Question:

I have recently read the thread on your page about OCD-religion and have a few questions.

I have recently developed this disorder. Though never diagnosed, I've struggled my whole life with anxiety. I grew up a Christian (saved at a very young age) and attended a Christian school where I was taught God's Word daily. I struggled briefly with a lot of these symptoms as a young Christian and had no clue why.

In my older teen years I fell to peer pressure and put my faith in the back of my mind for years as I drank, swore, fornicated, etc. During this time period I still struggled with anxiety and would be convicted a lot of the time because I knew I was living so far from God, but I never struggled with obsessive thoughts.

About two months ago I was bombarded with these horrible thoughts and it scared me so bad I experienced my first panic attack. This lead to my ultimate conviction. I repented and rededicated my life to Christ and was delivered from the sinful habits I had developed over the years. Since then, I have only drawn closer to the Lord and His unconditional love. He is so amazing and has blessed me in so many ways. The only thing I can't understand though is why I'm still having these flare ups with anxiety and horrible obsessive thoughts.

A couple weeks ago I went searching for answers and the Lord lead me to your thread on people with OCD-Religion. It gave me a sense of peace I thought would never come back. In fact it calmed my mind so much that the thoughts went away completely when I realized it was just an anxiety disorder. I had feared that I was going crazy or even worse, maybe a devil had a hold of my mind.

This peace lasted me for weeks until a few days ago I had a minor flare up and started looking up threads on OCD-Religion and ran across a thread that struck horror in me. The article said that this condition was caused by a spiritual bondage. I started my panic attack before I could even read through the entire article.

After this one I explained to my wife what was going on with me. We called my dad (who's a preacher) and we drove down to my uncle's house (also a preacher) to have prayer. After the prayer I reached a spiritual calm. I could feel the Holy Spirit moving over me and giving me peace.

The next day I started having multiple flare ups again and the Lord lead me back to your thread and once again it gave me peace. That was yesterday and today the flare ups have been very minimal with hardly any anxiety.

Now that you know my situation is there any advice you can give to me? Perhaps how to avoid these flare ups? Or how to get out of them once they start? I really don't want to use medication or seek therapy. I really feel that I can beat this on my own through the strength and power of our mighty God and good helpful Christian advice from someone who knows about this disorder. Anything would be helpful! Thank you!


Answer:

A part of the problem you are having is that you are not discriminating between good and bad reading material. Just because someone claims that OCD-Religion is caused by some sort of spiritual bondage isn't proof that it is true. There should be evidence from the Scriptures. What I suspect is that some passages were quoted but none of them really backed up the points that were being made.

In your particular case, you've stated that you have had problems with anxiety all your life. Therefore, anything that adds to your anxiety level can easily put you over the top where you experience a full-blown panic attack. What you need to realize is that your trigger is more easily reached than most people, so you have to work harder at staying calm. One important aspect of that is not to let your feelings guide your life. Use your reason and your knowledge of God's word. "He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but whoever walks wisely will be delivered" (Proverbs 28:26).

I don't blame you for wanting to avoid medication, but I would like you to make sure that there isn't a physical cause behind your anxiety. There are some physical conditions, such as thyroid hormone imbalance that can trigger anxiety and panic attacks. So see your doctor and ask him to do some tests to rule out most of the common physical causes.

Even when there isn't a known cause, there may be points in your life where the anxiety attacks interrupt your ability to think. When things get really bad, it is sometimes useful to take a medication to get your mood under control so you can address the issues at hand. Then when things are settled again, you can see about weaning yourself off the medication. Sometimes when a person's moods are really disruptive, a person can think clearer while on medication than when off. Try it own your own, but know that you can use a back-up plan if things get out of hand. See: Should a Christian use medicinal drugs that may affect the mind?

Thanks Jeffrey. I appreciate the insight.