Today’s scrupulosity story comes from Jae Dakota*, an aspiring blogger from Minnesota who writes about faith and mental health.
Jae, thank you for being willing to share your story today! You’ve definitely come a long way in your journey with OCD. Can you tell our readers how your scrupulosity story began?
I started having intrusive thoughts back when I was in high school, about ten years ago. These uncomfortable thoughts started bothering me more and more, so it turned into a form of OCD. Then, about six years ago, my OCD developed into another form involving my faith.
Six years ago, my mom was sick for a few months and almost passed away during that time. This was also about a year and a half after my dad died, so my anxiety was already amplified. I’m sure I was upset with God for a brief moment while all of this was happening, so my OCD decided to grab onto that and attack my faith. I started having intrusive blasphemous thoughts towards God and they made me extremely uncomfortable to the point where I would be praying constantly asking for forgiveness. This became a vicious cycle which is where my scrupulosity story began.
How did you eventually figure out that you had OCD?
I figured out I had OCD when I went to a therapist and described to her the thoughts I was having. I explained that I would have these random thoughts pop into my head about God that made me uncomfortable, usually including something blasphemous, and how my anxiety would spike each time I had one. My anxiety increased because I started worrying that God wouldn’t forgive me for my thoughts, so I decided to pray. Unfortunately, these prayers eventually turned into a compulsion, instead of meaningful prayer. The fear I had of God’s unforgiveness was something that was on my mind constantly, which made me feel on edge a lot.
My therapist decided to give me a book that defined what OCD was. This book was helpful to explain the different types of intrusive thoughts people can have and what common compulsions are associated. It was very eye opening to know this was a common disorder and made me feel less alone and less crazy, because usually when people talk about OCD, it involves cleaning or order, but I had never heard of an OCD that involved random, disturbing thoughts. Eventually when I was reading about the common forms of obsessions and compulsions people have, I realized that not only had I developed religious OCD, but also I had been experiencing other forms of OCD for years without even realizing it. I knew I had intrusive thoughts and I knew I would do actions to try to get rid of them, but I didn’t understand that is what OCD was until I went to this therapist. It helped me put a puzzle piece together of something I didn’t understand for a long time.
What would you say was the darkest moment of your scrupulosity story?
My darkest moment with this OCD was about a month or two ago. I was feeling down and stressed about some things going on in my personal life and when I am stressed or anxious, my OCD amplifies tremendously, which means my scrupulosity was at an all time high. These blasphemous thoughts towards God starting happening so often that I started questioning if I actually meant them and if He could even love or forgive me. I felt very unloving and that I didn’t deserve to be happy because of these thoughts towards Him. I also became afraid of Him, worrying that he would punish me for these thoughts. Eventually I became afraid to be happy, because I was worried that either I would be punished by God or I just didn’t deserve it in general, so I became very sad. Every time I would have an event coming up, I would start to get more and more anxious and not allow myself to get excited about it.
It was my darkest moment with OCD because it pulled me away from God and I started self-punishing myself because I didn’t think I deserved happiness. I became a totally different person and started fearing God for the wrong reasons. It was a very dark place for a while. This was probably the worst moment in my scrupulosity story.
Now you’re blogging about your experience with scrupulosity and trying to encourage others, which is awesome. How did that happen? Was there a turning point? Tell us a bit about that.
When I started developing mental health issues back in high school, it wasn’t well talked about back then. Mental health was somewhat of a foreign concept to me and my family, so I felt very alone and scared not knowing what was going on inside of my mind. Eventually, I read others’ stories on their experiences with anxiety and OCD and I related to them. This helped me feel less alone and made me feel understood.
I decided that I wanted to share my scrupulosity story because I told myself if I could even reach one person who felt less alone after reading one of my posts, then I would be very grateful. I want mental health to be more talked about, so that is another reason I started my blog. I wanted to be able to help others in the way others helped me. Although, I used to be so afraid to talk about my mental health, I decided that the only way for it to get better is to talk about it, so I decided to share my thoughts and experiences and I am very grateful I decided to. It also is like a form of therapy for me because I am such an external processor. Writing out my thoughts helps me make sense of what is going on in my mind and if someone else can relate to that as well, then it can be a beautiful thing.
You mentioned to me that you feel like scrupulosity is so much more difficult to treat than other forms of OCD. Can you tell me a bit about why you feel that way?
For me, scrupulosity is harder to treat than other forms of OCD and that reason is because of the close relationship with God we have in our faith. I can’t speak for everyone with OCD, but mine involves intrusive thoughts that can be related to anything disturbing. I had learned through therapy that the way to treat this kind of OCD was to “let go” of the thought and not attach a feeling of anxiety or fear to it. Before I knew I had scrupulosity, I used to have those thoughts about random people. When this would happen, it was disturbing to me and my anxiety would rise, but I was able to kind of let the thought go, per se, because I knew I didn’t mean it, and because if it was someone random, I usually didn’t have any feelings towards them.
When I started having these thoughts towards God, my therapist told me the treatment is the same where you have to “let go” of the thought and not attach meaning to them. However, in my faith, we learn that if you sin in any way, you should pray for forgiveness, even though I know that God forgives me already. In my mind, if I was to have a blasphemous thought about God, which felt like a sin, and I was to just let it go, that was like saying, “it’s okay that I had that thought and I don’t need to ask for forgiveness,” so I would continue to pray, which turned into a compulsion. The only way I could treat scrupulosity was by letting go of the thought, which felt like a sin, so it can be a vicious cycle that is very difficult to work with. Having a thought like that towards God, who is such a strong part of my life, was a new level of uncomfortableness I can’t begin to explain. That’s why it is so much harder to treat for me than other forms.
What is something that you felt like was key to getting to a better place emotionally?
Going back to my faith was the key to being in a better place emotionally. I have this sheet on my phone full of coping statements that I read when I am caught up in my OCD. They say things like, “even though they feel real, intrusive thoughts say nothing about my true character” or “God understands that I don’t understand” and that helps me ground myself and remember my faith. It helps remind me that God is loving and is fighting along side of me, even though sometimes scrupulosity can make me feel like it’s me against God, when in reality, it is God and me against my OCD.
What is your relationship with God like today?
My relationship with God is a lot better. I know He has been fighting alongside of me while I have been working on my OCD as I can feel his presence through it. I just remember that He is a loving, caring God who forgives me and understands my OCD better than I ever will, and I find comfort in that. I’m very thankful that He never abandoned me when I felt like I didn’t deserve His love. It’s a wonderful feeling knowing we have a loving God.
Thank you so much for sharing your scrupulosity story! Is there something you can say to encourage others with the same struggle?
If you are struggling with scrupulosity and your relationship with God, just remember His grace and that you are not alone in this. The love and forgiveness He has for all is unexplainable, and He understands OCD better than we do, so He understands that the things we say or feel aren’t true. He knows better than anyone. One thing I have thought in the past that has really helped me through my scrupulosity and relationship with God is I picture Him sitting next to me and simply saying, “Ignore what’s in your head, because I know what’s in your heart.”
Jae Dakota (a pen name) is an aspiring writer from Minnesota who likes to share her experiences with mental health and faith through stories and poetry. She aspires to reach people who may be struggling and make sure they know they are not alone. She has a blog called “Confessions of the Anxious Girl“ where she shares her experiences of how mental health can affect different aspects of life and how she has used faith and other insights to combat it. She can also be found sharing inspiring quotes about OCD on Instagram.
I sent my story last night. Did yall not get it? Cynthia Barshop. Please let me know.
I suffer from blasphemous thoughts about God but unfortunately they were thoughts I had willingly did on my own. I’ve asked God to forgive me many time and to take the thoughts away . It that hasn’t happened yet I repented of that evil but but there still there. Can anyone give me some help on this i desperately need it. Thank you
Larry, give yourself time. Just because we think things doesn't necessarily mean it's how we truly feel or believe. The fact that you've repented multiple times indicate that you honestly do have a heart for God. Sometimes we have bad moments of stinking thinking. Your human and although we're believers we still battle with our sinful nature as well as the devil. Read Romans 7. Your blasphemous thoughts may be lingering in your mind bc you haven't forgiven yourself. Also when we try to fight, suppress, or stay alert of our thoughts to make sure we don't think the thoughts, it causes us think of the blasphemous thoughts more. God knows that you're sorry for the thoughts you feel that you purposely did. He has forgiven you just as He forgives murder, adulatory, and any other wrong doing. He doesn't hold on to our sins, we do. We play our wrongdoing over and over in our minds like a broken record, causing us to feel more guilt, shame, and regret. You can't move forward if you keep looking back at your wrong. God has forgiven you and loves you. Give yourself time to heal from the thoughts. Remember, YOU are NOT Your Thoughts. Thoughts are just thoughts, not heartfelt beliefs. Tell God in the morning, "Today, I may think some things that You nor I approve of. I apologize in advance. " Then at night apologize one more time, then go to bed. GOD is judging your heart more than your thoughts. He knows you. Listen to No Matter what, a song by Ryan Stevenson. Forgive yourself, keep moving forward, continue to do spend time with God. God is for You, not against You.
Thanks, Krys, for being such a supportive voice. 🙂
The generous soul will be made rich, And he who waters will also be watered himself. Proverbs 11:25
I dealt with the same thing for several months. Remember, we overcome the lies by the blood of the Lamb of God. Our own righteousness is but filthy rags which is why God clothes us in Christ's robe of righteousness. I've come to a greater heart understanding of just how precious the blood of Jesus Christ is. I'm learning every day to trust and rest in what Christ has already paid for placing my faith in the blood of Jesus Christ alone and the righteousness of Christ alone. You can't add to the finishwork of the cross. What the devil meant for evil, God will use it for good to increase my reliance upon Christ because apart from him I can do nothing. The evil one wants us to question our identity and question God's character but do not believe the lies. Rather, know the truth and the truth will set you free. Remember, God is a loving Father, not a condemning Father! 😊🙏 Don't let condemnation steal your confidence toward God. When we stare at our own righteousness there is uncertainty and there is no freedom and no peace. However, when we look to the cross there is Jesus Christ, our savior, the one who bought our redemption, and there is freedom and peace. It's a lifelong journey but trust Christ and he will lead you in the way everlasting.
"But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me; my Lord has forgotten me.” “Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me." Isaiah 49:14-16
Beautiful reminders, David. Thank you!
Wow! David! Very encouraging. I say Amen to EVERYTHING you said.
I can relate to this very much.
I have had blasphemous thoughts for years and when I'm ok, is when I don't go to church or think about Christianity and especially thinking the word Jesus.
It feels that what you said at the end, effect my heart and I haven't felt God say that at all to me, that I know what's inside your heart, what iv felt for years that someone is saying to me my heart is against God's son jesus and that's very worrying to me, for me to forget that, Iv got myself into sexual sin and adultery and i'v split from my wife. I feel I'm completely unforgivable and I can't live my life at all.
Thank you for sharing your struggle. I am sure it is very relatable to other readers, because I have heard similar stories many times. As you’ve described, one of the common ways we deal with our anxiety and unwanted thoughts is to go into avoidance mode, trying to stay away from anything that makes us think about religion. But this type of avoidance isn’t necessarily ego-syntonic, that is, it doesn’t really jive with our deepest truest desires. A “real” atheist or anti-religious person wouldn’t care at all if they avoid God, but this avoidant pattern becomes deeply bothersome and disturbing to the anxious believer, because he/she realizes the avoidance is only a coping mechanism.
Your comment about falling into sexual sin and adultery is also relatable. Our little online support community here is full of stumblers like yourself. But each one of us is beloved by God, even in our failures and sins. I have heard stories of adultery, porn addictions, visits to sex workers, alcoholism, drug abuse, and more. These are the “broken cisterns” that the prophet Jeremiah speaks about. Sin in all its forms is ugly, but even in the deepest pit of despair we may look at our sins and realize they are a heart cry for something better. They can never satisfy us, and I think we intuitively know that. Do not be discouraged when you look at yourself and see sinfulness and wretchedness; you are not unforgiveable, otherwise Christ would have not wasted His time coming to earth to die for you. And Scripture affirms that He died for you–yes, YOU–in that is says that “He died for ALL” (2 Cor 5:15). Look at your sins as a stunning “work resume” that proves your eligibility for the role of Christ’s redeemed. The most eligible for grace are the ones with the greatest need, for Scripture has said, “where sin abounded, grace abounded much more” (Romans 5:20). Do you think that your sins remove you far off, Craig? Do you feel that you are ineligible? No, no…your weaknesses and mistakes make you of all men most eligible, most tenderly encompassed by the Father, most earnestly pressed to His heart.
Do not wait to feel that you are forgiven and accepted before you come. As the ten lepers in Luke 17 were healed in the very act of going, you will also receiving spiritual healing as you come to Christ–not before. Healing from OCD and anxiety may be a longer journey, but remember that forgiveness and acceptance happens in the blink of an eye as we come to the Lord and receive His grace. Remember it is a choice to hang your hat on God’s Word, it is not a feeling. You may not have the fuzzy wuzzy feelings, but this is no evidence that Christ has not accepted you. Keep right on pressing into His presence and lead with the eye of faith, not the fickle heart.
God is with you, and you will make it through this difficult time.
Craig, I totally agree with Jamie. Lamentations 3:22-23 let's us know that God's mercy & compassion is new EVERY morning. We don't have to carry yesterday's sin & mistakes into today or tomorrow because God has given us fresh mercy and grace. When you confess and repent, God forgives you. It may take some time before you fully overcome your sins but everytime you fall, get back up and keep walking forward with God. Eventually, you will overcome. Our Christian life is a journey full of ups, downs, and loops. We all have things we've overcome and things we're still working to overcome. No one is perfect. God loves you and forgives you just as He's done for every human being. Be encouraged Friend. Keep walking with God one day at a time.
Hi Jackie! Thank you for all your Scrupulosity content! I was wondering whether you could make a post for us struggling with obsessiveness with sin. For me, sometimes I have obssesive thoughts about possible sinning. It seems like I lack that "Christian common sense" everyone other Christian has. I find elements of sin in everything and it's starting to affect me emotionally. I just want to think as everyone else around me thinks.
Hi there! Thanks for commenting. I have an article that I put out some time back that tries to “uncomplicate” our understanding of sin. You can find it here: https://scrupulosity.com/list-of-sins/
I know now I'm not the only one who gets these unwanted thoughts. Though I reject those thoughts with my heart, I still find them very disturbing and tormenting. God does know I would never WANT to have those thoughts. I just wonder HOW did they ever come across my mind. I pray in the name of Jesus that those thoughts will go away. The more I seek God, the more enemy tries to torment my mind. Get out of here Satan and never come back.
I would love to know what book your therapist gave you 🙂
I went to Mayo Clinic for therapy at that time and they gave me a booklet specifically from that clinic. I can't find the booklet anywhere online, but I did find the site that shares essentially what the booklet shared. You can find the link here:
Hopefully this helps! I also found an OCD workbook at Barnes and Noble that has been very helpful. Here is the link for that:
Thank you for reading my story!