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Yesterday Dan and I were listening to the song, Used to be Mine by Sara Bareilles. It is such a beautiful song. There is a part that reminded me of myself and where I used to be:
She’s imperfect, but she tries
She is good, but she lies
She is hard on herself
She is broken and won’t ask for help
She is messy, but she’s kind
She is lonely most of the time
She is all of this mixed up and baked in a beautiful pie
She is gone, but she used to be mine
I am an imperfect person and I am still probably more hard on myself than I should be. I was broken for so long and I didn’t ask for help; I was worried people would judge me or that I would be put in a psych ward. I was so lonely because I was so afraid to tell anyone about my intrusive thoughts. I didn’t know other people struggled with them. I didn’t even know what an intrusive thought was. Thankfully the part of the song that says “She is gone but she used to me mine” is not true about me. I would probably be literally gone if I had not gotten the help I needed. I’m so thankful for my wonderful husband who helped me get the help I needed. I’m thankful for the partial hospitalization program where I had medication and intense therapy. They helped me realize I have a chemical imbalance in my brain and my intrusive thoughts do not make me a bad person.
If you are struggling with mental illness I want you to know you are not a bad person. Please don’t be afraid to get help if you need it. The rate of suicide in the United States has gone up from 11.8 percent in 2009 to 14.2 percent in 2018 (https://afsp.org/suicide-statistics/). There is still so much stigma around mental illness especially in the church. If you don’t struggle with mental illness I would encourage you to research it so you can understand what people are going through. People can’t just “pray more” and be healed. Please do your research before you say “depression and anxiety aren’t real things.” Please think before you say, “I have OCD” because you are a clean freak. I didn’t realize I had OCD because I had never even heard of intrusive thoughts. Intrusive thoughts are one of the main parts of OCD. Yes, they are sometimes about germs but they can be about many other things. Intrusive thoughts can be about anything but they are always very scary to the person who has them. They often make people feel crazy. Here are some common intrusive thoughts:
Thoughts about killing yourself or others
Thoughts or worries that your partner cheated on you or that you will cheat on them
Sexual thoughts about Men, Women, Children, Animals
Thoughts about licking the toilet seat or similar things to that
Feeling bad about the mean thing you said to someone 20 years ago
Just because a thought comes into your head doesn’t mean you want it and it doesn’t mean you will act on it. You can’t control your thoughts but you can control your actions. If you are struggling with intrusive thoughts the book Overcoming Unwanted Intrusive Thoughts was very helpful to me. Also try to find a good therapist if possible. You are not a bad person, you are not crazy, and you are not alone.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33