The Demon 

I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder more commonly known as OCD. It is a recognised mental illness often diagnosed alongside anxiety and depression. I call them the Unholy Trinity. Looking back I have had it, in some form or another, for most of my life although it was at its worst in my mid to late twenties. I am largely on top of it now thanks to medication, self-education and family support but I can never let my guard down as it can flare up again at any time.

What is OCD? It is incredibly difficult to explain and is intensely personal and unique to anyone who suffers from it. If you want the textbook definition then google it. As for me it is unwanted, intrusive thoughts that enter my head and then remain there on a constant loop. No matter how hard I try to ignore or dispel them, thet fester and grow to the point where they occupy every waking second of your day. Imagine a broken record playing full volume in your head over and over again. 24/7. That is OCD. It will not stop until it has broken you. It is a demon of the mind.


The thought can be anything. When I was younger it was more physical. Household items had to be positioned in a certain way, daily routines had to be performed a certain number of times and so on. I developed various physical ticks and movements that had to be performed even to the point where they caused me embarrassment, discomfort or actual physical pain. They had to be carried out ‘just right’ to ease the rising tide of anxiety building up inside of me.

In later life the obsessions became more mental as opposed to physical. This is known as Pure OCD. Dark, disturbing images would explode uninvited into my head. You are a paedophile. You don’t love your family. You are a homosexual. And unless I performed certain complicated mental routines a certain number of times (usually three or five) the thought would rage unabatee through my increasingly fragile mind. To the extent where I could not perform any other activity. Could not work, could not hold a conversation, could not think. I was held captive in a prison without walls. Everywhere I went the thoughts went with me. 

The obsession (be it physical or mental) and accompanying anxiety could only be eased it I performed a pre-determined routine a set number of times. This was the compulsive response to the obsessive thought. In my case this usually involved a tortuous series of mental gymnastics that would leave me exhausted and questioning my own sanity.

For example if the unwanted voice in my head told me that I was, say, a terrible father I would have to state five ‘facts’ to disprove this statement. No I am not a bad father because….And unless I said these facts in exactly the right order, using exactly the right words I would have to start all over again. Until it felt just right.

This would take up huge amounts of my time. The concentration and focus required were enormous. At work I would have to hide in the toilets for lengthy periods of time in order to perform routines. At home I would drift off in the middle of conversations in order to deal with routines. This made me come across as rude and disinterested. I wasn’t. I was just battling the obsession in the only way I knew. 

And all the while the voice in my head was there. Telling me I had slipped up. That I had missed a word. Start again. That, yes, I had performed the routine accurately but it didn’t feel quite right. Start again. For every time I performed a routine the voice would have a million and one reasons why I had to start again. It had a total grip of me. I was powerless. It broke me day after day. The only respites I had were sleep or alcohol. But they were only temporary. And every time I woke up or the hangover cleared the voice would be waiting for me, ready to pick up again from where we had left off. Start again. Start again. Start again.

The reason I am writing this today is to educate others who have been misinformed about the illness and to offer hope to those currently battling this demon of the mind. I still have bad days and I still struggle. I doubt that you can ever be ‘cured’ but there are ways to fight back. For it is a battle. But a battle you can win. If you enter it with the proper weapons, armour and tactics. In my next blog I’m going to talk about how I did just that and how you can too.

Until next time. Don’t be a victim. Slay the demon.

Have you OCD or know somebody with it? If so please talk to me. I want to help.

40 thoughts on “The Demon 

Add yours

      1. Thank you Caroline. You should check out Part Two and also my ‘Twirly Chair’ series as well if you want to learn a little more of my back story. You are doing great work raising awareness of mental health issues. I’m currently working on my first novel (very early days) where the main character has chronic OCD. Would be grateful if I could touch base with you for advice & feedback as I get into the writing process continues. Thank again – Stephen

        Like

  1. I am similarly afflicted, suffering from what my great grandfather refererd to as “agonies of the mind” – an archaic term, but one I’ve grown to embrace because it is a little less sterile.

    My such issues are OCD – unwanted thoughts disorder, bi polar ii, major depression, bone- deep anxiety, scopopbobia…
    My OCD, being purely mental, makes me feel guilty for the slightest thing as if it were some Hawthornian “unpardonable sin”- like leaving a dish in the sink, or forgetting to return a call, which is unbearable at times. There’s no logic to it. It simply is. I need not go into additional details, for I am sure you understand- also I have a strange, and baseless affinity for prime and odd numbers. They give me comfort, (and i’ll take it)

    I always cringe a little when a co-worker or friend says they have OCD because they need to keep a neat desk- when the spectrum runs from an obsession with order, to germaphobia, to hoarding, to unwanted thoughts and/or ruminating, overscrupulocity, I think:

    “Buddy, you don’t know the half of it”

    It is in, however, my ongoing illness that I have become stronger in my faith- this is because i generally don’t feel anything but guilt, self-hatred, depression, and just general malaise.

    It is in my current inability to feel happy, at rest, or at peace that has counterintuitively strengthened my belief – I can’t hold on to moments of joy (though I surely notice and give thanks for any blessing), so my faith in God and Christ has become almost purely intellectual and dryly theological- no matter what horror or chaos I feel inside, I know that somebody is in charge. Because when you feel overwhelming and ongoing misery and pain, it enables you to especially empathize with others; it’s there that you see God’s fingerprints- how even the cruelest of our brain’s imbalances can make things better for others, so long as we let them, even if only little ways.

    Apologies for the long comment, but your article hit home. You and yours will remain in my prayers keep up the good fight.

    GB Seeonee

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for your honesty and openness in sharing…my son was diagnosed with OCD when he was 7. I think demon is the perfect description for this illness. Everyday is a struggle. Many nights I have stayed up convincing him that nothing is coming to get him. For him, he finds relief in playing video games, which is a double-edged sword. I think his escape is just as toxic as the thoughts themselves. I wish I could offer more than just a reminder that you are not alone, but I can’t. What I do with Ryan is have him list verses from Gods Word that directly negate the looping thoughts. As someone with anxiety, this has helped me a lot. I am praying for you!! You’re not alone!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Its so rare for people to talk about the obsessive and intrusive upsetting thoughts. I am glad to know there are others too who have experienced that.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I quit listening or talking to the voice(s) in my head 🙂 When I catch myself doing it, I redirect that conversation to a conversation with God. It has really helped in my day to day life. God Bless you, and thanking Him for how far you have come, and want to go 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I have a friend who deals with paranoia. She does not at this want to be on medication, which I understand where she is coming from. Her counselor is trying to press her to take medication, but the main problem with this is…her counselor doesn’t even fully know my friend’s diagnosis. The counselor keeps changing ideas. I’ve highly recommended for her to find someone new. I’ve studied a number of psychology classes, and one of my professors gave this piece of advice, which I love, “You don’t have to stay with the same therapist or counselor. If you don’t connect, if you don’t like what they say or feel like they are doing their job, you can look around. It’s okay to speak up.” Thank you for sharing something personal that many will be able to connect to you with. Knowing that we aren’t alone in this world, definitely makes things better. Peace be with you all. 🙂

    Like

    1. Thank you. I hope your friend finds release. Medication is one of a number of tools when battling mental illness. I also have had counsellors who I ‘haven’t’ clicked with. Your friend is blessed to have a good friend like you.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The medication they wanted her to take, you aren’t suppose to drive because it can cause drowsiness and she works all the time. She also doesn’t even take basic vitamins, which I told her could help as she has some deficiencies in vitamins. I try to be patient with her, but it isn’t always easy I’ll admit.

        Like

          1. She has been in my life since I was 12 and she was 13. We stopped being friends when I was in high school, and I later reached out to her years later while in college. I don’t know if it so much patience anymore. I’ve known her for over 10 years. I also struggle with confrontation, and being open about my feelings and how people make me feel. She has a lot of factors going on in her life. When she struggled with hallucinations, dark thoughts, paranoia, etc she heavily clung to me. After the first weeks, I told her I could not answer her 24/7 because I wouldn’t be a crutch to her. I’d still support her, but I didn’t want her to find a safe place only in me, rather, know she had support, but also the strength to move forward through her problems. She’s advanced a lot, but there are also other personal factors (people) in her life, that have a prominent effect in her life. I can’t help her with that, that’s entirely up to her. But it’s hard when we discuss the same problems over and over again, and she wants a different answer. God has taught me I can be open, and helpful, but I also don’t have to be walked over constantly, it’s okay as a Christian to say no. Jesus said for the disciple to shake off the dust, and move forward, and to not let their pearls get trampled. Not saying that’s where our friendship is, but I am concerned for sure. She also struggles with her relationship with Christ, and priorities. I told her, “You can’t serve two masters, like scripture says, eventually you will choose one over the other.”

            Like

          2. Also, wanted to add, thanks for your input : ) There’s a lot of personal stuff I can’t really share, and I’ll probably have to talk her soon about some of the feelings I’m feeling. When we started our friendship up again, we worked on being honest when we had issues. She struggles a lot with going back and forth between things, and people. I fear I’m going to be pushed back into a corner, and not needed till she needs something.

            Liked by 1 person

              1. Yes, I agree. God helped me break through some of the toxic friendships I’ve gone through. Sometimes, I wonder why I had to go through the crippling friendships that I did, but He used it for His glory. Focus went to Him, and I’m able to reach out to others from what I learned. : ) Thanks for your feedback!

                Liked by 1 person

  6. Really lovely blog. Very warm and encouraging. I have a bit of OCD and ADD, sometimes one at a time – both at once is real fun. Blogging is a good outlet, and I’ve just started so any tips on that front – really welcomed! You live in a very pretty part of the world, someday I hope to visit as my genealogy points to parts of Scotland and Ireland. Thank you for writing!

    Like

    1. Thank you. Yeah OCD is a laugh a minute 😂 I only started blogging about two months ago myself so it’s relatively new to me as well. I guess just be yourself. I tend to blog once a day and focus on quality on quantity. Don’t overthink it. Just write. Use tag lines to target the audience you want and I always try to include a bit of humour as well as some of my material can be quite dark. We live about 20 miles outside Belfast in Northern Ireland.

      Like

    1. No problem. I wrote the post for people like us. You are not alone. There is a big OCD community on WordPress. Just add the tag lines ‘OCD’, ‘Anxiety’ or ‘Depression’ to find out more. I blog every day about my faith and mental health issues so I am always about to talk to. I will pray for you and your son. Keep blogging. It is a great theraphy. 😊🙏🏻

      Like

  7. My mother is the same, I completely understand everything you’re saying, though I haven’t experienced it myself, my mother tells me what she goes through and I think it’s great that she’s not alone in all this. Anywho, keep slaying that demon!

    Like

  8. First of all, thank you for liking my post. It made me want to read your posts and I found this one. It brought back memories for me of my late mother. She was a PAINFUL sufferer of OCD, though none of us knew it at the time. We just thought she was “neurotic” – the loose translation of of “strange.” Things had to be in their place. The house wasn’t clean enough. The kitchen floor you could have used as a mirror she waxed it so much. My brother and I would use it for an “ice skating rink” in our bare stocking feet it was waxed to such a polish. You could have had breakfast, lunch, and dinner off of that floor FOR WEEKS it was so clean. Then comes “helping.” Good luck there! I’d help in cleaning – only to have her follow right behind me cleaning away. I’ll never forget that one of my aunts was a neighbor and she came over to “just chat” and she comments on my mother’s “shiny, clean” floor and said, “Oh how I wish I could get my floor as nice, clean and shiny as yours!” My mother’s response? “It’s FILTHY!” I rolled my eyes.

    Then there was when she was working. I’d call to see when she was coming home. When she wasn’t at her desk, the response? “She’s ‘down the hall’.” Translation: She’s in the women’s restroom – washing her hands. CONSTANTLY. She worked in the library where they use an artificial finger moistener and it’s got a disgusting feeling on your fingers, I’ll grant her that. But even when she didn’t do anything AT ALL? She was constantly in that bathroom – washing away; dozens of times a day. It wasn’t to use the stalls. It was because her hands were NEVER clean enough. NEVER.

    She had medications for her other companion – anxiety. It eased over time but, that OCD was NEVER treated. Never. She lived with it until she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and even then she had it!

    Your title of “Fractured Faith” is perfect because I, too, suffer from mental illness – bipolar disorder and PTSD – and it describes my faith walk because of it (a “recovering” Roman Catholic). What happened to God in the tangled web of my mind when it sputtered out of control? It’s a question I’m trying to answer one day at a time. Thank you for this fantastic post that brought up so much for me – and giving me a new perspective on my mother that I didn’t have before.

    Like

    1. I’m so glad you could relate to the post. Your poor mother. It is a terrible illness that has a ‘ripple effect’ on the whole family. I pray that you draw closer to God with each passing day and he brings recovery and restoration to your soul. 🙏🏻

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: