I posted about my distressing issue with ocd and scrupulosity previously in another post and received very nice comments of support, and thanks to all who did. You can find my post in my profile and I have also copied and pasted it to this post.
The reason I am posting today is because I was wondering if anyone had any halachic or religious advice or guidance on how to make the intrusive thoughts stop or at least for how Judaism views a person with this disease having intrusive thoughts of blasphemy against G -D against their will. I am really punishing hard for them, even though I know I can’t help them and I’m wondering if there is anything in Judaism about this specific issue?
Thanks again everyone
Original post: Hi, this is quite deep and difficult for me to express and talk about, but I really need assistance and guidance and I am hoping I am coming to the right place to ask. Kudos to this who read and reply.
I have been suffering from religious OCD and intrusive thoughts about blaspheming G – D that are extremely distressing to me and I am at my wit’s end. I am waiting for an appointment with a doctor and I want to be on medication and although I do not attend a shul, there are some synagogues including Chabad’s that are close to me, and I am considering contacting one to speak to a rabbi but doing so face to face will only increase my anxiety, so that’s why I’m coming here hoping the good people of this can assist me in any way possible.
I was raised conservative and loved Judaism growing up. Typing Hebrew school, Bar/Bat Mitzvah, shul on High Holidays etc. It was a very traditional Jewish upbringing, but not too religious. This all changed several years ago when my aunt became very sick and at risk of dying. My anxiety was very bad and I started turning towards prayer and going to the local Chabad. When I was grieving up I had bouts of OCD but they were mainly concerned with rituals of cleanliness and doing things a certain way to avoid anxiety over family members getting sick and dying. Then when a family member did get sick and like I said I turned toward religion to quell it. I started keeping Shabbat etc and going to shul and all of a sudden, not because I believed any of it but because I felt like if I didn’t, G – D would punish my family member by letting them die. I know now that OCD is all about having some sense control over the anxiety and that ocd attacks that which is most dear to you.
While this was going on, I went to Israel. I started becoming even more religious, again because I felt forced, not because I believed it or it brought me any joy. I started learning more about the Torah and didn’t like or agree what I learnt and also, about some of the stuff G – D does that really bothered me because it contrasted with the all loving G – D I had learnt about in watered down secular Hebrew School, and this along with “feeling” forced to do things I didn’t want to like and as all or nothing like keeping Shabbat etc to starve off bad things happening and the intensity of the in your face Judaism in Israel, made me start cursing G – D in my head. But the problem was it wasn’t me actually cursing G – D it was intrusive thoughts that would pop out of nowhere all the time. Like I would either think of a prayer and curse G – D or think how I don’t acrually want to keep Shabbat then curse G – D for “making me”. It caused me terrible terrible distress because then I would get scared of being punished by G – D and I would pray that G – D would know I didn’t mean it and I couldn’t stop the thoughts and to please stop them. I am a naturally quiet person who loves quiet surroundings, yet I had to always be occupied to try to stop these thoughts and it caused me much distress. My OCD also culminated in becoming obsessed with things that could be sheimos to the point that I couldn’t go outside because I would get anxiety over every piece of paper possibly being Sheimos on the ground and then feel terrible anxiety that if I didn’t pick it up and inspect it to make sure it needed to go in geniz, then I would be punished.
I ended up going to an orthodox rabbi who also studied therapy and he was able to give me a little guidance. He said that he is pretty sure G – D knows I don’t actually mean the cursed and that if I wanted to become religious, it should be slow and for the right reasons and if I force myself and take it on too fast, it won’t stick. It didn’t really do much to soothe me and the ocd. I ended up leaving Israel because it was too overwhelming and detrimental for my health. I ended up eschewing the religion and even going into a shul because it caused me such anxiety and I was terrified of cursing G – D. I used to love Judaism and instead this whole thing completely changed my relationship and that is very sad to me. I don’t know if I’ll ever be healthy enough to love it the way I used to, but for me being culturally and spiritually Jewish is still very important to me and always will be. I just am not healthy enough to engage in the religion and rituals.
Anyway, after I got back from Israel, being in a secular place, my aunt getting better, and maturing and getting older and learning to deal with anxiety and negative emotions really soothed the intrusive thoughts and ocd.
However, lately, the ocd and intrusive thoughts are out of control. I recently bought a new place and got a new job and I have immense anxiety about something going wrong. This has in turn made me scared like I once was and now I’m back to having intrusive thoughts that pop out of nowhere of cursing G – D, esp during the Schma, which is one of my biggest fears. I think I would collapse from guilt and remorse if I did and knowing that, the ocd compulsion to do it is even stronger. I don’t know how to stop it from happening. I’ve tried changing the words to something different like instead of schma to shmal as a way to stop the distress if I do curse, but its not as effective as I need. I am constantly trying to keep my mind occupied. I have prayed over and over that G – D will know that I do not mean the curses and I do not want to think them and to please stop them from happening. I have read how exposure therapy is good for treating ocd, but this ocd isn’t like other ocds like being scared of getting sick so you expose yourself to germs or face or work through the intrusive thoughts of getting sick. If I let myself curse G – D as exposure therapy, I’m literally sinning and it will destroy me. I have tried everything and I’m turning to this forum to see if anyone has any advice either therapeutically or halachically because I’m at my wits ends. Thank you.