting life in accordance with principles of my faith tempered with love and compassion made me a better person and it made my feel happy and light-hearted. Scrupulosity aka Religious OCD only narrows the mind and focus on a few aspects of my faith and leaves out the rest and made me feel like excrement. I wanted to use a swear word but avoided it because I want to keep in line with the rules of the forum :a1_cheesygrin: , not because of any religious constraints.

True, I gave up drinking, that in part has to do with some religious motivation, but it is also due to the fact the drinking made my OCD worse and made me gain alot of weight which in the long run was not beneficial to both my mental and physical health, I had to stop or else I would be facing more problems down the road, isn't OCD a big enough problem to handle?

6 hours ago, leftyhelen said:

Through my "OCD lens", I can see that I'm applying a very limitation of the Bible to myself. You have to follow every precept specifically, or you will be damned. I know not all Christians think this way, and many are much more lenient. But I worry-if I am lenient in my beliefs, and simply "believe" in Christ-will I be damned forever? Am I going to perish? Is this the end? How wicked am I? And I simply cannot stop going in this doo-loop!

6 hours ago, leftyhelen said:

And I feel like it's my OCD, not my faith, that is causing such enormous terror about it. 

You are right, it is the nature of OCD to latch on to something, twist it, blow it out of proportion and cause pain and suffering to the sufferer. With Scrupulosity, the Hellfire and Brimestone aspects of faith and religion are over emphasised, leaving out the love and compassion. Sufferers always tend to apply a very strict interpretation of certain tenets such as you have described and then mentally self-flagellate themselves when they feel that they are not adhering to the very strict, sometimes ridiculously impossible to adhere to standards of interpretation of a certain religious tenet. 

I too faced similar issues in my case, since I am Buddhist, let me quote you a very simple example, it is about the consumption of meat. The first precept all Buddhists regardless of sect or school of Buddhism, take is the precept of not to kill. To the best of my knowledge, it should be interpreted as not to kill another Human Being. Some sects have this interpretation, that since an animal has to die for the meat to be placed on the table, you are breaking this precept and committing an act of killing (and bad Karma) each time you consume meat.

I agree that an animal has to die for my food, but then again, even not consuming meat doesn't mean nothing has to die for a human being to carry on living a normal modern life. Eating only Brocolii, still causes the destruction or killing of life,  E.g. through the clearing of rainforest to grow soya beans, vegetables and other corps for consumption by both humans and lifestock. Taking a bath and washing with anti-bacterial soap also kills bacteria, which is also considered life, scientifically speaking, so am I going to stop taking baths to avoid killing and thus keeping true to the precept?

So in my case, what I do is to eat moderately. I have a healthy balance of meat and fibre on my plate, and don't overeat, I enjoy my food but I don't overindulge. I don't cause anymore life to be lost than necessary through overconsumption be it with diet or lifestyle. I don't torment myself whether the other sects are right or wrong or whether I am going to incur bad karma from eating meat, I am not going to bother with all that, I am not going to ruminate on that issue, I found my answer and I live at peace with my choice, to each and their own as they say. There are more important things to concern myself with, such being a kind and decent person rather than choosing to have sweet and sour chicken or bok choy on my dinner table.

6 hours ago, leftyhelen said:

I want to be able to live the life of a normal college student - go out, curse sometimes, party sometimes, gossip with friends, enthuse with them about their hook-ups, be supportive of my LGBT and sexually-active friends because personally (despite my faith background of a relatively conservative religion) I lean more liberal.

The key point here is that OCD is based on irrationality. Anyone can and have the right to interpret religious tenets in the way they choose and see fit. However, should the interpretation be based on Scrupulosity/Religious OCD standards, then, it should be consigned to the mental dustbin and treated as the mental chaff as it is.

When you realise that your Scrupulosity wants to torment you over a line in the bible, then you have to made a stand and say "NO!"

Don't allow the "buts", "what ifs", "I will go to hells" of Scrupulosity/Religious OCD scare you into submission and descend into OCD hell of constant rumination, fear, guilt and hours of non-stop religious rituals and the seeking of reassurance from family and confessing to religious leaders.

Always remember, like all forms of OCD, it is never enough with Scrupulosity, today it may have something to do with sexual orientation issues, tomorrow, it may latch onto the exhibition of fornication in shows and movies, the day after, it can be the overuse of gimmicks (moral issues about lying) in advertisements, it won't stop until you stop engaging with it.

Go live a life you want, be a normal college student, curse sometimes if you want to, I myself sometimes do. You can have a life and keep to your religious views. I am a conservative, true and true but I never ever impose my views, religious or otherwise on another person because I too want to be allowed to live my life my way.

Always seek balance and add some kindness and compassion to how you think, you would find that life becomes lighter, less of a burden without constant worry of "will I go to hell or whatever". You would have to make decisions as you go along in life and no doubt your faith will influence it, as mine has, what you have to do is to keep balance in judgement and not allow OCD to dictate that judgement, and once you have made the decision, be at peace with it and move on, life has and needs to go on.

- Mike

Edited by St Mike

Share this post


Link to post

Hi

Scrupolosity (generally religious) is well recognized by the Vatican, though its not limited to Catholics, Muslims have the same problems for example.

 You have become too fearful of your intrusive thoughts which are nothing more than thoughts, they are not sin. You just care too much as to what may happen. A fear to offend or to doing something wrong.  Here are two sites that may help you gain an insight on scrupolosity. Knowledge is power. If you read them both you will find the same principles and broaden your mind.  Hope this is of some help. :-)

https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=7431   (Catholicism)

http://islam.ru/en/content/story/obsessive-compulsive-disorder-and-scrupulosity-islam     (Islam)

MaxS

Share this post


Link to post

Honestly Helen, I want to give you such a big cuddle right now because this is exactly where I've been, having been diagnosed with OCD of a religious nature when I was 17 after two years of suffering following my return to church.

I don't think I can add anymore to what's been said but I think you sound like a genuinely lovely person and you just want to do good. I've been having this struggle for so many years and it's only recently that I've reached something better. What I will tell you is that as time goes on, you will realise that none of us are saints and we can only do our best. Religious scrupolisity is not a blessing and I don't think my first psychologist, who was a Christian theologist, would agree with that either; when I opened up to my vicar about my thoughts, she told me to leave them by the cross. He wrinkled his nose when I told her what she'd said and said he'd have to disagree; we needed good old-fashioned CBT to help me feel better!

During my first year at Uni I became a lot less rigid, bit by bit; I met loads of people and one of my friends was from a devoutly Christian background (like, Bible-belt-connected background) and she taught me a lot because she smoked, drank, skipped lectures, made filthy jokes and had a tattoo; yet her belief in God was steadfast. True, those were her younger years but that helped really open my eyes - she wasn't trying to be perfect because she knew that God would love her regardless. (I also read a lot of Dorothy Koomson during this time and that lightened me up a little more!) And so on it went. I'm 27 and I still struggle; I don't come from a devout background but my relationship with God remains and I've only recently got to a point where I feel okay with going to a church service. I've had many issues of morality over the years but I'm finding that rigidity is not going to get me anywhere and if I worry about every little thing then I'll never be truly happy. Maybe that sounds a little shallow, but I have to have faith that God understands me and loves me for who I am because I was terrified, as a teenager, that God no longer loved me for the thoughts I'd had. I'm a work in progress and to be honest, if I'm a little bit naughty, then it helps my OCD levels. My psychologist himself told me to be so. I'm still finding my balance and I'm reconsidering CBT but I have a moral code and I'll be darned if I'm not sticking to it! :a1_cheesygrin: 

I promise you, you're going to be fine. Let yourself be naughty. Trust yourself and your heart. You're still on your journey and you're not alone, with any of this. :hug: 

C x

 

 

Share this post


Link to post

Ive been struggling with the question is there a God? You have to go with your own judgement and trust it. Im sure that if there is a God he will know you have ocd and what that entails. Be kind to yourself, enjoy each day whatever that includes.

Share this post


Link to post

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×