Chapter 2 “Guilt Settling In”
Monday, December 5th I woke up and it was sunny outside. Around 12–15 hours before I woke up, my mom had passed. My family was getting different texts of condolences but I still felt numb and couldn’t process it. The emotions finally hit me towards the evening. I started getting really sad the following night, once I looked through my mom’s phone and saw texts of her talking to one of her friends about everything she was going through in terms of her health. My mom had been sick for most of my life that it had become just a part of our normal life. I felt so guilty for not taking my mom’s pain as serious as I should have. I knew she was sick, but I didn’t think it would all happen so fast. Not being able to hug her again as I read those texts was the most helpless I had ever felt in my life. Towards the last few months of my mom’s life until the time she went into the hospital, my relationship with my mom was rocky. I loved her but she had a hard time understanding my OCD and thought it was an excuse, which caused arguments between us. I had also built up a lot of frustration with my mom because I felt like she wasn’t taking care of herself and focusing on her nutrition the way she needed to be, in order to remain healthy. Nevertheless during those 24 days that my mom was in the hospital, my mind wasn’t focused on our arguments. None of those arguments mattered. Instead my mind was focused on hoping she would make it out the hospital alive. Fortunately, I was able to get a little closure before my mom passed. I wanted her to know I loved her and that she loved me.
While in the hospital my mom had a tube running down her throat so she couldn’t speak. I forgot which one out of the two below that I asked but, I said “mom nod your head if you love me” She nodded her head yes. I said mom you know I love you right? She nodded her head yes. Or it could have been close your eyes tight , and she closed them tight, I can’t remember which. Either way I received the confirmation from her.
More emotions started hitting me when one of my mom’s friends visited our house, the day after my mom passed. My mom’s friend started crying saying she was going to miss my mom, and it made me happy to see that my mom was loved but it made everything finally seem real. A few days after my mom passed we all went to the place where she would be cremated, to see her body one last time. I went in there and we took a look at my mom’s face and body. It was weird knowing her body was going to be put in the machine that we could see a few feet away from her. A glass wall was between us and I saw that she had been wrapped in a white cloth. She looked more like the mom I knew than how she did during the day she passed. I did notice that her face had some what of a rash on it.
My OCD started kicking in there. I got the thought/fear that “I walked in the room wrong, and if I didn’t go and walk back in, my mom would be suffering in the afterlife and yelling like she was that day before we took her 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 was 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.
Below is the a scan of a brain without OCD vs a brain with OCD.
As you can see from the scan, the brain activity of a person with OCD(on the right) is much more frequent than a person without OCD. Extra brain activity equals extra racing thoughts. In my case it also means heightened emotions. I describe OCD as being similar to the “Whack A Mole” game from Chuck E Cheese. That’s the game in which you try to hit the toy mole that pops up from the hole but once you hit it, more moles keep popping up. For OCD, once you get rid of one fear, another fears pops up, and so on and so on. The fears cause so much pain that it is no surprise that the studies show that people with OCD are 10 times more likely to commit suicide than the general population.
After this day I started smoking more often. I also started reading about the after life/paradise, which gave me hope that my mom would be in peace and that I would see her again. That’s what still gets me through the grieving aspect to this day. The fact that she is pain free and the hope that I will see her again. On a side note and for future reference, I encourage everybody who has lost a loved one and is now grieving, to read up on near death experiences. Two of the best articles that I have came across to date about this topic, can be read below.
Stories of life, death and faith: ‘To Heaven and Back’
Mary Neal “drowned” during a kayaking trip on January 14, 1999 She says when she saw her body, it was purple and her…
‘Afterlife’ feels ‘even more real than real,’ researcher says
Near-death experiences can be vividly real to those who have them Many people who were in comas remember having them One…
My mom’s memorial service went well. Despite a tiny blizzard, a good amount of people came. It was still a blurr though and didn’t seem real. Christmas came and went, and 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.
After New Year’s day things really started to hit us. Combined with my brother going back to Atlanta and the holidays being over, it seemed as if a dark cloud festered in our house. I remember hanging out with the same girl who I had been hanging with the time of my mom’s passing. We sat in the car and were talking. I vividly remember saying to her in regards to my dad, sister and I, something along the lines of, “We sleep all day, its just quiet its like we are all sad and down, but we don’t remember why, then we remember, it’s because our mom passed”. Suddenly I slowly started to break down. It was weird crying in front of her but at the same time it felt good. She reached over and hugged me. She had been a huge escape during the whole time my mom was in the hospital and during this time.
About a month went by and I started thinking 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 in February I just 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”. I felt that this related to the comment my father made a week or two weeks prior and it made me interested in reading more of the Bible. Fast forward a few months and I’m on a trip to Morocco and Portugal, having one of the best and worst times of my life. This trip would play a significant role in my faith.
For chapter 4 please click the link below.