There is a story untold. I am not sure why. To be fair, I don’t think about it often, but today I did. I have made a promise that I will tell my stories with the hope and prayer to bring others freedom and solidarity. So here it goes…
Growing up, I had some quirky things about me. Odd, I would venture to say. For example, for a period of time this thing would happen where everything around me sped up. The television, conversations, noise around me, and music. Music was the worst. I will tell you the same thing that I told my pastor, when my mother brought me to see him, “I was not taking drugs.” I had every test done. It wasn’t seizure activity. What is was… was very scary and I am blessed to say that it no longer happens. It just stopped happening.
I was also pretty particular about neatness. I loved to do things like organize the cabinets. I was given my own bedroom, as a teenager, because I couldn’t handle the mess my sisters made. If you asked my college roommate what my dorm room looked like, she would tell you that I had a place for everything, especially 0n my desk. I color coordinated my clothes in the closet, my bed was always made and I was the only one, on my floor, that owned a vacuum… which I used daily. So what? I liked being neat. Did I feel that my life was in order if my room was spotless, yes. Do I still feel that all is right with the world if my kitchen floor is clean? Yeah, what about it? Is this Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)? Not sure.
In my 20s, I was married and things may have gotten a little worse in this department. I found myself re-bleaching things over and over. I hired a cleaning lady who actually told me that she felt guilty taking money to clean my house. Bless her heart. Haley was barely able to play with her toys and I was obsessed with having vacuum lines on my carpet. You know what I am taking about. Is this OCD? Never could tell.
I went to see a therapist because I promised my husband I would. She suggested that I start taking a drug called Luvox, which I did. She further suggested that I sit on a chair and allow others to make a mess around me, to which I wouldn’t clean up. OK, CRAZY LADY!! Who needs the help? You or me? I broke up with that lunatic and considered cleanliness next to godliness and carried on. I also stopped taking my meds.
Fast forward to having my sons. I began having (what I know now to be) irrational thinking and imagery. I would have awful thoughts that I would harm my baby. Not the kind that comes from sleep deprivation and non-stop newborn cries, but the kind that would come out of nowhere and scare the crap out of you. The kind that you wondered if you should be left alone with your child? Thank God for my mother and other people who could speak into this horrifying time of my life. Back to the therapist I went. Thankfully, she didn’t call protective services, she diagnosed me with OCD. I also started to do research about others who suffered from OCD and their stories both encouraged me and tore my heart into pieces. One gentleman left his family, that he loved with all of his heart, in fear that he may hurt them. I also learned that no one ever carried through with their irrational thinking. It is a chemical imbalance and torturous for those that suffer with it, but harmless to others. So, if you are reading this and have carried this fear with you, it’s time to lay it down.
I would have to say that although annoying, I got used to getting out of bed a million times to make sure Haley was still breathing, the stove was off, I didn’t leave any candles on, there wasn’t any sharp objects left out for a murderer to kill my family with (because they don’t bring their own weapons), the doors were locked, etc. But the irrational thinking was a tough one to deal with. After Ben was born, I had to have the cleaning supplies removed from my house because as I was feeding my baby his bottle, I was sure I had somehow put Mr. Clean in it. There was a period of time that my mother would prepare Ben’s bottles for me, so I could be assured that I wasn’t poisoning my sweet baby.
In my 30s, I decided that enough was enough and I wanted to be healed, set free. I found a scripture that said… “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and of SOUND MIND.” (2 Timothy 1:7). This scripture became my war cry. Every time I wanted to double or triple check something, I spoke these words. Every time, I wanted to retrace the road I drove on, to make sure I hadn’t run someone over (yup, welcome to the world of OCD), I spoke these words. Every time, I had irrational thinking, I spoke these words. And guess what? I was delivered. Thank you, Jesus. Healed. Set Free.
I have done a lot of research about OCD and it is genetic. It plaques my family and I pray for their freedom as well. I believe in the power of prayer and that God’s words can and will transform your mind, if you allow them to. We have the mind of Christ, we are not meant to suffer with anxiety, depression and other mental illnesses. Does it mean that all followers of Jesus are free from those things? No. I also believe that God has provided us with medications to help our chemical imbalances. I have a prescription for Prozac, for my depression, to prove it. He has provided doctors and therapists with knowledge and wisdom to help us. He has provided us with family and friends who understand and support and love us unconditionally. People who pray for us. Most importantly, he has provided us with a promise that he will walk through this valley with us and his steadfast love can be trusted.
I have been incredibly blessed to walk along side of so many people suffering from OCD (including my son), not as an outsider, but as someone who gets it. I know that God is capable of healing and I also know that he doesn’t always do that. Why has he healed me from having OCD, but I continue to fight depression? There are somethings, this side of heaven, that we won’t understand, but God is still good. I also know that there are worse things than needing my house to be clean. I am working on my priorities, but a spotless kitchen floor is still gold.