I was responsible for protecting my family from demonic possession at the young age of twelve.
My OCD obsessions began as I was reading a movie review of the then-controversial film The Exorcist. I was only twelve years old. By the end of the article, I was convinced my family would be possessed by demons. It was, of course, my fault. I clutched a rosary so tightly at bedtime that I would wake with impressions of my fingernails in my palms. Eventually I started sleeping with lights on because I feared Satan would appear next to my bed. By the time I entered high school, I was an insomniac. The only time I could sleep was on weekend afternoons in front of the television.
I discovered in my late 30s that I had scrupulosity – the religious obsession. I was a librarian at the time. I was looking at the new books shelf and was intrigued about a book on OCD. I took it to my desk and began to peruse the contents. I happened upon the description of scrupulosity. I immediately recognized myself! I started crying uncontrollably for nearly an hour. For 25 years I had carried this ugly burden with me everywhere I went.
I unwittingly engaged in my own version of ERP [Exposure and Response Prevention]. I began confronting my fears by reading different interpretations of gods and goddesses. I’ve tried liberal Christianity, paganism, Unitarianism, and Buddhism. Probably Theravada Buddhism is squarely where I fall, but since it does not regard Buddha to be a god, I’m free to be an atheist. I gave up a faith which had made me feel close to my family and a network of friends. Getting out of the OCD mindset set me free to have my own opinions and views that are in stark contrast to my former self. I have a strained relationship with my parents over my lack of belief. I have lost contact with numerous friends because I can’t stand to embarrass my parents.
I’m all about actively talking to my friends about OCD as well as my bipolar disorder comorbidity. I post stories on my Facebook page all the time about these illnesses in hopes of helping others understand the struggles of mentally ill persons. Lift the stigma.
I will still occasionally become consumed by new intrusive thoughts. My most recent bad patch was thinking I was the cause of global warming. The fate of the world was in my hands. I’m still a compulsive recycler.
Categories: The Wall