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OCD Is Taking Over My Life

Questioner

Anonymous

Reply Date

Jun 27, 2019

Question

Assalamualaikum,

I've had OCD for almost 10 years since I was 12, and recently it’s become worse and worse. I’ve undergone therapy for a couple years till I was 18, and it seemed to have calmed down but it is back again stronger and stronger to a point where the rituals I rely on to calm my anxiety make me so frustrated and I breakdown.

Even when I’m praying or performing daily activities it’s always there. I have a feeling that something stops me from overcoming my OCD.

The feeling is that I think Allah SWT has given me OCD on purpose. For example, if I accidentally touch someone with my right hand or blink with my right eye then it means I'm also going to get cancer.

I get a restless feeling of worry and anxiety, with a thought that says: if I want to protect myself from getting cancer then I have to touch them with my left hand and blink with my left eye so that I'm protected and Allah will protect me.

It makes me think that Allah is saying: "I'm giving you a chance to decide what happens to you, if you want to protect yourself from getting cancer and not get it ever then go and perform the ritual of left hand and left eye and I will protect you. And if you don't then I can't save you. You made your choice. "

I get this thought with every word, every scene, every person, and every activity that's related to death, disease, pain, suffering, kufr, hell and sin. I'm so scared and hopeless that I can’t control it no matter what people tell me. I feel like this is an understanding that only me and Allah SWT know and no one else understands or can understand. I'm either gifted or cursed to be given the chance to protect myself from bad things. I don't know what to do and I'm so hopeless.

I'm in New Zealand and the recent attacks on the mosque has terrified me so much that I feel like the man who committed these atrocious crimes is going to come after me because I'm a Muslim, or that someone else with the same thoughts and ideas will come after me.

Every time I see or think of his name or see guns or bombs or words related to those things I start freaking out and my OCD symptoms go crazy and I try every ritual. Such as saying another name or another thing, thinking of another thing, saying istighfar, or blinking my left eye at these things until I feel better and safe and the anxiety or fear dies down.

I feel like I have no hope. I don't know if I'll ever be fixed. It’s ruining my every relationship and I don’t know why Allah would make me go through these things.

I'm constantly in fear and it’s affecting my life so much. Is Allah really making me do this? Is He really giving me a chance to make choices to protect myself? Or is OCD a mental condition and I've made this up in my head?

I just want the truth. I feel like I'm giving up. I can't live like this and I just want help.

Counselor

Answer


OCD Is Taking Over My Life

In this counseling answer:

Perhaps it is time to re-engage in therapy.

It is a lifelong disorder, like many other mental and physical disorders we humans have, but it is treatable.

Seek help from Allah.


Assalamu Alaikum dear brother,

I am truly sorry to hear about all you have been going through with OCD. It must be very frightening as well as a constant worry on your mind when you’re trying to live a normal, happy life. It must be even more troublesome as you feel that maybe Allah is “giving you chances to protect yourself”.

These thoughts and actions can cause intense fear, thoughts of losing control, as well as desperation. Please know dear brother, there is help available.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Brother, as you have had OCD for almost 10 years now, you should be familiar in shaa’ Allah with the way OCD manifests and why. You stated that you were in therapy and it helped calm it down. This means that while you were in therapy, the treatment was successful as the OCD went into remission.

OCD Is Taking Over My Life - About Islam

However, now it has come back stronger and you are scared. As you know, stress can trigger OCD. Perhaps the incident in New Zealand triggered your OCD after you were doing so well. Perhaps it is time to re-engage in therapy, dear brother.

The Nature of OCD

I am not sure what kind of therapy you have undergone, or what educational sessions you attended regarding OCD. Therefore, I will briefly reiterate the processes you are going through and what they mean.

OCD, as you know means obsessive-compulsive disorder. It is part of the anxiety spectrum. According to Psych Central, “obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder characterized by recurrent and disturbing thoughts (called obsessions) and/or repetitive, ritualized behaviors that the person feels driven to perform (called compulsions). The person with OCD usually tries to actively dismiss the obsessions or neutralize them by engaging in compulsions (behaviors) or avoiding situations that trigger them. In most cases, compulsions serve to alleviate anxiety. However, it is not uncommon for the compulsions themselves to cause anxiety — especially when they become very demanding.”

As you can see, your having to touch things in a systematic pattern to completion is the OCD. You feel you won’t get cancer or a dreaded outcome if you do this. This is due to the anxiety surrounding those fears.

The acts or behaviors you are doing release and calm these anxious thoughts but perpetuate new ones. You strongly relate it to Allah, because Islam and your love for Allah is a major part of your life.

Living with OCD

Brother, OCD is a very difficult disorder to live with, but as you know, it is treatable. As you were in remission for some time and it has come back, you do know that by getting the treatment you will be able to get it under control again.

Additionally, you know OCD may surround things that are important to us, things we fear, or things that we have inclined towards already such as cleanliness, being precise with things, spirituality, and other aspects of our Lives. As you are a Muslim and you love Allah very much, the OCD has settled in your thought processes concerning Islam.

Islam and OCD

Regarding your question of whether or not Allah is really making you do these ritualistic behaviors to be free from cancer and other things, I think you can answer yourself. Do you really think that Allah works in that way? No, He does not.


Check out this counseling video:


Allah is not making you do this; Allah is not giving you a chance to make choices to protect yourself in this way. It is the OCD that is doing this. It is the way your brain is handling intense anxiety. As you know, the choice and chances that Allah gives us to protect ourselves are by living according to the Quran.

He gives us chances to protect ourselves by repenting, praying, doing good deeds, and following Islam. This is our spiritual path. OCD is a mental health condition. As you have been in therapy for this already, you should know that this is due to your current mental health state, brother, as you have had OCD for almost 10 years now.

You should be familiar in shaa’ Allah with the disorder, and understand that it is not Allah nor Islam that is forcing you to follow these behaviors, compulsions, and rituals, but rather the OCD that is causing you to think this way.

What has caught my attention, however, is that you somehow feel and believe that these thoughts make sense. People with OCD usually realize that these thoughts and actions/behaviors/rituals are not realistic, yet they cannot refrain from them.

However, appear to think it is realistic that Allah will save you from cancer if you perform x,y,z  or that harm won’t come to you if you blink a certain amount of times. Usually, people with OCD know these things are untrue yet do them anyhow.

Seeking Help

Dear brother, please do seek treatment with your therapist as soon as possible. It sounds as though you are in a crisis mode regarding the OCD. As you said, it is stronger than before, and it has taken over your life, you cannot control it and you are scared. It may be the OCD alongside something else that is going on.

Perhaps there is another mental health component that has arisen that is causing you to actually believe in the OCD thoughts. I kindly suggest that you also ask your therapist about additional education regarding OCD, support groups as well as stress management techniques. In shaa’ Allah, with these additional supports, you will be better able to handle an OCD flare up in the future.

Conclusion

Please do seek treatment now as there is no reason why you must suffer like this. In shaa’ Allah, dear brother, once you are in treatment and resolve your symptoms, you will be stable again. Just make sure that you remain in contact with your therapist and have resources and coping tools should you begin to feel it coming back. It is a lifelong disorder, like many other mental and physical disorders we humans have, but it is treatable.

We wish you the best.

***

Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.

Read more:

How to Take the Power Back from Intrusive Thought OCD?

Islamic Cure for OCD

Why Are Muslims More Likely to Suffer From OCD?




About Aisha Mohammad

Aisha received her PhD in psychology in 2000 and an MS in public health in 2009. Aisha worked as a Counselor/Psychologist for 12 years for Geneva B. Scruggs Community Health Care Center in New York. Aisha specializes in trauma, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, marriage/relationships issues, as well as community-cultural dynamics. She is certified in Restorative Justice/ Healing Circles, Conflict Resolution, Mediation, and is also a certified Life Coach. Aisha works at a Family Resource Center, and has a part-time practice in which she integrates healing and spirituality using a holistic approach. Aisha plans to open a holistic care counseling center for Muslims and others in the New York area in the future, in sha' Allah. Aisha is also a part of several organizations that advocate for social & food justice. In her spare time she enjoys her family, martial arts classes, Islamic studies as well as working on her book and spoken word poetry projects.

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