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OCD Religious Magical Thinking - anyone else?

I

I_L_C

New member
Joined
Jun 30, 2020
Messages
1
Location
London
Hi,
I've struggled with OCD for as long as I can remember. It's been an up and down rollercoaster throughout the last 10 years with no clear pattern as to when it sky rockets, the only thing I can think of is when I'm by myself for a long time (living abroad) or in the same place for a long time (living at home after university).
It was very bad when I was around 17/18, I was doing unbelievable compulsions that were truly embarrassing but I couldn't stop. Picking up cigarette butts off the floor to see what types of brand it was, picking up leaves to count the edges, countless rituals at home that took hours a night and random rituals anywhere my mind wanted to really. It was to the point where I was spending more of my day doing rituals than anything else, I'm pretty sure it was over 50+ a day. I felt paralysed as I found it hard to even get to the bus stop to go to school or it would take me hours to get home everyday.
Good news is, I managed to beat this. Moving house did help, but I tried this technique of writing all my rituals down in a pyramid where I would fight not to do the smaller minors ones and progressively fight off doing the rest. Somehow it worked, I remember some days were harder than others where I wouldn't let my mind forget that I didn't perform the ritual - but I'm here today and it worked.
I'm now 23 and I have occasional flare ups, like when I lived abroad in Spain but that was 'broken' by moving back to my hometown.
Now after a year at home and spending a lot of time at home due to coronavirus, I've noticed I've developed a ritual that seems to be taking longer and longer every night.
My rituals always seem to involve Religon, so I need affirmation that I'll go to Heaven and not to Hell. I wouldn't even say this gives me major anxiety when thinking about this normally with friends or family..but when I perform the rituals it's my most common thought. It's so believable - if I don't perform the ritual right, I'll go to Hell after I die!?
So at the moment, I'll need to step from my bathroom to my living room (stepping over the line separating the two on the ground), but during this 'transaction' I'll need to moving my head up, touching a certain part of my palm and most importantly, thinking about anything that may relate to heaven and NOT hell before I blink and finish the 'transaction'. As everyone who suffers from magical thinking is aware, as soon as you don't want to think of something (it'll be crazy things like if i randomly think of my friend who isn't catholic, or the colour orange to signify fire, or an animal which means I'll turn into that animal after I die) I usually think of it. I'm only allowed to think of things that are pure, like the colour white, blue, or celebs who may be religious!?!!

This ritual and a couple of other ones that I'm managing is where I'm at right now, but I can tell that the need for rituals are getting worse and worse, taking longer a night and I've even started picking up a few leaves lately which is something I haven't done in years.

Any tips on getting help? I can't seem to find any therapists or places for support during lockdown and I'm worried it's going to get worse. Last time I just managed to fight it off myself but right now I don't feel like I'm in a position to do that.

Thank you :)
 
P

Purpleplum

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 7, 2020
Messages
2,295
Location
nowhere
OCD comes and goes. You may think it was gone before but it was just in remission like cancer. It can't be cured but the episodes can be controlled.

Have tried the method you tried the first time?

Demand your life back from OCD. Tell it you won't let it take up minutes and days of your life. Force yourself to try a different pattern in just one small way. You will find out that it didn't matter after all.

Good and bad will still come no matter what rituals we do to prevent it from happening.
 
F

fightthegoodfight

Well-known member
Joined
May 7, 2019
Messages
97
Location
Florida
Hey there,

I used to struggle with a lot of religious OCD, particularly pertaining to going to hell, etc if i didnt do things a certain way.

Currently I struggle with similar ritualistic behaviors but they arent about religion, instead they pertain to irrational thoughts about loved ones or myself being harmed.

As far as getting help, you can always chat here for general support. I am US based and don't know for sure but maybe the Samaritan's line can help too?

As for other tips, I know you said you are feeling overwhelmed but I wanted to throw this out there in case it helps. As far as treating the behavior (ritualized in this case) the technique is the same, be it religion or a fear of hurting others.

Firstly just remember that anytime you start experiencing these ritual compulsions, that they are nothing more than OCD. It helps to label it so you can see it for what it is, and how absurd it is. :)

The next step is the most important one, and it is simply exposure. Every time you have one of these compulsions to do this ritual, you need to try to push through it and make yourself reasonably uncomfortable, continuing onward without actually doing the ritualistic task. In the beginning, this will be extremely hard. You may even want to try doing it in steps, removing pieces of the ritual each time, so you slowly bring it down to where you are only forcing yourself to push through doing one ritual as opposed to several. The point is tho you have to keep repeating this, denying yourself the ability to do the ritual.

It will be hard. But then it will slowly get easier. And easier. And easier.

Try to take everything in small steps. It will be hard at first, but each time you manage to push through, it will get easier.

Two books I can strongly recommend by the way for anybody with OCD are:

Brain Lock, by Jeffrey M Schwartz, MD
And
The OCD Workbook, by Bruce M Hyman, PhD and Cherry Pedrick, RN

Hang in there. :hug:
 
L

Laudanum

Well-known member
Joined
May 30, 2019
Messages
1,012
Location
Surrey
My rituals don't involve religion, but they involve tapping things an (ever-increasing) amount of times, like every time I climb the stairs or go into certain rooms. If I don't do them the 'spite force' will make bad things happen to me and my loved ones.

The only time it goes away is if too many of the bad things I'm attempting to assuage happen. I realise that won't help with a heaven/hell situation as that will never be resolved this way.

All I can suggest is to write down the rituals and why you do them and analyse the specific events they are meant to stop (ie why tilt your head up away from 'hell', since hell isn't necessarily geographically located below your feet etc). I can understand though - when I was a kid I always had to look at every four corner of the room in order, the last one always being diametrically opposite the direction of the graveyard half a mile away.

Ultimately it is an extreme form of subconscious anxiety which you attempt to control with ritualistic behaviour and bargaining, and can appear and disappear when life changes occur.
 
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