When you

Cannot Stop Bad Thoughts

Scrupulosity Testimony

    * Fear of being unforgivable put me in a mental hospital 13 times

    * So overwhelmed by damning thoughts that I was bed-ridden for eight months

Amazingly, the keys to resolving Michael’s battle with terrifyingly blasphemous thoughts were:

    * Taking what used to be called vitamin B8

    * Chatting to God as a friend about the very thoughts he feared made God furious and made him God’s sworn enemy

    * Learning to laugh at the terrifying attack

Michael shares his story:

My grandmother had Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). I remember her going around the house and checking every window lock, and then checking them again. I grew up in an agnostic household, and was never allowed to read the Bible. At seventeen, I read the Bible and was dramatically changed by the Lord.

From the moment I read in Matthew about the unforgivable sin, however, I was a ticking time bomb.

While on the sofa one day, words entered into my mind involving swearing profanely about the Holy Spirit. I was terrified. Fear so deep gripped my heart that I ran down the hallway, yelling. Convinced that I had committed the unforgivable sin, agony consumed me.

After some time, I became aware of the Lord’s presence, so I thought, “I must not have committed that sin after all! Just don’t think anything bad or God will leave you.” So, of course, bad thoughts and ideas came to me in every shape and form – grossly unchristian thoughts about the devil, terrible thoughts about God, and bad thoughts about just about everything else. I could barely live with the thoughts. I was terrified even to get into a car, lest I have a bad thought and panic.

This fear put me into a mental hospital 13 times. When I was a kid, the psychiatrist diagnosed me with anxiety and gave medication to treat it. That particular medication was not as well understood back then as it is now. He would get me up to a high dose and I would feel better, so he would drop me off cold, making everything worse from withdrawals. I lost three years of my life in torment.

I improved when I moved somewhat away from the Lord since, in my mind, he was the source of stress. I listened to secular music, and started working. I still had thoughts come. When I would try to say in my mind, “Praise the Lord,” I would think, “Praise the d.....,” then catch myself and say THE LORD. But that was about it. I became mentally strong, still served the Lord, but did not study the Bible every day nor go to church constantly like before.

Fast forward to 2006. It started as a great year. I was forty, had a successful business, a wonderful house, got engaged, and attended Monday night Bible studies. I was very happy.

During those Monday night studies, however, bad thoughts would enter my mind as we read the Bible. I now understand that it was not that I had any bad thoughts of my own; rather I feared I would think bad thoughts, and this fear brought them to me. Nevertheless, these thoughts haunted me.

By about October, I was getting terrifyingly unchristian thoughts about the devil. By Christmas, I was a wreck. My fiancé left me and I end up literally bed-ridden for the next eight or so months. Aside from ordering food to be delivered to me, I would do little but lie on the bed, plagued by the worst thoughts of my life. You name it; I thought it – all because I feared it. For example, when I learned that we are created to glorify God, even though I understood it, I feared I would think that it is wrong for God to demand our praise. I did not really believe this about God, but I feared I would think it, so the thoughts came. I also avoided reading anything about the devil, for I feared I might think something wrong about him, and I feared that such a thought would send God away.

I would call pastors and ask them question after question. At the end of eight months, while I was still confined to bed, one of them visited me. By now I had no money left, was getting evicted and was terrified. The pastor recommended a doctor willing to see me for free.

The doctor thought I was bi-polar. I was not, but she gave me medication known to be effective with anxiety disorders. (I had not grasped at the time that my torment was a manifestation of scrupulosity – also known as religious OCD – and scrupulosity is an anxiety disorder.)

All of a sudden I was well. The medication took away my irrational fear, and scrupulosity is driven by fear. With the fear gone, I could think rationally, though I was still wary. Within a month I had started a successful online business and rented an expensive house.

After a few months, however, the doctor took me off the medication and the scrupulosity returned, along with all the mental torment. I ended up broke. I lost my car and everything else. I rented a little room and twice was almost evicted.

My big mistake was in not realizing that the thoughts were symptoms of an illness (scrupulosity). So in my ignorance I focused on the thoughts. It was as if I felt I had to prove to God that I didn’t believe these thoughts, so I studied all day, every day, joined Christian forums and debated to try to prove to God and myself how strongly I believed the truth about God. But the torment continued.

In desperation, I kept researching what I was suffering from and finally found out about inositol, a vitamin-like substance occurring naturally in the body. In my case, inositol has proved more effective in lowering scrupulosity than prescribed medication, with none of the side effects. For me, inositol is a dream come true. It does not drug people; it restores them by correcting an abnormality in their body chemistry.

By bringing my body chemistry closer to normality, I could think clearer. It countered the tendency, common to everyone with scrupulosity, of my mind playing tricks on me. It was so effective that I beg everyone with scrupulosity to seriously pray about using it. I believe in taking it in powder form and I took at least 10 grams a day. It is sometimes recommended that people slowly build up to that high dose and that some people only need a lower dose but going straight to the high dose worked fine for me. A high dose might initially cause diarrhea but my body soon adjusted. For more about inositol, see Natural Cures for Anxiety Related Illnesses.

Although I was not as incapacitated as before, I visited a counselor who himself had suffered from scrupulosity in the past. He showed me brain scans of people with OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder – scrupulosity is one form of it) and explained that for those of us who have OCD, the part of our brain that feeds thoughts is overactive but the part that receives these thoughts and should be able to dismiss irrelevant ones under-reacts. The result is being flooded with too many thoughts coming in all at once, and not being able to adequately process them. When we are fearful we become like a broken information processor. Knowing how the brain works in people with OCD helped me realize that this is physical problem rather than a spiritual one.

The counselor wanted me to try Exposure Therapy, where I write down all of the worst thoughts/ideas/concepts that trouble me, and then on a regular basis read them out loud to someone whose spiritual opinion I trust, such as a pastor. The idea is that by revealing my thoughts to that person, and him calmly accepting them, would diminish the power of these thoughts to instill fear. Unfortunately, this went disastrously because my pastor did not understand.

So I decided I would try the ultimate Exposure Therapy – to present my thoughts to God himself and just talk to him about them. I would tell the Lord exactly what I thought – no matter how repulsive it was, saying, “This thought has come into my mind. You know I don’t believe that thought.” This approached proved a great success.

Something else I’ve found helpful is to distract myself when I sense a doubt or unwanted thought beginning to bother me. Instead of stressing over it and focusing on it, I do best to relax and focus on something else. I redirect my concerns to finances, work, or something else of concern to me, or go online and engage in some debate. This gets my mind off an unhealthy obsession with spiritual things. By clearing my mind and lowering my irrational fears, inositol has made it easier for me to successfully employ such techniques.

Most of us with scrupulosity are very serious people. We have very sensitive hearts and are deep thinkers. So it is very helpful to try to find whatever form of fun appeals – sport, funny movies, whatever is light-hearted and fun. By doing such things, sometimes we can lose ourselves in fun and look at our worries and just think, “What a waste of time”.

To this day I still get intrusive thoughts, especially when I’m tired. When I am tired, fear increases and the brain is foggy. That is a perfect breeding ground for scrupulosity. The difference now is that when thoughts come that previously would have freaked me out; I laugh and say, “Lord, isn’t that scrupulosity horrible!” or just mentally, “That scrupulosity is a joke!”

What makes scrupulosity so distressing is when we wrongly presume the thoughts belong to us, just because they whirl around in our brains and we have an emotional response to them. It is important to refuse to let yourself believe that you are evil – the blood of Jesus cleanses you from all sin – and to keep believing that as much as it seems as if the thoughts belong to you, they really don’t, and they are simply a mental infirmity.

I say to those who have suffer from blasphemous thoughts: don’t lose heart, rather rejoice! Think about it: do those who hate God care if they think bad thoughts about God? No, only true Christians are concerned – and some of us with OCD are even so concerned that we worry whether we are concerned enough! There is no actual need for concern. Instead, prayerfully locate a good counselor who understands religious OCD. Without help, it is likely to get even worse. Scrupulosity is like an endless circle that you can’t get out of. If you don’t finish the thought, you feel guilty. If you do finish the thought, you feel guilty. You cannot win while you fall into the trap of believing that your guilt feelings are from God.

I know that if my faith is in Jesus and not in some false god or in my own attempts to please God, no sin is beyond the power of Jesus’ forgiveness. All of my sins have been taken away and nailed to the cross, but that doesn’t stop me from suffering scrupulosity, because fear is very powerful. Fear will overcome logic and Bible knowledge every time. Understanding the nature of scrupulosity helps, however. If, whenever an unwanted thought occurs, you can bring yourself to say, “This is just a mental joke,” it will begin to lose its power.

I find it helpful to keep handy a little sheet with just a few facts. Mine contains some quotes from this website and some quotes from the Bible – not many, but just enough to remind myself that what I am facing is just a mental issue and that I’m fine spiritually. Since scrupulosity is the doubting disease, my brain will ask, “Did I read that correctly?” This sheet allows me to reassure myself that I did read it correctly.

My favorite quote from this website turns a negative into a positive. It goes something like this:

    Intrusive thoughts reveals people’s hearts by showing what they least want to think.

Scrupulosity is driven by an overactive mind, an oversensitive heart, and the fear that this produces.

If you suffer from scrupulosity, you are not alone. You join a great cast of godly people in St. Ignatius, Martin Luther, John Bunyan, and most likely millions of others who have suffered in silence or out of the public eye. You are sharing in Christ’s passion, by battling the temptation to doubt the power of the cross to forgive all sin.

Looking back, it seems as if no one has suffered for the Lord more than me. I would have chosen any other form of torment just to have a sound mind. Nevertheless, I am blessed to have suffered this. I did not suffer in vain. All things work together for ultimate good to those who love the Lord. We are to “glory” in our sufferings. The promise to share in Christ’s glory only applies if we share in his sufferings (Romans 8:17). Some of us, living in nice circumstances don’t have the opportunity to suffer as Paul and others have, but in scrupulosity we have the perfect suffering tool. Ask people with scrupulosity, “Would you rather have scrupulosity, or have cancer and be filled with assurance of God’s approval?” I guarantee they all would rather have cancer with assurance. That shows how intense our suffering is and if we did not care about God we would feel no torment in this.

Have you read Bunyan’s, Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners ”? I found it comical him being tormented by the thought of “selling Christ”. It was dead serious to him, however. He wrote, “I could neither eat my food nor stoop down to pick up my clothes but the thought still came, ‘sell Christ’. To him this was horrific, but when we look at it, we might well wonder, how can anyone sell Christ? We are embarrassed by our thoughts and most likely have never told anyone, so it’s good to write them down, then re-visit them later so we can see them at a different angle. If you can see them when you are not scared but you are in a great mood you might see how silly it is to worry about such thoughts.

The webpages listed at Feeling Condemned? There’s Hope! helped me lot, especially those from Scrupulosity: The Help You Need on. They explained to me that I wasn’t nuts and helped me see that I wasn’t the blasphemous person I thought I was.

Looking back: I don’t know how I survived. I thought I was the most awful of persons. I used to beg God, telling him to give me cancer rather than be plagued with those thoughts. I wouldn’t wish what I suffered on the worst of people and yet much good has come out of it and I thank God for the suffering.

Grantley’s Comments

Medication – or the natural alternative, inositol – had a very dramatic effect on Michael. It allowed him to think more clearly which then empowered him to successfully employ other beneficial techniques in restoring his mind. He is desperate for you not to take as long as he did to realize that those horrible thoughts were generated not by him but by a chemical imbalance that plays havoc with one’s thinking. If you have thoughts that disturb you, do whatever it takes to cool them down. Take immediate action: see your doctor and correct the chemical imbalance.

This is Not Enough
As a physical therapist prescribes specific daily exercises in order to heal, I must prescribe daily reading of these webpages. There is a vast range to choose from but it should include:

and all the pages the above links leads to.

Next Testimony:
Can You Find God Again After Falling From Grace?

Not to be sold. © Copyright, 2013, Grantley Morris. Not to be copied in whole or in part without citing this entire paragraph. Many more compassionate, inspiring, sometimes hilarious writings by Grantley Morris available free at the following internet site www.net-burst.net Freely you have received, freely give.

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