There Will Be Bad Days…

There Will Be Bad Days…

This past week was a battle. From disturbing images to extremely unsettling thoughts, OCD was going right for the jugular.  Up until that point, it had been a good period of time since I had to be on high alert against mentally obtrusive thoughts.  Thanks to the miracle of Fluvoxamine (my medication of choice), these kinds of thoughts have been less frequent and easier to find my way out of.  Not this time, though.  It all came to a head on Monday night when I found myself in the emergency room with sharp chest and arm pains.  It has yet to be determined if the pains were completely anxiety related.  However, I will tell you that all my exams in the hospital came back normal.  (I will continue with this part of the story in an upcoming post regarding other health issues I will be testing for, including all tick-borne diseases.  Side note: For those of you who don’t live in the northeastern part of the United States, consider yourselves truly blessed when it comes to the issue of ticks.  One day I hope to be able to spend at least part of my summers away from this region of the country for the sole purpose of avoiding those tiny life-ruiners).  In any event, after my visit to the ER, I had an impromptu session with my psychiatrist.  After our conversation and careful consideration, we decided it would be best to add a small dosage of an anti-depressant to my daily regimen. Four days later, I am feeling worlds better.  Praise God for the wisdom He has given my doctor.  

As a follower of Jesus Christ, I have been taught and believe that there is a whole other world I cannot see.  This plane, or spiritual realm, is filled with powers and spirits I am blind to, or really, protected from.  With that said, there is a spiritual element to my OCD and depression struggles.  I want to be clear that this belief does not downplay or take away credence from the fact that anxiety disorders like OCD are also biological and physical.  I am against the idea that mental health issues are completely spiritually driven. Have you ever seen a brain scan of someone with OCD versus someone with a “healthy” brain?  Search for that on the internet and then try to convince yourself that OCD is not also a physical issue.  The point I’m trying to make is that my OCD has a personality.  It distorts everything and everyone I love, and even how I view myself.  It feels evil, sounds evil, and is based on lies.  In the dark moments, when I can’t get myself out of a mind-ditch, there is only one thing to do: pray.  While the terrifying thoughts may not be instantly removed while praying, there is instant safety and freedom in the presence of God.  In the arms of Jesus, there is safety knowing that I cannot be harmed by my thoughts and neither can the ones I love.  In the arms of Jesus, there is freedom in sharing my thoughts no matter how dark or disturbing.  The arms of Jesus are a place where I am known for who I am and not who my thoughts say I am.  There is no place like this on earth, nor medicine that can truly recreate the stability and deep underlying peace of this place.  

It is important to note that after my trip to the ER, I felt an enormous amount of discouragement. How could I be back at this place with my mental health?  I’ve put in so much effort to be “OK” over the last six years.  From counselors, to psychiatrists, to medications, to books, to research, to behavioral exercises…am I really back here? The answer was both yes and no. Yes, I was in a bad state of mental health, but no, I was not back to where I was in the beginning of this journey. I am older, wiser, and stronger because of all that I have been through with this disorder.  If I can get through what I have been through in the past, I can most certainly step forward now with the abilities God has given me and enables me to use everyday thanks to the hellish roads He and I have walked down together.  As C.S. Lewis once said, “Experience is the most brutal of teachers, but you learn, my God, do you learn.”  Praise God for His wisdom and amazing love.  Keep fighting, friend.

                                                                                                               Love,

                                                                                                               Jackie

You Are Not Alone

You Are Not Alone

My name is Jackie and I am here to tell you that you are not alone.  Today I was moved powerfully and urgently to start this blog.  There is someone out there who is meant to read this now.  I don’t know who you are or anything about you.  The only thing I do know is that God is looking out for you and wants you to be healed and comforted.  I am honored and grateful to be able to speak to you today.  I know you are feeling lost and need help now, so I will not delay getting right into what is on my heart to say to you.

In my life, I have had and continue to have struggles with my mental health.  More specifically, I am a sufferer with OCD.  In 2013, I experienced the toughest, most grueling and sickening time of my life.  I felt unsafe in my own skin and my brain felt like it was infected.  My brain was on hyper drive, attacking me with despicable thoughts that debilitated me.  How could I possibly be thinking the things I was thinking and not actually be what those thoughts were?  The confusion, the circular thinking, the back-and-forth drove me nearly to suicide. I felt like a monster who had no reason to continue to live for fear of being like those thoughts.  I had to go. But thank God I stayed.

With the help and wisdom of the Lord, I was able to find the right help.  Surrounded by my family and dear friends, I gained enough courage to start accepting the fact that something was wrong with my brain, and that it was OK to start looking to take care of this major, major issue.  Maybe you don’t have the support around you that you think you need, but know that I am here, thinking of you, encouraging you, wanting you to read this blog to know without a single doubt that you are not alone. What is happening to you, you could not have helped or stopped.  You are not your thoughts.  They will trick you into thinking that you are, but you are not.  They will feel like they are you, but they are not. This is the fight of your life, and God has inspired me to share all that I know with you on how to tame that OCD beast in your brain.  I will be honest and as a frank as possible on this journey.  But I will not take any credit for the victory in my story or yours. That belongs solely to God.  I won’t shove the Bible down your throat, but I will talk to you about Jesus Christ because He is my Savior and He is the one who brought me to and through the greatest challenge of my life:  the challenge of physical survival when every ounce of me was exploding with anxiety and inner chaos.

I will not tell you that my life is totally free from my OCD struggle. It is not.  But it has gotten better, much better.  Somedays I can’t function well enough to live a normal life (i.e. go to work, wake up and get stuff done), but more often, I can and I do. To the reader without a mental health issue like OCD, that may not seem like such a big deal, but for the person in the midst of this heinous suffering, all you want is to be normal.  I understand.

A final note: This blog will not heal you; it does not have that power.  But God does, and I believe that if you are here reading this, you were led here for a reason. Know that you are welcome here, and you are not judged by your thoughts.  You were fearfully and wonderfully made by the LORD.  He knows your struggle and every thought.  So, if you are up for it, I’ll tell you about my story with OCD and God’s hand in and through it all.  Check back at least weekly for new entries.  Though you are a stranger, I am praying for you.  Keep fighting.