Today we’re joined by Victoria, a stay-at-home mom in Texas. She’s here to share how she dealt with dysfunction and OCD and is now living with joy.
Victoria, thank you for being willing to share your story today! You’ve definitely come a long way in your journey. Can you tell our readers how your scrupulosity story began?
I think I had a predisposition to OCD, which might not have been a big deal if my environment hadn’t been so difficult. My home environment was dysfunctional to say the least.
My parents divorced early on, and my dad abandoned the family completely. My mom had a knack for attracting toxic men. The “father figures” in my life were either physically abusive, verbally abusive, legalistic, or unavailable.
There was a lot of trauma bonding, narcissism, gaslighting, emotional reasoning, projection, manipulation, and codependency–to name a few issues! All this took place in my formative years and left quite an impression on me which, sadly, I wasn’t aware of.
How did you eventually figure out that you had OCD?
After losing a relative to suicide, I remember having a difficult time coping with the loss. I wasn’t sure who to tell or if I should just keep it to myself and hopefully time would heal the wound.
Unfortunately, I did keep it to myself and suffered in silence.
However, I remember vividly having repulsive and hair-raising intrusive thoughts around the time of the event and during the early grieving process. The intrusive thoughts were so disturbing to me that I dared not share them with anyone, but I was also very busy with work, so I did receive a break from those thoughts whenever I was mentally engaged in a task.
During the pandemic there were a lot of tragedies taking place, not only because of covid, but also within our social circle. We lost about 10 people in a year amongst our family, friends, and people from church. I started to feel overwhelmed with all the bad news and not being able to go out and connect with people to distract my mind due to the shutdown.
Being home alone and discouraged made it easy for me to get stuck in my head and it provoked a downward OCD spiral. I went to counseling and after 4 sessions was diagnosed with OCD/Scrupulosity.
You mentioned in another conversation that it was a bit difficult to accept the “scrupulosity” diagnosis. Why do you think that was?
The diagnosis was a total blow. I was in denial for a few weeks. I refused to look for OCD material for a time because it was triggering to me. I just wanted to be “normal” (whatever that is!) Why did I have to have this disorder?
I felt like what happened in my past was over and I had made good decisions compared to others in my family. In many respects I do have an advantage over my other relatives in the sense that I have a good marriage, I’m financially stable, physically healthy, debt free, etc. So, why was this happening to me?
What I hadn’t considered (maybe because it was too painful or triggering) was that although the trauma happened in the past, I never processed it. I never went to counseling and I just stuffed my feelings or ignored them. I underestimated the effect that trauma had on my brain. God, in His goodness, wanted me to process the trauma, layer by layer, to bring about healing and awareness.
What would you say was your darkest moment with the OCD?
My darkest moment with OCD was during the pandemic. As I mentioned before, all the tragedies, plus the isolation, caused my OCD to flare.
I experienced superstitious & magical thinking, thought-action fusion, and an obsession with danger and evil. False guilt and chronic doubt did a number on me, too. Intrusive thoughts of harm to others made me think that perhaps I was demon possessed and led me to do certain compulsions such as excessive confession, prayer, checking the house for any object that could possibly be subliminally evil.
But the worst was the blasphemous thoughts. They were so horrific that I felt I surely had committed the unpardonable sin and was condemned and lost. The anxiety from the thought that I was eternally lost led me to become so neurotic that I had to visit a cardiologist.
For two months I was surviving on 10 hours of sleep a week. I didn’t want to live because I couldn’t escape my thoughts, but dying wasn’t an option because my family needed me.
But then you apparently had a turning point when things started to get better. Tell us about that.
I finally searched for OCD help that was from a biblical perspective and stumbled upon Mark DeJesus. It was tremendously comforting to know that I wasn’t the only one with these strange thoughts. I started to see that I could Identify with scrupulosity, but I wasn’t fully convinced either.
As I continued to prayerfully search for help, I came across your website and hesitantly took the scrupulosity quiz online. To my astonishment, I realized that all the symptoms and fears I had was truly religious OCD. I was sold! So, I signed up for the group coaching sessions. Those sessions have been such a tremendous blessing in my life. You don’t just speak about scrupulosity from a distance, but from the trenches as well. It was comforting to be part of a group where I could express my concerns without fear of judgement.
Also, a gamechanger for me was to know that the reason those intrusive thoughts wreaked havoc on my emotions was because they went against my moral code…they attacked my values. Which, in essence, meant that those thoughts weren’t “my” thoughts. They were random synthetic thoughts.
People who are truly evil aren’t disturbed by their evil thoughts. People who intentionally blaspheme God aren’t worried if they committed the unpardonable sin. The fact that I was disturbed and seeking help was, in fact, evidence that I was in a good place.
What is something that you felt like was key to getting to a better place emotionally?
I wanted a “do this or that” fix. I finally came to realize that people with OCD generally lack nurture of some sort. I had to have my biblical foundation rebuilt through the lens of faith, hope, and love. I had to learn to see God as a personal father who is involved in my life and loves me.
I was blinded by legalism and rules because they gave a sense of certainty leading me to “feel” safe if I obeyed. I do believe that obedience is important and that we should obey regardless of feelings, but my legalistic perspective needed to change.
Some practical things I did to help me overcome my works-based religion was just sitting still for a certain amount of time. I used that time to just sit, receive God’s love, and pray to him for help.
I limited my prayers and confessions to twice a day. Whenever I was tempted to act out a compulsion, I would say to myself, “If you do this compulsion, it will only satisfy for a little, but will continue to grow. You’ll never get freedom. Might as well treat your OCD like a workout! Ride out the uncomfortable feelings and you’ll start building your emotional and faith muscles.”
Self-love and compassion during an OCD flare are easier said than done, but I’m learning in the process to treat myself as I would a small child who is anxious and hurt by using comforting positive self-talk instead of beating myself up.
Every day I pray that God will give me discernment between my OCD and His voice. Usually, OCD is very loud and produces feelings of torment. God speaks clearly in His word that anxiety and torment are not from Him, so knowing that helps, too.
What is your relationship with God like today?
This OCD battle really helped me to identify with Christ’s sufferings. Because of trauma and distrust, it was hard for me to receive God’s love even though I wanted to. I had a hard time appreciating Christ’s sacrifice, but after my darkest moment when I felt condemned and eternally lost, I thought to myself, “Wow! This is what Jesus felt like on the cross! No wonder his heart literally broke! No wonder my anxiety led me to see a cardiologist.” I tear up when I think about how much torment He experienced. I now appreciate His sacrifice and see Him as MY personal Savior. He IS my righteousness.
Is there something you can say to encourage others with scrupulosity?
Get help! Especially now in an age where there’s more of an awareness for mental health struggles.
Look for free resources if you can’t afford counseling. Investing in yourself is the best thing you can do for yourself and others. Ask God to lead you to the right kind of people, mentors, or counselor that provide a safe environment for you to talk out your worries.
Thank you to Victoria for sharing her scrupulosity journey with us. We wish her the best as she continues her journey of victory over OCD!
Hey Jaimie I have too much anxiety because I’m worried about if committed a blasphemy and unforgivable sin when I die that god will never forgive me for what did I said or something that I write that was wrong. From Nick
Hi again, this is Wendy. I just commented on another one of your articles just now. I realized that I have another rumination obsession which I wanted to ask your help for. So, many times when I read the Old Testament and read about the Israelites as the 'Chosen' nation, I feel really triggered. Because I feel like GOD has chosen them and they are specifically close to GOD's heart, whereas the rest of us who are not Israelis/Jews are not. I know that's a complete lie, but my mind keeps on latching onto those false thoughts and starts to believe that. Like I find myself thinking that the country of Israel is far superior than other countries, and that angers me. It also saddens me when I feel like GOD has chosen them specifically and not us, as if GOD is playing favorites, but that's not true. Also, because I'm not a Jew, I'm automatically a Gentile. And the term 'Gentile' almost even seems derogatory to me, almost like an insult even. I know this sounds so bad and mean and it is, but my stupid mind keeps on thinking that. Also, the Scriptural passages which talk about the Gentiles being ingrafted in only because Israel was rejected, as well as those such as Jesus being sent to Israel first, as well as the Gospel should be preached to Jews first, really trip me up. Could you also please help me with this, Jaimie? Thank you so much! 🤗
Hello everyone, I was evaluated by a psychiastrist as part of the requirements for counseling followed by my first therapy session one week ago today. I think we all know that OCD is anxiety based and that a major ingredient of anxiety is fear. As part of my discussion with the psychiatrist, she asked me a question that I have been pondering and that is "What are you afraid of". I know, as mentioned in my previous post, that I am predisposed to Religious OCD, both biologically and environmentally. Regarding the biological component, there were mental health issues on my mother's side of the family. Both of my siblings are under care for forms of mental disorders and I have suffered from generalized anxiety disorder for decades. Regarding the environmental component, my faith, and therefore my relationship with God, has become the most important part of my life. Those two factors make someone like me prone to Religious OCD. That is my understanding and belief. Whatever the basis is of the fear that triggered this, this affliction adds another layer of fear by causing us, IF WE ALLOW IT TO, question are salvation. That is because, at least in my particular case, the types of thoughts and words that enter my mind are as offensive to God as they can get. We need to keep at the forefront of our minds that our religion has become the target due to it's level of importance in our lives. However, the reason for this affliction is not our faith but the OCD brain. Having said that, I believe that it would help all of us if we could find a way to peel back the onion and find the answer to the question, "What are we afraid of".
This helped me alot..i'm suffering from religious ocd and its really hard but as blasphemous thoughts are really tormenting anf it feels like GOD is seperated from as as the thoughts are so weird but this recovery story really helped..thanks for sharing love from Pakistan
Thank you Victoria for sharing your story and Jaimie for all the wonderful resources on this site! I'm currently working through the 5 Essential Foundations free course. I've only recently been diagnosed with scrupulosity (a few months ago) and along with counseling, trying to learn as much as I can. I could relate to so much in Victoria's story and finding others who share the struggle is encouraging.
Hi Melissa, so glad you’re here! Good for you for working at a solution. You’ll get there!
Very helpful. Thank you for sharing.
Such a powerful message. Thanks so much for sharing Victoria and Jaimie.
There were moments when I felt myself being triggered but I continued reading all the way through and I&#39;m so glad I that did. I&#39;ve copied a few passages which I keep in my notes which I use to refer to when I&#39;m feeling anxious or need a reminder of how to keep on the path to recovery.
Thank you for the most valuable reminder that &#39;we are not our thoughts&#39; x
I have been diagnosed with scrupolosity ocd. I have been in counseling with a therapist and psychiatrist for two years with little to no progress. I am desperate and to the point of why try anymore. I am 78 years old and lived with this for 40.years before being diagnosed. I knew my faith experience was not what other people seemed to enjoy. I was burdened all the time trying to do right. Do you have any suggestions for help? I don't want to meet God in this condition full of doubt, shame, and fear but I cannot overcome this and fear I will hear depart from me.
Hi Barbara, I think you’ve described the scrupulous experience well when you say you felt “burdened all the time trying to do right.” That isn’t God’s intention for us, but it sure can happen when our brains are misbehaving! One thing I will say–even if you do meet God in this condition of uncertainty and fear that we get from OCD, you’ll still be alright. God knows your heart and He can tell when an anxiety disorder is distorting your spiritual experience. Remember we aren’t saved by our emotions, we’re saved by grace through faith. Our emotions may or may not line up.
I’d recommend checking out some of the free resources on my website, particularly my 30-day devotional (you can find the download link at the top of this blog post) or check out my master class in the scrupulosity academy. You can also check out the scrupulosity resources of Grantley Morris (http://www.net-burst.net/guilty/scrupulosity.htm) and Dr. Ian Osborne’s book, “Can Christianity Cure Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?” These are all good places to start.
Wishing you God’s blessings and encouragement as you continue to seek His peace,
I have battled this for a long long time. I will not go into it but the main thing that I used to get freedom is to monitor my thoughts ( placing all thoughts on the captivity of God’s Word). Because you are a believer You are deeply loved, completely forgiven (past present and future) fully pleasing and totally accepted by Christ. These principles come from Dr Robert McGee’s book “Search for Significance”. You much do what God’s word says…fear not, be anxious for nothing, trust Him for everything. One thought heals another thought. I will be 80 soon, but I will continue to do what He has taught me from His word. It is all about your thinking process. You can’t control what comes to your mind but you have a choice as to what stays.
Thank you for your response & giving your age, I am 73 & thought I was the only one in my 70’s who struggle like this….I’ve been saved since I was 12, but most of my adult life have doubted my salvation. I’ve prayed the sinner’s prayer so many times I’m sure the Lord must wonder if I think He’s hard of hearing.
I’ve struggled more since this pandemic not afraid of the virus, but just hearing the news & what’s happening in the world & of course being more isolated. I have followed Jamie’s blog as well as Mark DeJesus & have found great help.. Also being involved in my church when I don’t feel like it, like staying in nursery or going to Bible Study with women my age.
Praying for you dear sister
Barbara, I can relate to what you put in your post. I just reached the age of 75 this month and am struggling with my second bout of Religious OCD. My first bout started in 2003, immediately following a traumatic change in my life and lasted several years. This latest bout began about 15 months after a major loss in my life. I live alone and, I believe, the additional isolation from the pandemic has only aggravated the condition. I am predisposed to this biologically and environmentally. I am also a practicing Catholic and have had spiritual counseling with more than one priest. Recently I was evaluated by a psychiatrist and started therapy with a Catholic therapist just last week. I certainly would like to get this affliction managed, however I know that our Lord understands that we don't understand. This suffering constantly reminds me of "Paul's thorn in the flesh" (II Corinthians, Chapter 12). Lastly, remember Ephesians, Chapter 2, "By Grace we are saved through Faith", as Jaimie mentions, as well, in her response to your post.
Thank you all. I have been on the Morris site religiously as well as reading Dr. Osborns' book and blogs so I have the tools. I have trouble implementing these ideas. Dr. Osborn says we have to recognize our obsessions when they occur. This is difficult for me because my ocd only manifests with chronic overwhelming doubts about my standing with God which are a continuous flow. One thing that triggered me to seek help was Paul saying the Holy Spirit is our guarantee of redemption and if we don't have the Spirit we do not belong to him. My friends say they know so this makes me wonder if I have been rejected. I have been a professing Christian for 40 years but never had assurance I was safely in Christ. I crave a loving relationship with Him more than anything. Have joined Jamie's pioneer group. Hope this will help me learn to love the Lord and bring glory to Him.
Thanks for bringing this up. I would like to put out an article about the Holy Spirit as our guarantee of redemption and what that actually means. I do think that those of us who struggle with scrupulosity can easily take this beyond its original intended meaning. We might end up looking for a “feeling” that confirms our relationship with God rather than looking for the signs of the Spirit’s working in our lives. Feelings come and go; they are God’s gift to give but feelings are not our passport to heaven. Even Jesus felt a sense of being completely rejected by His Father when He was on the cross.
Anyways, I do appreciate your comment. It gives me another idea of something we should discuss here on the blog. Please be encouraged! You are beloved in Christ!
Thank you, Jamie. I could probably furnish you enough ideas to write a novel with all the things I have done and not done in my years as a believer. I stayed away from the word a lot as a new believer because I couldn't read through the eyes of grace and always felt doomed. The biggest trigger in my walk was when my dad passed away. He was 50 year faithful member and worker in the church but when he was dying he was afraid. I wanted to assure him but didn't know what to say so kept putting it off. He died before I got the nerve to talk with him. I felt that perhaps he was in hell and it was my fault because his blood was on my head. I had preachers who agreed with me so you can see what this did to a sensitive conscience. My only hope has been giving God the responsibility and leaving judgment to Him. I have surrendered all that I am just as I am to the sufficiency of Christ for salvation. I still have a real problem in witnessing never feeling I do enough. I pray for boldness in this area but I have stopped beating myself up when I fail. I enjoyed the session last night and am so thankful I found this site.
Oh, Barbara, that must have been so painful to feel such an immense weight on your shoulders! I am so glad you’ve been learning to leave judgment with the Lord. This is truly our hope and comfort when we feel so much false responsibility on ourselves!
Wow! Such an encouraging story and I completely second the help from this blog and Mark DeJesus. Jaimie and Mark both understand the torment OCD brings and the distortions of thought that feed it. They also understand the struggle between OCD treatment and faith.
So nice to see you pop in, Mikki! Hope you’re doing well! 🙂
Am glad many people with this struggle are linking up with. You have helped me. The stories shared here have helped. Am doing great now. God delivered me and everday am rediscovering myself. My emotions are back, I can now smile, laugh and sympathize genuinely.
To those who are still fighting this battle, it has been won for you by Jesus. You will get well, you will rise and shine because you are God's children. Don't mind those thoughts, they can't harm you and they can't separrate you from the love of God in CHRIST.
You know what, even with those horrible thoughts, the Holy Spirit will not leave you. He loves you more than you can imagine, He has sealed you for Christ.
You will testify of the goodness and greatness of God. You will enjoy your salvation in Jesus name and we will praise the living God together because He has saved us from OCD and restored our joy. I love you all, I will praying for you.