For years I’ve struggled to do the things most Christians do: read Scripture, pray, attend church, take communion. Always, there is a nagging doubt, a torrent of unwelcome thoughts, an incessant rumination not quelled by loved ones’ well-meaning reassurances. Not until many years after the onset of these symptoms did I finally have a name for this struggle: scrupulosity, also known as religious OCD.
Why a Blog?
Because of the complex nature of the disorder, scrupulosity is generally misunderstood, even in Christian circles—or perhaps especially in Christian circles. It may appear to others as a purely faith struggle instead of a complex psychological disorder. I strongly suspect that, because of this, many people in the church live with undiagnosed and thus untreated scrupulosity.
Add to that the fact that scrupulosity is an understudied subset of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). What resources do exist on the disorder often fall into academic, generalized discussion. By this I mean that the writing is medical and methodical; it is produced by psychologists, psychiatrists, and counselors who have studied scrupulosity. These are immensely important resources and in no way do I discount them. However, very few resources exist that discuss scrupulosity within the Christian context. In addition, stories of personal experience may often be even more encouraging than objective dissertations; it can be helpful for strugglers not only to know the disorder exists, but to know there are people out there who get it.
And so I offer to you this blog, which has a two-fold purpose: First, to share my own experience with scrupulosity. Second, to offer some reflections on scrupulosity and thoughts on what have been helpful tools/encouragements in my own struggle. Both of these reasons are ultimately so that they might prove useful for others, both those who struggle and those who seek to help them. However, I am not a professional. I am still in the thick of the battle of scrupulosity, struggling in the trenches, and while there have been pricks of light here and there, I am by no means cured of this darkness that persists every day.
(Keep in mind, too, that while those with scrupulosity share many similar struggles, the way it presents itself is different for everyone, and thus treatment may look different, too. If you are struggling with scrupulosity, a blog will not be enough to aid you in the battle, and I encourage you to seek professional help. While I hope to offer encouragement in some way, this blog should not be used for diagnosis, prescription, or treatment.)
If you are a fellow struggler, I hope you find on this blog deep encouragement, solidarity, and support for the hardships of scrupulosity, regardless of the particulars. If you do not struggle in this way, I hope this blog can be a useful tool for you to grow in understanding and your ability to walk alongside and encourage others in your life.
Doing the Opposite
Let me begin by honestly admitting this is a daunting task. Though I have struggled with scrupulosity for many years, I find it overwhelming to write about my experience and wonder if it’s even worth it. Perhaps it is my struggle itself that makes me think this blog is better off not existing; thoughts berate me as a write that I am incapable of this, a fraud, a true unbeliever who doesn’t really struggle with OCD. The disorder is just an excuse, a backup, so that I can keep being a hypocrite.
Anyone in my life whom I suggest this to can see right through it: “That’s an OCD thought; that’s even more evidence that you have OCD.” And they’re right. But it doesn’t keep the thoughts from coming and causing doubt. I say this merely to illustrate how pervasive and persistent this “doubting disease” is.
So I press on anyway, doing the opposite of what my scrupulous thoughts insist I do. Thank you for joining me!
How To Navigate the Site
For a brief introduction to scrupulosity/religious OCD, start here. Then, proceed to the Blog section, where you will find the bulk of my writing. Check out the Resources page for articles, books, websites, and more that have been helpful to me in this struggle.
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