Feel the Fear, But Do It Anyway 

You cannot have bravery without
fear.

Throughout my life, I’ve been afraid of many things. I thought my fear was something to hide from. An actual threat. Everyone taught me, hide under the covers. Do what you need to do to not feel anxious.

But that doesn’t solve anything, does it? 

Tonight I am inspired by the Biblical passage of 1 Samuel 17, the story of David and Goliath. When David was sent to bring food to his brothers fighting the Philistine army, he was thrust into a situation that had caused every Israelite soldier to cower in fear, literally run away from the battle. 

The nearly 10 foot tall Philistine Goliath was once again threatening the Israelites. He proposed that their armies do not fight, but if any Israelite was able to beat him alone, the Philistines would become Israel’s servants. However, if they lost, the Israelites would become the Philistine’s servants.

David, visiting his brothers in the battle line, asked what was going on. The soldiers told him the story and the great prize from King Saul; Saul’s daughter and exemption from taxes and service in Israel (That’s like no jury duty, woohoo! They should implement this in America, just saying).

David starts out bravely insulting the Philistine. Instead of rallying with him, David’s brother gets angry. He calls David conceited, his heart wicked. If that is true, David’s conceit was was obviously an advantage on that day.

When Saul heard of David’s remarks, Saul summoned David. David, the young boy, the shepherd from Bethlehem, boldly offered himself up fight Goliath. 

Without armor, without experience, David approached Goliath. Goliath mocked him, “Am I a dog? Is that why you’re coming at me with sticks?” But David’s stick was not a stick. It was actually (drumroll please) a shepard’s slingshot. While the slingshot didn’t even compare to Goliath’s spear, sword and javelin, David had another weapon. David announced:

 I’m coming to you in the name of ADONAI-Tzva’ot, the God I the armies of Israel, whom you have challenged. Today Adonai will hand you over to me. I will attack you, lop your head off, and give the carcasses of the army of the P’lishtim (Philistines) to the birds in the air and the animals in the land. Then all the land will know that there is a God in Israel.

Do you think David was fearful when he approached Goliath? The Bible does not say, but David’s bravery was greater than what fear he might have had.

This story teaches us to do what we desire, even when we’re fearful. In life, we will have amazing opportunities that will intimidate us. How we make that decision should never be based on the fear we feel, but our desire to take that opportunity. This is bravery! By pushing past fear, you’re already braver than those hundreds of Israelite soldiers. 

If you want to do something, feel the fear, but do it anyway! Feel the fear, but do it anyway. If we ever want to get where we want to be in life, we need to push past fear. 

In Exposure and Response Prevention therapy, we gain the tools to fight the giant that is OCD. Our slingshot, if you will. 

Sometimes OCD feels like a giant Goliath. Sometimes we want to run and hide (or compulse and avoid). However, that will never solve the problem. That will never win the war. No obsession you face can ever be solved by a compulsion. On the contrary, every obsession you face can be solved by acceptance. To fight OCD is to surrender to it. 

Sometimes this seems impossible. However, if you believe in such things, Matthew 19:26 in the Bible says that with God, all things are possible. A phrase I brought up a lot in the OCD clinic.

So with your slingshot and possibly with Adonai-Tzva’ot (Lord of Hosts), you can fight any Goliath in your life.

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Writing Smut With My Psychologist

And then it dawned on me: I am writing smut. 

Alas, those years of dancing around it in fanfiction are over. The days of awkwardly closing the page is gone. The innocence of my words is no more. 

When I began treatment for OCD, I never knew this was even an option. Of course, before I was diagnosed with OCD I thought it was about perfectionism. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I would have never thought the horrific images in my head were a result of a disorder known for handwashing. Learning about Harm OCD let me know I do, in fact, have OCD. And that I am not alone in having horrific thoughts about people harming me and me harming others. At the time, these thoughts nearly destroyed me. The lead me to be admitted to a psychiatric hospital. Nowadays, I don’t even flinch. 

But my harm OCD getting better made the way for an even more repulsive monster. 

Now, my sexual obsessions didn’t come immediately after my harm obsessions went away. In between I had scrupulosity and perfectionism OCD to work on. However, because my harm OCD had gone away by the time I got treatment, I never learned how to deal with OCD symptoms that don’t produce overt compulsions. Regardless, at the end of my treatment OCD decided to give me a going away present. A new obsession, one it knew it could use to control me. Because how was I supposed to tell my psychologist I have intrusive thoughts about one of my therapists raping me? It was more than scary, it was embarrassing. Embarrassment kept me silent longer than it should have and my sexual obsessions became a problem. 

Once I figured out I could not handle my sexual obsessions on my own, I told my psychologist. We started out doing exposures about the therapist in question, then moved onto the thoughts themselves. Exposures changed as my sexual thoughts changed focus. Fast forward two years and I’m writing smut with my new psychologist.

I suppose I should clarify, I do not enjoy writing this smut. In fact, it makes me incredibly anxious. The point of Exposure and Response Prevention therapy is to 1) expose you to your fear and 2) prevent you from responding with an action to reduce anxiety. Since my fears are about being raped by or having sex with people I know, I can’t directly expose myself to those fears. Instead, we employ a wonderful tool called a “script exposure.”

Script exposures involve writing out the worst possible scenario of a fear you have. If you have a fear of becoming a failure, you’d write a script about losing your job, your house getting foreclosed on and you living as a hobo with not even a cardboard box to keep you company. Then you would read that repeatedly. Just writing that out may not make you anxious, but if you fear becoming a failure and have OCD, it’s sure to kick your anxiety into overdrive. To someone not familiar with Exposure and Response Prevention, you may wonder why people with OCD would do this. The answer is simple, when you expose yourself to something enough, you get bored. Like if you were to watch the same horror movie over and over again, at first it’s scary, but by the tenth time you’re falling asleep. However, my OCD fear is not of failure or horror movies. It’s sex. Hence why I’m writing smut with my psychologist.

It’s not a common thing I suppose, writing smut with your psychologist. But I’ve learned there are some pretty weird things allowed in Exposure and Response Prevention therapy, that you just would not see in traditional talk therapy. For example, when I was in an OCD Intensive Outpatient Program, they had a whole folder devoted to images of vomit (we can talk about emetophobia later). At first I found it strange, but now I’ve embraced it and when someone tells me they eat off of the floor or stare at strangers for an exposure, I don’t question it. 

When I started writing smut with my first psychologist, it was petrifying. And, much like with the fanfiction, I could not write out parts about the actual sex. My new psychologist knows how to give me the push to write the hard parts. My scripts are looking smuttier and smuttier every time and at this point I’ve embraced the weirdness of ERP so much, I’m not embarrassed about it.

In fact, I almost want to shout it from the rooftops. Because people with embarrassing obsessions are keeping silent and it’s hindering their recovery. Some of them don’t even know they have a disorder they can recover from. I want to encourage everyone out there to talk about their weird thoughts because I now know they’re not weird at all. Literally every person on this planet has intrusive thoughts about sex and harm. The difference between them and I is that I have OCD. Meaning, my mind latches onto these thoughts and they get stuck in my mind and cause me extreme anxiety. 

If you have ever had a weird thought, write it as a comment on this blog. 

(By the way, this is an exposure for me too.) 
I’ll start: I have intrusive thoughts about kissing my former psychiatrist. 
Stop being embarrassed about thoughts you can’t control. Had a thought of having sex with your best friend? Normal! Had a thought that you might have a crush on your English Professor? Cool, me too! Had a thought about having sex with your pet? Oh well! 

Embrace the weirdness. 

Embrace the exposure. 

Embrace the anxiety. 

Embrace the anxiety and you will live.
Because life starts at the end of our comfort zones. 

Becoming comfortable with talking about my obsessions did not come easily. It took me a long time to tell my former psychologist what my thoughts were about, let alone the details of each thought.

But it got easier with, you guessed it, exposure. The more I talk about it, the easier it gets. 

The biggest help to me in this ongoing exposure was starting my video blogs on Youtube. When I started vlogging, I knew I had to talk about my thoughts so I could help other people experiencing similar thoughts. I’ve made this written blog so I can expand on the topics in my videos and hopefully talk about OCD in a little more detail. 

Anyway, I know starting off a blog with a post about taboo thoughts is a bit bold, but I hope you stick around!

Oh, my name is Kat, by the way. 🙂