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.