OCD to religion is like fuel to a fire.
It makes it so much more intense.
For me, this is one of the most terrifying forms of OCD due to what’s at stake.
I cannot provide professional advice here, but would like to share my perspective and provide some support to other sufferers.
It hit me when I was 16
I believe this form of OCD manifested at the same time my infinity/eternity OCD did.
It makes sense, as religion focuses on topics of this nature.
But for whatever reason, around 2005-06, my mind began to latch onto certain questions about my existence and what happens after we die.
This new curiosity seemed to come out of no where and at it’s peak lasted months. In fact, I don’t feel it truly ever went away.
I would picture myself and family members being in Hell
I understand some of you have inappropriate thoughts about God and/or the Devil. Carrying out inappropriate acts with them and other blasphemous scenarios.
I haven’t had this exactly, but I do have thoughts about the afterlife.
I was less religious in my twenties, and although I don’t practice a specific religion, I still feel these thoughts are the hardest to ignore.
Especially for my family. If I have a thought about a loved one being in or going to Hell, I just have to reverse it. Every single time. Therapy so far hasn’t made this one any easier to deal with.
Unlike an intrusive thought of a more simple nature, this thought makes me think of eternity and spending it in the worst environment imaginable.
What if I am wrong about OCD? What if I do need to reverse the thought?
My family are the ones at risk and eternity has no end. I’d be selfish on a whole other level if I didn’t just play it safe and let OCD win this time.
But then, OCD wins every time.
I question my morality constantly
This now touches on morality OCD, and worring that I am not a moral person.
Is God going to judge me? What if all my family go to Heaven and I go to Hell? Will we be separated forever?
Like literal forever?!
It has gotten to the point where I can’t even watch a crime documentary without my brain telling me:
‘ah, so I see you want to be a serial killer too hey? There’s a special place for people like you…’
On top of this, I question my families morality by constantly having thoughts about them doing inappropriate things. Things I know they would never ever do.
Reversing the thought gives me temporary peace
When I have a bad thought, I picture that family member being in Hell. It’s obviously traumatic.
I then have to remember a time when that family member has done a good thing. Trying really hard to focus on that one moment long enough for the anxiety to go away.
I know fine well my family are all good people. I see it everyday and have done my whole life.
But at the time, it is like my mind needs evidence from a specific moment when they did something kind. Whether it was yesterday or ten years ago.
I have started to do vocal tics as a result of the Religious OCD
I haven’t struggled with vocal tics since I was a child. But due to the constant wave of religious-themed thoughts, I find myself saying the word ‘heaven’ a lot.
I restart a lot of things if I have the ‘wrong kind of thought’ at that time.
So when I am doing things, such as a checking compulsion or leaving the house, I say ‘heaven’ repeatedly under my breath.
This cancels out any potential negative thoughts I have and prevents me from needing to start over.
I would consider this more Tourettic OCD/Just Right OCD as I am carrying out a tic to reverse a thought. It feels very much in the middle of both Tourette Syndrome and OCD.
I lose my mind trying to answer unanswerable questions
I will keep this short as I will expand on this in my existential OCD post.
The first time I considered my OCD an emergency was when I was having these existential thoughts. The deepest questions at the worst times.
It is hard to put down in writing just how terrified I was in these moments.
I couldn’t rest. I didn’t want to live but was too afraid to die. I no longer felt in control of anything and was just being dragged wherever nature, or God, wanted.
I had constant butterflies as if I was in constant freefall. I would try to ground myself but realized that everything was hurtling with me through the vastness of space.
My mind would just keep asking ‘Why? How? When?!’
I have previously compared it to running away from a cliff edge and the whole ground is a slowly dragging you back to the edge.
You don’t know what’s on the other side of the drop, it’s a mystery. You try to run away. But you can’t keep running away forever.
The mental exhaustion was crippling. The anxiety had me constantly in fight or flight mode and the depression made me numb.
I felt like everyone was a zombie and I was the only one thinking straight
In the months that religious OCD tends to take hold, I feel like the only sane character in a zombie world.
Why are people putting on suits and going to jobs that don’t matter?
Why do we take an interest in sports and things when we are literally on a rock hurtling to God knows where?
It didn’t dawn on me that I was the one not thinking clearly.
We as a species like to distract ourselves from the bigger questions in our day to day lives.
But these ‘less important’ things ground us. They help communities grow and keep our minds from doing what mine was doing. Burning out.
I know this is all Religious OCD, but it isn’t easy to ignore
Understanding this is OCD and ignoring it are two completely different things.
The anxiety still hits with an intrusive thought involving religion. Thoughts about my family cause me a lot of stress.
This is a reason why I am attending therapy in West London, trying to understand what I can do to fight the thoughts more and more everyday.
I have to learn that just because some things are unanswerable, doesn’t mean they are a direct threat.