Shame and OCD

OCD can make us feel self-conscious, embarrassed, depressed, confused, sad, angry and ashamed.  For as long as I can remember, I have felt so much anger toward myself. Anger for thinking my thoughts and for being this OCD girl.  I felt unworthy of the happiness that other people kept saying we all deserved.  I still do sometimes.  I’d say “maybe some people deserve happiness, but I don’t!”

At some point, I started to believe that I didn’t do anything wrong to bring this OCD burden on myself, but I still couldn’t shake the idea that for some reason, I deserved it and I continued to feel so much shame.

The difference between guilt and shame can be most simply distinguished as (guilt-)“I did something bad” vs. (shame-)“I am bad”.  I felt so guilty for having my obsessive thoughts and so ashamed for who I was.  Ashamed to be this girl with this fucked up brain.  And because of this shame, being vulnerable was something I really tried to avoid.  If I couldn’t accept who I was, how could anyone else?

MY OCD symptoms have diminished by a whole lot, but the shame is still there.  A therapist suggested I watch this:

It’s TEDTalk on vulnerability by Brene Brown, a researcher who studies shame.  Watch it!  I have seen this now a few times and there are some powerful messages there. 

Letting go of shame is so important.  We need to give ourselves a break and a chance to feel vulnerable.  It’s with vulnerability that we give others a chance to see who we are.  Wait!  Trust me, it’s not without great hesitation that I write this.  Feeling vulnerable is super scary, but learning to accept ourselves is so important. 

Just because we have OCD does not mean we are bad people.  I know, I know, I can say that, but believing it is another thing.  I guess I need to start believing some of this stuff 🙂 

Like in this image that my good friend, Drew Renaud, made.  🙂


5 thoughts on “Shame and OCD

  1. Your video on scrupulosity was incredibly helpful and wanted to thank you. Despite being an atheist, myself I still get hung up or stuck about religious topics. Oddly when I feel like I’m giving religion another shot, I feel incredibly worse and start to feel shame and guilt. For me medication has been truly helpful. Therapy not so much as I would have hoped, but a source of support nonetheless. I hope you find yourself well, and again thank you. Your blog is very helpful to me.

    • I’m glad to hear that! Thank you 🙂 Medical treatment is different for everyone, and sometimes it’s not a totally easy method of treatment, but I’m glad you found something that works for you.

  2. These thoughts are not your thoughts. Do not let them make you feel guilty or shameful. They are no more yours than a rioter screaming bad words from across the street. Don’t own them. They are not yours. God knows your heart and would never hold you responsible for these thoughts. I am praying for you.

  3. Your message is extremely helpful in my trying to understand OCD case of a family member. I am very grateful for your willingness to share with others this deep feeling. It also helped me to understand what happened to myself when I was shamed by others more than 30 years ago. I guess that is why exposing own vulnerability should be done very carefully with very supportive people only. The following article also helped me, Hope this will help others.

    Thank you so much again.

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