Thursday, April 4, 2013

OCD: Checking Things

This post wasn't in my list of planned posts, but I decided to write it because a friend of mine texted me this morning about being late for work because she was having OCD about the stove.
I get it.
I understand.
I can't tell you how much of my life has been spent staring at a stove and oven over the years. Or at an outlet in the wall where I had a curling iron plugged in, etc. Sometimes I would (and still do) bring my curling iron with me in my bag just so I won't have to spend time doubting whether or not it's unplugged. If it were that easy to haul a stove and oven when leaving the house, I know there would've been times in the past when I would have taken them with me, too!

(Of course, doing those things is giving in to the OCD rather than pushing through and trusting that the things are off/unplugged.)

OCD affects everyone at different levels. Maybe my OCD is more extreme than other peoples. But, regardless of the level, when you're stuck in an OCD moment, it's difficult!
The doubt and the "what-ifs" are not fun.

Here's a generic, but very realistic example:

I check each knob on the stove individually. "Off. Off. Off. Off."
(I can see they are each off and I'm making a "mental note" of it.)

Doubt creeps in.
"What if the stove isn't really off and I leave the house and the house starts on fire? It would be all my fault."

I check each knob again.
"Off. Off. Off. Off."

Doubt creeps in again. I re-check each knob again.
"Off. Off. Off. Off."
(Making sure each knob is in an obvious "off" position. A knob slightly askew could mean that the stove isn't actually off and then the house might burn down.)

The cycle continues.

Sometimes a person even makes it out the door before the doubt creeps in again. "I KNOW I checked the stove. I KNOW it's off. But, WHAT IF it's not? I better check it again."

Sound familiar? You don't have to answer that. It's all too familiar to me, though.

OCD can be cyclical anguish.

There came a point in my youth when going to bed was a stressful time because of my OCD. I had a routine around the house of things to check (dryer, door, heater vents, stove/oven, etc.). I don't know how long each "thing" took me to check - some may have been more difficult than others. It eventually got to the point where my brother would do the "checking routine" for me because it was so time-consuming, draining, and stressful for me to do on my own and it was fast and easy for him. This similar scenario has been true as an adult, at times, as well (except substitute my brother for other people).
The thing with OCD, though, is that passing a "checking-things routine" off to someone else was only temporary relief. Something else would eventually take it's place. Maybe if I had just kept fighting that OCD tendency on my own, some of the other stuff I've had to deal with wouldn't have crept it's way in. I'm really not sure, though. What I do know is that some of the main focal points of stress for my OCD have definitely changed over the years.

I believe that every "what-if", every doubt, etc. is based on a lie and from satan. He wants me to doubt, worry, and fear. He doesn't want me to trust my eyes and my brain to know that the stove and oven are off after I check them. He wants me to worry and fear that a fire would start. He wants me to be stuck. He wants me to be stressed. He wants me to question myself.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. - Ephesians 6:12 (NIV)

I know it's easier said than done, but if you go through any of the above, I hope you will:
TRUST your eyes. TRUST yourself. TRUST that if the stove is on (or anything was plugged in, etc.), you WOULD be able to tell right away. If you checked it, then TRUST the fact that you KNOW you already checked it.
Don't get stuck in the pit of doubt.
Don't doubt yourself.
Don't "what-if" yourself.
BELIEVE TRUTH, not lies.
And, TRUST God, not satan.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, nor do I work in the health field. I am not an expert in anything faith-related, nor do I work in a faith-related area. The things I write are things I've learned and/or things I believe. I learned them from sermons, Bible teacher(s), Bible study, life, and/or etc. I take things I've learned and see how I believe they could be applied to OCD based on my experiences, etc. with OCD. I am not saying to use any of the things on this blog as treatment. Maybe you'll find some things in my blog posts to help you on top of whatever treatment method(s) you have chosen/choose to use or not use for your OCD, but you do so at your own risk. I am not responsible for any of your choices, actions, decisions. I am not responsible for any of your results, nor your lack of results. I have read something similar or the same as this in the past from a Bible teacher: If anything I ever write doesn't line up with God's Word, please throw it out.

OCD: Redirect Your Thoughts

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  1. Your description of checking the stove reminds me so much of my own battle with the stove in the past. The stove was my nemesis, and I couldn't get away from it without checking, sometimes for hours. I still remember the anguish that went along with the doubt and anxiety. I'm in a much better place now thanks to a combination of treatment, but I find that I still avoid cooking because of my stove fears.

    Thanks for your honest and helpful post. I'm glad I found your blog!

    1. Thank you for your comment about my blog. It means a lot. Thanks, also, for sharing about your battle. I'm glad you're in a better place now OCD-wise.

  2. I found your blog because you followed me on Twitter. I don't check physical things but it's more things that pop up in my mind that I feel I need to have an answer to. I can't stop thinking about the what ifs and such at times. I did have a period of time after the birth of my daughter that I had fears of harming someone in my family and that was awful. I have had therapy and I am on medication and I'm a lot better than I was. But, I definitely still have my moments and if I get something that I'm obsessing over, whether it be a hobby or a concern about someone I care about. . . it makes me crazy to have it running through my mind. My faith helps a LOT! I know I'm getting too far away from God when the anxiety starts to creep back up more and more. I have to force myself to slow down and calm my mind or it can get away from me. Thanks for posting! I will be reading more of your archives later :)

    1. My faith helps me a lot, too. It's wonderful "meeting" another Christian woman with OCD. Thanks for leaving a comment and for reading my blog!