Whenever I share with someone that I have OCD, I usually get asked what are some of the rituals I do. Without fail, I always blank out. I can’t even think of one!!! Then later on when I’m alone they all come rushing in.
Most of my rituals are “mental rituals”. What does this mean? For me, I usually say or “do something” mentally to “get rid of” the obsessive intrusive thought I am having.
First I should explain what are intrusive thoughts. This is the part that makes me still feel so uncomfortable sharing specifics. Below is the definition of obsessive thoughts when it comes to the OCD diagnosis.
“Obsessions are intrusive, irrational thoughts or impulses that repeatedly occur. People with these disorders know these thoughts are irrational but are afraid that somehow they might be true. These thoughts and impulses are upsetting, and people may try to ignore or suppress them.
Examples of obsessions include:
Thoughts about harming or having harmed someone
Doubts about having done something right, like turning off the stove or locking a door
Unpleasant sexual images
Fears of saying or shouting inappropriate things in public.”Obsessive-compulsive Disorder. (n.d.). Retrieved September 09, 2020, from https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Mental-Health-Conditions/Obsessive-compulsive-Disorder
These intrusive thoughts come out of nowhere! At least, that’s how it feels like. They make me feel like a horrible disgusting person. They make me sick to my stomach. I feel like everyone can hear the thought. I just want to crawl into the fetal position and cry. I feel guilty. Why am I thinking about such a
horrible thing? I feel that if I’m thinking this then it must be true!
I remember when I first started having these thoughts I felt as though I sinned just by thinking them! I thought if I prayed then maybe the thought would go away. 🙄 So, I started praying the “Our Father”. At this time I wasn’t too religious, I wasn’t part of a church or going every week. I did have the Our Father memorized though; so I chose that one. I would just repeat the Our Father over and over until I fell asleep. I didn’t have any connection to the prayer. I didn’t feel any connection to God. It literally was just a repetitive ritual. I would have the thought and the response to stop myself from thinking of it would be praying the Our Father.
This was the first mental ritual I could identify in my life. I have others but this one has always been an interesting one to explain. See, I have a relationship with God now and I pray with intention. But to this day I still struggle with this one specific intrusive thought that I still automatically start to recite the prayer but with no spiritual intentions. The only intention is to have this disgusting thought out of my mind! However, I have been working on being able to acknowledge the thought, recognize my reaction to it, and let it go.