Note from Team LO: We are SO excited to bring you this month’s post from our LO Fam member, Megan! If you want to know more, check out our online community of sisters here!
Guys, God is good. I can’t say that enough. The last few years of my life have been a whirlwind of ups and downs and yet one thing has remained the same–Him. He has been faithful beyond words and has blown me away with the wonderful ways in which He works. To start this little blog post off I’ll introduce myself. I’m Megan, a twenty-something girl, who loves vegging on the couch watching a favorite show almost as much as getting out in the world and doing some good. A great book can keep me transfixed for hours and a good friend can keep me talking for more. There are days you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between me and a well behaved college student on summer break. At my all-time worst, there would barely be any of me left to see. The thing is I have OCD. The kind of OCD that destroys lives. The kind of OCD that nearly destroyed mine.
Not long before my twentieth birthday I hit rock bottom. I couldn’t function. I spent each day either standing in a room, silently waiting for the time to pass or laying at the end of the bed staring at the ceiling or in a flood of tears totally in crisis mode. Every waking moment I was trying to control my thoughts. Even when that meant not eating, barely sleeping, and certainly not living. This whole downward spiral started around the beginning of 2016. Nearly the same time the following year, I was admitted to a residential treatment facility. Several people told me that I had the most severe case of OCD they had ever seen. One even said I might never have a functioning life again. It was tough. Every step, each day, was a major hurdle. I tell you these things only to show the greatness of our God because if anyone was going to recover, it didn’t look like it was going to be me.
My life was difficult for many reasons, but one heartbreaking reason was OCD affected my ability to be engaged in my faith. I couldn’t pray without ending up in ridiculous rituals and buckets of anxiety. I couldn’t read scripture, and I couldn’t go to church. One form of OCD that I struggle with is called “scrupulosity” which The Peace of Mind Foundation defines as, “the religious form of OCD in which individuals are plagued with obsessions surrounding religion/spirituality and morals. This may include obsessions about sin, offending God, religious or moral failings, and punishment. They are burdened with worry about whether something is ‘the right thing to do’ even in trivial matters, and often perform compulsions including repetitive prayer, confessions, and avoidance.”
As you might be able to tell by all the things I “couldn’t” do, my main behavior in this area was avoidance. I thought if I didn’t engage I couldn’t do anything wrong. Distance from my faith was not what I wanted, but I thought it was necessary to keep the panic and unrelenting anxiety away. I was incorrect on that one. The more I avoided everything, the greater my fears became and the farther I had to run. Although it didn’t really matter that I was running because God was always right there with me, step for step. It can be challenging, when we are in the middle of something, to not wonder where God is in all of it, but let me tell you this, God sends help in the form of amazing people. He works through each one of us. If you’re willing to accept the help, He will meet you where you are. For me, His amazing grace came in the form of wonderful mental health professionals.
My first therapist at residential treatment was Lisa and she was a total gift from God. She is kind, compassionate, and insightful. She was all the things a great therapist is. At my first family session, Lisa quoted the Bible. This was surprising as I wasn’t in a Christian treatment center. I appreciated it more than she knew. I wish I remembered the verse, but regardless, it put my heart at ease. I knew I was in good hands.
During the next ten months, she reminded me of God’s grace and helped me move in a direction where I would again have a close relationship with Him. She sat with me while I poured out my worst fears and agreed with me when I told her there was no way this was all God had planned for me. She knew how much I’d love to attend church and so we even went on a little road trip to find me a good one. About a week later I went to church for the first time in a long time.
My favorite verse is one you probably know, “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength” Philippians 4:13. This was the truth I spoke over myself for months–months in which I made more progress than I could have hoped for. With the help of Jesus I was getting my life back! It wasn’t easy and there was a whole long painful process, but in the end, He was faithful as always.
A few weeks before leaving I was thinking about what’s next. After tossing some ideas around, I decided to ask Lisa why she became a therapist. Lisa looked at me. She said she promised herself that if I asked she wouldn’t lie to me and told me that she herself had recovered from OCD. I truly believe God used that situation to speak some things into my heart. One was that we are never alone. Not only is He there, but He is often working to put people in our path to remind us of that truth. For a long time I struggled with the idea that maybe OCD is just an endless cycle of suffering, but through Lisa’s story, God taught me something invaluable. People do recover, they move on and live full wonderful lives. What a blessing! Lastly I knew I wanted to help others the way she helped me. At that time in my life I was continually seeing people not get the resources they needed. God put it on my heart to one day start a treatment facility with an emphasis on Christianity and the hope of Jesus. This lit a fire within me that has continued to motivate me to this day.
After leaving residential, I was scared. I didn’t know if I could possibly find a second therapist as good as the first, but God, in His goodness, did it again. I sat in a new office with my current therapist. I told her about my disorder and my treatment. She was able to talk to Lisa for a handoff. With no expectations whatsoever I told her that Lisa had lived with OCD and that her insight had really helped me. It turns out that she had OCD too. I don’t know about you guys, but I don’t believe I ended up with two extraordinary therapists who have walked through this struggle by chance. I think that God placed these women in my life to assure me that, although what I went through was the most difficult process of my life, God would not waste it. Through every hopeless stroll I took that winter, trekking through the freezing snow, hoping the cold might make me feel alive again, He was preparing me for something greater. And every time I was paralyzed with the kind of fear that I will never forget, He was prepping me to show up with the kind of compassion and insight you can only get from experience. It is because of my suffering that God can use me to reach people and I will be beyond honored to share with them, not only the hope of recovery, but the hope of the Lord!
If there is anything you take away from my story I hope it is this: even in the darkest, most hopeless times of our lives, God is preparing us for something greater. He took something so destructive in my life and turned it into my purpose. How absolutely amazing is that! That’s the kind of God we serve! I went from being non-functioning and flooded with anxiety to where I am now–on my last year of undergraduate school, on the path towards grad school, becoming a licensed therapist, and chasing after the life God intended for me. No matter your situation, whether it be mental illness or not, you’re not walking through it alone. Trust me when I tell you, God’s got you!
Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ -Isaiah 41:10
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