Saturday, March 25, 2017

OCD Part One: It's NOT About a Symmetrically Cut Pie

I've started and stopped this blog post a hundred times! Not only is it a topic that is multi-faceted but it is exposing some of the deepest parts of my crazy! As many of you know and have experienced, there isn't much that I won't say aloud! LOL! However, this topic pushes me past my comfort level in many ways!

{You’re all curious now, aren’t you?!}

This week, for the second time in the past year, I sat waiting in the radiology department for an ultrasound to determine whether or not pathology would be discovered. The first was for a lump I found on my thigh--turns out it was just a lipoma. A lipoma is a fatty mass (because a girl needs more fat in her thighs!). This past week’s visit was to look at some lymph nodes in my neck that have been enlarged for a few months--even though my bloodwork was all normal and the doctor wasn’t too concerned.  Chances are, all is well. I am still awaiting the radiologist’s report...but the technician said everything looked within the realm of normal.

{By the way: Here is where the topic starts!!!}

I have OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder). My OCD complicates ANY (and most) situations, especially, anything that has to do with health. I recently needed to block all health sites through my internet filter. Ya know why? {My apologies, in advance, for the crudeness of this description.} Because sites like WebMD, and health forums are like ‘porn for the paranoid.’ I call it medical porn. I can’t not look at it. And...all medical google searches lead to cancer and death on the internet!

In contrast to Facebook memes, OCD is NOT about having the picture frames just so on the wall. OCD is NOT a perfectly organized cabinet or drawer. OCD is NOT about a symmetrically cut pie. It can, on the surface, manifest in some of these ways...but these things do not mean you have OCD. You may be a very neat and organized person. You may be a Type A personality. But, if you have OCD then your intrusive and paranoid thoughts and/or compulsive behaviors invade and disrupt your day in a way that leaves you paralyzed and unable to function normally.

The way I describe it is: being held prisoner in your own mind.

Picture this-- an intruder comes into your living room. The intruder ties you up and then proceeds to run around you in circles screaming the same thing at you over and over and over, while you sit there, helpless to stop the madness. It’s a little like that.

I have several different triggers that open the door to that intruder. Health is one of them. It makes things like lumps and lymph nodes an all-consuming, life threatening drama filled saga. It affects my day...or days on end. It can consume me...and then paralyze me.

“Just trust God” has often been the advice I get. I wholeheartedly agree that I need to trust God. However, for me, having OCD means that I must engage in a full-contact battle between heart and mind in order to trust. Trusting God, with all things, takes ALL I HAVE. Trusting the Lord will all my heart and leaning NOT on my own understanding (Proverbs 3:5) is probably one of the hardest things I struggle to do. I recently saw the verse Exodus 14:14 with all new eyes. It says, “The Lord Himself will fight for [me]. Just stay calm.” After fighting my intrusive thoughts regarding the enlarged lymph nodes to the point of mental exhaustion, I felt powerless to trust. However, realizing that my God fights for me was hugely freeing. I am learning how to stay calm AND I am learning what my part in that battle is.

I will say that since starting medication nearly 13 years ago, trusting has become attainable. Perhaps moreso, being able to talk with the Lord without the ‘intruder’ screaming at me has become possible.

Through this swollen gland issue, I’ve realized a few things.
  1. How much fear is a stronghold for me. I desire to see God as my refuge {Psalm 46}.
  2. How much health has become a very shiny idol. It competes with my affection for God.
  3. How I need and want to learn how to glorify God in my brokenness. I don’t need to have it ‘all together’ to please or glorify God.
  4. How glorious the knowledge that the Lord fights my battles FOR me {Exodus 14:14}.
  5. How deeply loved I am by my God.

I have vowed to not ‘squander the swollen glands.’ I am leaning into God and learning. I am pushing against the fear. I am learning to surrender the things I am tempted to love more than God. I am learning what it means to live, broken, in a broken world as child of a Perfect God who loves me perfectly.