My Anxiety vs My Faith
This “short story” contains 4 chapters and each are about 6 minutes long.
OCD, known as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, is an anxiety disorder that makes people have irrational fears/phobias, intrusive thoughts, as well as intrusive images in their mind. The anxiety makes patients with OCD feel like they need to perform an action to relieve the anxiety. The anxiety, heightened emotions, and extra brain activity, are reason’s why, people with OCD are 10 times more likely to take their own lives than the general population.
I was officially diagnosed with it at 16 but first started noticing the symptoms when I was in 4th grade. It would take me a while to explain all of the many OCD fears that have caused me distress through out my life so I will just focus on the OCD fears that are tied in specifically for this “testimony.”OCD tends to latch on to the most traumatic events in your life. An example would be the trauma of watching relatives battle and die from Cancer.
When I was 9 one day my mother and I were talking and I asked her, “if Uncle Gordon got Cancer, would you get Cancer too because you all are twins?”
Within weeks to a month later, my mother told my brother and sister and I that my Uncle, was diagnosed with Cancer. He would pass away a little over a year later in March of 2004. A little over a year after that, my mother was diagnosed with breast Cancer which she beat that year. My grandfather and grandmother (my mom’s parents) were both diagnosed with Cancer in 2009. My grandmother beat it, but my grandfather passed away from Cancer in 2012. In 2012 my aunt (my mom’s sister) and my mother(again) were both diagnosed with Cancer. My aunt passed away in August of 2016 and then my mom passed away four months later in December of 2016.
Due to growing up with relatives around me getting or dying from cancer, I developed the OCD fear of getting cancer. Being afraid of getting cancer is a fairly normal fear. Having OCD and the fear of getting cancer , takes it to a different level.
OCD can interfere with everyday tasks. A person without OCD, could do a regular daily activity such as tying their shoes and think nothing of it. Whether it be getting dressed in the morning, opening/closing a door, touching the refrigerator door, walking in a room, washing my hands, I would have to go back and do what I had just done multiple times, or else I would get Cancer. These thoughts simply come out of nowhere. At the time I knew it was irrational and sounded crazy, but that’s why OCD is an illness. Similar to an addiction, it is hard to not give in. OCD is also different for everyone. I have heard of women who were sexually assaulted/abused and developed OCD. Due to the sexual assault, they felt unclean, dirty, causing them to develop a phobia of germs. This resulted in them having to wash over and over again.
On November 12, 2016, my family and I brought my mom to the hospital because she was yelling in pain. That was the worse I had ever seen my mom act from her illness. The stress from this situation my made OCD thoughts and fears come back full storm again. If I felt like I “did something wrong”, I would have to do it again or else my mother was going to die. For example,If I was praying that my mom would pull through, I would have to pray again and again, until I felt like I did it the “right way”. This would include opening and closing a door to my car, walking, etc. I felt like my mother’s life depended on my actions. My mom would eventually pass away a few weeks later on December 4, 2016.
My family and I went to view my mom’s body one last time at the place she would be cremated at. My OCD started kicking in there. I got the thought/fear that I walked in the room the wrong way, and if I didn’t go and walk back in, my mom would be suffering in the afterlife and yelling at the top of her lungs like the day she went to the hospital. I submitted to my OCD thoughts and went in and out of the room, until I felt like I did it the right way.
Through out the years, my family has asked me things like “Addison you know those thoughts/fears aren’t actually real right?” A part of me usually knows the thoughts are not real and the other part of me is usually plagued by the possibility that they could be real. I know it all sounds strange but according to science it’s a chemical imbalance. At times trying to get me to not believe these fears is like telling a shark not to eat a seal or a dog not to bark.
Towards the end of December, the guilt started to kick in. Guilt is one of the symptoms of OCD. I began having thoughts that I was responsible for my mom’s death. The guilt consisted of “I stressed my mom out during the last few years of her life therefore I caused my mom’s death”. Before my mom went into the hospital I had a small cold or virus. I then started thinking, “Well my mom always said her immune system was week due to the Chemotherapy.. what if my virus is what made her go to the hospital?” The guilt of causing my mom stress over the years outweighed it though. My mind ran with it and I was consumed with guilt. I then got another thought. “God is going to curse me for causing my mom to die.”
I then became paranoid , and the “curse” or “fear that I was cursed” dominated the back of my mind. On a side note I definitely started to feel for Kanye West and Jr Smith. Kanye West’s mother passed away from a plastic surgery operation. Kanye West said in an interview that he blamed himself for it, because him being in Hollywood exposed her to the idea of plastic surgery. Jr Smith was driving under the influence one night and got into an accident, killing one of his best friends. Guilt is a rough burden to carry.
As much as I wanted to grieve properly, it was hard because I was so preoccupied with the anxiety from OCD. Stressful situations make the OCD worse, which is why it started to become more intense after my mom went into the hospital and eventually passed away. I got to a breaking point in which I started thinking, I have nothing else to turn to but God. One of my friends told me that her father was able to overcome his drug addiction through his faith. I figured, if his faith in God can heal his drug addiction, which is a mental illness, then God could heal my mental illness. This was either December or January, I can’t really remember for sure.
Fast forward to February and I continue to think about wanting to build a relationship with God again. Despite the urge I still had doubts. The one thing that was holding me back was that, many times over the years I would try reading the Bible and going back to Church, but then something bad would happen. I felt that it was pointless since I had tried going back to Church and bad things still happened.
One day I decided to open up the Bible and started flipping through the Bible and saw in the book of Romans “And we boast in the hope of the glory of God Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”
To me that felt like the passage meant to have faith in God even during bad times and I felt that it answered what was stopping me from turning back to God.
Fast forward a week or two, my father and I were talking about my OCD and he jokingly said to me, “ What past sins did I commit for my son to have these issues?”.
A week or two later I was reading a passage in the Bible, the book of John, where Jesus was healing people. As I was reading I came across this passage that mentioned a blind boy. This passage in the book of John said, “The boy was born blind, not because his parents sinned, but so that the works of God could be displayed in him.”
This passage made me think back to two weeks prior when my father said “What past sins did I commit for my son to have these issues?”
For the next few months, February, March, and April, I still kept battling my OCD/the feeling that I was cursed, as well as trying to grieve over my mom. During April, my father, sister, and I, left the country for a vacation to Portugal and Morocco. The trip was amazing, good food, beautiful weather, and scenery, but I still had the same fear that I was cursed in the back of my mind. My thoughts told me that everything important to me would go wrong.
To read Chapter 2, please click the link below