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Navigating the Maze: My Journey with Obsessions and OCD

My Personal Story with obsessions and OCD


As a child, I grew up in the 80s in a small village in the centre of Italy, with no Internet connection, no psychotherapist, and no mental health support. I vividly remember having compulsion of the pious type, mostly connected to my religious upbringing. My greatest obsession was being claimed by the devil and brought into hell when I wasn’t being a "good boy". This fear was instilled in me by the teachings of the Catholic Church.


The compulsion consisted of repeating the sign of the cross in multiples of three - 3, 9, 12, 21 or more times, in the hope that the devil would not get me. These pious compulsions took different forms: kissing religious images, genuflecting in front of the tabernacle, reciting prayers until I got them right, all following the magic rule of "3 and its multiples". Sometimes I had to start the counting all over again if I did not get the compulsion right. It was tiring and time-consuming; I felt anxious and guilty. But, all I wanted was to avoid hell and I was up for the job.


I still vividly remember this prayer:


"Confesso a Dio onnipotente e a voi, fratelli e sorelle, che ho molto peccato in pensieri, parole, opere e omissioni, per mia colpa, mia colpa, mia grandissima colpa."


In English:


"I confess to almighty God and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have greatly sinned in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done and in what I have failed to do, through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault."


The graceful Catholic Church was teaching me that the obsessions were my fault, my most grievous fault. If I had bad thoughts (and I'm telling you, I had some disturbing ones for a kid of my age), it was all on me. As an adult, I now recognize how devoid of love and care those prayers were—just the production of some controlling freaks!


What Are Obsessions?


if you are suffering from OCD, you might not realize that obsessions are just thoughts; they are normal, and everybody has them. What makes obsessions different from "normal" thoughts are their qualities. Obsessions are weird and anxiety-provoking. They are ego-dystonic thoughts, i.e., thoughts that are largely misaligned with your values or what you think should be right, or who you believe you are. The weirdness of a thought is highly subjective; a thought that is an obsession for you may not be for someone else.


What makes a thought an obsession is the relationship that you have with it. The key to overcoming OCD is not about fighting obsessions, which is pretty much a lost war, but about changing the relationship with your mind. Have you ever succeeded in getting rid of your obsessions? By dropping the fight and focusing your attention on changing the way you relate to them, you can make significant changes.


Obsessions are also frequent, sticky, and dynamic! They are thoughts that tend to come over and over again and tend to linger for a long time, they change over time, and so do the compulsions.


As I grew older, there was a period in which I believed some of my relatives would die if I did not perform the compulsion. At another time in my life, it was all about contamination. There is no limit to the creativity of the mind and its harshness.


Today, you are not alone in overcoming OCD. There has been plenty of research that has come up with ways to help you regain control of your life and not let your obsessions rule you. Overcoming OCD is teamwork; bring on board people who care about you and ask for help from a professional.


Remember, it is the relationship with your mind that matters. Obsessions are just a bundle of words; fighting them is very tiring; they consume you. You do not have control over your thoughts, but you have control over your attitude and how you lead your life.


I would like to close this post with this quote from Viktor E. Frankl:


“The last of the human freedoms: to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way."

source: Man's Search for Ultimate Meaning



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