Don’t close the window of recovery on yourself, OCD can be a chameleon but it shouldn’t be left unchallenged. For some people, the symptoms can remain unchanged, but for others it is not uncommon that over time there may be changes to the type of OCD that becomes overwhelming. The intensity and frequency can change too, especially if untreated, with the severity increasing during times of stress.
Anxiety is a driving force behind OCD, so not getting anxious over the thoughts can help in reducing it. Most people can learn to stop performing their compulsive rituals and to decrease the intensity of their obsessional thoughts through Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). CBT is a form of therapy that focuses on the problems a person has in the here and now and helps them explore and understand alternative ways of thinking (the cognitive approach) and to challenge their beliefs through behavioural exercises. Even simple things like writing the positives in your life, or adjusting breathing and relieving muscle tension to calm your mind and body can form a grounding technique.
Mindfulness techniques alongside CBT can be an effective method because perhaps a maladaptive method to help scrupulosity is by attempting to suppress thoughts, but not accepting these unwanted inner experiences can lead into a downwards spiral of control. Rather than focusing on the thoughts or the ability to stop them, acknowledge them in the sense that it brings you to challenge yourself. This can be done through adhkar (words of remembrance) and by practicing daily affirmations/self-challenging dialogue aloud e.g. ‘My thoughts are just thoughts and hold no power over me unless I give them power’, ‘I put my trust and faith in Allah’s Mercy and Forgiveness’, ‘There is no Power or Might except with Allah’.
When unwanted thoughts or fears take hold, do your best to not panic or over analyse it. Keeping calm and unconcerned is best because these thoughts or images cannot hurt you, not really. Allah knows you best, even better than we know ourselves.
If you still feel helpless while confronting, pray to Allah using the duaa (supplication) of Prophet Ayub (Peace be upon him):
“And (remember) Ayub (Job), when he cried to his Lord: Verily, distress has seized me, and You are the Most Merciful of all those who show mercy” ~ Qur’an 21:83
Doubt is another characteristic of the OCD sufferer – the French once called OCD ‘la folie de doute’ which translates to ‘the doubting disease’. This is because it can help to feed most obsessive and compulsive behaviour, and it is this inability to live with doubt and uncertainty that drives OCD.
In Islam, we are encouraged to seek knowledge as well as to leave what we doubt,
“Leave that which makes you doubt for that which does not make you doubt, for truth leads to reassurance and lies lead to uncertainty.” ~ At-Tirmidhi
Remember, Allah wants us to enjoin a balanced approach, the middle path– balancing the duties of religion and the worldly life bi’ithnillah (with the permission of Allah), and reassure yourself of His infinite Mercy and Forgiveness.
“Some of the companions of the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) came to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and said to him, ‘We find in ourselves thoughts that are too terrible to speak of.’ He said, ‘Are you really having such thoughts?’ They said, ‘Yes.’ He said, ‘That is a clear sign of faith.’” ~ Sahih Muslim
Al-Nawawi said in his commentary on this hadith: “The Prophet’s words, ‘That is a clear sign of faith’ means, the fact that we think of these waswaas as something terrible is a clear sign of faith, for if you dare not utter it and you are so afraid of it and of speaking of it, let alone believing it, this is the sign of one who has achieved perfect faith and who is free of doubt.
It can be hard when you feel stuck but reaching out to help yourself is the first step, and of course Inspirited Minds is here to give a helping hand too. Got any remedies of your own to share? Let us know and use our hashtag #FreakyFeels