Have you ever had frequently unwanted thoughts come into your mind, which caused you great distress and anxiety? Have these thoughts consequently led you to carry out repetitive behaviours or psychological acts to relieve the unpleasant feelings? If you have, this is known as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and this happened to me. Although I thank God I no longer suffer from this today.
It started like this, one day I was in a session (offering Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to a client who was depressed) then out of nowhere I had a random thought “GOD IS A BASTARD”. For me, having this thought made me feel extremely anxious, because I was at a point in my life whereby I was building a stronger relationship with God. I sat in the chair in front of my client and I just remember this rush of adrenaline, my heart started racing, I felt breathless and started sweating. In that moment those feelings felt like they lasted a life time, although looking back it lasted for about 5 minutes. All I wanted to do was end the session but my client was chatting away; I desperately wanted to escape. I felt so hot and I could not concentrate, I kept asking myself “did my mind really just think that?” I remember rushing through the session and once the session was over, I started searching my mind to see if the thought was still there - it was. I started feeling anxious again.
The meaning I attached to this thought “GOD IS A BASTARD” was I am a bad person, God does not love me and I am going to hell. Surely I could control my mind? My mental state purely affected by one random thought. I just could not stop thinking this way and I was feeling so bad about it.
“GOD IS A BASTARD” was an unwanted thought that frequently came to mind. I decided to take action and each time it came I would neutralise the thought (carry out a compulsion) by saying something positive. For example “GOD LOVES ME” and “GOD IS GOOD” saying this over and over in my head until I felt right. This soon became an obsession and was something I did every day.
The very things I would advise my clients not to do were the things I was doing.
I became obsessed- waking up in the morning searching my mind for the thought, pushing the thought out of my mind, avoiding church and Godly conversations. I could not tell anyone, not even my partner who is a pastor. I was so ashamed and embarrassed and I knew nobody would understand. I woke up each morning with a sense of dread, but still had to face the world. Crying on the inside, smiling out the outside. I would go to work, look after my son and attend to my partner and family. I became very withdrawn from friends as I knew they would not understand. I called the OCD association society, even though I was a therapist, I just needed someone to talk to. I felt so alone with my thoughts and weighed down by my mental state. I went to the GP who prescribed sleeping tablets; I took them just to get to sleep at night. But that did not resolve the problem. I prayed and prayed, I cried out to God.
One day I woke thinking “what is the point of living, I am going to hell anyway”. I was so scared; my son (who was a baby at the time) started crying and I instantly thought “I have to get better for him”. I then sat down (carrying my son in my arms) and thought about what I would tell my clients to do in this instance. I started applying this to myself. Every day I challenged myself to stop doing the things (i.e – rituals and behaviours) that were reinforcing my anxiety.
Without my son, faith and expertise I am not sure where I would be today. I just want people to understand that mental health issues do not discriminate, it does not mean you are WEAK, MAD or CRAZY. Religious or not, when your mental state is not in a good place you need help and support.
I share this story as a testimony that CBT works. If you or anyone you know is suffering in silence I offer a CONFIDENTIAL service. I know how hard it can be to put on a brave face and still act like everything is ok but deep down inside, you feel like ripping your heart out, or feel like you are trapped inside your own mind unable to get out. I tell you from experience, that there is a way out.
If you are currently going through a situation that is affecting your mental state, or currently
experiencing negative thought patterns causing you to feel anxious or depressed and you are unsure how to break out if this cycle. Get in touch.
As a CBT therapist, I believe that it is NOT the situation, thought or object that is the problem, but the way the individual THINK’s and the meaning they attach to the situation, thought or object. This affects how the individual feels and therefore the way the individual behaves.
For more information check out my website www.hatherapy.com and contact me for support.
Artwork by Kirsty Latoya.