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Struggling with religious OCD in these times of doubt

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Hello everyone

Just wanted to post in a very weird post after a very difficult and distressing week and a half, regarding my religious OCD.  I know that, before all this kicked off, I was posting a lot and I was experiencing bad mental states; anxiety attacks, crying a lot, even suicidal thoughts. 

Now that I'm in isolation, I find myself more confused than ever. This'll sound strange to some, I'm sure, and I would welcome the advice of others; before all this happened, I wonder if I was anxious because I was, essentially, ignoring God's commands? I was writing a lot but worrying over what I was writing, and ruminating a lot. I ended up having a fair few anxiety attacks and sometimes when I shared stuff with the world, would be so dogged by anxiety and guilt that I would edit it/delete it/bear out the anxiety. I took a couple of mental health days off because I felt so bad. I was initially welcoming of the time off because I thought I could pull myself back together, but the opposite has happened. 

Now that I'm in isolation, I find I'm on my own with these thoughts all the more. The crux of my fear is this: should I listen to God more, give into God, and how much is God and how much is OCD? And if I listen, what if I become a horrible Christian? I don't want to be conservative or fundamental or homophobic. I know religion means a lot to me but I'm scared of becoming someone I don't want to be and I don't know what to do if that's what God wants for me. With my OCD I start seeking online reassurance that I'm okay, that my beliefs are justified, that I'm good enough; looking for certainty. But I've been brushing shoulders with a lot of theology over the last week and a half and I'm worried; what if I'm defying God's rules and being arrogant? What if I let my beloved LBGT friends down when they're the ones who have helped the most? Should I listen to these people on the Internet who tell us to do better, or listen to myself? What if I become close-minded and lost and a bad person? 

I guess the crux of the argument is: should I grow closer to God to 'cure' my anxiety and OCD and what will that entail? I've been struggling a lot the last week and a half; struggling to feel safe, to eat, to sleep, to enjoy anything that usually brings me comfort and happiness and I'm scared what will come next. I don't think I want certainty because certainty is never a sure thing and our minds are always changing, but I'm just so scared of how to cope with these questions in these strange times. I just feel like a tunnel with the bottom taken out of it constantly and I feel like I'm running. I'm wondering if God has a journey to take me on and I don't know how to respond to this. I've been praying constantly (compulsively, you might say) and needing help from other Christian friends who have been constantly assuring me of the unconditional love of God, as well as my atheist friends and I just can't seem to get better (small wonder, I hear you say). I'm scared of that moment of jubilation because of course, after it comes more fear; I've been feeling relief-fear-relief-fear. I don't feel happy with faith or religion right now; it just scares me and makes me feel so frightened. 

I'm so sorry to bring all this up now, given what we're going through. It's just been an ongoing struggle and my Dad has been worried sick about me because I've been in such a state; he wants to bring me home at the earliest possible opportunity. I feel confused after the last ten days and it's been upsetting. I'm scared that by the time all this is over, I'll have gone completely around the twist and I don't know what to believe anymore, or why this happened. I'm scared I'm being radicalised by the Internet in my searches for answers. 

I'm sorry and realise this is a lot to take on and I don't blame y'all if it's too much to respond to. I just feel alone and despite the efforts of many, I feel so scared.

Thanks for reading.

C :hug:


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Hi Cub, 

I'm sorry to hear your finding this difficult. Your post sounds to me like a person trying to make sense of their world at a challging time (a very natural thing to do.)

You look for explanations which fit with your beliefs, also understandable, but there is much in life that will never be explainable and simply has no reason behind it. For those with religious backgrounds the best explantion they can give themselves is often something like, 'God must have his reasons and it's ok if I don't know or understand those reasons fully; I just need to accept what is and carry on as normal. '

On 27/03/2020 at 16:06, Cub said:

I guess the crux of the argument is: should I grow closer to God to 'cure' my anxiety and OCD and what will that entail?

I'm wondering if God has a journey to take me on and I don't know how to respond to this.

It can entail whatever you want it to entail. Which is to say you can go about things in a healthy way (acceptance, letting worries go, trusting in God)  or in a way which temporarily makes you feel more in control but is fuelling mental illhealth (ruminating on God's purpose and what you should be doing to please/appease him, compulsive praying, seeking reassurance from others.) It's not so much about how close you get to God, rather in the way you choose to demonstrate that closeness. 

If you are thinking of this time as a journey you are being taken on, then all you need to do is be confident the path you travel is intended to lead you to a good place and to being a stronger, better, happier person. Anything which keeps you stuck (ruminating, reassurance seeking, checking) isn't moving you forward so isn't part of the journey. Then, should you catch yourself worrying if you're doing things right you only need to acknowledge 'this is me being stuck, not journeying', accept you're doing ok without further questioning and let it go. 


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Hi Snowbear

Thankyou for understanding and not thinking this is weird. I've actually taken to running vlogs on Facebook, detailing day to day life in social-isolation and I spoke about my anxiety at some length in the videos and how I was attempting to deal with it. A lot of people reached out to me as a result, and it meant a lot, but it also meant that I got a lot of different viewpoints, people willing to make discussions and offer comfort. I've been compelled by a couple of different websites that I've kept going back to even though I don't believe in what they're saying and I feel guilty for giving them a moment of my time (guess I just wanted to check that I definitely didn't agree with what they were saying and it would be like a quick-fix of assurance). I'm trying to break the habit of revisiting them, but I've been seeking answers to questions and looking and looking for clarification until I get it right. I've been endlessly anxious and obsessive and so, so frightened. 

But I also feel like I've let a lot of people down. We're told to love thy neighbour and yet I just kept searching for answers to Biblical questions to justify myself and my own beliefs, getting even more scared at what I found along the way which contributed to my anxiety and making me wonder what path I was supposed to walk. I feel like I've failed my best friend and several other friends because I've placed my own need for knowledge above their own needs and their own lives and got so caught up with wanting to bring assurance to myself. I feel terrible. I started to find distraction this evening when I snuggled down with my favourite television show; did some writing, etc. I felt more myself then and sort of remembered who I was with God and felt as though God loved me and I was enough. But I feel as though I was very selfish along the way because the truth was, I didn't want to give up the things I enjoyed or believed in and yet wondered if I was wrong. I've worried my dad sick, my brother is checking in with me daily to see if I'm okay and I've just been crying all the time. I feel bad for letting myself be taken in by unhealthy ideologies and was afraid to let myself be guided in case God was trying to turn me into someone I didn't want to be. I tried everything - letting go and letting God - but just couldn't stop shaking or crying. I feel like, were I even more naïve than I already am, there's a good chance I might have ended up being radicalised via the Internet. 

I do have my core beliefs and I think God is coming back to me now. There's been a lot of internet-searching and a lot of reassurance seeking going on and it's been like I'm 17 again and struggling. This has been a terrible relapse to endure and I'm not sure how to come back from it. I just feel like I let so many people down. I've been so scared for tomorrow, completely restless and upset and my hand has been shaking endlessly on the keyboard. 

Thankyou for your healthy contribution to this mindset and for your support. I'm so, so sorry that I let everybody down. 

C x

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3 minutes ago, Cub said:

I'm not sure how to come back from it

Same way any of us come back from a lapse or relaspse. :) Accept we're on a learning curve, that nobody's perfect (and certainly not all the time! ) Mistakes and lapses are expected and are part of the overall journey to eventual recovery and wellbeing. So let it go. No further ruminating over what you've done - treat it as past/gone and start over. 

If you think you've not been a good friend to someone then aplogise to them for getting caught up in your worries for a bit, tell them you're going to try to be there for them more in future and follow up by being the kind of friend you want to be. 

Social media can be very compelling and its easy to get caught up in it. But any website or platform which encourages you to ruminate is a place to avoid. Totally different to OCD avoidance, this is simply refusing to get tied up in irrelevant people's personal opinions and discussions. Steer clear for your own health's sake. 

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Thankyou, Snowbear. I appreciate your expertise and help. I'll do my best to apply it over the next few days. ❤️ I hope I don't let you guys, or myself, down again. Thankyou for your comfort and fair-minded advice. :hug: 

C x

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