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Author Topic: OCD and spiritual practice  (Read 691 times)

EclecticWheel

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OCD and spiritual practice
« on: December 16, 2018, 09:53:11 pm »
If you suffer from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) have you had this affect your spiritual practice?  Do you have any particular coping skills?

This is one of the more minor things I struggle with, but my obsessions tend to revolve around religion, and it started in childhood with thinking random and completely harmless behaviors were sinful.  I overcame that, but it reemerged in my brief journey into Catholicism which was also precipitated by obsessions.

From time to time when I have become particularly obsessed I've tried returning to Catholicism, and it has always been a disaster, but I think I have finally overcome that particular problem since I have been informed during confession that I have fallen under a sentence of automatic excommunication.  I don't really want to go back after that, though I respect that particular community's desire to guard its boundaries.

Most of my obsessions have revolved around saying prayers correctly or obsessing over the PERFECT way to pray or perform a ritual.  Thankfully there is a Christian tradition I learned of from Eastern Orthodox friends that no matter how badly one said a prayer, one should not repeat it, and something about being given a rule like that has helped a great deal.

At other times I've had theological obsessions that, once the obsessions passed, I realized were quite irrelevant to me and do not bother me in a normal state of mind.
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Donal2018

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Re: OCD and spiritual practice
« Reply #1 on: December 16, 2018, 11:28:11 pm »
If you suffer from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) have you had this affect your spiritual practice?  Do you have any particular coping skills?

This is one of the more minor things I struggle with, but my obsessions tend to revolve around religion, and it started in childhood with thinking random and completely harmless behaviors were sinful.  I overcame that, but it reemerged in my brief journey into Catholicism which was also precipitated by obsessions.

From time to time when I have become particularly obsessed I've tried returning to Catholicism, and it has always been a disaster, but I think I have finally overcome that particular problem since I have been informed during confession that I have fallen under a sentence of automatic excommunication.  I don't really want to go back after that, though I respect that particular community's desire to guard its boundaries.

Most of my obsessions have revolved around saying prayers correctly or obsessing over the PERFECT way to pray or perform a ritual.  Thankfully there is a Christian tradition I learned of from Eastern Orthodox friends that no matter how badly one said a prayer, one should not repeat it, and something about being given a rule like that has helped a great deal.

At other times I've had theological obsessions that, once the obsessions passed, I realized were quite irrelevant to me and do not bother me in a normal state of mind.

I do not suffer from OCD, but I have a Bipolar Diagnosis and I have done Peer Support work for people with various Psych Conditions. One guide to the Peer Support work that I did was the Eight Dimensions of Wellness (www.samhsa.gov/wellness-initiative/eight-dimensions-wellness), which includes Social, Emotional, and Spiritual Wellness amongst the Eight Dimensions.

So, the intersection between mental wellness and spirituality is important. It is important to stay healthy, but not to disregard or devalue your mental health experiences. I have known a lot of people who have had some very profound spiritual experiences within the context of mental health conditions. There is a form of Mad Pride that calls Madness a "dangerous gift". Another sentiment is that "we get our stars from our scars".

In any case, I have personally had a lot of profound spiritual experiences in the midst of mental health crisis. I have known many others who have also. Part of my point is that we can learn a lot from difficult life experiences, so even something like OCD or Bipolar or Autism can be viewed as having both challenges and benefits. I would encourage you to maybe find a mental health professional who is skilled at dealing with spiritual issues in addition to clinical skill.

Anyway, if you have any questions or concerns, you can PM me if you want. I have found DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) to be very helpful these past several years with my Bipolar condition. You can Google or Wikipedia that if you want. It teaches a bunch of coping skills that I have found to be effective, including Mindfulness and Distress Tolerance. I wish you wellness and good luck.

Donal2018

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Re: OCD and spiritual practice
« Reply #2 on: December 16, 2018, 11:35:00 pm »
If you suffer from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) have you had this affect your spiritual practice?  Do you have any particular coping skills?

At other times I've had theological obsessions that, once the obsessions passed, I realized were quite irrelevant to me and do not bother me in a normal state of mind.

I would also note that one of the things we have tried to do in Peer Support is to sort out the difference between unusual spiritual thoughts, ideas, and behaviors that are helpful versus those that may not be as useful. We stress the autonomy and freedom of the individual, so only you are the ultimate arbiter of ideas which are helpful and which are "quite irrelevant", as you point out.

Part of my own therapy has been parsing out what religious and spiritual ideas are helpful and which are not so much. Everyone has their own path to follow, and Counselors and Peer Specialists are here to help guide, but ultimately we are responsible for our own path, and there is freedom and power in that truth.

Klaw

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Re: OCD and spiritual practice
« Reply #3 on: April 21, 2019, 04:18:26 pm »
If you suffer from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) have you had this affect your spiritual practice?  Do you have any particular coping skills?

I do not have OCD, however I was a job coach and have had several friends with this issue. I really think one of the keys to this is balance. Stress is a big trigger. It might also help to have a trusted, encouraging friend to help you identify times when the behavior starts and you don't realize. Sometimes a big win in your life may greatly improve it. There may even be ways that any behavior that seems permanent can be worked into your practices.

Zlote Jablko

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Re: OCD and spiritual practice
« Reply #4 on: April 22, 2019, 04:43:25 am »
If you suffer from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) have you had this affect your spiritual practice?  Do you have any particular coping skills?

This is one of the more minor things I struggle with, but my obsessions tend to revolve around religion, and it started in childhood with thinking random and completely harmless behaviors were sinful.  I overcame that, but it reemerged in my brief journey into Catholicism which was also precipitated by obsessions.

From time to time when I have become particularly obsessed I've tried returning to Catholicism, and it has always been a disaster, but I think I have finally overcome that particular problem since I have been informed during confession that I have fallen under a sentence of automatic excommunication.  I don't really want to go back after that, though I respect that particular community's desire to guard its boundaries.

Most of my obsessions have revolved around saying prayers correctly or obsessing over the PERFECT way to pray or perform a ritual.  Thankfully there is a Christian tradition I learned of from Eastern Orthodox friends that no matter how badly one said a prayer, one should not repeat it, and something about being given a rule like that has helped a great deal.

At other times I've had theological obsessions that, once the obsessions passed, I realized were quite irrelevant to me and do not bother me in a normal state of mind.

It’s not unusual for compulsive behavior to strike me, especially in times of stress. (e.g. now) It definitely can spill over into my spiritual life. Sometimes I get so obsessive about religion that I do burn myself out a bit. It’s good to take a break sometimes and remember who you are when you’re not worrying about such things. That’s my experience.

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