Lately I’ve been kicking out little (but significant) OCD compulsions I haven’t gotten rid of yet, despite it being years since they first started.
Sometimes OCD will bring about a compulsion that initially you try to fight, but it stays around long enough that you end up doing it without even thinking. It becomes automatic.
I recently made a list of things I’ve taken back from OCD. The list includes:
- Praying, witnessing and reading the Bible with my legs crossed
- Praying without kneeling
- Praying while sitting down
- Video games
- Going to my basement and being in dark places
- Writing without rewriting
- Drawing without redrawing
Some of the ones I’ve regained recently include playing video games, reading and praying while sitting down.
One of the compulsions I’ve had for years is not wearing button-up shirts. When I first started dressing modestly, OCD hopped onto my modest journey and decided that button-up shirts are immodest. It’s reasoning? Button-up shirts are too easy to take off.
This compulsion proved to make clothes shopping hard because most actually modest shirts out that year were button-ups.
Since then I’ve casually avoided button-up shirts.
When I go shopping, being a woman who values modesty, I keep a mental checklist for what qualities I want in my clothes. When going through that checklist, sometimes a shirt will make every qualification. Long sleeves, not too low cut, etc., but it’s a botton-up. On those cases, I politely move onto the next item. In other cases, the shirt may have some buttons, but is not a complete button-up shirt. Therefore leading to a very unnessesary mental battle.
Since I’ve been trying to kick out these ingrained compulsions, when I saw my one button-up shirt hanging innocently in my closet, I decided today’s the day to kick out this one. I’ve tried to do this a couple times before, but was never successful at wearing it out of the house. Not always because of anxiety, sometimes because the weather wasn’t right or I decided on another outfit.
Here’s how it went:
I took it out of my closet and started buttoning it up. That’s when I remembered before OCD, I used to always wear tank tops under my button-up shirts. I decided not to put one on because it will add to the anxiety around being immodest.
Then I started thinking about my button-up modesty “rule”. The reason I didn’t wear button-up shirts for so long was I believed it was a valid modesty rule. I believed it was a religious rule, not an OCD rule.
Beliefs like this is what kept me from recovery from my religious obsessions for so long. Learning what OCD thoughts look like helped me identify when a rule was really OCD. That took a long time too, and I still struggle with it. That’s why I had a spike of anxiety when I realized this rule might be a religious rule, not OCD.
If it’s a religious rule, that means I’m disobeying Almighty God. It means I could go to Hell (my most feared consequence).
Instead of ruminating, instead of trying to figure out if it’s God, I said “Well, maybe it is.”
Four powerful words for an OCD sufferer.
What helped more than learning what an OCD thought looks like, was learning that ruminating over whether it’s OCD or not is a compulsion. Cutting that out is key in defeating OCD.
Despite my anxiety, I pushed past the fear and I finished buttoning my shirt.
Then I promptly went to the full-length mirror to take a selfie of my accomplishment.
Writing this out has brought back my anxiety. If I were to rate my anxiety on a scale of one to ten, ten being the highest, it would be an eight. I’m having urges to figure out if it’s OCD. I need to be certain that it is. I’m resisting those urges quite well, if I do say so myself.
This is another exposure that has made me realize how far I’ve come. A year ago, when I was in an Intensive Outpatient Program for OCD (my 2nd time), I would not do exposures around religious obsessions due to my false beliefs regarding them. Now, I’m challenging my biggest fear.
To be honest, this was a bit of a flooding exposure. I only started religious obsessions 4 months ago and I’m still at the bottom of my hierarchy. When I started this exposure I was so certain that it was OCD. I didn’t expect that I would even doubt it.
OCD, “the doubting disease,” obviously had other plans.
Regardless, I already started the exposure and my anxiety is tolerable, so I’m not giving up now.
I hope one day to take back everything OCD has taken from me. I want to enjoy those things again. Although, it hurts to know I can never take back the most precious thing, lost time. Now that the time of OCD is over, I know I must spend the rest making healthy decisions to improve my life.
One of those things being avoiding compulsions, no matter how much it hurts.
And having fun outside of my house, which I’m about to do now.
Here’s my outfit of the day: