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!